Most Important Features for Simple Refugees

Preface:
I recently switched to Monzo USA from Simple since they are shutting down. After doing some research, I realized Monzo cannot be a full replacement YET, but (at least for me) with the below features I would be able to completely switch to Monzo.

I received my Monzo card this week and have been playing with the US app. Overall I’m happy with the way Monzo works. I love you cant “overdraw” your main account by auto-spending from pots (I’m sure others will have different opinions here). I think the interface is easy to use and based off the features available in the UK, I’m optimistic for the future of the USA version.

Before getting into the two feature that are a must for me (and I suspect many others transferring from Simple), I want to explain my current setup. I’m a heavy budgeter who uses YNAB to regularly reconcile accounts across multiple institutions. YNAB allows me to track my net worth and balances of investment accounts over time, and get a deep look into my spending habits. A Shared Simple account (with my wife) is our primary checking account. We have other checking accounts as well which have small direct deposits setup for rewards purposes - this makes YNAB critical for budgeting purposes. I had
(have) Simple setup with Expenses which mirror my budget in YNAB. Expenses are funded from our paychecks as they hit our account automatically (similar to Monzo’s salary sorter from what I can tell). Simple is connected to YNAB via Plaid to import transactions (as are all other institutions). Each of us have individual Simple accounts which we use for discretionary or fun-money spending.

The two must-have features:

  1. Shared / Joint Accounts
    My wife and I use our joint account daily for purchases. It’s critical that we have a joint account with which each of us have debit cards for spending. Monzo already has our individual accounts covered, but lack of a shared account means our primary bank account will have to be at another institution.
  2. Plaid Integration
    Being able to view transactions in other FinTech tools is critical, but it is really only important with a Shared / Joint account for me. We don’t budget discretionary purchases, we budget the transfer to discretionary account. I only need to track transactions in the shared account. (I’m sure others will have different needs).

With these two in place, I’m able to transition over to Monzo entirely (hand happy to!).


Other non-critical, nice-to-have features:

  1. Salary Sorter and Spending from Pots
    • Automate my regular task of populating my budget / pots? Um… yes please!
      Salary Sorter Calculated as a Percentage would be a great improvement on this feature too!
    • Pay recurring bills from those pots, so I am confident I won’t overspend? YES!! (Improvement over Simple in my opinion)
  2. Pot Goals: Set a Target Date
    Simple allows customers to set a target date for goals, but also lets customers setup recurring expenses and dates for those as well. This lets you easily set a funding source for an expense (presumably update your salary sorter for Monzo) when setting up the expense. Simple handles all the math for you to ensure you have enough money on-hand by the time your expense or goal date comes. It also supports setting this up as a recurring expense on a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, or annual basis.
  3. Integration with “Instant” Payment services like Zelle
    This would be great to be able to send / receive money from non-Monzo US friends and family. Especially since Monzo is in its infancy in the US.
    Note: US users can still use Venmo today, we just have to go through account verification which takes a few days. If Plaid integration was supported, US users could link accounts instantly to use Venmo.
  4. Bill Pay
    This would be a nice feature - Since I dont have a UK account, I’m not entirely sure if this is the same as (1.)
  5. Earn Interest on Pots
    Today, for long-term savings I use a second institution to save for long-term expenses so I can get a better interest rate. Being able to earn additional interest on “long term” pots would be a big win in my opinion. Having said this, it would actually be nice to have long-term vs short term pots. In the US you get 6 outgoing transfers from “savings” accounts per month. I’d be happy with the same limitations in exchange for a decent interest rate.
  6. Mobile Check Deposits
    I can get around this right now because I also bank at other institutions which have mobile check deposit. It’ll be annoying though to have to wait for the deposit to clear, then the transfer…

Ok enough ranting. The first two are critical, the rest bring Monzo to par or ahead of Simple :slight_smile:

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Wow - thanks so much for the detailed write-up. A lot of these things are on our list as well, but I’d love to hear more about how you used YNAB and Simple, and what Monzo would need to build to help fully meet your budgeting needs. Would you be up for spending 15-20 mins on the phone to help our team get our heads around that part? If so drop us a message in the in-app chat or write me an email at thomas@monzo.com?

Thanks again!

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Thanks for the reply Thomas! Just sent you an email to follow up :slight_smile:

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I made an account to follow up and say, as another Simple Refugee - please please please Spending from Pots. Expenses in Simple helped me save so much money and really learn how to not be dumb with my salary. Having a feature that is able to go “On payday, allocate $500 into a Groceries pot, $300 into a dog pot, etc” and then be able to spend from those pots automatically would be amazing.

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Thanks for this! (and welcome to the community) We’re exploring what this could look like and will keep the community in the loop…

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Thanks! Replied to your email!

This is my biggest thing too! That’s all I need is to be able to spend from a goal, after the fact. So I can make the purchase and then assign it to a certain goal.

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How close are the Monzo US and UK teams, Thomas? Are we expecting the functionality to diverge significantly, or so you usually consider both markets when looking at potential functionality?

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As a added specific pot feature-- it would be nice able to to choose whether a pot is “spendable” or not. Simple would just steal from goals if your safe to spend got too low, and right now pots are totally segregated. I’d like a per-pot toggle that is essentially “if monzo balance would go to 0 with this transaction, transfer what’s needed from this pot rather than it being declined”. If multiple pots have this toggled, you could get real clever and steal a relative % from each, or just from one.

