FutureLook™: Now and What’s to Come

Announcing FutureLook™ 

Today, I am unbelievably excited to announce FutureLook,™ a financial wellness tool that empowers customers to see the future balance of their checking account based on recurring paychecks, expenses, and spending behavior.  Starting today, our bank and credit union partners can offer their customers FutureLook™ as part of their overall Project Finance digital banking platform, or as a stand-alone integration into their existing online banking solutions. 

Project Finance believes that everyone should have the support available to enjoy financial peace of mind, and that starts with having financial goals. We aim to simplify and accelerate the path to achieving these goals, first by making saving money easy and convenient, but also by helping people overcome the uncertainty and anxiety associated with saving. As a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), I found that the primary reason people don’t save is that they don’t know how moving money out of their checking account will impact their ability to pay bills and fund the lifestyle they lead. And how could they? Checking accounts as we know them today feature a static number. Without doing the mental accounting, people don’t know how saving an additional $200 per month will affect the other areas of their finances. This is why FutureLook™ is so important: by seeing how much money they’ll have in the future as a result of various saving and spending decisions, customers can make better, informed choices to strengthen their finances, all in real-time. 

Why is this such a game-changer? 

While existing banking tools and fintech apps focus on previous spending decisions that can’t be changed, we’re taking a different approach. We want to help customers move forward, guiding them to take the actions needed now to reach their financial goals and build a better financial future. This is the power of FutureLook™. 

The Story 

As a freshman in college, I became responsible for my own finances for the first time. I had a job working for a local trades company as well as typical student expenses like food, transportation, a cell phone and of course, having fun. I could work when I wanted, which as a student was great. However, while my expenses were mostly fixed, I found there was always a new video game or something else I wanted to buy. What I quickly realized was that it was difficult to see if I could afford this new thing because I couldn’t see how my checking account balance would change if I bought it. 

For example, if I bought this video game, could I still afford to go out to lunch with friends? Could I afford to go on that ski trip if I worked an extra shift? I always had questions about what was possible, and the static number of my checking account balance left me without answers. 

To take matters into my own hands, I turned to Excel. Starting with my available balance, I added two rows for the two paychecks I would receive over the next month based on my work schedule. These amounts were added to my available balance. Next, I added additional rows for the future expenses I would incur over the next month and subtracted these amounts from my balance. This allowed me to quickly see if my balance was growing or shrinking over the next 30 days. By editing a paycheck amount (working more or less), editing, adding or deleting an expense, I could quickly see how changes to my incomes and expenses would impact my ability to fund my life. This was huge for me because I no longer had to stress or worry about how my financial decisions would affect me – I could see it in real time and make decisions accordingly with confidence. 

As I got older, I married and had kids and my personal finances grew in complexity. I found that as my life became more complex, so too did my Excel sheet… so much so, that it started to become a burden to maintain. In college, updating a paycheck now and then was quick and easy; as a 35-year-old with multiple student and auto loans, a mortgage, insurance, daycare, and more, it became significantly more demanding. I searched for an app that would help me – I probably tried 30 of them – but nothing fundamentally did what I wanted. I wanted to see the future, not the past. I cared about where I would be next month, not what I spent my money on previously. I was desperate for a better way. 

As I began to work with clients through my RIA business, I realized this view into the future would help other people too. I found that my suspicions were correct about people not saving or paying more towards debt because they simply didn’t know if they could afford it, as they didn’t know how it would impact their other financial obligations in life. I introduced what I called “Projections” into my practice to show people their future checking account balance and help them visualize the tradeoffs they could make. It was an instant hit and my success rate on getting people to save more, or pay more towards debt, went up significantly. 

“Projections” has become what FutureLook™ is today, and it incorporates all of the knowledge I gathered in the field as an advisor, as well as the learnings we obtained operating as a direct-to-consumer company. Uncertainty about the future is the number one cause of financial anxiety; with FutureLook™, we’re doing our part to change that. 

What’s Next 

To take FutureLook™ to the next level, we’re adding proactive advice, and empowering people to act on that advice in the easiest way possible. For example, if a member’s FutureLook™ chart is tracking negatively or even approaching a $0 balance situation, we’ll be able to proactively offer a solution. Whether it’s skipping a payment or extending a short-term loan, FutureLook™ can identify these situations ahead of time and help people avoid the many hardships of overdrafting. Inspiring customer action via data and insights is the next step in our journey. 

Thanks 

Ok, everyone, that’s all I have for today. Thanks for reading the post and thanks to everyone that helped to shape and make FutureLook™ possible. You’ll hear more from me soon as we have a few more things coming out shortly 🙂 

If you’re ready to see the power of FutureLook™, get in touch at info@projectfinance.io.

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