Looking at your savings and bills and wondering how the heck to move financially forward?
Give Thrive, a free financial advising service, a whirl.
Designed with 20- and 30-somethings in mind, Thrive takes the account numbers and passwords to your bank, credit card, mortgage and investment statements and automatically downloads all of the info it needs.
It then analyzes where your money goes and offers advice on how to trim expenses, pay off your credit cards and get your investments rolling.
Once you’ve sent the computer program on its way, Thrive requires surprisingly little work from you. Just answer a few questions. (You may need to tell it that Wegmans is a grocery store or that you shop at CVS for prescriptions, not magazines).
Thrive is an ideal service for people with irregular incomes, too. Unlike other advice sites that start by asking for your monthly income, it determines how much you make by looking at six months of bank statements.
Just be prepared for some tough love, with advice like “You’re overspending, slow down,” or a sobering calculation of how quickly you’d run out of money if you were fired.
Concerned about turning your financial passwords over to a Web site?
You have good reason to be, but Thrive insists they’re safe. They use the same kinds of safety measures and coding as your bank. And then some.
“We don’t actually store your passwords. You come in, you enter your password, we create a secure, one way tunnel with your bank,” says Matt Wallaert, the lead scientist at Thrive. “They send us the equivalent of the statement you’d get in the mail, but with less info.”
If hackers broke into the site, they might be able to see how much you spend for groceries, but they wouldn’t be able to steal your identity by taking your passwords and account numbers.
It’s not a perfect system. If you already have a mortgage, for example, the site will still tell you how much home you can afford to buy, and prompt you to set up a plan to buy one.
Wallaert says they’re working on that, and to make spending and budget suggestions more action based.
Instead of saying “you have $300 to spend on meals this month,” he wants Thrive to figure out that your average restaurant bill is $30 and tell you that you can go out 10 times this month.
But for a free service?
It’s a valuable one that could help you budget your money more wisely.