On January 7, 2021, Simple Bank announced that it was closing and ceasing operations. Founded in 2009, Simple Bank was started as an alternative to traditional banks that seemed to only care about how many fees they could squeeze out of their customers. With no monthly fee, Simple was a low-cost online alternative that customers loved.
After growing quickly, Simple was acquired by BBVA in 2014. In 2020, BBVA’s U.S. operations were then acquired by PNC Bank. It appears that is shutting Simple down in “order to focus on its core banking platform,” according to reports.
If you are a Simple customer looking for an alternative banking solution that includes robust budgeting capabilities, then Qube Money might just be the perfect solution for you. While existing Simple accounts will be fully transferred to BBVA accounts, most Simple customers opened their account because they didn’t want to use a traditional megabank and will be looking for an alternative.
It’s also important to realize that Simple differed from standard online banks because they offered budgeting and planning tools that helped their customers reach financial milestones.
For this reason, many Simple customers are now looking to Qube Money.
What is Qube Money?
Qube Money is a mobile banking app that marries best-in-class budgeting capabilities with cash management. Qube Money can be thought of as the marriage of mobile banking with cash envelopes. If you are looking for a free online banking solution and do not need or want any budgeting features, Qube is not your best option.
However, if you have had trouble creating a budget, sticking to a budget, or simply want to start living within your means, then Qube’s features are incredibly powerful.
I think of Qube Money as a great solution for someone that doesn’t know where or how they are spending their money.
Here is what a current Qube customer had to say about the service: “Qube is so easy to use and makes planning and executing my budget simple and concise. Mostly I love the peace of mind I’ve had since using Qube. The anxiety and stress I used to feel about spending money is gone!”
How does Qube Money Work?
At its heart, Qube Money is a budgeting tool that leverages banking services to help you plan your spending.
The power of Qube’s budgeting tools lies in the Qubes that you create. Qubes are the digital envelopes that you allocate your money into each month.
Instead of using real physical envelopes to distribute the cash, you divide up your checking account into individual “qubes.” Think of Qubes as sub-accounts of the primary checking account.
Are you wondering what envelope budgeting is? Let’s talk about that and return to how Qube works.
Cash Envelope Budgeting Systems
Cash envelope budgeting is, in many ways, the most rudimentary way to budget. You can think of it as the way your great grandparents might have budgeted many years ago.
For those who struggle with sticking to their budget, a physical envelope system is a more rigid budgeting method. This makes it extremely useful for those who need the most help.
This is how it works. When using a physical envelope budgeting system, one goes to the bank in person and withdraws the cash needed to cover their budgeted expenses for the month. The money is then physically divided into each budgeting category and placed into corresponding envelopes. Categories may include things like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc.
Once the cash runs out from an envelope, one has to wait until the following month to refill the category before spending any more money. If you are very disciplined, you won’t borrow money from one envelope if you overspend on another.
Cash essentially limits your ability to overspend. No cash = no spending.
While this is undoubtedly a surefire way to prevent lifestyle creep and overspending, there is typically one complaint that many have shared: managing the cash and having to carry it around can be quite a hassle. It’s also cumbersome to track where you spend money unless you keep very detailed records and save receipts.
It can also be risky. What if you lose an envelope or it gets stolen?
Qube Money is the answer to those who want to stick with a strict envelope budgeting system but want to leave the cash behind.
Qube Takes Budgeting To The Next Level
Before making a purchase using the Qube Money check card, you select which envelope you want the transaction to pull from and proceed through the transaction. The data then updates, and you see your new remaining balance.
Much like a physical envelope, if you don’t have enough money within a qube, you can’t spend the money. There are no overdrafts, so the transaction will be declined if there are not enough funds in the allocated qube to cover the total.
To illustrate how this works, imagine you are standing in line at the grocery store. You have a cart full of food, and you have $350 allocated for your groceries for the month. While the cashier rings up the person in front of you, you pull out your phone and select your grocery qube. You “move” the 350 dollars over to the card, and you’re ready to go.