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I would absolutely love if there was any type of functionality where your Monzo card wouldn’t be declined if there wasn’t enough money in your main balance, but you had it in pots. Monzo is by far my favorite bank of all the new ones I’ve tried over the last few months and it would be incredible to switch over to it full time, even in beta. The only thing that’s stopping me is not being able to spend unless my money is already in my main account balance. I like the idea of it being a setting, as I’m sure some people use it differently and love that you can’t “overdraft” your own account.

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I would really love the ability to spend directly from pots - ie bill pay directly from the pots. I use Simple now (RIP) and I like to set aside funds I know will be coming through to a “goal” then allocate that funding to the transaction after it posts. In poking around, it looks like I’ll have to put the money in the pots, then remember to transfer back out of the pot BEFORE the bill is set to hit my account.

The biggest benefit I got from Simple was this ability - to earmark where money that HAD to be spent away from my “safe-to-spend” - but it was all one bank account so I didn’t have to worry about payments not going through just because I hadn’t pre-allocate the funds to an expense category or moved the funds back to the “safe-to-spend” category before a payment goes through. I am historically very bad about remembering due dates so while I do have a calendar it was great to be able to set everything to autopay from my account and know that I didn’t really have to do much beyond setting some of those funds aside so I got an accurate picture of what I could spend.

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Just steal how Simple did Safe to Spend and Goals. Goals pretty much changed my financial life.

What made Simple work so well is just how simple it was. Make a goal. Set an amount. Set a date you want it completed by and that’s it.

Also the Safe to Spend function goes with the saying ‘you can’t spend what you didn’t know you had’. If you think of Safe to Spend as your real balance, you can mentally save.

From taxes, car payments, rent, vacations, monthly savings or whatever. It honestly changed my life.

I currently have a six month rolling Goals for rent, car payment, and monthly savings. Monthly savings ends on the 31st of each month, and then I transfer that into a high interest savings account (RIP 2.0% Simple Savings). Car payment ends a day or two before the payment is due. While rent is completed 60 days prior to it being due. So for May 1st, that Goal was completed in March 1st.

Again. This feature is LIFE CHANGING.

What I have found in my search for a replacement for Simple is NOTHING IS BUILT FOR SAVING. Everything revolves around spending habits, but telling people that they spent $200 a year on Spotify or $400 on Starbucks doesn’t help people save money. It just reminds them they are bad with it.

What Simple did is take all the pain, frustration and complication of SAVING and automate it. The fact that no one can replicate something as simple as automated daily withdraw to a separate virtual account based on an amount and an end date blows my mind.

I looked at One, and while they have some neat ideas. It is way too complicated with their version of Goals/Pots being actual accounts. That might work for some, but not me.

You can do it Monzo. At least I hope you can.

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Regarding Safe to Spend - is there something inadequate about Monzo’s Left to Spend feature as an alternative?

Regarding Goals - I don’t think I quite understand the difference between it and Monzo Pots. Is it just that Simple worked out a fixed amount you need to save per month (i.e. did this pretty trivial calculation on your behalf) or is it more than that? Perhaps variably adjust what you save each month toward your goal based on other spending that month?

If the latter, I would personally dislike having such functionality forced on me, although I appreciate how it could be valuable for many. If this was a feature of Simple was it possible to opt out and choose to simply save fixed amounts toward your goal regardless of other spending patterns?

How do I upvote this post?

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Monzo US doesn’t have that feature.

I have goals with a fixed amount that I want to have money saved by. Every paycheck (or you could choose every day as an option), Simple calculates the amount that should go into each goal based on the number of paychecks and transfers it automatically.

Similarly, I have Expenses that hit certain days of the month. I set the date the expense withdraws, the amount of the expense, and Simple deducts from my Safe to Spend each paycheck the proper amount (for me, I get paid every 2 weeks so half of the expense goes into each expense each paycheck). When the expense hits, Simple knows the merchant and deducts it accordingly - the money was already saved and set aside ready to go. Every time I got paid, everything was divvied up into expenses and goals, and what was left is Safe to Spend. It was truly set it and forget it.

I’m just getting started with Monzo US, but with Pots, the basic functionality looks similar, only you have to manually set how much you want to transfer. There’s an option for a Goal amount, but its only purpose seems to be to show you how close you are to completing your goal based on the amount you choose to put in each week/month etc.

I like that there’s the ability to schedule withdraws to and from the Pots, so Pots are serving what Goals and Expenses did for me in Simple:

Pots for Goals - I’ll have to do a 1-time calculation and transfer a fixed amount to a Goal Pot that will coincide with when I get paid.

Pots for Expenses - looks like I will need to create pots for each expense (and maybe combine some expenses because you only get 20 pots) and set it up so it manually transfers in amounts I need when I get paid, then also set up the withdrawal of that same amount the day before the expense is due.

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There’s a heart at the bottom of it.

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This isnt reddit though. The comment won’t move up or become more visible or anything.

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Right right. Sorry. I wanted to ‘vote’ for it. I saw on some other posts that was an option at the top of the page, but I couldn’t find it on this one.

A topic needs to be in the ‘feedback and ideas’ category to be voted on. This one is just in ‘Monzo USA’

I can move it if people want me to?

This this this 100x this. I just wrote a new post about this 15 mins ago. You explained it much more elegantly than me. This is a must have for me, coming from Simple. I hope Monzo admins see this. Thank you for your breakdown!

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