A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking with Brandon from Portland, Oregon. Brandon is a CPA, as mentioned in the following statement that he shared with us some time ago:
Even Financial Experts Need Mvelopes!
Even a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) needs the organization of Mvelopes to be financially successful. We recommend it to other families too. It just works!
During our recent conversation, Brandon provided the answers to the following questions:
Q: How long have you been using Mvelopes?
A: Almost two years.
Q: How has Mvelopes assisted you in living within your income?
A: Basically, just staying on top of cash flow on a daily basis is critical to that process, in my opinion. Being able to categorize where the money is going to go, where it’s coming in, etc., is important. Being able to download so simply is huge. Both my wife and I can download items on a daily basis–from different computers. It’s great. Using the service daily or weekly (at the most) is important.
Q: How much consumer debt have you been able to eliminate during that time?
A: We have always lived within our means, so our only debt is our car loan and mortgage. We are working to pay the car loan off. Our focus hasn’t really been to pay debt down, but to live within our means. When we track cash flow, we’re designing where it goes, rather than doing it by default.
Q: How much have you been able to save while using Mvelopes?
A: Again, kind of similar to the debt side, this hasn’t been our focus right now. However, we do save a portion of our income and additionally save 10 percent.
Q: How much has your average checking account balance increased while using Mvelopes?
A: Usually what I end up seeing is that the checking account increases a couple of thousand every month and, by design, I put a certain percentage to pay my estimated taxes. When it builds up, I save it in a savings account to pay self-employment taxes, etc.
Q: What financial goals have you achieved while using Mvelopes?
A: Basically, we continue to make progress in paying down our car loan. We have built our savings and investment accounts. We feel it’s a great accomplishment that we’re maintaining that focus, along with giving. Mvelopes has been a system that has helped me become a business owner and I’ve been able to financially make that work.
Q: What are your next financial goals?
A: When we pay off our existing car loan, I will immediately change that cash flow and put it into an investment account. I plan to pay cash for my next vehicle. I hope to be able to do this within the next five years. I would also like to become an increased owner in the business that I work for and once or twice a year to be able to take a pretty reasonable vacation somewhere. We have a “recreation” envelope and we plan where we’re going, what it will cost, and divide it by 12 months, or 9, or whatever timeframe is ahead of us.
Again, using Mvelopes, we have a “consumer savings” account and we’re going to rebuild or remodel our home sometime within the next three years. A long-term would be to build a retirement account. We would like to be able to retire at the age of 55–or at least to be financially able to, if that’s our choice.
Q: How many envelopes have you created?
A: I have 47 envelopes. The bulk of them are for our donations. Utilities are also broken down specifically.
Q: How has Mvelopes helped to reduce financial stress?
A: In the past, we were already using software to track our cash flow, so we have worked on this for a long time. I’d say that, on a scale of 1 to 10, we’re at about a 5. I love being able to log in and work on our financial situation on a daily basis. It totally influences our spending decisions. A cash-flow system has to be easy and quick–we’re all busy and we all have many other things to do. I enjoy that the system is so simple and easy to use–5 to 6 minutes at a time (at the most).
Q: If married, how has Mvelopes helped you better collaborate with your spouse?
A: My wife and I are both pretty anal, so we have always combined our finances and talk about it frequently. We have developed a habit of setting aside once a week (Sunday for us) to talk about our week and month and even year ahead. We’re able to talk about it in an organized way. Divorces happen so often as a result of financial pressure and stress, and we don’t have that stress.
Q: What advice would you give to new Mvelopes users?
A: Keep it simple. Don’t stratify your life or your envelopes too much to the point where it’ll be overwhelming. After you initially set it up, make sure that you’re not spending an extravagant amount of time to maintain it. Short, daily amounts of time work well (rather than the marathon monthly attack). Don’t wait longer than a week to review or update your envelopes. How do you live within your means and maintain your goals? I like that the option is there for the net worth picture, but I don’t use that right now.
Q: If you could create a “tag line” for Mvelopes–keeping in mind what it’s done for you–what would the tag line be?
A: Mvelopes has helped us to maintain a healthy balance between having a life today and investing for a life tomorrow.
Brandon, I truly enjoyed our conversation and appreciated the time you took to speak with me. We wish you and your family continued financial success and much happiness.