I'm coming from Mvelopes. Any set-up Tips?

I have used Mvelopes for 20 years, but since they are shutting down I’m going to be setting up here. Any tips or tricks I should know? I’ve used Mvelopes with all offline accounts and I have always entered all my transactions manually.

I don’t know Mvelopes but this is the right place to ask questions if you get stuck—there are a few of us who use GB a LOT and you’re likely to get any questions answered very quickly. Welcome!!


Hi, I also have been using mvelopes for about 10 years now and am getting really stressed out after getting the email about them shutting down. I can deal with manually importing transactions from my bank, but Does goodbudget have an Allocated spending plan? paycheck planning/ etc? I cant find any software that actually has this feature, this was the main reason i have been using mvelopes for so long.
Please help!

Hi godsreel! I’m an Mvelopes user, too. By “allocated spending plan” do you mean the funding profile Mvelopes has, to fill designated envelopes? If so, Goodbudget does have something similar. On the top left there is a Fill Envelopes button, where you can set up how much you want to go to each envelope and when. I personally am a month ahead, so I set up all of mine with a fill date of the 1st.

One thing I have found out: when importing from your bank, pay close attention to the transactions Goodbudget tries to match. It will sometimes try to match to a different transaction if the amount is close, then adjust the amount. That completely messed me up on my first import after setting up.

Another tip I use to more closely match to Mvelopes: name your envelopes how you want them grouped. For instance, all my monthly envelopes are named Monthly: Mortgage, Monthly: Cell Phone, etc. Then it will group all of those together instead of all the envelopes being in alphabetical order. Good luck! I have found this forum to be very helpful in making the switch.

I’ve used Mvelopes or some version of the software for like 20 years so it is definitely stressing me out too to find something else so I sympathize. I haven’t set things up yet so I can’t answer any of your questions, but from the different options I looked at this looked like the best fit. I was not at all impressed with the option Mvelopes recommended we switch to.

What would be the advantage of having your envelopes grouped as opposed to alphabetical? To me it seems like it would be easier to find them alphabetically, but since I haven’t used this before maybe I’m missing something and the grouping is a better method?

The funding/fills are getting me a bit thrown off because I have always started with income (then done the budget to match the income, but it seems like with this you budget first which seems backwards to me) and then done the budget an then done the funding plan (fills) to match each paycheck and balance that to cover the budget so the income = the budget = the funding/fills. I don’t fund/fill on any specific date though, like the first of the month. I fill when the each heck comes in which is the only way that makes any sense to me because I don’t want to see the money in the envelope before I have been paid, but I also do want to see it as soon as I have been paid. The budget should be the projection and then the funding/fill when it actually happens. I haven’t started the set-up yet, but it seems like it is going to be way harder to work like that in this program than it was in Mvelopes. I like to have funding/fill templates set-up because I want to make sure I’m covering the budget with the fills and I don’t want to recreate the wheel each time I get a paycheck. With mvelopes it was easy to see that and you could look at a years budget/fill plan so with a bi-weekly pay period it was easy to account for the couple months where we get paid 3 times instead of 2.

In Mvelopes I have four categories: Bills (monthly bills, of course), Everyday (gas, groceries, dining out, etc), Goals (emergency fund, getting a month ahead, etc), and Periodic (irregular expenses like auto repair, home repair, vet bills, birthday gifts, etc). I wanted to mirror this same system, so that’s why I learned how to group them in Goodbudget.

As far as the funding/fills, I think someone else could probably explain it better, because I am still learning about how things differ from Mvelopes. I personally had a funding profile in Mvelopes where I would transfer a month’s worth of budgeting out of my “getting a month ahead” envelope and into Unallocated envelope, and then fund everything at once for the month So I have the same thing set up in Goodbudget (Quick Fill, I think it’s called). But I know there is also a way to do this for people who get paid every two weeks, twice a month, etc.

I know it’s frustrating making the change and getting things set up, but so far things have run smoothly for me once I got the basics figured out (other than not having direct bank imports, I’m still struggling with getting used to that!)

Well I at least have the advantage that I always used Mvelopes manually anyway instead of having my accounts linked so at least I’m used to that.

In Goodbudget, you can have several different kinds of envelopes—e.g. Monthly envelopes for bills, groceries, etc., Annual envelopes for savings, taxes, auto registrations and so on, and Goal envelopes for specific targets, like holidays, vacations, etc. Any Debt accounts you track will also have Debt envelopes, which are managed somewhat differently. They’ll be grouped by their period already, with further groupings as noted above. (You can also choose to start your budget on a day other than the 1st.)
You can set your primary budgeting period to match your style; although Monthly seems to be the most popular, you could also set up biweekly envelopes, for example, if you choose.
As you receive income (if you’re not working with a month’s cushion) you’ll do a “Fill from New Income” to add to your envelopes. A new feature will show you how much you’ve already added toward your budget so you’ll know where the priorities are. You can save and schedule these fills to occur on a regular basis (and you’ll always have the ability to adjust them) or you can save them as Quick Fills and use as needed. You can also have as many Fills as you need; if you receive different I comes at different times you can set them up separately.
E.g. we get paid bi-weekly, but our car allowances come on the 15th of every month and my expense reimbursements come randomly. You can have different Fills for each of these if you choose; otherwise the income is just Unallocated.
Hopefully that’s at least somewhat helpful!

