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by Sarah Eadie

John B on How Goals Make Budgeting Click

John B with his family.

John B is a self-identified techie. He finds new technology irresistible. After reading about Simple online, he signed up immediately.

But he didn’t make the switch right away. Throughout his 20s, he experienced banking woes commonly associated with being a broke college student: overdrawing his debit card, getting hit by fees. It was uncomfortable, but never enough to spur change. It was easier just to ignore his woes; out of sight, out of mind—even if it meant fees and hassle.

As 20s turned to 30s, John made more money, but he also had more responsibilities. Marriage and a baby meant he had to stop being ignorant of his finances. “Those things just made it more apparent that I needed to be able to see my money a little bit better,” John explains.

Spoiler: John loves Goals

Because you’re reading Simple’s blog, you might guess that Goals was the answer to John’s budgeting woes. But he didn’t get there immediately. Through trial and error, John learned that he needed a combination of two things to set himself up for budgeting success:

Visibility

John knew he needed to start paying attention. “Unless you’re actively tracking your money, it continues to disappear,” John explains. “You don’t feel like you’re living more lavishly. It’s just like, ‘Well, I had more money and now more money is gone,’ and that’s terrifying.”

John signed up for Mint, to help him track his spending. But even after Mint’s many emails and notifications, his behavior didn’t change. “It was easy to get away from the budgets set in Mint because you weren’t actually moving money,” John says.

Visibility was only half of the equation. He also needed…

Control

He compares the need to touch and move your money to taking notes: “Teachers will tell you to take notes, and it’s not even about having the notes. There’s something about writing stuff down that helps your brain remember better.” If moving pen over paper cemented a teacher’s points, John thought moving his money might help him be more aware of how he was spending and saving.

John tried to use his old bank to budget out his savings goals from his debit balance.

He soon hit a snag. “They only let you transfer money out six times a month or something. I remember one time I went over that and they were like, ‘Nope. You can’t do it.’ Then they charged me something.”

John understood now that he needed both visibility and control to budget successfully. He went searching for another way to save.


John B using the Simple app with his child on his lap.

Using Goals to budget

John had been using his Simple account as a video game fund; adding a couple dollars here and there until he had enough to buy a game. It wasn’t until he started researching budgeting tools online that he realized Goals was exactly the tool he was looking for.

“Now I don’t think about my balance ever. It’s always broken up into Goals. It helps me think more about my money and where it’s going,” John says. After his paycheck direct deposits to his account, he assigns almost every dollar to a Goal.

To try a budget like John’s, click or tap any of these sample Goals below to add them to your own account.

Rent
$625

Emergency Fund
$1000

Phone Bill
$85

The rest, John says, goes to debt.

“The biggest thing is setting a budget for yourself. Figure out how much money you do or do not want to spend in a month for a certain category.” In John’s experience, setting up Goals this way—for things you need and things that thrill you—made budgeting click for him.


John B holding his baby.

Photo credit: Rachel V Photography

John says banking with Simple has been life-changing. He’s gone from feeling in the dark about his finances, to understanding his money really well.

Now that he’s improved his relationship with his money, John is a firm believer that others can do it, too. “I’m a team lead, so I’m always going on and on about Simple to all the people on my team,” he says.

An example of account progress for demonstration purposes only.

An example of account progress for demonstration purposes only.

Each month, he watches his savings grow using Reports. It’s a comforting feeling. “Even after budgeting, I feel like I’m spending so much money. But money is for spending. That’s what you do with it. You don’t just keep it forever,” he explains. “That dotted line lets me know I’m doing something right with my money.”

Photo credit: Rachel V Photography