Simple bank was known for its excellent budgeting tools like Expenses and Goals. Was being the keyword because it will shut it down with no replacement in sight. If you’re still looking for an alternative, Ally might be an option to add to the list thanks to new Buckets and Boosters features.
Ally’s new Buckets and Boosters aren’t a perfect replacement for Simple, unfortunately. After a lot of research, we’ve found that no bank or budgeting service does everything Simple did. But if your primary goal is saving, then Ally’s new tools at least get the bank a little closer.
Buckets works a lot like the “envelope system.” Similar to Simple’s “Expenses,” buckets let you separate out your money into various group goals—vehicles, emergencies, houses, bill payments, and so on. Ally has a number of preset buckets you can choose from, or you can create your own. Everything stays in the same account, but you have a clear marking for what this money or that money should go to.
But there’s a few limits that makes Ally’s solution not as good as Simple’s. For instance, you can only create ten buckets. Some Simpler users had dozens of “buckets.” And unlike Simple, you can only use Buckets with Ally’s savings accounts. It’s not an option for checking accounts. That limits the usefulness of Buckets to saving up to achieve a goal, as opposed to budgeting out your monthly expenses.
But if you prefer to keep most of your money in your Ally savings to earn a higher interest, it could be useful. And Ally’s new Boosters will help with that goal. To start, Ally created three optional Boosters you can enable. They’re off by default, and you should look at each closely before deciding to use a Booster.
The first Booster, dubbed Recurring Transfers, does what it sounds like. Your Buckets won’t do much good unless you move cash into them, and Recurring Transfers will automate that process for you. You can schedule frequent transfers from any bank (Ally or otherwise) you have connected to your account, and automatically filter it into your buckets. Transfers can happen weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
The second Booster, Round Ups, is a pretty straight forward option used by a lot of budgeting apps. Every time you make a purchase with your Ally checking account, Ally will round the amount up to the next dollar. When your Round Ups meet a certain threshold (starting at $5), that money will automatically transfer to your savings account.
The final Booster, Surprise Savings, works differently than the others. With Surprising Savings turned on, Ally will keep an eye on your checking and savings account. Savings account typically earn more interest, but you can only transfer from savings to checking so often. But money just sitting in checking doesn’t generate much interest. If Ally detects that you’d earn more interest with a quick transfer, it will move some money from your checking to savings. Ally says it’ll never move more than $100 at a time, and it’ll keep in mind how much you typically spend so you have that money available.
Ally’s new Buckets and Boosters are out right now for existing subscribers. If all those options sound similar enough to Simple, you may want to check it out.