You’ve probably heard about Qube- the budgeting app that’s also a bank with digital cash envelopes, so it seemed like the perfect time to give you my complete Qube Review.
It started as a few quiet rumblings and then it just exploded. There is a LOT OF HYPE around it… But the big question is… Is it worth it?
Does Qube work? Does it make budgeting easier?
I gave it (what I thought) would be a trial run just to report on features and give my feedback when readers asked… then I immediately fell in love, completely changed the way I budget, and can’t imagine ever going back.
What is Qube Money?
Qube Money is both a bank account and a budgeting app that work seamlessly together to let you use digital cash envelopes.
This is going to take a second for you to understand because you’ve never seen anything else like it.
This has the potential to revolutionize the way people budget (particularly if they struggle with sticking to a budget).
We will walk through the entire system in this Qube review.
What’s A Cash Envelope System?
Anyone that knows anything about budgeting knows that cash envelopes work. Cash envelopes are when you take your spending money and divide it into envelopes that are categorized.
So if you budget $800 a month for food…
Then you can take $200 cash every week and stick it in an envelope labeled “Food”.
When you go to the grocery store you have to spend that cash and when there isn’t anything left in the envelope, then you’re done.
The cash envelope system has been shown to be effective in the sense that it makes you really consider your spending. Cash envelopes naturally slow your spending because you’re very conscious of how much money you have and how much you have spent when you can “feel” the money being spent.
When you take money out of your envelope, you’re left with less.
Problems with Traditional Cash Envelope System?
Despite a string of data that using cash envelopes helps people naturally spend less and stick to a budget, it’s rare that people use them. And even when they do… it’s hard to do it for more than a month or so.
That’s because cash envelopes aren’t a very realistic solution in modern society. Especially if you struggle with time management or chronic disorganization.
There are several reasons for that:
You can’t purchase items online with cash.
And as society changes, there’s a lot of things being purchased online. Which means that when you need to buy something online you don’t always count it into your budget, if you put it on a credit card, or pull it from a different account.
You can’t take advantage of modern conveniences like grocery delivery or pick up.
I teach people who are seriously overwhelmed and struggle with setting and sticking to a budget how to save time and save money (by skipping impulse purchases) using online shopping. We’ve seen over and over again that people will spend significantly less shopping online and save hours a week by doing this. But you can’t pay in cash.
Someone else can’t easily use the envelopes.
Like if you ask your husband to pick up milk and eggs on the way home from work and the cash envelope is in your purse. Then he’s probably going use the debit card connected to your main checking account. It’s highly unlikely that you’re then going to drive to an ATM to put that $4.87 cash back into your checking account.
You risk losing the envelopes with cash in them.
If you leave your purse somewhere or it’s stolen, there’s no way to recover the cash. It’s not a huge deal if you lose your purse with a debit card in it, it can be canceled and the card can be replaced. But if you’re on a tight budget and you lose all of your grocery money for the week, it can be pretty devastating.
It’s a serious pain to update the envelopes (you track your purchases and the amount left over by writing directly on the envelopes).
As someone whose been in the checkout line frequently with two crying kids as I juggle the bags, receipts, holding my change and trying to put everything back into the envelope and then needing to pull to the side to write down the transaction, it’s a pain. And it’s very tempting NOT TO do it and just shove the money in your purse and figure it out later.
They can’t be used for everything.
So you still have to budget traditionally, and just use envelopes to help you control spending in the areas you struggle with the most. (Like food and discretionary spending).
For all of those reasons, and after a lot of A/B testing… We don’t usually recommend cash envelopes as the most successful way to budget.
But Qube Money changes everything.
Qube Review: How to Use Qube Digital Cash Envelopes.
Because Qube eliminates EVERY SINGLE ONE of those disadvantages, I believe it makes digital cash envelopes hands down the most successful way to budget.
- You sign up for a free bank account and they immediately ship you a debit card.
- Transfer money to the cloud from your main bank. You can do this a few ways…
- Using the debit card from your main bank (instantaneously).
- Direct deposit or Payday 2 Days Early.
- Requesting a transfer from your bank by linking Qube to your bank account (3-5 business days).
- Using an external bank transfer (when you push the money from your main bank account into Qube by linking them together (1-3 business days).
- Depositing a check (which is a feature that they’re rolling out soon).
3. Then you budget your money directly into the app. By assigning the money from the cloud into Qubes (or digital envelopes).
4. Now, you’d assign the money into 3 different Qubes (or digital envelope categories)…
- Spending Qubes: You label and categorize your Qubes (digital envelopes) based on what you want to reserve money for. So things like “Food”, “Babysitters”, “Discretionary Spending.” But, you can also include things that are happening that month only like “Tennessee Trip” or “Dental Work”.
- Bill Qubes: Which will include your reoccurring bills like your electric bill, your water bill, and your rent or mortgage. This would also include smaller things like Netflix.
HEADS UP: One of the best parts of Qube is that it eliminates having to spend hours trying to cancel recurring services you no longer want. You literally just hit the toggle button to close that Qube and they won’t be able to charge your account anymore at the bank level. It’s AMAZING.
