Simple, the bank that changed my life
Overdraft fees, using credit to pay for bills and inconsistent budgets used to plague my life. Before moving my banking activities to Simple, my finances seemed unpredictable. Countless hours were spent on spreadsheets to keep track of bills and measure how much money I had before running out. Often, I would end up overdrafting or having to switch over to credit cards or between accounts due to my plan going out of sync. In order to keep my system going, spreadsheets needed to be updated after each expense and I had to inform my wife about any updates or we would be out of tune. I knew this wasn’t working and we had tried a couple things up to this point. My wife kept telling me about the envelope system that she had heard Dave Ramsey talk about, however keeping physical cash in envelopes seemed super inconvenient since all of our bills and expenses were paid over the internet.
After much despair I picked up the book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi, where he explained how one needs to automate their expenses and savings in a way that you don’t ever have to think about things. He explained his hate for large banking institutions and their high fees, and provided a couple of alternatives with Simple Banking being one of them. I decided to try the app out and immediately fell in love.
My wife and I made a joint account and got to work. We created a list of recurring expenses and long term goals, each with a funding schedule set to paydays. Simple would take my paychecks and allocate money to each expense first, then to our goals. If I needed $100 dollars each month to pay for internet, then Simple would take $50 dollars each paycheck and place it in that bucket. Any remaining money not allocated towards expenses or goals would be considered “Safe to Spend” money, this is money that we could do anything with and still be able to pay our bills and keep our savings intact. Instead of showing us our total account balance, we could only see our “Safe to Spend” money and had to dig through the settings find the actual account balance. This small feature changed our life for the better. Instead of thinking that we had the entire account balance available to spend each month, our psyche changed to limiting our purchases to stay within the free to spend money limit.
Life was good and our financial life was looking forward, unfortunately when Simple Bank announced that they would be shutting down the app and moving all of their customers to PNC… I was outraged. Devastated by the news, I took to Reddit and Twitter and realized that Simple had built a cult following. Hundreds of people are upset over this and the lack of banking options that can provide the same features that Simple did has been unnerving. Luckily, a couple of reddit users have made a spreadsheet and website to keep track of viable alternatives. https://not-so-simple.com/
I’ve researched some of the alternatives and here are my choices so far :
This young startup is still crowdfunding, however you can start using their banking services immediately. Their whole goal is to help Americans get better at money management and start saving money. While their system is different from Simple I think they might be the best alternative at the moment.
Cons against envel :
In Simple you have one account with multiple goals and expenses; envel instead gives you a separate routing number for each goal or category of expenses. If you do not have enough funds in an account, you will not overdraft and pull in from a separate envelope. Instead your transaction will be declined. This is a little worrisome, since some bills fluctuate such as electricity or water. While envel doesn’t charge the overdraft fee, your service provider might charge a fee for getting declined. This is a con since Simple kept one account and you could not overdraft from your expenses unless you completely ran out of funds from your account.
Expenses are not the same
In Simple you can categorize how much money you need for each expense and when. In envel you have one account that is called “Bills”, you can move money into the Bills account or have envel handle it instead by calibrating to your needs with their “AI”. You tell envel how much money in total you spend on bills, subscriptions and rent you need and they allocate your money for you. If you are a Simple user you might get freaked out by this, however this actually seems simpler than Simple.
Envel does not have a Web App, which might deter some users immediately. The app is also fairly new and can seem “Toyish”, I think it’s looking pretty cool, but this might scare some people away. The app is in it’s infancy and has room to grow and hopefully listens to its user base.
Pros for envel:
envel is similar to Simple, which created a unique system of finance and had a cult following, so I could quickly see how adopting envel would lead to similar results. envel is focused on saving the user money and showing you a daily spending allowance so you know how much is available before running out. While the system is different from Simple, I think that by embracing it’s AI system you might end up with similar or better results.
envel is also extremely simple to set up. Although I like how in Simple I could specify each individual bill and how much to expect to be charged, envel simplifies this one step further by doing the work for you.
In Simple, you had guilt free money and you would have to adjust your expenses and goals if you wanted to change this amount every paycheck. Any remaining money at the end of the month could carry over or you could move it over to your Goals. With envel, you can adjust your saving mode to Penny Pinching, Beast or Party mode with each one giving you a higher allowance. envel can show you how much money you are allowed to spend per week or per day, which seems great to me.
