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This post is sponsored by Savology. All opinions are my own.
Creating a financial plan is one of the best things you can do to improve the chances of achieving your financial goals. No one would set out to build a house without a plan, but many of us don’t take the time to create a plan for our finances.
Planning can help you to establish firm goals that you want to reach, evaluate your current position, and (most importantly) determine the steps that you need to take in order to reach your goals. Getting from your current position to your goals can happen if you know exactly what you need to do along the way.
While creating a plan is important, you’ll also need to periodically check in on your progress to make sure that you’re on track.
Savology is making the entire financial planning process more accessible and affordable than ever before. Let’s take a look below to learn a little bit more about Savology’s platform.
What is Savology?
Savology is a free online financial planning platform that is accessible and available to everyone. The company is headquartered in Utah and is providing access to its free financial planning service to households across the United States.
The company’s mission is to improve the financial well-being of millions of American households by making financial planning more accessible, actionable, and effective than ever before. The company is going about achieving this mission by providing users with free financial plans, report cards to indicate current strengths and weaknesses, action items (recommendations) with areas that need improvement, and financial planning modules to help them better understand their plan and to also help them improve their financial literacy.
Users can take the financial assessment in about five minutes and then login to their personal dashboard at any time to get access to all of the available plan details, report card breakdown, recommended next steps, planning modules, and more.
From the dashboard, you can click on the action items to get more details and guidance on what you should be doing next. You can also click on the report card to get your grade breakdown of different financial areas. Additionally, you can also access your financial plan and the areas of your plan that include:
- Emergency fund
- Net worth
- Estate planning
How Does Savology Make Money?
Most of us are skeptical of free offers (I know I am), so you may be wondering “what’s the catch?”. Savology is completely free to use. Additionally, there are no ads on the site or in the user dashboard.
Of course, Savolgy has to make money somehow, and they do it by providing personalized recommendations. Savology may recommend insurance providers, budgeting tools, estate planning resources, banks and lenders, etc. The recommendations are based on the data that you enter about yourself and your financial situation, so these are personalized recommendations based on what can help you. According to Savology, they earn a referral fee from some of the companies that they recommend. Not all of the recommendations lead to a referral commission for Savology (according to information provided by Savology). They make recommendations based on the best interest of the user, not based on what may lead to a commission for Savology.
Within the Savology dashboard, you can see a list of the providers that they recommend. These are established, reputable companies (like Robinhood, MassMutual, Policygenius, Savvy, Mint, Credit Karma, and more) that have been vetted through a process check, used by Savology staff beforehand, and are only listed if they provide value to Savology users and their financial plan. These providers cover all areas of the financial spectrum. If you need to create a budget, Savology recommends some of the top budgeting tools. If your plan determines you should consider life insurance, Savology will recommend some of the best life insurance providers, etc.
How Does it Work?
Now that we’ve taken an overall look at Savology, let’s go over the details of how it works so you can have an idea of what to expect. Before writing this article, I tried Savology for myself to get more familiar with it.
Signing up and creating your free financial plan with Savology is extremely easy. To get started, you simply just need to click on the ‘get started’ or ‘start now’ buttons on the homepage. These buttons will take you into the personal survey where you begin building your financial plan.
Savology says you can “plan your financial future in just five minutes” and that’s surprisingly very accurate. It actually took me six minutes to go through the process, but I wasn’t in any hurry.
The first info you’re asked to provide is your first name. Savology doesn’t even ask you for your last name, so if security or privacy is a concern, you’ll probably appreciate this. It also does not ask for other sensitive information like your social security number of date of birth. In the personal profile section, you’ll be asked for your first name, age, gender, zip code, marital status, as well as some details on your family like the number of dependants and their age.
After the personal profile, it will move on to a series of questions related to your savings. The questions involve things like your expected annual income, monthly savings for retirement, monthly savings in non-retirement accounts, and it will ask you the types of retirement accounts that you have, as well as the estimated balance of those accounts. You’ll also be asked if you have savings and checking accounts, and if so, the estimated balance of those accounts. And it will also ask if you have savings that is designated for an emergency.
The next section of questions is related to spending and debt. You’ll be asked what types of assets you have and the value of those assets. Of course, you’ll also be asked about the types of debts that you have and the outstanding balances of those debts.
The next series of questions is related to risk management. This will cover details like wills and trusts, as well as the types of insurance policies that you have.
The “outlook” section is next, which includes questions related to your overall level of health and your target age for retirement.
At this point, your plan is completed! In order to access the plan, you’ll need to enter your email address and create a password (or you can login with your Google account). This allows you to access the details of your plan now or at some time in the future.
Once you’ve either logged in with Google or entered your email address and password, you’ll be taken to your personal dashboard. Here you’ll immediately see your top action items (things Savology recommends that you do), your overall financial grade, a link to your more detailed financial plan, and an area to access the financial planning modules.
