Craig (from Maryland) wrote about his appreciation for Mvelopes. Craig said:
I began using a budget about 18 years ago, keeping track using the envelope system of categories in a ledger book, pencils, and MANY erasers. I had heard about the envelope system on the Money Matters radio program. This worked OK but was extremely time consuming. I would procrastinate and I would get behind in my bookkeeping.
Some time later, I purchased our first computer and I was able to use a spreadsheet for the budget. This made storing the data easier, but data entry was time consuming, and I would get behind in my bookkeeping.
Eventually I started using a software program specifically designed to use the envelope system. Although, I was able to automatically distribute my income each month, transaction data entry was manual and time consuming, and I would get behind in my bookkeeping.
With the advent of the internet and online banking I was able to begin to have the program import data from the bank but still had to assign each transaction to a category, and manually reconcile my accounts. What I needed was a tool that would:
· Allow me to create a budget using the envelope system
· Receive income and allow it to be distributed to the appropriate categories
· Automatically retrieve transactions from my bank on a daily basis
· Recognize the payee in the transaction and then automatically assign the transaction to an envelope
Finally I found that with Mvelopes. What used to take me a half day I can now accomplish in just a few minutes each day! I have been using Mvelopes successfully for four months without getting behind. Using Mvelopes has allowed me, for the first time in 18 years, to be caught up on my budget and bank transactions. I have recommended it to many of my friends and relatives. Thanks Mvelopes!
Several months after Craig shared these comments, I telephoned him and obtained the following additional
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: I started using it on January 5, 2008, so a little over a year.
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: Basically, it gives me an instant snapshot of what is in my budget and what is in each category, so I can easily (and quickly) decide whether I have funds to make a purchase now, or need to wait to make that purchase.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: I am pleased to say that the only debt I have is my mortgage. However, if I were in a position to have debt, this tool would definitely help—but that’s not my situation.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: Not as much as I would like to, but that is partially just a matter of the struggling economy. Also, I have a large family—10 children. Two have moved out of the house, but with eight still living at home, saving money isn’t something I am able to easily do right now. But I do plan to work towards saving in the future. However, I am not in the red—I am balanced.
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: Probably about 10-15%, but that is mainly because of a salary increase. Again, for me, the key is that I’m able to keep my budget balanced and know where everything is. With the challenges we’ve faced—particularly with the higher price of gasoline, etc., I have been pleased to be able to remain balanced.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: One of the biggest accomplishments we have achieved (and I know I’ve mentioned this before) is that we’ve been able to keep our budget balanced, and we pay our bills on time (using online banking). We are able to live within our means. That was an important goal for us, and that’s what “staying out of the red” has done for us.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: Two long-range goals are that I would like to position myself to pay off our mortgage and I would like to start saving. My wife and I also want to be able to fund our children’s educations and finance additional weddings.
Q: How many envelopes have you created?
A: I have created 49 envelopes.
Q: How has Mvelopes helped to reduce financial stress?
A: That answer goes back to what I mentioned before. I would constantly get behind and I would procrastinate and then, every 3-4 months, I would have to face my financial situation, because I truly didn’t know where I stood. Now that I can access my information online, I review it daily, and I can be caught up in 5 minutes. That is “A number one” to me. It lets me automatically assign groceries, gasoline, etc., and since I typically shop at the same places, it saves so much time. That is a tremendously helpful feature.
Q: If married, how has Mvelopes helped you better collaborate with your spouse?
A: My wife is not computer savvy, but when she wants to know if we have the money to do things, I can quickly answer her questions. If both partners are computer savvy, then access to the information is instantaneous.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes users?
A: Definitely take advantage of the automated features, particularly the income profile. Also, take advantage of the transaction rules manager for repeated transactions—automobile expenses, groceries—those places that you frequent. It will save you so much time. I can use my credit cards as accounts and I have money allocated to pay off my credit card every month, so I get benefits from using the cards. The money for the payments is already there. That is a big plus for me.
For me, Mvelopes is a tool and it’s just what I’ve been looking for, for a very long time.
Craig, thank you so much for sharing your experience, wisdom and insight with us. We wish you, your wife, and your wonderful family continued financial success.