I know this isn’t the usual fare, but I’m frustrated.  My wife and I got serious about our finances and started using the online financial software called “Mvelopes”.  It boasts  many features, and we’ve been pretty happy with it.  However, it costs us about $12-14 per month (I can’t remember the exact amount), and it doesn’t handle certain things well.  For instance, it includes a bill pay service which has all the features I want save one: only checking or money market accounts can be used as payment accounts.  This is annoying: why can’t I use a credit card?  I want to get my 2% cash back on all the money I pour out each month.   

Also, Mvelopes doesn’t really track investments very well: it can include the balances of non-cash accounts in net worth reporting, but it doesn’t deal with the overall financial picture as well as some other products do.  For example – I transfer a fixed amount each month to a Roth IRA account, but Mvelopes treats that transaction in the same way it treats any retail purchase or other transaction – as an expese.  That’s not right; it’s not an expense, it’s a transfer.  Not only that, but it’s a transfer to an account where the amount might change, but that’s not reflected anywhere in Mvelopes.  I just have to set up an envelope to contain the “spending” for savings that go to non-cash accounts.

Finally, Mvelopes as a software product is a little bit flakey – sometimes transactions just mysteriously disappear, only to reappear on a logout/login cycle.  Similarly, sometimes account or envelope balances shown are incorrect (again, usually corrects itself on logout/login).  I can understand how such bugs happen – I develop software professionally, and I know how it goes – but as a consumer, I need it to just work.

As I said – we’ve been mostly happy with it, but we’re to the point now where we want to fine-tune our financial picture in greater detail, and Mvlopes just falls short. 

This isn’t my greatest source of frustration, however…

What’s more frustrating is that there isn’t anything better out there, unless you’re willing to pay more for it – and for me that’s a problem, because it gives me diminishing returns.

My dad recommended Quicken, and it has a money-back guarantee, so I purchased it to try it out.  First impression: very complicated.  I don’t want to have to go to a weeklong seminar or read hundreds of pages of user manual to figure it out.  It also has the bill pay problem of only using checking accounts as payment accounts, but it also costs another $10 per month for bill pay.  On top of the $60 required to purchase Quicken in the first place, it’s just not as economical as Mvelopes.  On the up-side, it does a better job of tracking investments as it relates to the overall picture.  I may end up sticking with it, but I’m not happy about it.

I also looked more closely at mint.com – it’s actually a refreshingly usable site with most of the features I need for my finances (including decent overviews of investment accounts and performance).  However, they don’t support my local bank (even though that’s not our main account), and there isn’t a bill pay service.  Again, I may come back to this and just get a different bank and find a third party bill-pay service.

Yodlee MoneyCenter is also an intriguing product, and it comes oh-so-close to being exactly what I want – it even allows some bills to be paid with a credit card.  However, the list of payees is limited, and you can’t send a payment to any address like you can with Mvlopes or Quicken Bill Pay.  That’s really the only deal-killer for me with Yodlee.

 

Arrgggh.  There are several 95% solutions out there, but there just isn’t one that really has what I want.

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