Yah that is a little helpful. I’m definitely not living paycheck to paycheck and the envelopes will start off with funding in them (hopefully that is something I can do is start them with money in them cause I’ll initially want all the money in my accounts to be distributed from unallocated which is the only time I anticipate using an envelope like that). I guess the disconnect is that I don’t want any income to be unallocated ever. I want my income going into an envelope as soon as it comes in (even if that envelope is savings) and I want that template to be preset for that paycheck (like 1st, 2nd, 3rd, expense, etc.) so I’m not sorting that out every time and I want my budget to be exactly what my income will be and my fills to be not to be associated with when the bill is paid, but when the income comes in if that makes sense. Obviously I would start with enough of a balance in the envelope so it is always has as much or more than needed when the bill needs to be paid (although hopefully the envelopes can go negative if needed temporarily). It was really easy in Mvelopes to balance all this out so everything matched and I’m afraid this system is going to require a lot of figuring and manual math to make it work.

If I understand correctly, you’ll be using Goodbudget almost exactly as intended. I use my Unallocated envelope to “collect” the next month’s income, but you can easily put income anywhere (Savings, as you suggest) and then dole it out when needed. On the 1st I trigger a “Fill from Unallocated” instruction to distribute the previous month’s income across my envelopes. Some are triggered to “Set”, that is, add exactly as much as is needed to start at the budgeted amount, while others are instructed to “Add”, or add a set amount regardless of the remaining balance in the envelope. If you’re starting out with a month’s worth of budget already filled, and distributing additional income directly to your envelopes, you’ll be using Add pretty much exclusively. Personally I think this would be harder than working with a month at a time, because Goodbudget’s tools track you against the target for the present budgeting period but you’re essentially trying not to spend next month’s money. Everyone has their own style though, so this may work for you!
Throughout the month you may find yourself transferring money between envelopes to account for unanticipated expenses, but that works the same way cash in actual envelopes would.
As in any other accounting, it is important to start with a real budget—that is, expense targets for each envelope—but this is easily adjusted as needed throughout the budgeting period. Coming from other software, you likely already know what these amounts will be but that’s a difficult starting point for many who are new to budgeting.
My personal workflow: on the 1st, Fill expense envelopes from Unallocated (I primarily use Set for monthly envelopes and Add for Annual or Goal envelopes). On each payday, I trigger a “Fill from New Income” transaction, sending a portion of the check to Savings and the remainder to Unallocated. (I also have corresponding recurring transactions to reflect these transfers at the bank and in Goodbudget). On the first of the following month, I (should) have adequate funds in Unallocated to start the process over but if I’m not aligned as expected I could add to or pull from Savings to reach zero in Unallocated.
I understand the frustration of having to learn a new system; I also came from another budget platform I really liked that folded. Hopefully you’ll come to love Goodbudget as much as I have though!

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One thing you’ll find out for sure is there’s NOT one way to use GB. Everyone has their own financial philosophy and practical application of that philosophy using GB. So keep asking questions and you’ll figure out what “method” works best for you.

Personally, I allocate all my income at the time it’s deposited into my bank account, and therefore my unallocated envelope is always empty. I manage GB so my accounts (18 of them) and envelopes (66 of them) reflect real life and what I actually have along with all the historical transactions. There are some limits to GB, so you’ll figure out work-arounds that make the most sense to you. Others in this forum do things a bit differently, but it’s what fits them, so all is good.

Two main principles everyone using GB needs to follow, 1) Envelopes and accounts are independent, but show the same money in different ways. 2) Therefore, make sure your total envelope balance (shown at the top of the envelopes tab) always equals your total account balance (shown at the top of the accounts tab). If these do not equal than you have more or less money than you actually do.

Welcome to GB, happy planning, and keep asking questions.


Thanks! Yah, that sounds like how I want to use it and I also have a lot of accounts and a lot of envelope and except for initial set-up intend to never use the unallocated envelope. Mvelopes works that way that accounts and envelopes are different, but the grand totals of both should be equal so at least I’m already used to that.

I have been doing this for years in GB, although I am in the minority. All you need to do is create another account named “Projected”. On the first day of the month I do a single Fill from New Income where all of the income I project for the new month is “deposited” into the Projected account at once, and I fill all my envelopes up front. Then during the month as my income actually arrives, I simply do an Account Transfer from Projected to Checking. So my Accounts always show how much I have and how much I am expecting to receive still, and my Envelopes always show how much I have left from my budget for the month.

I have explained it several times in various threads, but if you have any specific questions I’m happy to assist.

Does the free or the paid version give you the ability to add/import your transactions and leave some unassigned? My wife and I often assign our transactions at a different time. I liked how mvelopes would let you assign the transaction to the proper envelope at whatever time you wished.

Yes, when you import the file from your bank, it will attempt to match the bank transactions with any you have entered. The unmatched ones you can match manually, drag/drop to an envelope, or leave unmatched until the next time you import the file.