At the moment, envel seems like the best alternative for my needs. I still use a large bank for any other necessities, however for my day to day life envel.ai seems to be the most promising bank that aligns with my savings goals. It’s not a clone of Simple, however I believe that envel could be a great alternative that brings it’s own quirky attitude to the table.
Referral Link : https://share.onefinance.com/invite/AbrahanC/5c8dfea6
One Finance has capitalized on this situation and has created a roadmap to show users what features are coming up that will match simple. They have been very responsive on Twitter and their team is eager to learn about what features Simple users need.
Cons against One Finance:
I’ll start with the Cons since this is what most of you reading this came for:
One Finance uses “Pockets” as opposed to Goals and Expenses. Each pocket has a different account numbers and you can overdraft on these pockets. Unlike Simple, where Goals and Expenses were still in the same account. This means that right now you would have to set your recurring expenses to pull out of a different account and routing number than your main expense account. I like the concept, but I don’t like the idea of overdrafting on a pocket or having to manage multiple account numbers. Luckily One Finance had made it part of their roadmap to allow overdrafts to be pulled in from the spend pocket in the future.
No funding schedules for pockets right now, so you must manually move money around to pockets. Unlike Simple, where money would be moved around on Payday, you must move the money yourself at the moment. One Finance has made it one of their priorities to add automated deposits.
One finance does not allow you to specify how much money you need for each pocket. Unlike Simple where you could specify that you will need $100 for a bill by the end of each month and they would automatically calculate how much money to withdraw, One Finance leaves this up to the user. Once they add the funding schedules, you could figure out how much money you need to deposit per paycheck. However, you could still run out of money if you ended up needing more or had to move money around in the middle of the month. It’s those small details that made Simple so simple. *Sigh- nostalgia*
Small Business That Could Get Acquired and Sold
The Co-founder for One Finance was also a co-founder for Azlo, a bank that was also acquired by BBVA bank and is now being shut down. I don’t know anything about the future of One Finance, but it would be upsetting if it goes down the same path as Simple.
Pros for One Finance:
While there are a couple of negative aspects about One Finance at the moment, they seem like a good alternative right now due to their projected roadmap.
This feature looks great to me, you can get paid up to 2 days early with their early paycheck feature. I’m not sure how this works, but I’m guessing it could be similar to Robinhood where it’s a small free loan while your paycheck goes through.
While the pockets are currently lacking in functionality, it is a nice feature to have a separate card or account number for recurring expenses. Another neat trick is that you can share your pockets with other One users, as opposed to just sharing through a joint account, so multiple people could add to a pocket and withdraw from it too.
One Finance is just starting off as a fairly new business, and wants Simple users to find a new home with their bank. They are hungry for feedback, and have shown their interest in appealing to Simple customers through conversations happening through their social media accounts. There is currently a campaign until the end of the month where you could get 10% (Up to $50) of your initial deposit when funding from a Simple account. I like that they are listening to the Simple community, and have shown in their roadmap for Q1 and Q2 that they are willing to add features for us. (https://www.onefinance.com/welcome-simple-users-were-answering-faqs/)
Overall One Finance is working to help you better manage your money. While they are not a complete replica of Simple, there is hope that their app will continue to improve and the feedback from our community will be incorporated.
Some alternatives to Simple that did not make the cut:
Qube Bank — Qube uses the envelope system and is free for up to 10 envelopes. After that, they have a monthly fee for additional features and “Qubes.” Their application seems worth taking a look at, and paying the lifetime subscription would be cost effective if it fits your needs. However, I did not like how you need to activate your cards on a timer when making purchases. I loved the idea of the family accounts, but I would rather not pay for these services yet. If Envel and One Finance do not fit my needs, this might be my next choice.
SoFI + YNAB — SoFI alone probably won’t meet the needs of a Simple user who wants to focus on budgeting, however SoFI seems like a great platform for more than just banking. If you are interested in investing, loans, and insurances then SoFI seems like the place to do it all at once. SoFI has countless benefits, and if you are looking for a main banking account this seems like the way to go. If you end up combining SoFI with a yearly subscription to “You Need A Budget” you could probably reproduce the results of Simple and have access to a great bank.
Referral code : https://www.sofi.com/share/3591830
I will miss Simple. It was a great application and thoughtfully executed. If I could pay to keep Simple as a service, I certainly would. Unfortunately we must turn the page on this great experience and sadly, move on. I hope that those of you that loved Simple as much as I have, find a bank that fills the gap in your heart- just like Simple once did.