Bundle launches 'socially informed' money management tool

Bundle, the website known best for its Everybody's Money tool that compares your spending in various categories to people who are in similar life situations, has just launched a full fledged personal financial management app inside of Bundle that brings the comparative nature of Everybody's Money to account aggregation, budgeting and goals.

The new features, which launched this week, should be available in your free Bundle account when you log in. When it comes to account aggregation, Bundle has around 10,000 financial institutions such as banks, credit cards and investment accounts that can be linked to Bundle for a comprehensive view of your finances. There is no manual account uploading, and it doesn't have every small credit union, but in our testing we found that Bundle is able to connect to many of the most popular institutions.

The implementation of a money management tool from Bundle grew out of the desire from users of the Everybody's Money tool to easily compare their actual spending to that of others without the need to guess or flip flop between systems. It's this comparison aspect that Jaidev Shergill, CEO of Bundle, hopes will draw users to the tool more frequently. In a phone interview, he told WalletPop that the goal of Bundle 1.0 is to make it easy for consumers to remain, "Socially informed about their spending and saving," as opposed to managing their money in a vacuum.

Using the social comparison to draw more consumers into regular use of a third party financial tool is an intriguing idea, and while other sites offer comparisons, the manner in which Bundle uses this data to help set budgets and goals simplifies some of the hardest parts of getting started with money management. Judging by the results of a recent survey by Fiserv there is plenty of room for growth, but it will be a challenge to attract and maintain users. The survey of 3,000 online banking users found that while 40% felt that they would benefit from a PFM tool only 15% had visited a PFM website in the past 90 days and a majority of those users did so from their own bank.

The first place you'll notice the socially informed influence on your finances is in the Budget section. Bundle uses the large amount of data it has on other spenders who are near you, in your age and income brackets and in a similar marital situation to help you set a budget; the tool also looks at your past spending. By combining your history with the spending habits of other individuals like you Bundle helps users get past the biggest pitfalls of budgeting -- setting your budget goals to high or too low.

One of the features that stood out in the budgeting tool was how simple it was to re-allocate your budget; a common occurrence. Say you ate out more than you planned this month but you also spent less on groceries, leaving you with a surplus. While you are looking at your Budget, you can quickly reallocate money to account for how you spent it without breaking away from the overall spending goal for the month.

Another section of the Bundle financial management tool is the Goals area. This section lets you create multiple goals and work them into your budget. The goals appear on a road map and the Goals tool makes it easy to figure out how much you need to save by choosing when you want to reach your goal. If the savings goal is too aggressive you can adjust it to see how much longer it would take to achieve the goal. The road map-style presentation that lets you save toward multiple goals at the same time is visually helpful and offers a realistic goals tool. When you add goals they will be automatically added to your Bundle Budget. Soon, Bundle plans to add savings data so you can compare your savings habits to others that share your characteristics.

While it may be easy to look at Mint's acquisition by Intuit and declare the company the winner of online personal financial management, new entrants like Bundle, and the recent survey by Fiserv, prove that there is still room to grow. Bundle's ability to use the massive amount of data it has on consumer spending habits to help users budget and set goals in a "socially informed" manner gives it an edge on competitors. If you've had trouble coming up with a budget that fits your life, you would be well served to give Bundle 1.0 a try.
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