Mvelopes Review 2021: Digital Cash Envelopes

Mvelopes is a budgeting app and online platform that specializes in the envelope system. 

With the envelope system, you take all your spending money and divvy it up into envelopes by category. For example, you’d have a “gas” envelope and a “groceries” envelope. When you buy gas, you’d take money out of the “gas” envelope. The theory is that when the money is gone, it’s gone. If you need more gas you either do without or move money from a different envelope – such as “groceries” which will likely mean you’ll have to cut back in that category. 

The envelope system is ideal when paying bills in cash – but not everyone wants to carry around so much cash. An app like Mvelopes makes it possible to use this budgeting strategy in a digital fashion.

All users can make unlimited envelopes and link to online bank accounts and credit cards to track spending by expense type. It also tracks credit cards, debit cards, and online bill payments.

Table of Contents
  1. How Much Does Mvelopes Cost?
    1. Basic
    2. Premier
    3. Plus
  2. Key Features
    1. Unlimited Digital Envelopes
    2. Monthly Funding Plan
    3. Account Syncing
    4. Debt Reduction Center
    5. Learning Center
    6. Coaching Access
    7. Mobile App
  3. Is Mvelopes Easy to Use?
  4. Positives and Negatives
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  5. Who Should Use Mvelopes?
  6. Mvelopes Alternatives
    1. QubeMoney
    2. Tiller Money
    3. You Need a Budget
    4. EveryDollar
  7. Summary

How Much Does Mvelopes Cost?

There are three different monthly plans to choose from. All plans offer unlimited envelopes and account syncing.

Subscribers that choose the highest-tier Mvelopes Plus plan can also get access to quarterly money coach sessions and a personalized financial plan. The mid-level and upper-tier plans offer access to a debt reduction analyzer and online courses that can improve money skills.

There isn’t a free plan option but new subscribers get a 30-day free trial. You will need to submit payment details to join – like a credit card. But Mvelopes won’t collect the first payment until the first month trial period ends.

Below are the highlights for each Mvelopes plan.

Basic

Monthly cost: $6

The entry-level Mvelopes Basic plan costs $6 per month and includes these features:

  • Unlimited digital envelopes
  • Unlimited financial account syncing
  • Automatic transaction importing and account balance monitoring
  • Interactive reports
  • Live chat support

This barebones plan can be useful if you only want an app to manage digital envelopes.

Premier

Monthly cost: $9.95

The mid-tier Premier plan costs $9.95 per month and comes with several learning resources. In addition to the Basic plan features, Premier subscribers get these three additional features:

  • Mvelopes Learning Center (short online courses various money topics)
  • Debt reduction center
  • Initial setup assistance
  • Phone support

There is a learning curve when trying any new budgeting app, and Mvelopes is no different. The initial setup assistance can be help you quickly set up your envelopes. This setup tool can be good if you’re new to the envelope system or have a complex monthly budget.

The other two learning resources, the Learning Center and debt reduction center can be good if you want to get serious about money. Of course, you can find this information elsewhere online at a potentially lower cost if you’re comfortable managing your money by yourself.

Plus

Monthly cost: $19

The best reason to consider the upper-tier Plus plan is for access to a dedicated personal coach. Users pay $19 per month and get these perks:

  • Quarterly coaching sessions
  • Personalized money plan
  • Priority chat and phone support

This plan can be pricey versus the other two Mvelopes plans. But this plan can be worth it when you need a money coach to guide you through the process of improving your finances.

Once you no longer need coaching access, it’s possible to downgrade to a cheaper plan.

Get started here

Key Features

There are several exciting features that Mvelopes offers. Knowing which features you want can help you decide which Mvelopes can be the best option for you.

Unlimited Digital Envelopes

All Mvelopes plans offer unlimited digital envelopes. Some budgeting apps may limit the number of digital envelopes you might have at one time. You may need to upgrade to a pricier plan to unlock more envelopes.

Mvelopes removes that potential frustration and even the entry-level plan has unlimited digital envelopes. So, it’s possible to make a simple or complex spending plan with any monthly tier.

Having unlimited envelopes lets you set aside money for small purchases and see precisely how you spend each dollar.