- Savings Qubes: These haven’t launched yet but are coming soon. You’ll be able to set these Qubes (digital envelopes) up as longer-term funds. Something you don’t plan to spend every month but to build up over time. Savings Qubes would include something you’re saving up for over time like vacations, or Christmas.
Finally, you spend the money.
When you walk into the grocery store, you do your shopping like normal. When you go to the checkout, just like a real cash envelope the app forces you to look at your Qube (digital envelope) balance and then open the Qube you want the money to come out of.
Once the Qube is open, you can use your debit card like normal and the money is removed from that Qube.
If you don’t open a Qube to tell your debit card where to take the money from, it will decline the card. Which forces you to look at your balance and choose how you’ll pay for your purchase BEFORE You buy.
Qube Review: The Cost.
We couldn’t give you a thorough Qube Review without talking about prices. Qube has three price ranges.
- $8/month for Premium features
- $15/month for Family features.
Free lets you set up 10 Qubes (digital envelopes). But the real power of Qube is in the premium plan.
The premium plan gives you two cards for the same account, partner notifications, and partner permissions. Which means that you and your spouse can both seamlessly budget and use the Qube account in a way that works for your marriage.
Permissions mean that you can set it up so that you both need to approve a purchase before it can be made. So the money set aside for groceries doesn’t get spent by your partner leaving you short on the grocery money that you need for the week.
But you can also have Qubes that are private to each of you and that aren’t shared.
The premium plan is $8/month. Keep in mind that there are no other fees associated with Qube, including no overdraft fees.
You can also upgrade to a family plan. Which lets your kids have their own debit cards and allowance Qubes with chore tracking so they can earn their own money.
That feature isn’t available yet but we currently use Greenlight to automate giving out kids’ allowances and letting them have their own debit cards and it’s amazing. When that feature rolls out, you can upgrade to that for $15 a month.
If you’re having trouble getting your mind around paying $15/month for a bank… you should know that Qube’s prices for a budgeting app are lower than other popular budgeting apps, and they include the life-changing benefits of digital cash envelopes and the power of a bank and a budgeting app combined.
Here’s an example of other popular budgeting apps prices for their premium or paid features…
- YNAB: $11.99/month (This was our previous recommendation for a budgeting app, but Qube blew YNAB out of the water).
- Every Dollar: $99/year.
- Mint: $16.99 per month.
Qube Review: Anything Else I Need to Know?
The bank that Qube Money uses is FDIC insured like most banks.
It’s only for US residents and while they’ve done successful testing of their cards overseas- I wouldn’t travel overseas and count on this working in every country.
Fraudulent transactions (like where your card number gets stolen in a data breach and you end up getting a bunch of money stolen out of your account) are virtually eliminated just as a side effect of how the system works (since Qubes are only open for transactions when you open them to make a purchase).
Online Bill Pay is a feature that they’re currently rolling out (where they’ll send a paper check for you rather than you just giving the service provider your debit card for automatic payments). We’ll update this Qube Review once we’re able to test this.
ATM Reimbursement of up to $10 per month. (So you can use any ATM to get cash out without having to pay fees).
Qube Review: Is It Worth it?
It’s all of the benefits of the cash envelope system, with none of the drawbacks. It’s made budgeting significantly easier.
I have no idea how they jumped through every insane hurdle and overcame every obstacle needed to make something of this magnitude work, but it does.
I think Qube is going to completely revolutionize the way that people budget, especially people that struggle with sticking to a budget.
In every scenario that I was nervous that Qube wouldn’t work…
- When the tip gets added to the restaurant bill after the Qube closed.
- When Amazon doesn’t charge me until they ship my package. Long after I opened the Qube for a purchase (they handle that brilliantly!).
- When the gas station reserves $100 on my debit card before I pump.
Will Qube work if your phone is dead?
That being said, I still recommend that you have a back up plan to pay in case something does go wrong. If your phone dies, you drop it and the screen shatters, or even if the app just crashes and you aren’t able to open your Qube… you won’t be able to make your payment no matter how much you want to.
It hasn’t happened to me in two months of exclusive use of Qube, but it can absolutely occur at any time.
You can work around that risk by keeping in your wallet…
- a debit card for your main checking account and keeping $50-100 in that account.
- a small amount of cash folded up.
- a VISA gift card with $100 on it.
But Qube is still 100% worth it to me. Because it makes budgeting significantly simpler and it’s helped me spend less without even trying.
I still recommend incentivized savings, which I teach, and you can see how I set them up in this Qube Review here… But Qube even makes incentivized savings super easy.
Incentivized saving is when you set a budget and if you spend less than you budgeted, you get to take 20% of whatever is left over and blow it on whatever you want guilt-free. Then you take the 80% leftover and apply it to your debt, savings, or investments.
It’s a surefire way to stick to your budget. Even for the toughest cases of people unable to stick to a budget.
And that’s my Qube Review. Let me know in the comments what you think about Qube?
Qube Money is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided through Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC.
The Qube Money Card is issued by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa.