Home > 2013 > Personal Finance

New App Promises a Budget in 60 Seconds

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

Despite the fact that there are myriad tools available to create a budget and get your financial house in order, most of us aren’t doing a very good job at it. But a new iPhone app, Wisely, aims to make it easier for you to budget and track your spending.

There are numerous benefits to tracking and monitoring your spending, not the least of which is making better purchase decisions. And there are all kinds of ways to do that, ranging from low-tech ways like the envelope method – putting cash from each paycheck into envelopes earmarked for each expense category – to high tech solutions like online money management programs.

Nevertheless, some two-thirds of us don’t have a written or computerized budget, according to a Gallup poll conducted in April 2013.

One of the biggest reasons we don’t? Getting started. It takes time to set up a system and figure out how much to allocate to each spending category, then it takes effort to input your information or track purchases on an ongoing basis.

If you have an iPhone and an American Express card, though, you might want to rethink the “I don’t have time” excuse. The Wisely app can help you set up a budget in literally 60 seconds, and then track your spending each time you swipe your card.

How? Download the free app from the iTunes store to your iPhone then link your American Express card. You’ll see your average spending by category for the past three months, and that information will be used to populate your new budget. If it looks off – maybe you spent a little more than usual eating out in December? – a simple slider will let you adjust the targeted total for that category. Going forward, you’ll have access 24/7 to how close you are getting to your limit for that spending category for the month.

This app won’t show everything you spend money on; after all, you probably don’t charge your car payment or mortgage. But you probably already know how much you spend in those categories each month. It’s that amorphous “discretionary” spending category that trips most of us up, and as long as you charge those purchases to your linked card, they will be tracked.

What you’ll also see on this app: your total spent at specific merchants.

“I was shocked to see how much my wife and I spent at our favorite sushi restaurant,” says Wisely Cofounder and CEO Mike Vichich. (Note: Vichich has contributed articles to Credit.com.)

I personally can’t wait to find out how much I spend at Publix. I feel like I am at the grocery store every other day and I’d love to know how much of my paycheck winds up there.

Where Do You Want to Go Tonight?

The simple budget tracker is one small part of what the Wisely app offers. “Our goal is to democratize spending decisions,” says Vichich. He points out that online reviews of restaurants and other establishments can be manipulated. But what can’t be faked is where consumers spend their hard-earned money. Toward that end, the app will let you find establishments in your area (or one you are traveling to) and see how much the average person spends there, as well as how many repeat customers they have. Merchants can be ranked by popularity or repeat customer visits.

“Every day people swipe their cards. This creates an image of the entire economy.” Vichich says. “Imagine if you could use that information to find the best spots that meet your taste and price range?”

The app also allows you to scan your loyalty cards into it so you won’t have to carry the card in your wallet or purse. It currently supports around 200 popular loyalty cards such as those from retailers Walgreens, CVS, Gap and Best Buy; gyms like YMCA and Lifetime Fitness; and grocery stores such as Kroger, Safeway and Piggly Wiggly.

Customer data is protected with the same level of encryption banks use, and Vichich says, “We don’t collect info we need. Any information we do request is encrypted. When a link is made to your bank we don’t save your username and password anywhere. ” In fact, a feature that plots your purchases on a map can be an early fraud warning tool.

The Wisely app is available for free in the iTunes store. Currently American Express is the only card that can be linked to the app but the company is working on integration of several other popular credit issuers, such as Chase and Bank of America, as well as an Android version.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team