“Money, is no longer a physical object.”, explains Jake Fuentes the CEO and co-founder of Level Money, a new personal finance app. He’s right. Cash used to be king, but now it is more like the king’s brother, an older prince that is past his time. Cards are king and the heir to the thrown seems to be digital money. In 2012 the Javelin Strategy research group published a study stating 66% percent of all in person transactions were done with cards. With cash on the way out, the way we perceive spending has radically changed.
Gone are the days when you can look in to your wallet or purse and visually see how much money you have and most people in GEN-Y have NEVER balanced a check book. With out the visual cue that you pockets are emptying it is harder to realize that you are spending all your money. Especially with overdraft protection, and it’s actually more profitable for banks if you spend money you don’t have. This would lead us to believe that the solution is age old, a budget. Sticking to a budget is great, but it is very difficult to do with out that reminder of what you were supposed be spending, and how much you have left of that amount. Jake, calls this amount your spendable cash. “We wanted to create a new language…” ,he says.
Viewing your balance only shows you how much money you have at the current moment, it doesn’t take into account the fact that you might have rent due in 3 days or that you have yet to pay your phone bill. You set which accounts to sync to Level Money and it tracks your regular expenditures, adds them, up and shows you what you have left. They have changed the display from your balance to your cash flow. This is especially valuable when you are trying to decide if you should go out to dinner tonight, or stay home. Your balance may show that you have money, but Level Money will you tell how much of it is spendable.
In partnership with Intuit, who you may know from their product Turbo Tax, Level Money has the access and security to facilitate communication with your bank. This is good because we definitely want to know that the information going into the app is protected.
It should be stated that Level Money doesn’t replace the act of sitting down and looking at finances. It can, however be a valuable tool to help you make informed decisions about how you spend your money on the spot. Level Money brings back the ability to have immediate access to your financial information, when you need it. ” There has to be native access to this information, we had to look at our behaviors and make something that worked with them, instead of trying to change them.” On payday, even though your balance may be high, if you see a low number in your spendable, you’ll know its probably not a good time to hit the bar.
The access to information is really what sets off our ability to make good decisions. Sometimes we don’t have the knowledge, other times we need to be reminded of its relevance. Jake knows this, he remembers having a dinner with some friends a while back and not really knowing if he could afford to have eaten out that night. He kept his fingers crossed as his card was swiped hoping the charge cleared. That experience is part of what inspired the app. He and is friends sat around talking and someone one in the group said, ” I don’t need to be rich, I just want to be level.”
The app launched in October 2013 for iOs and in January for Android platforms. The app is free and there are no ads, they could charge for some other features in the future. You can follow Level Money on twitter at @levelmoney.