Although you can see your overall grade (both a letter grade and a score from 1-100) from the dashboard home, you can see much more detail by clicking on the link to view the grades. Here you’ll see your grades in nine different areas.
The action items provided by Savology can be very helpful. These recommendations are completely personalized and based on the information that you entered, so it essentially serves as a checklist of things you can do to improve your financial situation. Savology also provides additional details for each of these items and they provide recommendations in some cases (for example, lenders that you could use).
At any given time, you can click on the “financial plan” link in the dashboard to view your personal financial plan in more detail. Here you’ll see a summary, as well as tabs for savings, assets, risk, and retirement. Each of these tabs has additional information about where you stand and what needs to be improved.
Savology also allows you to expand your plan through specific modules. It looks like this is an area that will be developed in the future as there are only a few modules currently available and many that say “coming soon”. One of the modules that’s available right now is related to credit. It will take a look at your current credit score and the factors that are influencing that score. Other modules that are listed as “coming soon” include a budget tool, net worth analysis, estate planning, tax analysis, and more.
From the dashboard, you’ll see a “personal info” link. This takes you to the questions you initially answered and allows you to edit your responses, so you can keep your plan updated as your situation changes. It’s very easy to go in and change any of the details.
Pros of Savology
There is a lot to like about Savology. Here are a few of the highlights.
Free Financial Health Checkup
The tool is completely free, so that’s definitely a major plus. Even though you won’t have to pay anything to get your financial plan from Savology, it’s very useful. The information provided will essentially provide you with a checkup of your financial health.
Regardless of how active you are with managing your money or what stage you’re at in life, getting a financial checkup every now and then is a good practice. With less than 10 minutes of your time, you can see a lot of detail related to where you stand now and what you need to do to improve.
We’re all busy, so another major benefit of using Savology is that it takes almost no time. I mentioned already that it took me six minutes to answer the questions and get my own personalized financial plan. It’s an extremely productive way to use less than 10 minutes of your time. In fact, going through the process will probably take less time than it takes to read this review.
Covers a Wide Spectrum
Savology covers aspects like your income, savings, savings rate, assets, debt, net worth, insurance, estate planning, and more. The goal is to look at your overall financial picture, and Savology touches on many different aspects of your financial life.
Provides Actionable Advice to Improve Your Situation
The feedback and suggestions that you get from Savology are completely personalized to your own situation. You don’t get generic recommendations that may or may not be relevant to you. After going through the initial survey, Savology has enough information about your situation that it can provide guidance that actually helps.
Additionally, as a user it does not feel like Savology is overly pushy in making recommendations, and they also seem to be careful about the companies that they recommend.
It’s Not Invasive
Savology asks for your first name, but not your last name. You don’t need to provide sensitive information or link it to any of your financial accounts.
Excellent User Experience
One of the best things about Savology is the ease of use. From the survey questions to the user dashboard, everything is very well-designed and user friendly. There’s really no learning curve and you can easily find anything that you’re looking for in the dashboard. It features a clean design with no clutter and no ads.
Cons of Savology
There are always going to be some cons to go along with the pros, but to be honest, the cons of Savology are very limited. Many financial tools cause concerns related to privacy or security, but since Savology asks for limited personal information and you don’t have to link it to your bank or investment accounts, those concerns are minimal.
Savology uses a star system, and the way this is set up is my least favorite thing about the platform (really, it’s the only thing I don’t like). You’ll earn 100 stars for creating your financial plan, and you can earn additional stars for referring other users.
The stars that you earned can be used to unlock certain things. For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll notice that the last action item is locked.
Within the report card, you can also unlock more detail by redeeming stars.
I understand Savology’s interest in getting more referrals to grow their userbase, but I’m not a fan of the current approach. What if a user wants to get access to the locked items but doesn’t feel comfortable referring anyone (or doesn’t know anyone interested in using Savology)? In my opinion, there are other ways to incentivize referrals that would be better than the current system. Or at least, give users other ways to earn stars aside from referrals.
Some Features Not Available Yet
As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of modules that currently say “coming soon”. Savology is still a new platform so this is totally understandable, but it will be nice to see how much some of these new features add to the usefulness of Savology. And after talking with the Savology team, they are working on having additional financial planning modules available every few weeks, with even more additional platform features that they are working on to create the best experience while planning your finances.
Who Is It For?
Savology is really for anyone. If you’re active with managing your finances and you think you have things under control, it’s still helpful to go through the process and make sure there aren’t details that you’re missing. If you’re someone who is looking to improve your financial situation, you’ll definitely benefit from the data you can get from Savology.
Since it’s free and it only takes a few minutes, there’s really no reason not to try Savology. The worst case is, you take 5-10 minutes to find out that you’re on the right track. But more than likely, you’re going to get at least a few actionable suggestions that can help you to improve your situation and give you a better chance to reach your goals.
If you want to get your own personalized financial plan, head to Savology’s website and get started.