Dietitians have been telling us the same thing for years: It’s not specific diets that finally get us to drop a few pounds and start eating healthier, it’s changing our lifestyle. The same goes with our finances—we can try as many budgets as we want, but unless we change our financial behaviors, we’re never going to get anywhere.
Change understands. This relatively new phone and web-based service uses an artificial intelligence to track and recognize potential negative spending habits. Change wants to teach you how to spend wisely, not just track every dollar.
Change throws budgeting out the window, recognizing that even apps like Mint (one of the most popular budgeting tools), make us do too much and contribute to our budgeting flakiness.
Change wants to make your savings process even simpler.
After you link your bank and credit card accounts, the AI, through a series of complicated algorithms I won’t try to explain, learns your spending habits and gently nudges you (sort of like a concerned parent) to change your spending habits.
Change is an “invisible app,” that doesn’t require a download. You just sign-up online and Change begins communicating with you through text or Facebook messenger.
The texts typically tell you what you spend your money on and how much you have left in your accounts. Since that five-dollar-a-day coffee habit may not sound like much, Change fills you in on how costly certain habits are to you annually.
If you’re a little bit of a conspiracy buff like I am, hearing the phrase “artificial intelligence” may make you a little uneasy. But the creators of Change promise a safe and secure user experience.
When you link your bank accounts, Change doesn’t keep your login credentials and all your data is encrypted on their servers.
Behind the AI is a group of behavioral experts and data scientists—covering both the emotional and economic aspects of finance to create a service that doesn’t just tap into your financial needs, but that strives to understand and change your habits.
Who should use Change?
As its name suggests, Change is best for anyone who wants to change their financial lifestyle, but doesn’t have the time or energy to sit down every month and meticulously record their spending.
But Change isn’t just for millennials. These days, nearly everyone uses cards or even electronic services like Apple Pay to make purchases. This makes spending almost invisible–until the bill comes.
Change doesn’t condemn electronic spending; rather it aims to coordinate your cards and accounts and make your spending visible. It focuses on your negative spending habits, unlike other programs that alert you only when you’ve gone over your allotted budget.
Does Change really improve your financial life?
Paired with the right tools, it could.
Yes, most budgets fail, but having financial goals and a place to track them is still important– even for the short amount of time we may use them.
Change only offers insight and advice, which may be good for your spending in the long run and eliminate the need for a financial advisor, but you may still need something to remind you of your bills, investments, and short or long-term savings goals.
Change can remind you of subscriptions and memberships you forgot to cancel, or tell you how much you actually spend on your phone service, but Change is just an aid. You have to do some work and actively put to use the advice Change gives you.
Combining Change with apps that measure your net worth, a spreadsheet to show you an overview of your financial health, or even a simple spending plan (don’t worry, it’s not a budget!), can go a long way in making sure you’re spending smarter.
I’ve been using Change in the midst of writing this review for a few weeks now. While it’s nice to get daily reminders of how much I have in my accounts and the credit line left on my cards, Change has yet to identify my spending habits and offer helpful advice.
This is probably due to the fact that I just don’t spend a whole lot. I’m not bothered by keeping receipts and tracking my online statements fairly often, so Change mostly tells me what I already know.
If you’re like me and don’t spend a whole lot outside of bills and bar tabs, Change has nothing to report back. Change is for someone that knows they spend frivolously and wants to understand the true cost of that spending.
Change’s Auto Saving feature can help build your emergency fund
One feature, once it’s released, that I’m sure to find helpful is Change’s Auto-Savings feature. This service identifies small amounts of money (between $5-$100) that could be spared for savings and automatically sends these funds to your Change Savings account three to four times per week. I’m terrible at saving for goals or even an emergency fund, so having a system that does it automatically would be beneficial.
You can add additional money to the account or withdraw from it at any time by sending a text or a Facebook message. Unfortunately, the number of banks that participate in this savings plan currently excludes most smaller credit unions.
Overall, Change has the potential to positively impact our spending behaviors, especially for the generations that communicate almost exclusively through text or Facebook, but is it the answer to all our budgeting problems? Probably not.
As much as we’d like to rely solely on technology to help us change our ways, Change is just an aid. At some point, when your finances get more complicated or you start investing, you’ll need to put a little effort into keeping track of your own spending.
- Why Most Budgets Fail
- Which Budget System Is Best For You?