Before I start this review, I feel the need to mention that I only post reviews for things when I am compelled to do so by either how great or awful the particular item or service is. I do not get compensated by any of the companies I write reviews for. (As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certain the majority of them don’t even know that I’ve written them.)
I’m putting together a series of articles on financial organization and tax preparation, but this post is going to serve as the foundation for those posts because this banking system makes all of the other steps so much easier and I’ll be referencing it regularly in the future.
I’ve been meaning to write a post about Simple for a while, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Click that link to their website I just posted. Go and watch the video on their page. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
For those of you that don’t know, Simple is an entirely online banking system. The interface is designed for simplicity. I have always hated online banking systems because they were terribly designed, had confusing layouts, and didn’t have any useful features for me. In addition, standard banks cost me money…which was stupid because I only ever used e-banking services. Why was I paying nearly $20 a month in fees to manage my own money on sub-par software? I’ve been using Simple for a year now and I will never bank elsewhere ever again.
It is really great for personal accounts, but it’s PERFECT for booth renters and business owners. It streamlines financial management and makes everything from organizing expenses and income to tax preparation so easy. You’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if you didn’t check it out.
Benefits to Simple are pretty numerous:
1.) You get a Simple Visa card for transactions…and you can lock and unlock the card at any time.
This is such an amazing feature. From the application on my phone (or the Simple website), I can “lock” my card and make it impossible for anyone to charge it. I keep mine locked all the time. When I’m in the grocery line, I quickly unlock it, use it, and lock it up again. I have never once had an unauthorized purchase on my card…which is not something I can say about my Bank of America card.
2.) No overdraft, minimums, or monthly fees. Ever.
That’s right. Free. Completely.
3.) There are 55,000 ATMS in their network currently.
That number is growing. So, if you ever need to pull cash out, you’ll pay no ATM fees. I have one right next to my grocery store down the street from my house and another by the mall. This pleases me.
4.) Automatic saving and budgeting capabilities that are so easy to use, even the most technologically incompetent could manage them.
This is one of my favorite features and is what drew me to Simple initially. I built my business without using credit or loans of any kind. This required patience and strict budgeting so that I could afford to buy the products and furnishings that I wanted. With Simple, I set a Goal. I wanted this overstuffed armchair chair upholstered with this antimicrobial faux-leather for pedicures. Since my brother works in wholesale furniture, I could get the chair from the distributor for $300. (Sidenote: if you knew how much you were overpaying for furniture at retail prices, you would orchestrate a riot at your local Haverty’s.) I wanted it within three weeks. I started my Goal with $100. Simple automatically moved $9.52 a day from my Safe-To-Spend into my Goal. If you ever need to, you can “pause” your Goal and resume it whenever you’re ready. You can extend the date out also if you want to save less over a longer period of time. Simple automatically calculates all of that for you. I became very proficient with the Goal feature. Now, I use it to save up for recurring expenses and Christmas. I save way more now than I ever did because of this feature.
5.) Photo check deposit.
They process pretty fast, too.
6.) Send checks for free.
That’s right. The bank costs you nothing and you can set up automatic payments for nothing.
7.) App that gives instant alerts when money is spent or credited to your account.
You can also use the app to move money into and out of your Goals at any time.
8.) Your “Current Balance” will never lie to you.
With Simple, you get a “Safe to Spend” balance. This feature is spectacular. You can see your Available Balance, your Pending Transactions, your Scheduled Transactions, and the money that is in your Goals. Your Safe-to-Spend feature gives you an accurate picture of what you can really spend since it takes those savings into account. (And, if you want to splurge, you can go right ahead. Simple will automatically pull money out of your Goals and show you on the Goal screen how far behind you put yourself to obtaining that Goal.)
9.) Tagged, categorized, mapped, and photographed expenses.
Simple allows you to #hashtag your expenses. For business expenses, #business. For family expenses, #family. For personal expenses, #personal. You can use whatever hashtags you want. It maps your transactions by GPS also and categorizes them depending on the type of store you visited. Those categories can be changed later also (so if you bought tires at Walmart, you can change the category from Groceries to Auto). You can add notes and photographs as well. This is helpful if you’re tracking expensive items for insurance purposes (like that new 72 inch 3D TV). Whenever you search your expenses, you can search by hashtag, category, note, or GPS location and see every transaction that’s been made with those respective search terms. It also calculates it up nicely for you on the right hand side, so you can see exactly how much you spent on #polish this year. (Whether or not you consider that feature a benefit probably depends on how severe your addiction is, lol.) For me, this negated the need for multiple bank accounts. I could keep my business and personal transactions in the same account without issue. Normally I don’t recommend that, but if you’re just a booth renter without employees and you’re tagging your expenses properly you should not have a problem at all. (If you’re a business owner with employees, make Simple your primary business account and keep your personal transactions separate for accounting purposes.)
10.) Smarter searches.
You can search Simple using plain English. Want to know what you spent on groceries last month? You can either click the category “Groceries” and click the “last month” button…or you can search “groceries last month.” Want to know exactly how much you spent on supplies this year? Seach “#supplies this year.” Can’t remember how much you spent on something and need to pull up the transaction? “brunch around $15.” Want to make sure your server didn’t claim more than you tipped? Search “has tip” and all transactions with gratuities will come up. Want to compare how much you spend at night to how much you spend during the day? “spent at night.” Really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you search it, Simple will find it.
11.) Detailed reports.
I’m not going to even get into this. The reports are interactive, easy to read, and definitely designed for the iPhone generation. They literally could not have made banking easier if they tried.The reports are just a compulsively organized person’s fantasy. I shiver when I think of them.
They’re fast, they’re personable, and they speak English. You can get mobile chat support, call them (real people, no menus), or drop them a message straight from your banking page with ease. They’re very nice and talk to you like you’re a real person, not some account number. I love their customer service.
Now for the drawback.
1.) If you want to make a cash deposit, you have to get a money order and deposit it as a check.
I don’t use cash unless I’m spending it, so this is not a problem for me at all. All my transactions are on Square or Paypal (which gets deposited next-day with Simple, btw). If you handle a lot of cash, this might be a problem for you, but even if I did, the benefits so vastly outweigh the one drawback that I would change my way of doing business or deal with the inconvenience of getting money orders every week.
Here is a TechCrunch video about Simple that was made a year ago. A lot has changed since this video was made (tons of new features added and perfected, for example), but it’s still a nice overview of the service. You can only get access to Simple by invite only. I have 8 remaining, but you can also contact Simple through their Twitter and beg them to send you one. (That’s what worked for me, lol.)