Wednesday, August 9, 2006

An update, as promised.

I'd have to say that there's been more than a few gliches. I'm not going to hold it against the good Crown people, and I still think the idea is fantastic, but this is going to take a while, I think. Let me first tell you how this works.

You pay for the service, however, I'm now on a 30 day trial. After the trial, if I choose to continue, and pay yearly, it'll cost about 9-10 bucks a month. After you've signed up, you get a login name and a password and access the site.

Down the left are all these little pictures of envelopes. At the bottom left is a window listing your banks accounts, which you enter all the info for on set-up. In the middle of the screen is a quick view of all your envelopes, or all the recent money transactions you've done; you can click back and forth.
During the set up, you figure out all the categories you spend money in. If you've never done that before, it could be a kindof big job. I figured that stuff out a while ago, so I just had to label all the envelopes with names like mortgage, food, gas, hydro, can have dozens of them. The plan is that you make an envelope for EVERY expenditure you have, even things that only come around once in a while---like licencing and e-testing your car. Put a little money in the 'envelope' once a month and presto--when the time comes around, you've got the money. Very cool.
When you logon, Mvelopes downloads all the transactions you've done since the last time you logged on--it actually accesses your accounts, including credit cards. You see them all there in the transactions window, and then you have to assign them. You click and drag them over to the right envelope and mvelopes automatically figures out how much you have left in that envelope. SO, when James stops for gas, and I see ESSO, 39$, I click and drag it over to James' Gas Budget. The program then subtracts 39$ from his total budget, that I've already set up in advance (say, 100$), and tells me he's got 61$ left. This is very cool, because then James doesn't have to call me and ask, 'how much money do I have left in my gas budget?', he can just look himself and not have to feel like he's 10 years old again.

One of the biggest goals of this system, is that you learn to live within your means. Along with the Mvelopes, I was offered an e-course, called Financially Fit University. It's a five day thing, and I'm still on day one, but no worries, I'll get to it. One of the first assignments was to read a little book written by one of the creators of the Mvelopes system. It's called Money for Life and it's a little fictional story, with all of the finance principals of the Mvelopes system woven in. One thing the book hit home, was that, on average, people spend about 10% more than they make. This is why the majority of us are in debt.
With the Mvelopes, once the money is gone from the envelope, that's it--you can't spend any more unless you juggle around and transfer from another envelope--it's your choice.

So now my update.
  • My transactions haven't been downloading regularly. A few times they have, but it took a few days for them to start at first, and at this present time, it's not downloading the last 5 days worth. A bit of a pain. Cool thing is that you can do a 'chat' with a tech person and he assured me that he would take this to the engineers and have them work on it.
  • This system works best when you get all the money you earn in one shot, preferably at the beginning of the month. We'll aim to build up enough so that that's the case, but for now, we do as always--planning from paycheque to paycheque. It's a little tricky though, when Mvelopes has you figure out how much you need per month and when a paycheque comes in, it's not a months worth. Even trickier, is that we have various income and assistance cheques coming in all over the place. Sigh. I know I'll get the hang of this.
  • There's just funny little system oddities that take a bit for your brain to understand (ok, well, my brain). Like when you've assigned a transaction to an envelope, and it uses all that was in the envelope, you see in your quickview chart, a red, negative number in the Spent column. That threw me off---red? Negative? BAD, right? So I did a quick chat and learned that no, that's what the system does and it's not bad. Ok.....still don't like to see that though. And the fact that when you assign a credit card charge, Mvelopes automatically updates a pre-created envelope at the top of your list called debt repayment. In otherwords, it puts 'money' into an envelope so that you can pay off the balance. I don't know about you, but I've/we've never paid off the monthly balance on our credit cards. Our use of them is usually limited to emergencies (or really important oops, didn't forsee that issues) that we don't have the money for, hence they've not been budgeted for. So now I have this debt repayment envelope that says I'll be paying X amount to my visa this month and, heh, heh, that won't be happening. Positive thinking on their part though.

So, anyway, I'm sharing all this in hopes that it might be helpful to anyone out there who needs some budgeting assistance. I'm still thinking very positively about Mvelopes and can't wait until I've got it working like...clockwork.


Shannon said...

...what happened with Honour - did you take her for the blood tests yet? or has she improved? Maybe it was just the move... I hope she's okay. Been praying for her. Glad you got your car too - nevermind the debt, you know what they say: 'You can't take it with you' - and it goes both ways! :) lots of love... Shannon

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