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Start saving in a Cinch!

October 18, 2017
AUTHOR: Laura
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Let’s talk about money, money, money.

I had the opportunity to try out Cinch Financial. Cinch is a personal finance tool that is like having a personal CFO in your pocket. 

 It links with your personal accounts, looks at your credit report, and makes personalized recommendations about what you should do to better your financial situation.

Let me start my introducing my financial situation: I am 22 years old. I graduated college a year ago, so my student loans are in repayment (and kill me a little inside every time they take my money). I work full time and have a consistent source of income. I carry $0 in credit card debt, and I have a small savings of about one month’s salary. My current goal is to grow my savings, but emergency bills just keep creeping up on me.

Using Cinch was a pretty simple process. You start by answering a few easy questions about your living situation– for example, do you own or rent? – followed by some questions about whether you share your finances with someone or are independent. Then, they take some personal information to pull your credit report without affecting your credit score (a big plus!).

Next, you link your accounts. You use your online log-ins to link your bank accounts, credit cards, and student loans with the accounts that show up on your credit score. This is where I ran into some issues. I couldn’t manage to link a few of my accounts, which was a little annoying. When I shared this feedback with their team, they were super responsive, though, which is nice. 

Then there are two ways to see where you stand:

1. The Snapshot – A Quick Overview

The Snapshot view shows total debt, including student loans, credit cards, and others combined in one spot to remind me how broke I am (lol). It also shows your average money in and out, as well as the difference between the two based on the last 90 days of information. It includes information on your “Available Cash” aka how much money or cash reserves you have compared to your monthly income and expenses. It also highlights life insurance protection. I’m still young with a really good policy from work so for me, I didn’t need this part. It just reminded me how much my policy is worth. It was a one-stop overview for how you’re doing. 

via GIPHY

2. The Home Screen- Personalized Advice

The other option to view your account is from the home screen where Cinch gives you prioritized advice and suggestions on changes to make to better your financial situation. Since I’m pretty conscious already, it was basically a list of things to keep my eyes on. In my case, there were two suggestions: a rainy day fund and a spending challenge.

A Rainy Day Fund

By analyzing my accounts and my money in vs my money out, Cinch was able to identify an amount of money that I could safely transfer to my savings account without missing it.  They suggest the amount and even allow you to make the transfer directly through the tool so you can’t really put it off until later.

Spending Challenge

This one was pretty cool. I spend about $10 a day on coffee shops, restaurants, and liquor stores – don’t judge me! Cinch recommends picking a quantity a little lower – like $50 a week instead of $70 – and carrying that amount in cash to use on those purchases instead. It helps you get more of a visual of where exactly your money is going and I thought it was actually a pretty cool idea! I plan on giving it a try.

Overall Thoughts

Cinch’s service is very cool and definitely a great way to look at your budget on a larger scale. It places all your debts, your income and spending, savings, and upcoming payments in one easy to access location, which is useful if you’re like me and only remember to check on that when you’re on the go. If you are looking for more detail, though, or a close analysis of where your money is going, then Cinch may not be for you – the team at Cinch deliberately created this kind of experience to help people that don’t like digging into all of this detail on their own and appreciate a smart, dedicated advocate that can do it on their behalf.

Pros:

  • The Snapshot is a great overview of your finances overall.
  • It is mobile friendly and, once you manage to link your accounts, very easy to use.
  • Prioritized recommendations in the order they feel is most important and best for you.
  • Cinch is a fiduciary, meaning all of the recommendations are totally unbiased. Knowing that would make me feel better about any recommendations they made, but it I didn’t get any recommendations, and I can’t really speak to something I didn’t experience.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t really let you plan – in the sense that you can’t break down your spending into categories and decide specific budgets.
  • I personally don’t carry any credit card debt, but I do have student loan debt. I wish it would give me suggestions on different approaches or idea to help pay those off and get that taken care of more quickly. I reached out to the Cinch team about this- they said this should be changing before the end of the year! I look forward to seeing what it can do.
  • Connections were somewhat wonky, but this is probably a kink that will be worked out over time.

Let me know if you decide to give Cinch a try!