As a financial geek, I’m always on the lookout for cool programs that will make budgeting and financial planning easier.
If I find them, it’s a bonus if these programs are offered free of charge – and are actually worth my time. (And does not hound you to buy investments, yes I'm talking about you Personal Capital)
Recently I was contacted by an employee of Savology who asked me to review their new product that was launched in early 2019. I was promised Savology could provide me with a personally tailored financial plan that would only take me five minutes to complete.
The plan was going to provide me with actionable insights on how to improve my retirement, current budget, liabilities, and estate planning.
With such an extensive list of financial criteria, could they really deliver all of this in only five minutes of my time?
When I first heard about Savology, I was skeptical, to say the least. There have been many fly by night applications that are invented and promise the latest and greatest financial planning strategies – only to leave me disappointed. Proper financial planning software is often costly, so at first, I was not optimistic about this new free financial planning company.
I was a financial planner years ago, and I understand the complexities of personally tailored financial plans. To properly provide the most relevant information, a vast amount of information needs to be evaluated.
Financial Planning in the 21ST Century
As we move through this digital age, the old way of writing a financial plan on paper and balancing a checkbook is becoming a thing of the past.
Savology made it a goal to provide a solid financial plan for just about everyone, especially those of us who have short attention spans. The company promises a free financial plan in five minutes or less.
Savology’s primary audience is the millennial market, but they offer advice for all generations. The founder and CEO of the company, Spencer Barclay, quickly realized that millennials were woefully unprepared for future retirement, let alone any recessions that come their way.
Spencer found that 70% of millennials do not even have $1,000 in their savings account, and most don’t have life insurance.
How Savology Is Different
From my prior experience in the financial planning business, most online companies either tell you what you’re doing wrong without actionable steps to fix it, or they provide advice for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in consultation fees.
You usually get what you pay for. Free applications are a waste of time, and paid programs usually hurt your pocketbook more than help you.
Savology aims to buck this trend by offering free financial plans with simple steps to meet your personal finance goals. Spencer and the team at Savology created the software to empower millennials by giving them power and control over their unique financial situation without sacrificing the things they value.
Savology Focus Areas
Since each person’s financial goals are different, Savology focuses on addressing some of the most important and detrimental financial topics to measure. The platform evaluates each person’s financial position in regards to:
- Emergency Fund
- Debt Payoff
- Current Saving Rate
- Estate Planning
- Optimizing Taxes
- Using Insurance To Lower Risk
Key Metrics and Evaluations
In addition to the above listed actionable items and measurements, Savology provides each user with additional reporting criteria:
- A Financial Report Card – A one-stop shop to see how your current financial situation is compared to where you should be.
- Key Performance Indicators – In every personal finance plan, there are core individual finance building blocks that need to be in place. These indicators evaluate your unique financial building blocks.
- Additional Education – While Savology focuses on short bursts of information and actionable items, they back up their findings, citations, and references for further learning.
- Recommended Companies (Providers) – Much of personal finance is “do it yourself,” but there are several sections that require professional guidance and services. For instance, if you need term life insurance, Savology recommends some of their trusted partners to provide you the necessary financial services. You are not obligated to use their partners, but if you’re looking for guidance, this is something Savology offers.
- Milestones – To keep you engaged, Savology has incorporated a rewards type of system that requires you to do certain actionable items to unlock additional features. By challenging you to stay involved, they aim to make you successful by using a gamification type model.
Fintech Is Here To Stay
Financial Technology (FinTech) is the future of financial planning. Millennials have embraced this technology and are continually challenging software companies to come up with better and more efficient ways to reach objectives. Savology is no different and has risen to the challenge.
How Savology Works
As stated earlier, Savology is free software that will give you an easy to follow plan to meet your personal finance goals. It’s more than a budget tool – it provides a comprehensive insight into your complete financial outlook and risk.
1. Starting Your Plan
By creating a brief profile with only your basic information, Savology allows you to edit and amend your plan depending on financial changes. I was pleasantly surprised that Savology did not want my last name, social security number, or even my birthday. I could create my financial plan by remaining mostly anonymous.
I was able to create my first financial plan by answering a series of automated questions that focused on my current savings, debt, retirement, and estate planning progress (or lack thereof). After spending about five minutes answering the questions, I was able to move on to my personalized financial plan.
2. Reviewing My Results
The second step involved providing me information about my current financial progress based on what I wanted to achieve in the future. My own retirement goals were analyzed and judged according to my time horizon.
The results gave me a financial plan that I could follow to achieve my desired results as well as a financial report card. The report card judged my current progress based on where I wanted to be versus where I actually was in my financial plan.
Finally, specific, actionable items and recommendations were provided to me to get me started. Rather than merely saying, “you need more life insurance,” Savology showed me how much life insurance I should have based on my liabilities and debt. Also, I was provided a series of term life insurance companies that could assist me in meeting my financial goals.
3. Analyze Your Progress
Because Savology does not tie directly into your retirement or bank accounts, you are required to update any progress you make manually. Personally, I hate software that requires connecting to my personal banking institutions, so while this requires a bit of work, I would rather keep my bank account secure.
Savology uses your login to store your provided information so you can keep track of your progress.
Staying Engaged Through the Process
Actionable items, such as creating an emergency fund or opening a retirement account, are some of the first steps Savology focuses on. When you complete the beginning steps of your financial plan, additional items are unlocked for you to complete.
For instance, adding additional life insurance may be the best route after your retirement account is opened. By using a systematic step system to get you on track, Savology focuses on making it easy and fun to get your finances back on track.
So What’s the Catch?
We all know that nothing in life is free, so why would Savology offer all of this at no cost? I dug a little deeper into the company and found that they make money from the companies they recommend as part of the actionable items.
As a consumer of the program, this did not bother me because I was not required to use their suggested partners to receive my personal finance information. With each company that was recommended to me, I could do my own research and either go with their recommendation or a different company.
1) Provides in-depth reviews and details about each provider, helping alleviate the time to research
2) It only includes providers on the platform that are able to help users make progress. Each provider is vetted and used by Savology personnel beforehand.
3) Not all of the providers compensate Savology. Some providers are recommended because of the benefit they provide to your plan.
In essence, I found that Savology was genuinely free for the consumer, and the partners paid for referrals. This is what you call a “win-win.”
The Bottom Line
Overall, I was quite impressed with the Savology platform. It provided a comprehensive financial plan for me and made me aware of several areas I could improve. Also, it really was “free” and didn’t require me to input a bunch of my personal information to get the results.
I recommend you give Savology a try to see how you are doing on your own financial path. You have nothing to lose, and you may be surprised to find there were certain things you have neglected to address in your plan.
Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.