Use a Real-Time Money Meter

How the Level App Can Help You Stick to Your Budget

Use a Real-Time Money Meter
November 7, 2014

Are you having trouble keeping track of your spending? Do you find saving to be a challenge? You may want to consider using a personal finance app such as Level Money to help you spend wisely. Level Money focuses on tracking your overall cash flow, acting as a real-time money meter. It is free and available for both iPhones and Android systems.

Level Money is a product of a strategic partnership with Intuit and Level. It provides a relatively user-friendly interface to help people track their income and regular expenses, classifying the remainder as “spendable” money to use for other purposes throughout the month. Money that is left over at the end of the month is classified as “rollover” money to form the base of your savings.

As with most personal finance apps, Level Money requires a connection to your bank accounts and credit and debit cards for tracking purposes. This allows regular income to be added as deposits are made into your account, and for all the regular expenses to be updated as soon as they are withdrawn.

During the setup phase, Level Money will learn about your income and expenses by reviewing the transactions from your account and asking you for information about them. It starts by reviewing income and asking whether income transactions are segments of regular income or atypical deposits. For the self-employed and others with irregular income, manual inputs will be needed to estimate “regular” income (or a living allowance if you do not currently have an income). Similarly, Level Money will ask you to identify regular expenses and anomalous expenses to characterize your spending habits.

Finally, you will be asked to set a level of monthly savings as a percentage of your regular income. This determines the amount of discretionary spending dollars that you have to work with on a monthly basis. Your “plan” is then displayed in a diagram for review (and revision if you like).

Once the plan is in place, your home screen will show you three “bubbles” at all times that represent the amount of spendable dollars you have for the day, the week, and the month respectively. This allows you to go over on any particular time frame without losing track of the larger picture.

The app updates every hour based on the account information, but you still have to take into account posting delays with banks and credit card companies. Level Money will notify you of anomalies with such things as an “x” where you have exceeded the “spendable” money in that period, and an asterisk telling you that your expected spendable income for the period has not arrived in your bank account yet.

At this point, the app is targeted at millennials who are just starting out in their careers and have very simple finances and a passion for apps. It is not well suited for many real-world applications such as joint accounts or split expenses, and the inability to categorize or prioritize your discretionary spending means that Level Money can detect that you have a problem, but cannot really help you fix it.

Level Money’s primary purpose is to serve as a handy check of how much money you have available to spend at any time, wherever you are — as advertised, it is a real-time money meter. That in itself makes it worthwhile, but with some work, it could be so much more. Let’s see what capabilities are added in future generations of the app. For more information, visit https://levelmoney.com/ .

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