Mvelopes vs. NeoBudget vs. Inzolo

by Derek Clark

Mvelopes, NeoBudget, and Inzolo are all types of software for maintaining an envelope system online. If you haven’t heard of the envelope system, the basic idea is that you put cash in different envelopes for different items in your budget. For example, you put $100 dollars in your grocery envelope, and then you only spend that money on groceries and no more until it is time to fill it again. The idea has been around forever, but Dave Ramsey has made it popular recently.

Today I read a great review from ChristianPF on Mvelopes, and Bob mentioned NeoBudget as an alternative. I decided to check it, and was also introduced to Inzolo. The main idea behind each of the systems is to create a virtual envelope system that can be controlled online. Many people, myself included, don’t really like to carry around cash and prefer using a debit card. It is more convenient in many instances.

The systems allow you to create separate “envelopes” for different parts of your budget. You can then import your transactions online from your checking account, and classify them as to which envelope they should come from. With this you can easily keep track of how much you are spending in each section, and hold yourself to the budget you set.

I had been wanting to try Mvelopes for awhile, but the pricetag had kept me from doing it. It’s not a ton at $12 a month, but it was more than I wanted to spend. NeoBudget and Inzolo are cheaper alternatives, so I am going to give them a shot. Mvelopes does have a free trial which I may try at some point just to do a review, but it was more than I wanted to spend. If want to give it a shot you can sign up for a free trial of Mvelopes Personal here. If you do, let me know what you think of it.

I’ve also considered using Mint as a budget planner. It has very similar functionality, it just isn’t labeled as an “envelope system” so I hadn’t thought of it before. The best part about Mint is it is free. If you don’t like it you aren’t out anything.

I just thought I’d share these alternatives to let anybody who has been considering trying an online envelope system know that they exist. I plan on trying them for a month or two and then I will do reviews for each of them.

If anybody has any experience with any of these systems I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments below. Tell the pros and cons and let us know if you would recommend it.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Deacon Bradley April 21, 2010 at 10:26 am

I’ve been trying to figure out a better way to ‘digitize’ the envelope system too! I looked a a couple of these, but wasn’t too excited about paying for them. After trying (and failing) at a number of free alternatives, I finally started using the power of GoogleSpreadsheets and the awesome iPhone browser.

Of course this is completely manual which doesn’t appeal to many people, but it’s been working great for me and my wife for several months now. Here’s a quick description of how I’m using it:
http://www.bradleycoaching.com/2010/03/my-digital-envelope-system.html

Thanks for the post! I know so many people struggle with a good implementation of the envelope system (especially those of us without purses!).

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Derek Clark April 21, 2010 at 11:42 am

That’s a cool idea. I may have to try that out in addition to the others. I wonder if any of the others have an app for the iphone, i’ll have to go check.

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Bob May 11, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Derek, let me know what you think about NeoBudget & Inzolo if you give them a run…

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Derek Clark May 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm

No problem. I’ve been using them both for a little while now. I plan on doing a review of both shortly.

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Clayton May 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm

My wife and I have been using NeoBudget for about a month. So far we find it easy to use. The accessibility is fantastic since we can use it from any PC in the house. Best of all, it’s pricing structure (including a recent change), is hard to beat anywhere.

Terrific value!

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Ian Martinez September 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I’ve been using Mvelopes regularly for the past five years and can honestly say it’s worth the cost. Having looked at both NeoBudget and Inzolo, they can’t compare with the convenience and features that Mvelopes provides. Mvelopes automatically downloads online transactions and lets you match them up with any manual transactions you enter, it allows for an unlimited amount of envelopes and sub-envelopes which you can categorize, and its interface is the most intuitive I’ve seen of any of these types of applications. Also, the online forum and help section is very comprehensive.

The pricing is definitely better with Neobudget, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to set up a hierarchy for the envelopes (Eating Out and Groceries are separate blocks on a screen full of other blocks rather than being able to put both under a category or envelope called Food). The navigation is also somewhat confusing–there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to view both the envelope balances and account transactions at the same time.

Inzolo looks like it has a great interface, but when I tried to enter to automatically connect with my bank account (with Chase–one of the most popular banks in this country), it gave me numerous error messages and recommended that I add it only as a manual account. Not being able to automatically connect with my bank account is a big dealbreaker for me, so I didn’t really spend any time with it.

Mvelopes does run about $13 a month, and I wish I were cheaper. However, until I find an online application that is as robust and easy to use, I am very happy with it.

