Monarch is a newly released personal finance app dedicated to helping users achieve their financial goals.
The money management app features unlimited customization for spending categories, excellent “under the hood” technology, and compelling visuals.
Unfortunately, these assets didn’t seem to be enough to create an awesome user experience. Here’s why we’re passing on the Monarch money app for now.
- New personal finance platform (not yet available on Android)
- Track your expenses, net worth, and financial goals
- Sync with over 11,000 banks, credit cards, loans, and more
Monarch Money App
$9.99/month or $89.99/year
Financial Planning And Budgeting
14-Day Free Trial
What Is Monarch?
Monarch is a Silicon Valley startup that has built a new money management platform. Its co-founders and software engineers have been developing the technology behind the scenes since 2018. But the product didn't publicly launch until the end of 2020.
In the world of personal finance advice, a lot of attention goes towards long-term planning and investing for retirement or long-term wealth-building. But a huge portion of real-life financial planning involves setting and reaching goals that are a few months or a few years away. Whether you’re saving for a Supreme sweatshirt or your first house, you’ll need a plan to save enough money to reach the goal.
Monarch is different in that focuses heavily on short and mid-term goals planning. To be clear, it does have net worth and budgeting components. But these are secondary to its goal-planning tools and features for near-term savings.
What Does It Offer?
Users connect financial accounts (called Synced Accounts) to the app. The app then works to automatically categorize transactions into specific categories. Users can update the categorization, and customize categories.
If you’ve got assets outside of Synced Accounts (such as real estate), you can enter those manually into the app. That makes it easier to track your real net worth in the app. Once you’ve connected your accounts, Monarch will suggest a budget and calculate your net worth. You can also enter as many goals as you want financial goals section.
Once a goal is created, users can designate how much free cash goes towards a financial goal. This doesn’t physically move money around. Instead, it categorizes money that’s in a savings or checking account as money for a specific goal.
Where Monarch Shines
Monarch's focus on goals-based planning is its primary point of differentiation. Users who need help breaking up large goals into smaller pieces will be pleased.
The app also allows users to “direct free cash" to specific financial goals. When you put money towards a goal, the app rewards you. The little confetti reward on the screen is surprisingly fun. It makes financial progress into a small celebration.
From a technical perspective, the app also seems to have very good transaction categorization technology. The algorithms for categorizing transactions were spot on. This is the best implementation of transaction categorization that I’ve seen.
The net worth tracker also had a nice visual element to it. More online money management tools should show net worth over time. The Monarch money app does it right.
Where Monarch Could Improve
While Monarch has a lot going for it in concept, the actual execution is confusing. After 30 to 40 minutes of playing with the budgeting app, I still couldn’t figure out how to adjust the category recommendations. When I created a new category, I couldn’t figure out how to adjust or update the category itself.
Overall, the app seems to be brittle and easy to break. While it has some awesome technology (such as the categorization of transactions), it struggles with the basics. Dozens of budgeting apps do a better job of pulling in transactions and creating budgets. Most are better at bringing in long histories of transactions to build budgets.
It was great to allow users to “allocate” free cash to specific goals. But, in my case, a lot of the money that the app called “free” wasn’t free at all. It was money for taxes or upcoming bills.
I suspect that part of my confusion has to do with the fact that Monarch isn’t elegantly handling disconnected bank accounts very well. For example, Capital One, is known for disconnecting from apps. While some apps import the information and ask you to reconnect regularly, Monarch never presented my Capital One transactions at all.
Finally, it should be noted that the Monarch app isn't available on the Google Play store yet (although Monarch says this is coming soon). While they could still manage their accounts on the web, the lack of mobile access is likely to make Monarch a non-starter for many Android users.
How Much Does It Cost?
Monarch offers a 14-day free trial. Following the trial, subscriptions cost $89.99 per year or $9.99 per month. This price point seems high given the features offered.
$9.99/month or $89.99/year
$11.99/mo or $84/yr
iOS, Android, Web, Alexa, and more
iOS, Web, Android
Net Worth Tracking
Monarch has a unique point of view among financial apps. I love that it helps users celebrate progress towards financial goals. But, right now, I suggest giving the Monarch money app a hard pass. It’s just too confusing and difficult to use for the price.
However, it should be noted that this app just launched publicly on web and iOS in December 2020. And it seems to be backed by some serious money. My hope is that over the next year or so, the Monarch team will update the technology and it will become an app that's worth the price.
Because of the excellent visuals and the unique point of view, I will keep my eye on the Monarch money app. I'm excited to see how it changes to better serve its customers.
Credit Score Monitoring
Net Worth Tracking
Import Bank Data Files
Customer Support Options
Customer Service Email
Mobile App Availability
14-day free trial
- Pricing and Fees
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
- Tools and Services
Monarch is a money management website and app that can help you budget, create a financial plan, and track your goals. Learn how it works!
- Goal-based financial planning
- Syncs with over 11,000 financial institutions
- Accurate transaction categorization
- More difficult to use than similar apps
- Not available on Android
- Pricing is on the high side
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.