Let’s talk about money, mamas. It comes in, it goes out, and a lot of us just let it do it’s thing without really following how it’s coming in or where it’s all going. I get it – money can be stressful, even when you have enough! And you know you should be keeping better track of your finances but who has time for that?!
Managing money can feel like just one more thing on your already packed to-do list. At least, that’s how it feels most of the time for me. It’s boring. It’s tedious. There are too many tools and you probably have too many accounts. And in leaner months, tracking your finances can be downright scary. Hiring a financial advisor? Is not in the cards for most of us moms.
But you don’t have to. Because big surprise, there’s now an app for that. Cinch Financial is a new tool that aims to solve “both the behavioral and product challenges consumers face when making financial decisions.” To put it more simply, Cinch was designed to make understanding and making the most of your money easier.
Taking Cinch for a Spin
As a mom who has ended up with way more accounts than I’d like – checking, savings, high interest savings, investments, 401K, etc. – and an unpredictable freelance income on top of it all, simplifying sounded really good. But I’m a nervous Nancy when it comes to using financial apps, which means before I even signed up I had to make sure I felt comfortable with it. Here are three things I learned that reassured me:
Cinch operates as a fiduciary so it’s totally unbiased. When Cinch recommends companies or products, it doesn’t get a kickback so in my opinion those recommendations are more trustworthy. Cinch charges users a small monthly fee so it doesn’t have to promote specific brands or sell user data.
Cinch asks users to link accounts but only has limited access to those accounts. Right now, you can’t use Cinch to make payments or move money around – which some people might find inconvenient, but I like. Cinch does plan to add this functionality in the future so that it can automate some of these interactions – with user permission of course.
And while Cinch does ask that you allow the app to verify your credit profile – which makes it easier to link up all your accounts – it performs a soft pull so the inquiry won’t ding your credit score. Having been a victim of identity theft in the past, I was wary of letting a Cinch access my credit, but after the whole Equifax data breach Cinch is working on an option that will allow you to skip the credit pull.
Setting Up Your Cinch
The whole experience of setting up the app was actually a lot like sitting down with a financial advisor. Cinch starts by asking you questions… about your household income, whether you have kids, if you have life insurance, whether you own your home and your car, what your financial goals are, and (most importantly) how you really feel about your current financial status.
It might sound weird, but having an app ask me questions instead of just asking for data points made me feel super comfortable right off the bat. Next, Cinch will pull your credit report – not just to see where you’re at with that but also to compile a list of your debts and credit accounts without you having to enter them one by one. Score!
From there, you start linking accounts. If you’re like me and you have a lot of accounts, it’s a huge pain in the butt! But Cinch makes it a little easier by having a big list of the major banks and financial institutions so at the ready so you don’t have to enter every little single thing by hand. It only took us like 10 minutes to get most of our accounts synced up.
Lastly, Cinch asks you some more questions about your finances – like whether you have life insurance and if there are any specific things you’re currently saving up for. All in all, the process was pretty easy and like I said, felt more personal than a lot of other financial tools.
Next Stop, a Tour of Your Finances
Now here’s where Cinch starts to get really cool (especially if like me, you’re super into data and respond well to gamification). After you’re done with the setup, Cinch takes you on a personalized tour of your money so you can see how you’re doing right now. If there are areas of your financial life where you’re kicking serious butt, the app gives you a pat on the back right away.
Then it gives you recommendations. Some of the recommendations are based on the financial goals you laid out when you were setting up the app – e.g., you can save $ on car insurance by switching companies or pay off credit card debt faster with these strategies – while others are there because Cinch has identified an area where you could be doing better.
Cinch gave us a gentle reminder that we should probably have more life insurance coverage because we have kids. Oops.
The app also noticed that our spending on eating out is way overblown (truth) and challenged us reduce our spending in that area to boost our savings. The challenges Cinch proposes might just be my favorite part of the app. Tracking your finances is all well and good but it’s nice to have someone – or in this case, something – prompting you to do better so you can accomplish more!
Why Cinch Is Good for Moms
There’s are a lot of personal finance apps out there but here’s the big bottom line, as I see it: Cinch is the first financial app I’ve tried that really took the fact that we have kids into account when recommending strategies for growth and specific products. For example, the life insurance we have now was something we set up before we ever had kids and it had never occurred to me to adjust it once we became a family of four. I’m kind of impressed that an app was able to ID that kind of financial mistake!
And obviously it’s a huge time saver, too. Being able to aggregate all of my financial stuff (liquid funds, debts, savings, land my credit) in one place is a big deal when half the time I feel like I can’t even spare a minute to check out my checking account. I think that having everything in one place is good. Being able to accept challenges and then to get a “Well done!” is even better. And the fact that Cinch gets that I’m a mom and that being a mom makes my financial needs unique?
That’s pretty amazing.