FYI: Budget tool Mvelopes launches free version

Online budget site said Tuesday it has launched a free budgeting tool to help families better track their finances.

The website is a product of Finicity Corp., a privately held company founded in 1999 in Draper, Utah.

The company has offered its electronic budgeting for nearly 10 years as a premium service, which currently costs $9.95 per month.

The program focuses on “envelope budgeting,” in which spending is segmented into categories ? each getting one envelope ? and each is budgeted a certain amount of money each pay period. It’s a way to see clearly how much one is spending in each area of the budget.

As consumers increasingly switch to online banking and begin to use mobile applications, personal finance services have developed online versions of traditional budget methods such as envelope budgeting.

“There is a lot more interest in having tools available that allow people to implement the principles of envelope budgeting online,” said CEO Steven B. Smith.

The free service isn’t just a trial offer. Smith said the company hopes once customers become accustomed to using the system they may upgrade to the additional services offered in the paid premium service.

Mvelopes new version offers many of the basic functions, Smith said. It offers 25 envelopes, can be linked to four online accounts, and offers tutorials. Users can access the program on the company’s website or download iPhone and Android apps and run it on their mobile phone.

Customers who want to upgrade to the paid version get unlimited envelopes and can link to any number of online accounts; integrated debt pay down service; transaction alerts; and live chat support.

Free and paid versions of Mvelopes allow customers to connect to more than 15,000 banks, credit unions and other financial institutions to automatically gather transactions and account balances.