Tracking your money is a powerful habit. It can shed a lot of light on your current spending habits. But what’s the best tool to use for it? In this Empower vs. Monarch comparison, you’ll get a sense of which spending tracker is right for you.
Who is Empower?
Empower is a long-time financial tech favorite. It was launched in 2009. You might not recognize them, though, because they changed their name to Empower from Personal Capital! Empower was enthusiastically adopted by people pursuing FIRE because it easily and comprehensively displayed their progress. Thanks to a variety of free tools, users could get a snapshot of how close they were to achieving their early retirement dreams.
Very quickly, Empower went mainstream. We couldn’t be happier. It is a robust platform perfect for anyone on their financial journey. Just starting out tracking your spending? Empower might be right for you! Nearing retirement? Empower can help with that too! Of course, it can be an excellent tool for people somewhere in between as well.
Who is Monarch?
Monarch Money flew onto the scene more recently. It was founded in 2018. However, it’s been eagerly adopted by thousands of people.
Monarch is especially powerful for people who manage their money together. If you and your partner combine all or parts of your finances, Monarch can help you get a clear financial picture.
Empower vs. Monarch: Round 1 (Best Features)
The Empower vs. Monarch throwdown is intense because both platforms have some really powerful features. To give you an idea of what each platform does best, check out the best features of Empower and Monarch below.
Empower: Best Features
You can explore our in-depth Empower review to learn more about all the features Empower offers after checking out the best features below.
There’s no doubt about it, money-conscious people love the word free. And Empower is exactly that. This platform is free to use, and you can access a variety of different planning tools.
It's good to know that you will have to sign up for a no-obligation phone call with a financial advisor. Feeling skittish? Once you have $100,000 in investable assets, that phone call could provide valuable insights. Of course, there’s no obligation to use their financial advisors. In fact, we’re pretty positive this is one company that is used to taking “no thanks” for an answer.
Excellent Investment Tools
As we mentioned earlier, Empower first found its financial footing in the early retirement world. For many early retirees, successful stock market investing plays a key role in their financial strategy. So it should not surprise you that Empower offers excellent investment tools (for free!).
We are big fans of their Investment Checkup tool and their Retirement Planner tool. Both of these tools allow you to evaluate your current progress. Then, you can make adjustments that your future self will thank you for!
With the Investment Checkup, you will be able to quickly analyze your portfolio’s risk. Afterward, the tool analyzes past performances and makes recommendations to keep your asset allocation and risk level in line with your goals.
The Retirement Planner allows you to run different scenarios and see how your plans weather large upcoming expenses. Additionally, you can incorporate different income events and even simulate a recession. No tool can guarantee peace of mind, but Empower’s investment tools can certainly help!
Paired with a Top Financial Institution
The people behind Empower know their stuff. There is an absolute wealth of knowledge on the Empower site and embedded in the tools. We also love their email newsletter and The Currency.
Their financial news cuts through the noise and helps investors understand the market in ways that make sense to everyone. No panic, no hoopla. Just the facts so you can make informed decisions!
Monarch: Best Features
Learn more about what we love about Monarch money in our detailed Monarch review. But first, check out a snapshot of their best features below.
Some apps just make sense, and Monarch is one of them. The design prioritizes user experience. Even if you are just getting started with your finances, Monarch is easy to understand. You can personalize your financial dashboard to show exactly the information you want to keep at hand.
Easy Transition from Mint
Another one of Monarch’s best features is that they make it so simple to transition from Mint. Mint was a beloved budgeting tool that shuttered at the start of 2024. Monarch Money helps Mint users transfer over account data in a few simple steps.
After Mint announced it was closing up shop, Monarch was the money management solution my wife and I chose.
Collaborate with Your Partner
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: couples who manage their money together find more success! That doesn’t mean that you have to combine all of your accounts. Instead, we want you to find a system that works for you and commit to open and honest conversations. Monarch can play an essential role in that!
Both partners can sync their accounts for a joint view of your finances. Plus, you each get an email every month so you can see what’s happening with your money. You can also set up and tailor goals to specific accounts.
Empower vs. Monarch: Round 2 (Areas for Improvement)
In the second round of our Empower vs. Monarch throwdown, we looked at what might be missing from these tools. The reality is that both of these fintech juggernauts have room for improvement.
Take a closer look at some of the drawbacks of these platforms.
Empower: Areas for Improvement
Empower has a sizable fan club, and we understand why. It’s a powerful platform that doesn’t come with any recurring costs.
Still, there are some drawbacks to Empower that should be aware of. We highlight two of them below.
Simplistic Budget Tool
Empower does have a budgeting tool. It is straightforward. For some people, that’s all they need.
However, if you are looking for a more comprehensive budgeting tool, you will have to look elsewhere. The basic nature of the tool is just that … basic. (You can check out Monarch Money or one of our favorite budget apps for families!)
Sales Pitches and Upsells
Empower doesn’t pitch aggressively and you’re only obligated to take a single phone call from them. However, for some people, that’s deterrent enough.
Additionally, Empower does offer some paid products that likely aren’t appropriate for people who are just starting on their financial journeys. Though many people prefer free tools, there are drawbacks to them. In this case, be prepared for a sales pitch and some upselling.
Monarch: Area for Improvement
There’s a lot to love about Monarch Money. Truthfully, it’s one of our favorite tools and the first one we suggest when people are looking to manage their money together.
Still, Monarch may not be right for everyone. There are two notable areas for improvement when it comes to Monarch Money.
Some people want free financial tools. If you’re one of them, then Monarch likely isn’t for you.
Monarch Money does offer a free 30-day trial. Occasionally, they also offer promotional pricing. Their standard pricing is either $14.99 a month or $99.99 billed annually. The annual price seems hefty, but it breaks down to just over $8 a month.
Monarch Money shines when it comes to helping individuals and couples track their spending and set budgets. The investing tools it offers pale a bit in comparison. You can track your investment accounts in one place, which is a really handy feature. However, for people who are looking to take a more active investing role, you may find yourself wanting more detail than Monarch provides.
Another example of Monarch’s more simplistic tools is the fact that your credit score is absent from the planning dashboard. While it’s just one number, we know many people try to follow their score closely. This is certainly something we hope Monarch integrates as a feature soon.
Empower vs. Monarch: Final Verdict
So when it comes to the Empower vs. Monarch throwdown, who wins?
Empower shines as a platform focused on investing. It really can’t be beat. However, for people who are looking for clear everyday financial management, Monarch wins for sure. While you might be hesitant to spend money on a platform when a free tool exists, don’t. Monarch is worth the price to not have to worry about any upselling.
We encourage you to give both platforms some consideration to see if they might fit your financial goals. No matter which one you choose, know that you’re on the right path if you’re tracking your money!
In our house, we use Monarch for our everyday money management and Empower for more in-depth investment management.
Who wins in the Empower vs. Monarch comparison in your eyes? How do you track your money?
Please let us know in the comments below.