To make the setup process easy, Mvelopes prefills several envelopes for common monthly expenses like groceries, life insurance, mortgage, and home internet. You can rename these premade labels and add new envelopes.

Mvelopes sorts each envelope into a parent expense category. The different categories include:

  • Bills
  • Everyday expenses
  • Debt payments
  • Giving
  • Savings goals
  • Periodic expenses

Monthly Funding Plan

Besides offering customized envelopes, Mvelopes lets each user assign a monthly funding plan for their envelopes. Users can tell Mvelopes how often they receive a paycheck and for how much.

From there, the user can assign a specific dollar amount from each paycheck into a digital envelope. Then, Mvelopes deducts from the envelope balance with each transaction import.

Despite using envelopes, the Mvelopes budget setup process is similar to most premium budget software.

Account Syncing

One advantage of budgeting apps versus the paper cash envelope system is automatic account syncing. Mvelopes can link to approximately 95% of the banks and credit unions in the US and Canada to avoid overlooking a transaction. You can also link credit cards and track purchases.

Like other budget and net worth tracking apps, some banks and credit unions won’t connect to Mvelopes. You won’t know if your bank will sync until you try – frustrating.

When a financial institution doesn’t sync, users can manually input transactions. Manual data entry is also necessary for logging cash purchases.

Users can assign a spending category to each transaction and Mvelopes updates the remaining envelope balance. You can manually input purchases from accounts that won’t sync and cash transactions.

The goal of the envelope system is to prevent overspending in any expense category. When the budgeted amount of cash goes to zero, you don’t spend any more on that purchase type until next month. It’s common to take a few months to fine-tune your average spending amounts.

Not logging a transaction is one downside of the digital envelope system. By stuffing actual envelopes with dollar bills each month, you know exactly when you run out of money.

Debt Reduction Center

The Debt Reduction Center is available to Premier and Plus members. This interactive debt calculator uses your current debt account balances and has you enter the extra monthly debt payment amount.

Mvelopes then compares how quickly you can pay off the debt when applying the extra payment amount to either the lowest monthly payment or the highest interest rate.

Learning Center

The online Mvelopes Learning Center has several short video series about select money topics. Some of the course topics include building an emergency fund, controlling spending, increasing financial security. These video-based courses have up to ten lessons and each video is only a few minutes.

These videos can help you understand the basic concepts, but mastering a money skill requires practice and in-depth research.

Coaching Access

Plus subscribers get access to a Mvelopes Personal Finance Trainer. The planning sessions are quarterly and provide a personalized plan for improving your budget and tackling debt. These hands-on perks are unique for a budgeting app. Many apps don’t offer coaching access and the price can be competitive with hiring a money coach for similar sessions.

Mobile App

An Android and iOS mobile app is available for Mvelopes. The mobile app has the same functionality as the web platform.

Is Mvelopes Easy to Use?

Like any budgeting app, new users will need to spend some time learning how to navigate the web platform or mobile app. Following the initial walkthrough when setting up a new budget can be helpful.

Mvelopes isn’t the hardest budgeting app to use but several features can be easy to overlook without the tour.

To keep this Mvelopes review honest, it’s worth pointing out that the budgeting app is receiving recent complaints about usability. While most legit apps have complaints, long-time users seem to be expressing more displeasure than usual.

Recent complaints that Mvelopes members post on AppGroove, Google Play, and Apple Store tend to criticize the current version of Mvelopes (fifth version) launched in 2019. Since then, long-time users report more account syncing errors, missing transactions, and slower customer support response times than usual. Unfortunately, long-term subscribers have been switching to other financial apps or using free printable budget worksheets because of these frustrations.

Each Mvelope subscription comes with a 30-day free trial and a 60-day moneyback guarantee. If Mvelopes doesn’t link to your financial accounts or meet your expectations, there is plenty of time to cancel membership.

Positives and Negatives

Pros

  • Unlimited digital envelopes
  • Automatic transaction imports from linked financial accounts
  • Can manually input transactions
  • Quarterly coaching sessions (Plus members only)
  • Web platform and mobile app

Cons

  • Not all banks and credit unions sync (95% do)
  • The debt reduction calculator might be too basic
  • No free monthly plan option

Who Should Use Mvelopes?

