Chase McCoy

Personal Finance Perfection

My bank of choice is Simple. They’re online only, care about design, and make it easy to manage money by building saving & analysis tools on top of the bank itself (instead of a third party tool that connects to a bank).

Up until this week, saving money with Simple was pretty good. Their goals feature makes it easy to bucket money into categories. My process for managing money with Simple was something like this:

  1. At the beginning of the month, move money from my “safe-to-spend” bucket to various goals. Things like rent, groceries, entertainment, car payment, etc.
  2. Whenever I spend money, use Simple’s “spend from goal” feature to spend it from the appropriate goal.
  3. At the end of the month, whatever is leftover in my goals is mine to keep. I move it to a savings goal and replenish each goal with my monthly allowance for that category.

This worked pretty well. The main annoyances I had with this were that every month I had to manually refill the goals with the correct amount (after first emptying the leftovers into savings), and I had to manually set transactions to spend from certain goals.

Lucky for me, the Simple team addressed these exact frustrations this week with the launch of two features called Funding Schedules and Auto-Spend.

Funding Schedules allow you to automatically move money into goals on certain dates/frequencies.

Auto Spend lets you associate transaction categories with goals, so that transactions in certain categories always spend from a particular goal. They also added the ability for transactions to “remember” what category they are in and automatically categorize themselves in the future.

These features change the game for me.

Now, my process (after some initial setup) looks more like this:

  1. If Simple doesn’t categorize a transaction correctly, fix the category. I only ever have to do this once since Simple remembers my selection in the future.
  2. At the end of the month, move the leftover money in my goals to my savings goal.

Boom. Simple takes care of the rest.

As far as setup goes, it’s as simple (ha ha) as creating your goals and setting a funding schedule that fits. I like to do my finances monthly, so I set mine up to automatically refill on the first of every month. Simple gives you the flexibility to choose whatever dates/frequencies you like.

Next, you choose which categories go along with which goal. My “Groceries/Food” goal is associated with categories like grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores. Whenever I spend money at one of those places, Simple removes it from my goal instead of my safe-to-spend balance.

Now, my personal finance is completely automated. I can set my budget and forget it (aside from the occasional incorrect categorization, which is easy enough to fix). If you use an envelope-style budget, you know that the worst part is maintaining your system manually. With these new features I no longer have to do that, which encourages me to stick to my budget instead of ignoring it because it’s a pain to manage.

With these new features, I can’t recommend Simple enough. They had a period of moving very slowly with new features, but lately they have been knocking out of the park with shared accounts, paper checks, and these new goal features.

Sign up for an account with this link (it’s free) and we will both get $20.

Posted on April 8th, 2018