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Derek Clark September 12, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I also had trouble importing automatically with inzolo, but i don’t mind doing it manually too much. Other than that it is pretty awesome, and since I don’t use the auto import it’s free. You can’t beat free 🙂

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Larry November 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for your article, Derek, and the helpful input from other people in the comments. I just wanted to let you know that I for one am very interested in hearing more from you about your experience with these different budget systems.

One specific question for anybody out there: I’ve heard in the past that the Mvelopes interface could be very slow and frustrating. Is that something they’ve improved?

Thanks!

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Mvelopes Specials November 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Hey Derek,
Thanks for the mention of Mvelopes. I wanted to let you know that we are currently offering any of your users a 10% discount off any of the Mvelopes.com packages and a 14 day trial to test drive the system. If anyone is interested, please go to http://www.Mvelopes.com and click “Start My Trial”. When you setup your account, just make sure to enter the promo code “10off” to get a 10% discount on any of our packages. That’s the number ten and the word “off”.

Let me know if you need any help or have any questions. Happy holidays!

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Sara O. January 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm

My husband and I have been using Neobudget for the last two years and absolutely love it. Great customer service and software. I’ve also used Mvelopes in the past and thought it was too overpriced.

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William R. October 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

I like mitebudet (www.mitebudget.com), a lot like neobudget but it does it better and it’s free.

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Mel Mel November 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I like http://www.ynab.com There’s a one-time cost, an amazing support in their forums, free webinars and tutorials galore.

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Celine December 20, 2011 at 7:30 am

Hi! My husband and I have been using https://www.inexfinance.com/ and I like this online personal finance software. Great functionality, easy to use tools and free access.

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suzivp January 6, 2012 at 6:52 am

I have been using Mvelopes for years (4? 5 maybe?). My debt is gone and my net worth has increased greatly. My familiarity with my money has never been better. My family consists of my husband and I, one child in college, one in high school and help we give to my mother, so the budget could be complicated but not with mvelopes. The best part is when a yearly or bi-yearly expense comes up, the money is just there, ready, sitting in the appropriate mvelope, slowly saved up. And I spend about 5 minutes a day or less dealing with it. It is simple, logical, easy….I cannot imagine being in debt again and I know with mvelopes I will never live beyond my means again or ever have credit card balances. BIG FAN!

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geoff rothman July 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

Hi Suzivp, i tried Mvelopes for a day but just couldn’t get into it. We use mint and its nice for a reactive approach but we want to step it up to the next level for discretionary spending. Did you have them help you set it up intiially or did you do it on your own?

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Jason July 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

My wife and I have been using mvelopes for several years. While it’s everything I want in principle, I have found the web interface to be very buggy (duplicate transactions, envelope balances not updating correctly, etc). This has become unacceptable to me for a subscription based product. The couple of times I’ve contacted them for help I’ve just been told to reload the page in the browser. Again, to me that’s not an acceptable solution for a product I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on over the last few years.

So I’m on the hunt for a substitute. I want an envelope based system as opposed to just a budgeting system and I don’t mind paying for something of quality. Thanks for the suggestions and I’ll check them out.

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Shawna September 29, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I just started using Mvelopes a few weeks ago. I’ve had to reset and start all over again several times due to bugs. I’ve wasted so much time trying to set up my envelopes, spending plan, and funding plan, only to have to start over again because it didn’t save what I entered, or the system completely changed all the amounts I’d entered. So, I’m canceling and going to try NeoBudget. I hope its better.

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Bob October 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Check out their customer service before you bite off on this subscription. It’s live chat only and if you have a major fiscal issue due to their broken product, they will set an appointment to respond within 24 hours.. Which for me put me in a really tough spot given I’m 100% reliant on this software for spending and budgeting. And the problem was with Mvelopes creating transactions of out thin air!

The live chat is based in India and was completely useless and had difficulty understanding my problem. I called the main number and they said they don’t have customer service and the one person who could help me didn’t “come to work” that day.

More importantly, do not sign up for the coaching service. While it’s good for anyone needing help to start a budget, section 7 of the contract waives M4Life from any liability related to you using Mvelopes. The coaching itself is over-billed. These are hourly employees and not “coaches.” They are helpful to understand how to use the product but are sketchy and unreliable. I’ve gone through two in 12 months and both of them quit calling after a period of time. The first had a host of personal problems that he aired openly, the other is a retiree who will get paid for me regardless if he actually speaks to me. So he quit calling too.

The other consideration is Mvelopes is owned by Finicity. Go to finicity.com and you can see that they sell financial data products, where do you think that data comes from? You guessed it, me, you, anyone else providing log-in information to use their hosted software. It also states this in the contract. under the aggregate data terms.

Stay away from this product people. Get a local copy of some software and a budgeting for dummies book. You’ll spend less and keep your accounts safe.

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