In October 2022 mvelopes.com announced they are closing down and we've had a number of people ask how Monarch compares or how they might switch over. This article is to help share what we've learned. While Monarch isn't exactly the same there are many similar features and we think there are some neat things that make it even better!
Monarch uses the same account connection service that mvelopes uses, it's called finicity and is a part of mastercard (the credit card network). This should mean that any account you were able to connect with mvelopes can be connected to Monarch. Check out this article on how to add your accounts in Monarch and if you have any trouble connecting please reach out to our support team to help troubleshoot.
Envelopes & groups
Instead of envelopes, Monarch has a very similar concept called categories. Just like envelopes there are also 2 types of categories: system categories and custom categories. System categories work like smart categorization envelopes where Monarch ties to put the transactions automatically in the right envelop for you. Custom categories don't automatically put any transactions in them so you can either manually do so or set automated rules which is a cool feature exclusive to Monarch for putting the right transactions in each envelope (aka category).
Monarch also has the same concept of groups which let you collect multiple categories (aka envelopes) together. One neat thing you can do with groups in Monarch that you can't in mvelopes is see the sum of your budget for a group across all envelopes in it.
Zero based budgeting
The largest difference between mvelopes and Monarch is that Monarch budgets using monthly expense categories (which are similar to envelopes). But the total amount you have available to budget is based on your monthly income and does not include any account balances. This means there is no way to "reconcile" an account balance to the amount in an envelop.
You can read a little bit about why we decided not to budget this way here.
There are 3 methods available in mvelopes to budget: by paycheck, by month, or variable. Monarch only funds envelopes (aka categories) by month. If you are using paychecks or variable budgeting we recommend estimating your monthly total income so you can use that to budget in Monarch.
At the end of a month you can rollover any remaining budget in a Monarch category into the next month. This is similar to the "sweep" function in mvelopes but in Monarch it's done for you automatically at the end of every month. So there is no manual "sweep" button to rollover like mvelopes has:
If you'd like to sweep money during the month you can do so by clicking the "remaining" amount on a category which will allow you to keep your total budget the same but move a surplus from one category to a deficit in another:
Mvelopes has a inbox feature that looks like this:
It's very similar to the transaction review card on the Monarch Dashboard:
By default Monarch will only ask you review uncategorized transactions which is different than the mvelope inbox which asks you to review every single transaction. You can configure Monarch to do the same thing by going to settings -> rules by turning on the first option "mark new transactions as needs review":
The concept of unallocated money in mvelopes is a combination of your income and account balances:
In Monarch, budgeting is done off your monthly income so the version of this is shown as "left to budget" on the plan page and is simply income minus expenese:
Note that Monarch does not budget off account balances so "left to budget" does not include balances, only income.
Monarch will show pending transactions from your bank and you can also add manual transactions to any account. But there is not currently a system like mvelopes where you can manually enter a transaction and then "match" it to the real one that shows up with your connected accounts.
Exporting and Importing data
You can upload a CSV file of transactions into Monarch to easily get a lot of data moved over from mvelopes. These CSV's can contain the name of the transaction, the amount and which envlelop you had assigned (called a category in Monarch).
If you upload a CSV file it will bring in your envelopes but you will have to create your planned budget amounts for each envelope manually since there is not a way to export that information from mvelopes.
We're currently researching better ways to import CSV's from mvelopes so please reach out to support if you are trying to bring your data into Monarch and we can work with you to make it easier.