Once your groceries are rung up, the total is $150. The transaction clears, and the remaining $150 is returned to your grocery qube for next time.
Your qube will only be open for a limited amount of time so that you don’t go on and make another impulse purchase without having to reopen a spending qube.
No transaction logging is needed, as that transaction automatically comes from your grocery qube. It’s similar to logging transactions, except you’re logging them before the transaction rather than after.
This is an excellent feature because your budget will always be up to date. If you’re like me, you may sometimes forget to track an expense or update them weekly. Qube Money eliminates this aspect of digital budgeting, which isn’t often discussed.
Adding The Right Amount Of Friction To Hold You Accountable
Simply put, spending money is easy. Far too easy. It’s not hard to imagine how one could effortlessly spend their entire paycheck and then wonder where the money went at the end of the month. Actually, you probably don’t need to imagine it at all, because that’s how most people do it.
An unplanned expense or unexpected decrease in income is enough to shatter any sense of security. For many reasons, it’s harder to be successful with money today than ever before.
One of the critical ways that Qube helps you stick to your spending plan is that you have to physically open the app and select from which qube (or digital envelope) you want to spend.
Your Qube Card literally won’t work unless you open a spending qube.
That visual reminder and act of seeing your financial plan staring you in the face before you spend is incredibly potent.
Decades ago, people would carry their checkbooks with them, and they would balance them. A checkbook had a ledger in the front that you would use to make sure you wouldn’t write a check that would bounce. So you always knew your bank balance.
Now with credit cards and digital payments, you essentially just swipe or click a button, and the entire process is over before you even have time to think about whether you should be making the purchase.
The qubes are your accountability partner to make sure you stick to your plan. Now you just sit back and watch your savings grow as you only spend what you planned.
Qube As A Standalone Banking Solution
In its current format, Qube works best if you already have an existing bank account that you can link. If you need the ability to send transfers to other people with Zelle, you will be disappointed.
While management at Qube has stated that they intend to build out more robust banking functions, it’s currently best used as a world-class budgeting tool. The best part is that a basic plan is free.
How Much Does Qube Money Cost?
Qube Money has announced four plans. Your needs will dictate which plan is right for you. The “Basic” plan is free ($0) per month. This plan is an individual plan with 10 qubes.
The “Premium” plan includes the free plan services plus additional features such as unlimited qubes and the ability to get more than one card if you share finances with a significant other/partner/spouse/etc. The premium plan is $8 per month.
A Family plan is $15 per month, and in addition to the Premium plan features, it allows you to add up to 10 kids accounts. There is an upcoming ‘chore tracking feature,’ which could be a motivator for task-oriented families. It’s clear that the app was designed with families in mind.
For $25 a month, a Platinum account gives you access to all of the features of the cheaper plans in addition to rewards, benefits through corporate partners, access to additional training, and a sleek metal card.
Qube Money Pricing
Qube Takes Family Spending And Coordination To The Next Level
It’s easy to see at first glance that Qube was created with families in mind. Qube’s family plan allows you to have different cards for your entire family. Everyone can log into their app and see their specific spending Qubes.
If you have little ones that do chores in exchange for an allowance, they can have their own personal spending Qube. The ability to set parent permissions means that you are always in control while still teaching your kids about responsible spending habits.
Qube vs. Simple Bank – How They Stack Up
If you are deciding if Qube is a good replacement for Simple, it comes down to one thing: budgeting.
Do you need help tracking your spending? Want to curb an impulse spending problem? Do you want to accelerate your ability to reach your financial goals and set money aside for upcoming expenses like vacations or home repairs?
If you want to have complete control over your spending, look no further. Qube is easily the most complete budgeting and spending solution that I’ve seen on the market.
If you are ready to learn more about Qube and start to get your financial life back under control, you can visit Qube’s site to learn more!