Savology Review: the free financial plan everyone is talking about
Savology is changing the way financial planning is done by providing free financial plans in 5 minutes.
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When it comes to managing your personal finances, I'd take a bet that while our individual goals are definitely different in some ways, we all have one thing in common: We want to make improvements and set ourselves up for success.
We want to improve the relationship we have with our money. We want to improve the way we're spending our money, the way we're earning it, investing it, and ultimately making better financial decisions.
This is exactly where financial planning comes into play. Financial planning is the process of assessing your current financial standing, looking at your future financial goals, and mapping out the steps in between to help you get there and mitigate your risks along the way.
For most, financial planning seems unrealistic for a variety of reasons, notably the costs and accessibility that has been associated with traditional financial planning.
Thankfully, Savology, a new fintech startup based out of Utah, is changing the way financial planning is done by providing free financial plans in 5 minutes.
What is Savology?
Savology is a financial planning platform for everyday Millennials, and just about anyone else looking to make improvements to their financial well-being.
Savology's platform provides free financial planning in just 5 minutes. You’ll also receive personalized and prioritized action items, to help with those important financial decisions, and a holistic report card, to give you a current snapshot of your financial well-being, so that you have a clear indication on what areas you need to improve and how you can start improving today.
Savology's mission is an easy one for us to get behind here at Think Save Retire: to help households improve their financial well-being.
What stands out to me about Savology is that they're not just all talk. After having a conversation with their team, it's easy to tell that they are really focused on helping households make those improvements.
If I could sum it up in a sentence or two, it might be this: Savology enables you to become the expert of your finances. It gives you access, control, and clarity on what important financial decisions you need to prioritize and how to move forward with each of them.
Easy, effective and accurate financial planning. For free.
Who will find Savology useful?
While we don't say this often, the short answer is everyone.
Seriously, it's useful for just about anyone.
We're all responsible for what happens in our financial lives and the decisions we make every single day with our money. No one else. So, as the manager of your money, it's critical to find and have access to a tool like Savology that works with you to double down on the good habits, cut the bad ones, and keep you working towards your financial future.
While financial planning is for everyone, there are some notable cases where it becomes even more important. These are usually associated with major life stages/events where managing our money seemingly becomes more and more of a priority.
Where and when can I use Savology?
Let's first start with the where.
You, and just about anyone else reading this, can get started with the Savology platform here: Build your free financial plan.
After clicking on this link, you'll go straight to Savology's website. From there, you'll notice a few options in the header, footer, and even right on the homepage.
The next thing you'll want to do is get started with building your free financial plan.
The Savology financial survey consists of about 20-30 questions depending on your answers and your current financial situation. These questions are a combination of personal questions (name, age, location, etc), and financial questions related to your current savings, debt, retirement plans, and how you're managing your financial risks.
It's important to keep in mind when you're going through these questions that Savology uses this information to calculate your current financial picture and create your financial plan. So really, the more honest you are when you're going through the questions, the more accurate your plan will be.
One thing that impressed me by their approach was not asking for too much personal information. Not once was I asked for my last name, street address, phone number, bank account numbers, or social security number.
I can tell that this is one area Savology thought through very carefully to make sure people going through the survey feel comfortable with providing information.
The survey is broken down into 5 main sections:
1) Your personal profile
This section includes your name, age, gender, location (via zip code), and whether or not you are married or have any dependents.
2) Your savings and income
This section includes your estimated annual income (gross income), your current savings habits, the types of retirement and non-retirement investment accounts you current have, along with their balances.
3) Your assets and liabilities
This section includes the types of assets you own along with the estimated value of each asset, the types of debts and liabilities you have in your name, the amount of total debt, whether you own your home or rent, and your credit card usage habits.
4) Your risk management
This section includes your estate plan details, your life insurance needs and coverage, along with other types of insurance that you might have.
5) Your retirement and financial goals
The financial section is related to your desired outcome. You'll be asked the age at which you want to retire, the type of lifestyle you wish to live throughout your retirement years, and the state of your current health.
Now, let's talk about when you can use Savology. Really, you can get started with using the platform (and building your plan) right away or whenever you are ready. Not to mention you can also access it to regularly check in with your plan, which I highly recommend, and make updates to it whenever you want to. I like to think of it as having unlimited, on-demand access to a financial planning tool that helps me reach my goals.
This is really beneficial for a lot of different reasons.
For example, if you've made progress in terms of tucking away more money (increasing your savings rate) or even opened up a new retirement account, then you'll want to go into your plan and make those changes to start unlocking new action items and steps to work on.
Similarly, if you've gone through a significant life change such as getting a new job, having a baby, or getting married then you'll want to reflect these changes in your plan.
Quality of Services
If you've thought that free software platforms don't pull their own weight, then just hold that thought. Because Savology is an exception to that.
