• Alex Mizerski

Monarch Money Review: A Budgeting App Done Right [updated October 2021]

Updated: Oct 8, 2021


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links through which I'm paid. No additional cost to you that's just how marketing works sometimes, more here.

 

**New feature alert! Read more below**


Monarch has added one of the coolest features I have ever seen in a budgeting app! Check it out below!


Reviewing Monarch Money felt eerily similar to reviewing PocketSmith. So, if you read my PocketSmith review, then you can probably skip to the summary below to get my final thoughts.


Monarch Money is a new to market personal finance organization tool, launched publically in November 2020. As the tool continues to grow and develop I'll add details of new features below. If you want to keep up on your own, click the link above and sign up. Or you can go to your App Store or Google Play Store and download the app yourself.


Over the past year, Monarch has expanded its features to include some of the best in the space. What started out as a very basic budgeting toolset has gotten extremely robust in the last 12 months since its launch.


If you want to try out our free budgeting tool, click here, subscribe, and we will send you a free copy!


How does Monarch Money Score:

Cost and Fees: 5 out of 10

Security: 8 out of 10

Ease of Use: 8 out of 10

Features and Tools: 7 out of 10

Overall: 7 out of 10

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What is Monarch Money?


Monarch Money Home Page
Monarch Money Home Page


Monarch Money is personal finance software that helps you understand where your money is coming from and where it is going. This product is fairly new to market, launched in 2020, so some of their features are still in Beta. Even with that, I'd suggest you check it out. It is easy to sign up, easy to use, and has all the same features you would find on similar products that have been around for much longer.


While it does cost $9.99/month or $89.99 annually you don't have to deal with any financial advisors trying to sell you something and there are no ads. Just an easy-to-use tool trying to help you meet your personal financial goals.


One of their founders originally helped launch Mint.com so there is plenty of experience on their team when it comes to organizing personal finances. What's more, Val Agostino has heard from Mint users what they like and don't like about the platform and has takedn that knowledge and integrated into Monarch's tools.


How does Monarch Money work?

Monarch Money's goal is to help individuals create and meet their savings plans and goals by evaluating and organizing your income and expenses. They provide a variety of tools and software integrations to help you get your personal finances in order, visualize goals and plans, and execute your vision of a health financial future.


They even offer a free 14-day trial so anyone can check out the tools and see if they make sense for you.


Monarch Money is different than other, similar, tools in that they have built a step by step process for each of the key parts of building your financial plan. In addition to the easy step by step instructions they provide you will also receive data showing the long-term financial impact of your present spending behaviors. Here at The Saving Dude, we are all about thinking long term and identifying a personal finance tool that helps highlight exactly that is really something we can get behind.



Monarch Money Pricing

Monarch Money currently has 2 different payment plans, but no various levels. Everyone gets the same features, but you have to determine whether you want to pay monthly which is $9.99, or annually, which is $89.99. So, you can definitely save money if you are committed to Monarch long-term.


Monarch Money Features

Dashboard - This is your home base for all things money. The more accounts you associate with your Monarch profile the better picture you will have of your financial health.


Accounts - This is a breakdown of all the accounts you have associated with your profile. In addition, your net worth is calculated on your behalf. Your assets and liabilities are broken out for you along with all your various investments. This is the breakdown of the wholistic view you get on the dashboard


Transactions - If you prefer to dive into certain types of spending behavior the transactions tool is where it's at. You can use the filters to narrow down by transaction name, amount, account, and date range.


Cash Flow - This is very similar to your net worth. In the case of cash flow, you only have income and expenses listed (things like the value of your house are excluded).


Mobile App - Having a highly functional mobile app is a must in today's world. The benefit of Monarch's app is they don't have to slim down the features. They provide a full-featured mobile app (only on Apple today, but Android is scheduled for release soon).


Plan - This is one of the best and easiest to use planning tools I have seen. Better still, Monarch's software can help develop a plan for you after a few days of transaction history is acquired.


Goals - This is a must for anyone using personal finance and budgeting software. Monarch has a fully-featured goal tool for all your needs.


Forecast - The impact of your everyday choices is hard to visualize over a long time horizon. Monarch's forecasting tool can help you understand the impact of buying an espresso machine vs buying a daily espresso at Starbucks. This type of feedback loop really helps to drive behavioral change which is the key tenant of getting your personal finances under control.


**Investments** as of August 2021 this is out of beta - This feature helps you analyze your entire portfolio across multiple financial institutions, break down asset classes, comp vs industry indices, and much more. There is even a plan to roll out support for crypto investing.


**Track your home value** - This is a new feature as of August 2021. You can connect your Zillow account, identify your address, and use the Z-Estimate as part of your net worth calculation within Monarch Money's platform.


**Advice** - This is a new feature as of August 2021. By answering a few questions within Monarch you can get personalized financial advice. This product is lead by Nalatie Taylor. Prior to Monarch, Natalie ran her own consulting firm, developed courses for LinkedIn Learning, spent time at Ellevest, Clever Finance, LearnVest, Ameriprise, and American Express. Her experience in Finance is extensive and someone I personally look forward to getting advice from.


