I know it's been awhile since I've posted! 'Tis
the season, and like many of you, I'm sure, we've been busy getting ready and enjoying all of the
good things that this time of year brings. :)
Unfortunately for many, this time of year can also be financially stressful. I've talked before about how we use the Envelope Method to manage our finances. Using this method has completely changed our lives. No longer do we stress about money, because we plan for everything, and have relatively few financial surprises. This method allows us to spread our expenses out evenly all throughout the year, so there are no financial ups and downs. We budget for Christmas every single month, so there is no particular financial stress at Christmastime. We just spend the money that's been allocated in the "Christmas" envelope, and then in January we keep on contributing to it for next year.
Until recently, I was using Quicken, and "hacked in" an envelope method. However, it was clumsy, required some work-arounds that made reconciling bank statements a little annoying, and I hated that Bruce was always asking me if we could afford to get such-and-such. I was tired of being the budget gatekeeper, I wanted him to have equal access to our envelope balances. Also, we both recently got iPhones, which meant I was getting rid of my Palm Pilot (and Pocket Quicken was going with it!). I wanted something that we could check our balances on our iPhones, anytime, anywhere (since usually you're not making purchasing decisions while sitting in front of your computer!) I did some searching around online and discovered some web-based software called Mvelopes.
It's basically an online version of the envelope method. What I LOVE about it is that it incorporates ALL of your accounts, and automatically downloads your transactions. You then assign your transactions to the appropriate envelope, and the envelope balance is immediately updated. And because it's web-based, Bruce and I can check our envelope balances anytime, anywhere. (When you use the envelope method, your bank account balance becomes irrelevant... all that matters is whether there is money in the envelope to make your purchase. If there's not enough money, you either don't make the purchase, or make a conscious decision to move money from another envelope). This way, if Bruce wants to know how much money is left in his allowance envelope, or in the home maintenance envelope (really, the only two categories he cares about!), he just has to log on and check for himself. :) No longer do I have to feel like his mother and say yes/no to purchases. And THAT in itself is worth the subscription fee! I used the free trial for 2 weeks, and then decided to go ahead and pay the subscription fee. Normally I wouldn't pay a monthly fee for something like this, but I really do believe that we will more than save that amount of money by having ready access to our budget information, and thus not going over budget.
I love the envelope method because it helps us to spend within our income, eliminate debt, and achieve our financial goals. It allows us to make conscious decisions about how to spend our money. WE tell our money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. Envelope Budgeting is the best way to manage our money and Mvelopes is the only system I have found that allows us to effectively use the envelope method while also using electronic, non-cash transactions. As I've mentioned before, we use our credit card for as many purchases as possible and then pay the balance off each month. Within Mvelopes there is an envelope called "Money for Credit Card", and whenever you make a purchase with your credit card, it automatically moves that amount of money into this envelope. Then when the bill comes, the money is there to pay it. This ensures that the money to pay the credit card bill has already been set aside, and we can continue to happily collect our Air Miles. :)
As a bonus, just the other day, Mvelopes announced a new Refer-a-Friend program. You can sign up for a risk-free trial (you have to give them your credit card info up front, but as long as you cancel before your trial period runs out, your card will not be charged). If you decide to go ahead and subscribe (I highly recommend it!!), you will get a 20% discount off the subscription fee, and I'll get $15.00 for the referral. Even one referral a month would MORE than cover the subscription fee. :) And then if you sign up, you could sign up for the Refer-a-Friend program as well! You could theoretically use this fabulous service for free. :)
Hope you have a merry, debt-free Christmas. :)