Creating a budget is easy—numbers in a spreadsheet, figures in an app, chicken scratch on a piece of paper. However, merging those numbers with how you live your life is not so easy. How do you make sure your actual spending behavior matches your intended spending behavior?
For those who struggle with controlling their spending, the oft-touted holy grail of money management systems is the ‘envelope system,’ which consists of wads of cash in literal envelopes labeled with various spending categories. And while it does provide physical limitations on the amount you spend on your predetermined categories, it’s also as cumbersome as it sounds.
But the electronic age has delivered the concept of ‘cash in envelopes’ without stacks of bills in our purses and pockets. Enter the relative newcomer Qube (qubemoney.com). This app takes the cash you would have put into envelopes and deposits to a Qube Money bank account so that the app can virtually separate your money into categories or ‘qubes.’
Spelling irregularities aside, Qube has some pros and cons.
Banking and budgeting together
For Qube to ‘do its thing,’ the user must send their money to a new bank account tied to their Qube account. While there are cons to this setup (see below), this allows the app’s budgeting features to control how money is spent. The user must ‘allow’ the expense to be paid from a particular category. But if there isn’t enough money in said category, they must take from another.
This system ensures users don’t spend more than they have. Unless, of course, they have an existing credit card that they decide to use still.
Real-time spending information
This app provides the most up-to-date spending data without any fiddley maintenance. With most other personal accounting apps, the user must verify the categories are correct before seeing how much they’ve spent by category. With Qube, the spender is required to select the category before the transaction is completed. So anytime a user logs in to see the balances available by category, the information is accurate and up-to-date.
All spenders in the household see the same figures
Since the app stores all category balances and transactions, multiple people in the household can share the information. All the spenders know how much is available in each category in real-time. Plus, they can see where the money went.
This transparency either allows everyone to be on the same page or gives someone great ammunition for their next argument about money.
Banking and budgeting together
While the beauty of Qube is that it can electronically replicate the ‘envelope method’ of financial management, the price is that the user has to move their money into a new banking relationship. But it doesn’t completely remove the need for a local bank with branches and tellers and sometimes free coffee in the lobby. In a practical sense, it adds complexity to their finances.
Relatively new company
Qube has only been around for a few years, and they could close up shop or be acquired by some other company. If this app was strictly a budget monitoring app like Mint or You Need a Budget, the company’s newness would be less of a concern. But because the banking is now also tied up with the app, it could be potentially disruptive if someone had to or wanted to stop using it.
Qube does have a free version, but for practical use, the user needs the paid version. For me, I’m wary of free apps for financial management. Let me pay a little for the use of the product, so maybe their primary source of income is not my data.
I am intrigued by Qube. For people who have a great deal of trouble sticking to spending parameters, this app can create the structure they need to stay within their means.