Our latest success story comes from Sara. Sara and her husband, Steve, live in Santa Cruz, California. Before our telephone interview (which follows), Sara shared the following comments:
“We have been married for 30 years and have struggled with our finances for 29 of them. Budgeting has always been our issue. Last year, my sister introduced us to the Mvelopes budgeting system. We knew we needed to do something, as retirement is looming in the not-too-distant future. We had NO idea how this tool would change our lives and the way we looked at our finances. The Mvelopes budgeting system is really easy to start using, and even easier to maintain. With our budgeting plan, we actually feel like we have more money. We get to budget for things that are really important to us and let go of the things that are a financial burden. We no longer fear retirement, even in this rocky economy. Thanks, Finicity, for this wonderful product. Can’t imagine life without it!”
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: I actually signed up for Mvelopes about a year ago, and we didn’t use it for awhile, but our financial situation changed and I needed to get a budgeting system going. So, technically, I have been using it for about 7-8 months.
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: I can track my spending on a daily basis. I know exactly how much I have in my envelopes, I know when I need to stop spending, or when I can spend a little more.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: We no longer have consumer debt—we paid off our car loans and we pay off our credit cards every single month. I never imagined that we could do that, but we have! To me, that’s the biggest, most exciting thing to me.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: Approximately $30,000. Struggling with finances doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t make a great income, but it often means that you don’t know what to do with it. As youth, my husband and I weren’t trained to budget well. If you don’t budget, you can get into trouble, even if you earn a great income.
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: Our checking account balance went from a zero balance (or sometimes even a negative balance) to approximately $20,000.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary last year by taking a trip to Europe. We had absolutely no debt when we returned home. The trip was completely paid for, which made it even more special. We now have an envelope for “travel,” and we plan to do much more of it in the future.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: As mentioned, we’d like to continue to travel. We’re hoping to go to England, Scotland, Ireland, or perhaps Australia … we just have so many options. We also plan to continue paying down our mortgage. We will have a new grandchild in July and our family is growing, so we hope to be able to help our family out when needed. Saving for retirement is also a huge consideration for us and we are continuing to work on building those funds.
Q: How many envelopes have you created?
A: We have around 40 envelopes.
Q: How has Mvelopes helped to reduce financial stress?
A: I feel that the reduction of financial stress is, without a doubt, the biggest benefit of using Mvelopes. We know what we make, we know where it’s going, and we know how much we have in each envelope, so there’s never a question of going over or saying “Oops, where did the money go?” We have our eyes—and a handle on it all the time. We have more in our income cash pool than we thought we would. Although our spending plan works great and we haven’t really had to modify it much, we now plan to make adjustments every year or so, especially when my husband’s income increases.
Q: If married, how has Mvelopes helped you better collaborate with your spouse?
A: Prior to using Mvelopes, communication about finances was our biggest issue. We came from two different avenues of thought. My husband’s approach was rigid—if you don’t have it, you don’t spend it. My father worked in construction, so we never knew if we’d have a lot or a little. I used to think that budgeting would mean that I’d have to give everything up. When we set up our spending plan, we talked it through and prioritized what was important to both of us. We decided what was important, and what we needed to let go of—and although I maintain the budget, my husband is so proud of me and I have his complete support. It’s working really, really well.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes Money Management users?
A: Get serious—especially if you’re married—about talking it through. This program won’t fail you. You may have to change your attitudes a little bit about your spending and maybe adjust your priorities, but it will work for you. I laughingly tell people that if it can work for us, it can work for anyone! It’s a great program. It’s worth every penny. Thank you, Mvelopes, for making this wonderful tool available to us.
Sara, thank you for taking time to share your experiences with us. I know there are others, like myself, who will relate to many of your comments and benefit from your suggestions. We wish you, Steve, and your family the very best. We sincerely hope that you’ll be able travel to all the places you desire to go, and that the next 30 years of marriage will be even more wonderful than the first 30 years have been.