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Creating a budget and tracking spending can be a daunting task. In this Empower Finance review, we explore whether these money management tools can help you reduce your spending and help you save for your financial goals.
Trying to take control of your finances? You probably know you need to set a budget and track your spending. Problem is, you either don’t know where to start or are dreading the task.
You also likely know that if you could spend less money, you could reach your financial goals faster — things like building an emergency fund, paying off debt, and saving for retirement. Again, there’s a problem: You’re not sure where you could reduce your spending, and you don’t have a lot of time to spend digging into it.
Empower Finance might be able to help. It’s a money management app that helps you build a budget, track your spending, and find extra ways to save. In this review, I’ll explain how Empower works and who needs to download it pronto.
Empower Finance at a Glance
- Financial tracking (including cryptocurrency accounts)
- Automated savings
- Personalized recommendations to help drive savings
- Bill negotiation and subscription cancellation
- Human money coach via live chat
- Interest-bearing checking account
What Is Empower Finance?
Empower Finance is a money management app that specializes in helping you save. It’s a financial tracker, budgeting tool, personal money coach, and bank all in one.
To get started, simply connect your financial accounts. Empower supports more than 10,000 U.S. bank, credit card, loan, and 401(k) accounts. It even supports cryptocurrency accounts! By connecting your accounts (or using Empower’s bank account), you unlock powerful financial tracking. Empower takes a deep dive into your spending patterns to look for ways to help you save.
But it’s not just about insights. Empower actually takes action on your behalf. It transfers excess cash to a designated savings account, analyzes your bills to find more affordable options, and cancels unwanted subscriptions that are eating up your cash flow.
You can use the app to build a budget, set weekly savings goals, and get personalized financial advice. Empower even includes a high-interest checking account.
Try Empower Finance Free – Get the power of Empower Finance free for 30 days! Get started with their free trial here.
Top Features of Empower Finance
Budgeting & Financial Tracking
Building a budget with Empower Finance is simple. To start, choose your spending and income categories from their ready-to-go list or create your own custom categories.
Next, set a daily, weekly, or monthly spending limit for each category. Empower can help with this by suggesting spending limits based on your income.
And now you can carry on living your life while Empower tracks your spending through your linked accounts. It automatically imports your transactions and sorts them into your categories. (You can edit them if needed.) You’ll get timely notifications, so you know how your spending compares to your plan. For example, if you’re approaching your restaurant spending limit, Empower will gently remind you to reel it in.
At the end of each month, you’ll get a comprehensive report breaking down your spending and how it compared to your budget. You can use that real-life data to adjust your budget for the next month.
Every money nerd knows that the best way to grow your savings is to automate it. When you have to invest the time and effort to actually transfer funds into a savings account on a regular basis, it just doesn’t happen. You miss savings opportunities and end up squandering the money instead.
I believe the best way to conquer that problem is to build regular savings into your budget. Empower’s budgeting tool can certainly help you do it.
But if you aren’t there yet, or if you’re looking for ways to save even more, Empower has a tool that can help. It’s called AutoSave, and it harnesses the power of financial tracking to identify spare cash and transfer it to a designated savings account.
All you have to do is tell Empower your weekly savings goal and which bank accounts to work with. As you go about your business, Empower will track your spending in your main account. Up to four times a week, it will move surplus cash into your AutoSave account (the interest checking account included in your Empower subscription). If there are no funds to spare, it will try again next week — simple!
Empower actively looks for ways to save you money and then does the heavy lifting for you. When you connect your bank and credit card accounts (or when you use Empower’s bank account), it actively analyzes your transactions looking for patterns and identifying ways to help you save. Helpful notifications let you know when there’s an opportunity to save or earn. The notifications also keep you alerted to upcoming bills, missed payments, and unusual transactions.
One cool thing included in the Smart Recommendations feature is a roundup of your current subscriptions. Be honest: Do you actively use every service you subscribe to? For a lot of people, the answer is no. Empower makes a list of all your active subscriptions so you can take stock of them at a glance. See something you don’t like? Empower can help you cancel unwanted subscriptions, freeing up cash flow.
