Let’s face it: managing your money isn’t fun. But for most of us, it’s a necessary evil.
The problem is that most personal finance apps and services suck. They’re buggy and confusing to use.
I just moved to New York City and got a new job. The app I’m using to help me plan my budget is called Level Money. I've been using it for a few months, and it solves all of the problems that usually plague budgeting apps — it's simple to use, has a great design, and is smarter than the competition.
And today it’s getting even better, with an update that makes the app more flexible for people with irregular incomes and expenses.
“Our goal is to push money to the background of our lives,” Level Money CEO Jake Fuentes tells Business Insider. "We shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time managing our finances.”
Here’s how the app works: after connecting your bank and any other credit cards (Level currently partners with around 18,000 financial institutions), you enter your income, bills, and how much you want to save each month. The app crunches the numbers for you and presents you with your “Spendable,” or your available cash, to spend each day.
The app has worked well for people with with regular incomes, but has fallen short for those whose income fluctuates. The reality is that a lot of people don’t know exactly what bills they’ll have next month, much less what their income will be.
For instance, you could be a server making tips or you could work on commission. Or you could have certain bills that only come in every few months, like car insurance. Before today, Level didn't take into account those types of variations.
Starting today, Level will scan your bank history to find how much money you've made and how much you've spent in the past and help you plan for the future. The app “deceits the nuances in your financial life,” says Fuentes, and that has real world implications depending on how you use it.
New York can get very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Utility bills tend to go up during those months, so by looking back at my past payments, Level can detect that curve and make predictions about how much money I should set aside.
I also live with roommates. Each of us sends our share of the utility bill to one person who writes the check each month. For the person who makes the payment to the utility company, Level can see that outbound transaction and pair it with the multiple inbound transactions from each roommate. You used to have to manually tag all that activity yourself, but now the app detects it and does it for you.
Beyond “bringing clarity” to your budget, the next step for Level is automating your fiances, according to Fuentes. That means moving money on your behalf and taking care of menial tasks like paying bills. “The point is to ensure that money moves the way people want it to,” he says.
It’s a little scary to trust an app with your financials, but Fuentes assures me that all information collected by Level, which was bought by Capital One earlier this year, only gets used to provide the service.
There’s no data mining happening for monetization purposes, Fuentes says, and he assures me that “the moves we’re making are much longer term.” The app will continue to be totally free, and you can get it now in the App Store and Google Play.