The Best Alternative to Simple’s Banking App
I believe the reason we have such trouble budgeting isn’t because of our ineptitude. We fail at budgeting because we do it the wrong way. This is what my wife and I learned while using Simple’s innovative banking app … which BBVA USA is shutting down. When I received the email, I gasped. If you are a Simple user, you are probably wondering … what now? If you are not a Simple user, you might be wondering … what’s the big deal?
What Makes Simple Great?
If you’ve looked at financial apps at all, you most likely will notice that all of them function on the same basic principle — spending categories.
See ReadWrite’s article on personal financial apps for a quick run down of the most popular.
Personal Financial Apps
From paychecks to automatic online transfers, finances have come a long way. What hasn’t changed much is budget…
You designate a certain amount of money to each category. You either don’t go over that amount or don’t spend it all (depending on if you are using a traditional or envelope method). Either way, you have to spend time managing the categories … and this assumes that your spending in each category is fairly stable. This doesn’t work for us. I’m guessing it doesn’t work for most people, since we all have such a problem budgeting.
Simple’s innovation was its Safe-to-Spend feature. You identify your reoccurring expenses, set up an automation to make sure money is there when you need it, then Simple gives you the amount of money that you can spend on other things … any way you like. This means you don’t have to obsess about categories … you just keep an eye on that one number. The app does track categories to help see where that money is going … which is the real reason for me to use categories.
This form of budgeting is based on a very basic formula. The beauty of Simple was that it automated this formula with an easy to use interface.
Safe-to-Spend = (Available balance - Reoccurring expenses) - Savings goals
You can spend everything in your Safe-to-Spend, knowing you’re all set … or accrue money for spending later.
Simple also had several ways to automate savings that accrued great interest rates. When they rolled out shared accounts, it was magic. My wife and I shared expenses and savings goals. We could also transfer money to each other instantly.
There are apps out there that have one or two of these features, but none that have them all. This is why I find it amazing that BBVA USA is shutting Simple down and expecting us to use their banking app, based on the same old way of doing things. If anything, they should get rid of that monstrosity and use Simple for all their mobile banking.
The Best Alternative to Simple.
Hearing the despair in my wife’s voice, I spent the last two days taking a second look at other banking apps. (I have to admit, I’m a bit of an app Geek and have probably tried them all already). Each and every one of these apps are based on the same annoying principle, just with slightly different interfaces … categories. Have you ever scrolled through a finance app obsessively correcting its categories? Then you can imagine the sweet release of having just one number to think about.
There is actually one app that you probably haven’t heard about that I’ve been using for a while. It is a lot like Simple, but without the banking. Weekly is a fairly simple banking app that functions on the “safe to spend” principle. You simply add your reoccurring income and expenses, and it gives you what you can spend for the week. This is even better than Simple because you don’t have to project your spending all the way out to your next paycheck (which for us is every month). You can also roll over leftover funds to the next week.
Weekly | A Better Budgeting App
Weekly is a focused budget tool for everyone. It helps you determine your average income and expenses to determine a…
Weekly does not have its own bank, but I like this because I can take advantage of cash back on my credit cards. This was difficult to set up on Simple, but works like a charm on Weekly because it uses Plaid to automatically track expenditures from any bank account or credit card.
There are no savings features, but you can add savings goals as a reoccurring expense. I assume they are also working on new features. The price is a bit steep (around $80 a year), but I’m happy to spend money on an app that frees me from financial anxiety.
Note: There is also a much cheaper app that functions on the same principle called Daily. The most significant difference is that you track all your spending manually. I used it quite some time until I found Weekly.
But What About Bank Accounts?
That still left us one problem. My wife and I loved the ability to instantly send money to each other and to share some of these reoccurring expenses. I looked at accounts like Chime and HoneyDue. Most sharing apps are too simple or too complex.
Then I found One through a Facebook ad … because everyone now knows I’m looking at banking apps, right? One is clearly setting itself up as an alternative for Simple users.
Welcome Simple Users | We're Answering FAQs - One
One is not affiliated with Simple in any way. With the recent Simple closing news, many users were left scrambling to…
One does away with the shared account. Instead, you have your personal spending account (think here Safe to Spend), and you can create as many mini-accounts (or pockets) as you like. These can be spending categories, if you are a traditional budgeter, or just reoccurring expenses. Each of these pockets are actual spending accounts with their own routing numbers. The debit card can also rotate through these categories. Best of all, you can share any pocket with another One user!
Savings options look fantastic. Regular savings are at 1% right now. Any automatic savings (spending round ups and direct savings) receives 3%. I’ve not seen those kinds of savings rates in a long time.
One is not a perfect replacement yet. It looks like they are still working on automatic transfers. Simple would automatically move money into these envelopes or pockets. Right now, this is manual in One, but the app says that the feature is on its way.
I’m still disappointed that Simple is going away. By no means will I stay with BBVA USA. Anyone who shuts down such a fantastic app (even if this was some rational business decision) does not get my business. Simple should be the app for all their customers!
So for the time being, I’m switching to One for banking and doubling down on Weekly for tracking spending. I can imagine the two working in sync quite well. For example, I could just have a pocket for all the reoccurring expenses tallied up in Weekly. In the end, it might work even better than Simple.
Note: I am not affiliated with any of these financial products, nor do I receive any compensation. I’m just an app Geek.