July 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm
by Christina Tynan-Wood
Today is all about freedom and independence from oppression, right? Thankfully, we live in a country where freedom is part of our DNA. But since Independence Day also falls on about the same day mortgage, rent, credit card, and car loan payments are due, it’s sometimes hard to remember that we are free. Since to make these payments, we have to keep working, often at jobs we don’t like, just to keep our lifestyle afloat. Freedom from those payments feels like an impossible goal. So I’m going to be a total holiday bummer and talk about debt. Ick.
Spending is a blast. Paying for it? Not so much.
Last week, I did a meeting with the folks at Mvelopes.com, which is an online financial tool based on the old—born in the Depression when people had to live on what little they earned—method of putting your budgets in envelopes at the beginning of the month to help you live within your means. Here’s the idea: You dole out what cash you have into envelopes, giving as much as you can to necessities like groceries and whatever is leftover to “movies” and “shopping.”
Here is a (longish) video that describes the concept.
In this era of debit and credit cards, this system is inconvenient to implement because it means discarding our very convenient plastic payment methods. So the folks at Mvelopes.com have found a way—using a website and mobile apps—to create a virtual envelope system that links to the bank accounts you use to pay for things. It lets you know how much money you have in your “envelopes” so you can live within your means every month instead of relying on credit cards. This way you can get out of debt—faster than you think—and get some personal freedom.
Most of this service is free.
Mvelopes also offers a money coach service, where someone will call you up and walk you and your spouse through setting up a budget and coming up with a plan to get out of debt as fast as possible. And to help you break your bad habits, your coach will call you when your spending says you have strayed and get you on the phone for regular money-coaching sessions. I tried the one free sample call Mvelopes offers to lure you into this service. In a few minutes, my coach showed me how—using a debt snowball system—I could have a future that was completely debt-free. No mortgage, car payments, or credit card payments. It was a glimpse—if only on paper (or screen actually)—of a real freedom where I owed my own house and car and worked because I wanted to. And it wasn’t impossibly far away. I liked the way this looked.
I’m still debating the coaching service. But I’m spending my Independence Day—when I’m not BBQing, that is—coming up with my own personal plan for freedom.