The Feed #1 — Beginnings

[This article originally appeared in the email blog The Fintech Feed.]

Good evening my tech-savvy ninjas…

and welcome to the first FinTech Newsletter! First things first, thank you so much for signing up! I hope to provide you with a lot of valuable tools, tricks, and information going forward (more on that later) but we’ll keep this one short.

For now, two sentences on format. I’ll be dividing the newsletter into two sections. One will go high level on the future of the finance industry and the other will be about tools and methods (new and old) you can personally use to take control of your finances. And, as always, feedback is appreciated!

The Clouds

This month we’ll be focusing on one number in particular — 2.5. Well, actually it’s 2.5 billion. That’s the number of people in the world currently without access to financial services. We’re not talking hedge funds and complex derivatives. We’re talking basic checking and savings accounts and access to capital.

In an example to the rest of us, the world’s richest man is setting about to change all that.

Bill and Melinda Gates founded the Gates Foundation and have slowly been targeting some of the world’s most pressing issues. In the 2015 issue of the Gates Letters they identified several key predictions about the world we’re building and one of them was FinTech. It’s an incredible piece that outlines how people will be helped in the coming decades by the products companies will offer that will prioritize the consumer instead of bonuses on Wall St. Read it here.

The Dirt

There are a number of really cool and sophisticated tools that I use on a daily basis for everything finance related that have made my life much easier. This issue we’re highlighting four products I use and one I’m checking out.

SmartAsset

This is an awesome tool. Imagine Siri and Investopedia had a love child and you have the idea of SmartAssets. It has a very easy UX (that’s nerd for User Experience), a formulaic approach, and helps you prepare for the future in a smart and prudent way. All those financial questions you’re too afraid to ask b/c you feel like you should already know them? SmartAssets is your go-to.

How expensive of a house can you afford?

How much should you be saving for retirement?

How much life insurance do I need?

This is a great tool for people just starting out or executing a financial reset on their life.

Digit

I’m really excited about this tool! I’ve been using it for the last week and it’s been incredibly helpful. Digit just launched to the public out of private beta and it helps you build a savings account without having to think about it! Machine-learning algorithms analyze your spending habits, rent payments, and paycheck schedule and determine when you can spare with a few dollars (and how much “a few” would mean to you). It then pulls out that money when you don’t need it.

$5 here.

$2.83 there.

Then, at the end of each week, it sends you a text of how much you saved that week and how big your savings account is! Look at you, being all smart and saving!

Dollar A Day

This is all the warm fuzzies that FinTech is about. Link this app with your card and it will send $1 each day to worthy charities around the globe doing awesome work.

Mint

I LOVE this service. I’ve been using Mint.com since 2011 and I still use it every day. All my accounts are regularly updated, I can see a breakout of my spending by category each week, set budgets, and get financial advice all from the app! And if you’re an excel aficionado you can export those beautiful charts and graphs to play with.

Acorns

This is the one I haven’t begun using yet (if you do use it, let me know your experience). The idea is fairly straight forward. Simply link your checking account and every time you buy something that isn’t at a round dollar amount the difference is deposited in your Acorns account (and let’s be honest we all do this at the gas pump anyway).

I’m still looking in to it so can’t give my recommendation just yet but it’s gotten a strong user base since launch and people seem to like it. In fact you can find a great synopsis of all these FinTech products at the Webby’s tech website here.

That’s all for this month! I hope you can use some of these tools and that the Gates Letters are helping you dream about our awesome world.

Next month’s issue will be a banking and travel issue with all the tricks I used to start professional life with a credit score of 775! You don’t want to miss it.

Until next time,

Stay curious. Stay brave.