I hate looking up the minutia of my financial life: APR of this, return on that, the cost of food I eat, the price of things I buy, the terms on my credit card and how they calculate each month's minimum payment and so-on. When I drop $8.50 at the drive-through of a fast-food restaurant I can barely think about what it costs to my savings, my investments, my retirement, or the Harley Davidson I'm saving up for. I'm driving home from work, and I'm hungry, and I'm not thinking about what the price of a Value Meal is going to mean or what I could have bought with the same money.
What I need is something that is so easy and fast to use I can use it while I'm stuck in line at the Drive-Through. Something that's in my pocket, something that only needs a few taps to use. Something like this:
This is the only thing you need to know to use Spent Better: just tap-in a number, then tap on how often you spend it.
A Value-Meal a week?
Lunch at the deli every day?
The premium cable channels you subscribe to for an extra $29.99 per month, but rarely watch?
The $49.95 yearly magazine subscription that you lost interest in reading?
The $35 monthly gym membership you only use once every other week, because you tend to use the one at work?
Or how about that $5,000 Christmas bonus?
Or that $7 souvenier you bought on vacation?
How many times have you spent money on things you don't need, or later regretted, because it didn't seem so much?
A couple of taps, and Spent Better will tell you.
Here's an idea of what that $8.50 weekly trip to the Drive-Through will cost you:
If you can eliminate one trip to McDonalds each week and put that money to better use somewhere else, you could have...
Nearly $34 thousand dollars by the time you retire, assuming you retire 30 years from now and collect an average of 5.5% return per year.
Over $2,000 if you did nothing but hide the money under the mattress for five years.
Nearly 3 grand if you invested in an S&P index fund (such as SPDR or the Vanguard 500).
And $8.50 per week, which is about $36.83 per month, is actually enough to make the monthly payments on a $1,225 used car financed at 5.2% for 3 years. Spent Better has lots of calculators like these which spring to life when your spending habits enter a certain range. If a used car is not your thing, Spent Better automatically starts suggesting how much you could spend on a new car once your spending habits equal more than $10,000 over 6 years.
Your weekly McDonalds fix could pay for at least 2 High-Def movie rentals from iTunes or other online movie rental services.
And if you live in the city, $8.50 per week buys you close to 4 subway rides. Is that sandwich-and-fries worth two days of commuting expenses? In the span of a year those fatty, greasy meals are equivalent to 104 trips to work and back.
There's more. In fact Spent Better will show you dozens of possibilities instantly, just by tapping in any number. Spent Better's goal is to help you understand the value of money and motivate you to skip expenses that you don't really need.
There's even more after that, but shall be the subject of another blog entry. Stay tuned.