I’m a huge fan of the envelope budgeting methodology. I’m also a huge fan of FREE. That’s why I was excited to take a look at the online personal finance software MySpendingPlanTM. It’s a free, online tool that uses an envelope budgeting system to help you better manage your money.
Being that one of my complaints about Mint.com’s system was the weak budgeting (although it is getting better), I thought that a free, online personal finance app that uses envelope budgeting might be the ticket to kick Mint off it’s highly-rated pedestal. I found, however, that MySpendingPlanTM doesn’t quite have what it takes.
MySpendingPlanTM offers a number of features including envelope budgeting, settings goals, managing tasks, tracking upcoming bills, and more. They also offer a number of different ways to “Save More,” but I’ll touch more on that in a bit.
For those that try the system and like it, MySpendingPlanTM will help you get a better hold on your spending habits. It was my experience, however, that the system is still in need of quite a few improvements before it rivals many of the other similar services (both free and paid for). There were two things in particular that lead me to this conclusion: slow system responsiveness and advertisements that were too intrusive.
The main improvement that I was quickly begging for was the speed in which the system reacted to my clicks. In other words, there was delay (ranging from 2 to 5 seconds) after almost every click throughout the application. Depending on the action you are performing (editing your various envelopes, for example), this adds a considerable amount of time to setting up and using the budgeting system.
In addition to the delay, the way in which you entered various data into the system also added unnecessary time. For example, when adding transactions, rather than being able to enter the data using only the keyboard, it required various clicks of the mouse to enter each piece of data. While this may not seem like that big of a deal, when you’re entering dozens of transactions each week, you want it to go as quick as possible. You should spend very little time updating your data and much more time being able to analyze it and make future plans.
The other thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the fact that advertisements are rather intrusive throughout the web application. I understand that they have to make their money from somewhere in order to offer the service for free. I’m perfectly ok with monetizing the service through advertisements (Mint and Google do the same thing). But it’s the way that MySpendingPlanTM does it that I don’t exactly agree with (or at least like).
Here’s a screenshot of a typical screen in MySpendingPlanTM:
Notice that the areas in the red boxes are the ads. They also introduce ads in other areas such as: Kontera pop-up ads on text, and a full screen advertisement every time you sign in to the application.. While this may not be a big deal for some, it felt a little too intrusive and blatant for my tastes.
While these issues may not be a deal breaker for some, it gives the impression that they are more concerned with feeding you advertisements than providing a quality personal finance software package to truly help individuals and families get a better grasp on their finances.
In general, it needs quite a bit of work and polish to compete with the likes of Mint and others.
Having said all of the above, they are in Beta still, so we have to cut them some slack. I’m sure many more improvements are yet to be made. It’s a free service, so I suggest trying it out for yourself to see if it works for you. If you like it and can stick to it, the envelope budgeting methodology that it uses should help you spend less and save more.
Be sure to check out the full MySpendingPlan Review for complete details and a walkthrough of the application.
The MySpendingPlan review was featured on SimplyForties.com in their Carnival of Personal Finance. Check out the carnival for a ton of great personal finance articles!