The Best Alternative to Simple’s Banking App

Also my favorite way to budget money.

Lance Cummings PhD


Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

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.

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



Lance Cummings PhD

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