The good advice doesn’t stop there. Empower takes note of your recurring bills and searches for better deals. Admit it: You could probably get a better deal on your cell phone package, but you haven’t made time to research your options. With Empower, you don’t have to. You get notified if there’s a lower price elsewhere. Empower will even negotiate with your current provider to lower your bill!
Lastly, you can ask your Empower money coach any of your pressing questions through a live chat with a real person. That’s pretty impressive service for the low subscription price (more on that in a moment).
Interest Checking Account
Empower Finance offers its customers an interest-bearing, FDIC-insured checking account through NBKC Bank for no additional monthly fee.
You earn 0.05% APY* on all balances with no minimum required. You get up to three ATM fees reimbursed, with a maximum of $10 a piece. The only fee the account carries is a 1% foreign transaction fee. And if you happen to lose your “slick peach debit card,” you can freeze it and order a replacement immediately through the app. While this rate doesn’t compare to those from a high-interest savings account, it’s almost unheard of for a checking account.
How Much Does Empower Finance Cost?
Empower costs $6 per month after a free 30-day trial. That $6 gives you access to all the features, including the high-interest checking account.
Some people bristle at the thought of paying a subscription fee for a money management app, and I get it. The goal is to save money, not spend it.
While that logic is sound, the truth is that it’s hard to come by this level of service for free. The bank account, bill negotiation, subscription cancellation, and human money coach add particular value that you’re not likely to find with a free app. And it’s also likely that this $6 will save you much more by using its services.
Who Should Use Empower Finance?
- People Looking for Extra Ways to Save — Empower’s biggest strength is the way it analyzes income and spending patterns to identify savings opportunities. Whether that’s stashing surplus cash with AutoSave or finding a better deal on a bill, Empower will deliver value to people looking for extra ways to save money.
- Those Who Will Use the Bank Account — To get the most out of Empower, it’s best to use all of its features. If you’re in the market for a checking account, why not use the one included in the $6 monthly subscription fee? Granted, it doesn’t offer a very high interest rate, but its 0.05% APY* is still higher than what most checking accounts at brick and mortar banks offer.
- People Who Will Consult the Money Coach — Empower is a financial tracking powerhouse, but its value lies in the personalized insights it delivers. In addition to identifying ways to save, Empower’s human money coach is on deck to answer financial questions via live chat. If that’s a feature you’d use and enjoy, Empower might be right choice for you.
Who Should Avoid Empower Finance?
- Zero-Sum Budgeters — Empower’s budgeting platform is intuitive and user-friendly and it’s easy to get started. But if you prefer to work with a zero-sum budget (also called the envelope method), you might do better with an app that makes it easier to move money between budget categories. If that sounds like you, check out our YNAB review.
- Those Who Want to Track Their Net Worth — Empower tracks bank, credit, loan, 401(k), and cryptocurrency accounts, but it doesn’t track all investments and assets. Therefore, it can’t accurately capture net worth. If you’re looking for an app that keeps tabs on your complete financial picture, including net worth, check out Personal Capital.
- People Looking for a Free Money Management App — If you’re only interested in free tools at this time, the $6 monthly fee means you’ll want to skip Empower and look at a free financial app. But don’t forget, you can try it free for 30 days.
Empower Finance: The Bottom Line
Empower is a solid option for anyone looking to build a budget and start tracking their spending. Truthfully, though, there are apps that do that for free.
Empower’s key value lies in its personalized recommendations and the active role it takes in driving savings. Its ability to automate savings, find better deals on bills, and cancel unwanted subscriptions saves users time and money — a winning combination. Access to a money coach is an added bonus, and the bank account is a convenient and functional addition I haven’t seen before.
Overall, Empower is best suited to people looking for extra ways to save who don’t have the time to do the work themselves.
Start Saving with Empower – Empower Finance can help you automate your savings, track your spending, and find old subscriptions you no longer need! Try it free for 30 days here.
*APY Disclosure: Banking services provided by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. 0.05% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) may change at any time. APY as of Mar 30, 2021. Empower charges an auto-recurring monthly subscription fee of $8 for access to the full suite of money management features offered on the platform after your first 14 days.