Envelope budgeting is one of the most effective ways to set and stick to a budget. It's one of the oldest ways but hasn't gotten much attention because of how simple it is. Stick cash into a few labeled envelopes, spend from those envelopes, and reallocate as necessary.
It's not sexy or flashy. You can keep track of each month in a spreadsheet to collect a history but the basics are super simple.
When you get paid, refill the envelopes with the money you need.
The trouble with envelopes is that we are living in a cashless society and it's probably not a great idea to carry around all of your cash in envelopes.
And that's the problem that the founders of QubeMoney hope to solve – how to bring envelope budgeting into the modern era through the use of an app and a debit card.
Who is QubeMoney?
QubeMoney is a financial services company that helps you execute envelope budgeting using an app, a bank account, and a debit card.
The name QubeMoney is new but the company isn't. They started years ago (2016) as ProActive Budget but rebranded to QubeMoney in the Spring of 2020 (hard to build up a brand when you're up against a skincare behemoth). Based out of Utah, it was founded by Ryan Clark and Shane Walker. They were financial planners and coaches who were working with clients who were frequently failing at budgeting. Cash envelope budgeting is one of the most successful ways to budget but it's tough to keep track of these days as cash is becoming less popular.
They built QubeMoney to solve that problem.
What separates QubeMoney from a lot of other budgeting apps is that it's more than a budgeting app – it's a full-service banking product. When you open a QubeMoney account, you're opening a bank account with Choice Bank, a division of Choice Financial Group. Choice Financial Group (FDIC #9423) has been in business since 1906 and chartered as a Non-member of the Federal Reserve System. It's not a large bank as it only has 20 branches in 2 states but it's FDIC insured and that's really all that matters. For all practical purposes, your relationship is with QubeMoney.
How Does QubeMoney Work?
QubeMoney is a bank account that enables you to implement envelope budgeting without relying on physical envelopes or cash. When you open a QubeMoney account, you open a real bank account and get a debit card that you use to spend your money.
What are Qubes?
In the app, you establish a series of “qubes,” or budgeting categories, to help you manage your spending. When money comes into the account, it's put into the “cloud.” You then transfer funds from the “cloud” to a specific qube. You can have qubes for groceries, restaurants, gasoline, clothing, and other usual expenses. You can also have qubes for long term savings goals such as a trip or an emergency fund.
How Does the Debit Card Work?
Here's where I think the innovation lives – your debit card has no money on it. They call it “default zero.” If you take your card and try to use it, it'll fail.
You have to go into the QubeMoney app and select a qube to load onto that debit card. When you make a transaction, it deducts it from that qube and returns the remaining balance to the qube. If you have $1,000 in your “groceries” qube and you spend $100 at the store, $900 is returned to the “groceries qube” after the transaction completes. This means that before every purchase, you have to go into the app to essentially pre-authorize it. But if you really want to envelope budget, it's far better than carrying around all of your cash in envelopes.
One other benefit of this is that you can't have any surprise transactions. Since your card is “default zero,” with no money on it, no transaction will succeed without you knowing about it beforehand.
Qube Family Plan
As you can see, the QubeMoney system lends itself quite nicely to helping kids and teens learn how to manage their money. With your QubeMoney Family plan, you get up to 10 cards. You can give these cards to anyone if it helps facilitate running the household. It can someone like a grandparent or a babysitter.
Qube for Couples
Qube for couples links up two debit cards to one plan account. It's really the same as when you have a solo qube account, but when a transaction occurs, both phones get a notification.
This can help facilitate money management for couples because you have to allocate the funds together
How Much Does QubeMoney Cost?
QubeMoney has four “plans” – which includes a free basic plan.
QubeMoney Basic – Free
QubeMoney Basic is free and is meant for individuals who want to track fewer than 10 qubes. It includes a mobile wallet as well as transfers to others, similar to any other bank account. It's meant for an individual or just those who want to see how the system works.
QubeMoney Premium – $8/month
If you want more than one debit card, you'll need to upgrade to the Premium plan that includes companion cards, unlimited qubes, qube groups, and budgeting automation. Since it does offer more than one card, this also means that you have permissions (for partners) as well as a notification system that informs more than one app.
QubeMoney Family – $15/mo
QubeMoney Family is designed for those who need up to 10 debit cards and a robust system to manage all those cards. You can set adult, teen, and kid cards with a parent view within the app. This allows you to set up parent permissions as well as navigate in-app money requests from all those kid cards.
QubeMoney Platinum – $25/mo
This highest tier seems to be designed for corporate users as it offers rewards, additional benefits, and a metal card. I'm not sure many individuals are going to need this type of account and, as of this writing, it isn't yet available.
QubeMoney Alternatives & Competitors
QubeMoney competes against several companies depending on what you're looking at.
On the envelope budgeting front, the biggest name out there is Mvelopes. Mvelopes has been around for ages and their basic plan starts at just $6 per month and their Plus plan clocks in at $19 per month (they have a 30-day free trial but there is no free plan). The big difference is that Mvelopes links to your bank accounts whereas QubeMoney is a bank account.
With Mvelopes, you're using your existing financial system – bank account, credit cards, etc. – and layering an envelope budgeting system on top of it. With QubeMoney, everything flows through the bank account and debit card. If you have a complicated system and don't want to move entirely to QubeMoney, Mvelopes is the next best option for envelope budgeting.
If you're using it for family banking, a close competitor is Famzoo but Famzoo isn't based on envelope budgeting. If you just want to be the Bank and teach your kids better money management skills without tying it to envelope budgeting, Famzoo offers that for only $5.99 per month. Famzoo offers two different “types” of accounts – prepaid cards and IOU accounts. Prepaid cards have actual cash whereas IOU is like a virtual ledge of money you have in another account. We have a full review of Famzoo here if you want to learn more.
The Future of QubeMoney
With most apps, I don't write about the “future” of the app because there often isn't something major on the timeline. With QubeMoney, it's different because they're so different. They started with the hard problem first – creating a banking product that is linked to an envelope budgeting system.
From there, you can layer on all the services you typically see like getting your paycheck earlier and rounding up transactions. Most of the apps on the market aren't banking products, they're apps that link to your bank account or credit cards.
QubeMoney has the potential to provide all the services available from a lot of other apps into one single solution… all layered on top of an actual bank account.
Some of the features they are working on include:
- Payday 2 days early – this is a feature several other financial services are offering where you get access to a direct deposit two days early (if your employer qualifies).
- Roundup “technology” – This savings feature helps you save more by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers it to savings (presumably a qube you specify).
- Qube Bill Pay – A way to see your regularly scheduled bills
- In Qube notes – a note-taking feature on your qubes
- Chore tracking – a way to track chores and pay
- Subscription control – A way to cancel subscriptions and trials
As they start rolling these features out, it'll become increasingly difficult to find a better way to envelope budget.