When you sign up for your free Savology account, you get access to a lot of really beneficial and cool features. I knew that I would have access to a financial plan of some sort, but after signing up I was surprised at the other features that come embedded in the platform.
Let's take a look at the service and the platform features in a little more detail:
1) Savology's financial plan
First and foremost, this is likely the reason why you signed up and created your account. Your Savology plan is broken down into 4 major components of your financial life: Savings and income; Assets and liabilities; Risk management; and your retirement outlook.
Your plan provides both a high level overview of these four major sections, along with the detailed explanations and breakdowns.
As an example, under the assets and liabilities section, you'll get a breakdown that shows you your net worth, debt-to-income ratio, and the impact housing (owning or renting) has on your financial plan.
2) Savology's financial report card
The financial report card is easily my favorite feature. Even just looking at this and using it for a couple of minutes I was surprised at how accurate and insightful it was. Your report card essentially takes a snapshot of your current financial picture to provide you with grades across 10+ different categories to show you your financial strengths and weaknesses.
These categories include: Credit, debt, income, housing, savings, retirement, emergency fund, insurance, and more.
Not only does the report card give you a letter grade associated with each category, but it also provides a description about why you have a particular grade, along with some of the things you can do to improve your grade.
3) Savology's action items
These exactly as they sound. Items that you need to start taking action on. Or in other words, your recommended next steps based on your financial goals (your retirement outlook) along with the areas you need to improve most.
Each action item provides specific details about why the action item is recommended, how it benefits your overall plan, and what you can do to complete it. As you complete action items, you'll get rewarded with Savology Stars (which we'll get to below) along with being shown more action items so that you can continue making progress.
4) Savology's planning modules
These are new features to the Savology platform that exist to help you enrich and improve your financial literacy. The end goal is to provide more ways that enable people to take action and make better financial decisions.
You might notice that there are still quite a few modules not available yet, but my best guess is that being a relatively new feature, Savology is still working on the finalized the details of each one.
The newly added financial literacy quiz module was actually really fun to go through and try out. As you go through the quiz, you'll be shown the correct answer along with information that helps you better understand the financial topics.
5) Savology Stars
Savology is working on adding a gamification element through Savology Stars. You can earn stars through a variety of different ways such as sharing the platform with your friends, completing action items, completing modules, completing activities, and more.
These stars can then be used to unlock additional platform features, and can even be used to get discounts with select providers. Savology is also working on including tangible rewards such as t-shirts and other swag that you can earn by redeeming your stars.
My experience with Savology
Despite being hesitant at first, my experience with the platform was much better than I was anticipating. To say the least, Savology came through and delivered on their promise.
The first thing I had questioned was the time it took to actually build a plan. I was skeptical that it could be done in around five minutes. But it definitely can. The first time I took the survey, it took me a little longer as I was purposely taking my time, triple-checking my inputs, and everything in between. Even with that, it took me just over six minutes to complete. The other two times took me around four minutes.
Next, I was expecting there to be a lot of missing features or items, but I was more than surprised at how well built out the platform is. Now, that's not to say that there aren't any improvements that need to be made, but let's just say that the team has really thought things through quite clearly.
Is there anything else I should know about Savology?
There are a few additional things you might want to know about Savology. If you're anything like me, I like to do as much research as I can ahead of time before getting my feet wet.
1) Savology really is free to use
There are a lot of money apps out there that advertise as being a free product only to later find out it's based on a freemium model. Savology isn't one of those products. Which means you really do get access to a comprehensive financial plan for free.
This is an immediate value-add, especially considering the cost of getting a financial plan from a traditional or fee-based advisor can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $2,500.
2) Your results and information
The problem with most of us is that we always want the best advice, service, or return on just about anything without being willing to put in the necessary time and effort. Your plan, and financial planning in general, only works if you put in the work. It's not a set-it-and-forget-it platform. Now, I'm not saying you need to check it every single day, but doing weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with your financial plan to review your progress and current action items is one way to help set yourself up for success. Personally, I set calendar and phone notifications every week to make sure that I am actively staying on top of managing my finances.
Additionally, it's super critical to make sure that you are inputting the correct information and providing accurate numbers as you create and update your plan. That's if you're actually serious about improving your finances. Remember, this is YOUR financial plan.
- Extremely clean interface and good user experience
- It's completely free to use, which saves you thousands of dollars right away
- The recommendations are personalized based on your plan
- All recommended service providers are vetted and checked
- The gamification aspect through Savology Stars makes going through modules and completing activities fun and rewarding (you can even share the platform with your friends to earn stars)
- Being a new company and platform, there are still improvements Savology is working on
- Takes about 5 minutes to go through the survey, some information you will need to know ahead of time!