You can check out all upcoming and newly released features within Monarch's publically published Product Updates page.


Pros

Highly intuitive user interface

Powerful transaction search tool

Plan building tool


Cons

Cost vs the competition (many of these products are free for the basic version)

Minimal feature set so far


Monarch Money Alternatives

Mint

Quicken

YNAB - You need a budget

GnuCash

Personal Capital

iBank

BudgetSimple

and a ton more



How to get started with Monarch Money

Setting up an account actually only took a few minutes because I used their account connection tool which, like all other tools on Monarch, had step-by-step instructions that were super easy to follow.


First, follow this link to open your account. This link will take you to their Welcome Page.


Monarch Money Welcome Page
Monarch Money Welcome Page

The next step in the process is providing your email. This is critical for ensuring you are who you say you are and for future communication from the Monarch team.



Monarch Money Submit Email Page
Monarch Money Submit Email Page

In an effort to ensure your security and privacy Monarch Money requires a verification code that they email to you. While some might think this additional step is unnecessary I believe that any additional security they can provide is welcome.



Monarch Money Verify Email Page
Monarch Money Verify Email Page

The next step is your basic password creation.



Monarch Money Create Password Page
Monarch Money Create Password Page

Then we start to get into the nitty gritty. You can choose to either setup your accounts manually or with their step by step connection guide. Here is a look at the manual setup page.


Monarch Money Manual Account Setup
Monarch Money Manual Account Setup

Monarch uses Plaid to link your bank accounts. Plaid is a third party data encryption tool. They use Advanced Encryption Standard and Transport Layer Security at or above industry standards to ensure your data stays safe.


Monarch Money Auto-link Accounts
Monarch Money Auto-link Accounts

Their landing/dashboard is visually appealing and provides all the most important information to your personal financial health. They try to keep it simple and not overwhelm you with data which I truly appreicate.


Monarch Money Dashboard
Monarch Money Dashboard

They also provide a crisp and clean account overview page.


Monarch Money Accounts Overview
Monarch Money Accounts Overview

They keep the user interface consistent and simplistic throughout making your financial data easy to understand and action upon. I love their transaction filters. This allows you to drill into certain types of spending habits to ensure you are on track.


Monarch Money Transaction Summary
Monarch Money Transaction Summary

The cash flow page, again, retains a familiar user interface. This consistency is important as an easy to use platform helps users interact with Monarch more frequently. It also reduces the learning curve which is a large hinderance for many software tools.


Monarch Money Cash Flow Page
Monarch Money Cash Flow Page

We all have the need to create a plan for our money. This is exactly what you are going to do in order to achieve your goals. Monarch is here to help you build your plan and achieve your goals. You can utilize their software to analyze your spending and create a plan based on your goals, or you can create your own plan. Either way, having a plan is one of the most important steps toward financial health and they have an outstanding tool to help you with that.


Monarch Money Creating a Plan
Monarch Money Creating a Plan

Here is their dashboard to track your plan.


Monarch Money Plan Dashboard
Monarch Money Plan Dashboard

Creating your goals has never been easier. Before you even start creating goals, Monarch will walk you through a tutorial of how their system takes you step by step to create the most impactful goals for your money.


Monarch Money Goal Building Guide
Monarch Money Goal Building Guide

Once you understand how to get your goals started Monarch will walk you step by step through the process. First, select the type of goal you want to set up.


Monarch Money Goal Selection
Monarch Money Goal Selection

Next you can name your goals.


Monarch Money Name your Goal
Monarch Money Name your Goal

Then iron out the details.


Monarch Money Goal Setting
Monarch Money Goal Setting

Last, track your goals over time with the same intuitive dashboard you know.


Monarch Money Goal Tracking
Monarch Money Goal Tracking

After you have walked through each and ever step in the setup process you can navigate back to the planning page and take a look at your financial forecast. While this tool is still in Beta mode it works well enough you give you a really great sense of how all your financial activity impacts you long term finances.


Monarch Money Forecasting Tool
Monarch Money Forecasting Tool


Who can benefit from using Monarch Money?

Monarch Money is a great tool for anyone wanting to get their personal finances organized, create financial goals, and identify individual steps to help them achieve their financial plans. If you feel that spreadsheets or just guessing isn't getting you into a financial position that helps you worry less, then you should check out Monarch. While there is a cost associated with the tool it is a small price to pay if you love it and get your financial house in order.


Summary

Monarch Money is the easiest to setup and utilize personal finance and budgeting software I have come across. So far, the product is super new to market so there isn't much buzz around it, but I truly believe this product will rapidly grow in the next 3-5 years because of the team behind the software.


If you are interested in learning more and/or trying Monarch Money out, click here, for a free 14 day trial. Remember they are offering 30% off for a limited time as well.


Related articles:

Powerful ways to impact net worth

Being frugal isn't bad

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