Mvelopes can be a good option for those that want to budget using the cash envelope system but don’t want to use cash. This app is best for those that can have their various financial accounts sync and import transactions.

Financial coaching with the Plus plan can also be worth the upgrade for those wanting hands-on help. The entry-level Mvelopes Basic plan can be the best option for those that need an affordable budgeting app with unlimited envelopes.

This budgeting app isn’t good for those that don’t want to restrict their spending to a certain amount for each monthly expense. 

Mvelopes Alternatives

Mvelopes is a great envelope system app. However, if you don’t think it’s for you check out these alternatives.

QubeMoney

QubeMoney replicates the use of cash in that you literally can not spend more money in a category than you budgeted for. Before making a purchase you must “open” the envelope you are spending out of using the app and the transaction will be declined at the cash register if you try to spend more than what that envelope holds. Just like if you had an envelope full of cash. 

For example, if you have $50 left in your grocery envelope and you try to spend $51 at the grocery store, the charge will be declined. You would first have to move money from another envelope into groceries to complete the purchase.

It’s possible to open a free monthly plan that allows up to 10 digital envelopes (qubes). Premium monthly plan costs vary from $8 to $25.

Read our full QubeMoney review to learn more.

Tiller Money

Tiller Money is one of the best options if you like budget spreadsheets but want an app that syncs with your bank accounts. The one downside of budget spreadsheets is having to input your purchases and bills manually. Tiller solves that problem.

You can view and edit the transactions and monthly spending plan in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. It’s possible to try several different budgeting strategies at one time using Tiller making this app more flexible than Mvelopes. This app costs $79 per year.

Read or Tiller Money review to learn more about using a budget spreadsheet.

You Need a Budget

If you need step by step help, then perhaps the best premium budget app overall is You Need a Budget (YNAB). This app costs $11.99 per month (or $84 per year) and helps you build an in-depth monthly budget to determine your recurring and periodic expenses.

While you won’t get personal financial coach access, YNAB’s approach is effective. The ultimate goal is to stop living paycheck to paycheck and start paying your monthly bills with last month’s income.

Real-time account syncing and interactive reports make it easy to track progress and make money goals. There are also weekly online workshops that can help you learn money management basics.

Read our full  You Need a Budget review.

EveryDollar

Dave Ramsey fans may like EveryDollar run by the personal finance personality’s parent company – Ramsey Solutions (formerly Lampo Group). The free version lets users track income and expenses using the envelope system but must manually input transactions.

Upgrading to Ramsey+ ($129.99/year) provides access to EveryDollar Plus, online courses, and the BabySteps app that tracks Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. Some of the perks of EveryDollar Plus include automatic transaction imports and budget reports.

See our EveryDollar review to decide if this budget app is worth it.

Summary

Mvelopes is a legit app with unlimited envelopes and automatic account syncing that can make envelope budgeting easy in a digital world. Quarterly coach sessions can also be good for those needing hands-on help.

However, those wanting a free budget app or more robust budgeting tools may find more value elsewhere.

Mvelopes

8.5

Product Rating

8.5/10

Strengths

  • Unlimited digital envelopes
  • Automatic transaction imports from linked financial accounts
  • Quarterly coaching sessions (Plus members only)

Weaknesses

  • No free monthly plan option
  • The debt reduction calculator might be too basic
  • Not all banks and credit unions sync (95% do)

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Josh Patoka

About Josh Patoka

After graduating in $50k with student loans in May 2008 from Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Spanish (I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 3 months), Josh decided to sell his soul for seven years by working in the transportation industry to get out of debt ASAP and focus on doing something else with a better work-life balance.

He is a father of three and has been writing about (almost) everything personal finance since 2015. You can also find him at his own blog Money Buffalo where he shares his personal experience of becoming debt-free (twice) and taking a 50%+ pay cut when he changed careers.

Today, Josh relishes the flexibility of being self-employed and debt-free and encourages others to pursue their dreams. Josh enjoys spending his free time reading books and spending time with his wife and three children.

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