Can Savology replace working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ like myself?
In this in-depth Savology review, I’ll answer this question by taking a look at:
- Savology’s best features.
- Where Savology falls short.
- Alternatives to Savology.
- My experience.
- Whether or not I recommend it.
Savology provides a custom financial plan tailored to your specific situation. The free Savology Starter financial plan consists of a limited financial report card, retirement checkup and personalized plan of action. For $10 a month (or $8 if paid annually), you can get access to Savology Plus, which includes premium features like a more comprehensive financial report card, the ability to share your account with others, and live chat with financial coaches. Overall, the advice Savology offers is basic but very good. For someone struggling to get their finances in order, Savology is worth checking out.
- Delivers on its promise to provide an actionable financial plan in five minutes.
- The plan it provides is a prioritized and detailed step-by-step strategy.
- Has a very good user interface.
- Does not offer much opportunity for customization.
- Live sync is still in beta mode and available to Plus members only.
- Savology isn’t a registered investment advisory firm, and therefore not a fiduciary.
What Is Savology?
Savology is an automated financial planning tool. New users answer questions about their current financial situation and future financial goals. The software then outputs a personalized and prioritized financial plan.
One of Savology’s key features is a dashboard displaying a complete financial summary. It’s here where you can find your progress towards existing goals, a snapshot of your net worth, and key financial ratios.
Savology offers recommendations in four key areas:
- Savings & Income
- Assets & Liabilities
- Risk Management
- Retirement Outlook
Each has its own dashboard, where you can evaluate how you’re doing.
Your personalized plan of action can be found in the Action Center. That plan is where Savology outlines your highest-priority financial actions.
In the end, Savology attempts to help you build a financial plan, track your progress towards that plan, and complete each step along the way.
Below is a more in-depth look at Savology’s core features.
The report card grades you on each facet of your financial plan.
Click on the down arrows to see more details about your grade in each particular area:
Click on See More Details to review Savology’s suggested recommendations:
Savology prioritizes your goals for you. For example, in the screenshot above, the second-highest-priority action they suggest is to maximize employer contributions.
You then see all these recommended actions in one place, under the Action Center tab.
Savology offers planning modules, which are a series of questions that dive deeper into specific areas that impact your financial life.
For example, the Income module asked me questions like:
- Are you open to a side hustle?
- Are you open to a career change?
- Is your spouse able to work?
In the end, you get a customized action plan for increasing your income.
There’s a nice gamification aspect to Savology, as you get rewarded with “Savology Stars” for completing certain actions. This includes completing a module, completing action steps, or referring friends to the app.
Stars can be used to unlock more action steps, or to reward yourself with something from their store (which currently has clothing, coffee mugs and a wallet).
Savology Pricing Explained
As advertised, there’s a free version of Savology. This free version gives you access to the retirement planning, estate planning and risk management dashboards. In addition, it allows you to see what action items Savology recommends. While the free version does contain a report card, it’s not fully unlocked.
For $10 per month, or $96 per year, Savology users can get a fully-unlocked report card, plus:
- The ability to sync financial accounts for live updates.
- The ability to live chat with Savology financial coaches.
- The option to share your account with others, such as your spouse.
Savology Financial Coaching
A nice feature of Savology is that you get access to financial coaches. These coaches are employees of Savology, and because they’re salary-based, no part of their income depends on product recommendations or commissions.
You’re able to communicate with these coaches through Savology’s chat feature.
Coaches are not financial advisors or required to carry professional financial credentials, nor is Savology a registered investment advisory firm. So there is no fiduciary relationship with coaches at Saveology.
The coaches are more there to help guide you through the software, offer basic advice around the limited information they have, or even act as an accountability partner.
How Does Savology Make Money?
Savology Plus provides revenue for the company, but it’s not the only revenue stream.
Some of the action steps Savology recommends require using a third-party service. Often, Savology and that third-party have an affiliate agreement, so Savology gets paid when you click through to and/or sign-up for a specific service.
As an example, one action step that was recommended to me was evaluating my life insurance. According to Savology, I’m overinsured and could save money by purchasing a policy for a lower amount of coverage. In that case, Savology recommended two insurance providers, Ladder and PolicyGenius — both of which have affiliate programs.
This is a fairly standard practice among financial recommendation engines (and of course, affiliate marketing is this blog’s primary revenue source). Nonetheless, when using a third-party service, it’s always important to do your homework and understand whether that company is indeed the right fit for you.
Is Savology Safe?
Syncing financial accounts with Savology is optional. When you sign up for a free account, you’re asked to manually fill in personal information like age, income, assets and liabilities. No sensitive information (such as your date of birth, Social Security number or address) is required.
With the Plus plan, you do have the option to sync banking and investment accounts. Savology uses MX, a third-party data service provider that connects with more than 16,000 financial institutions. If you go this route, you’re giving MX read-only access to your financial accounts, so no changes can be made by MX. This is fairly common with budgeting apps, though the majority use Plaid, a similar service.
While Savology uses this data to provide you with third-party offers, MX itself does not sell it.
Alternatives to Savology
Savology is a very unique product. Unlike the marketplace for budgeting apps — where most options are about 90% the same — there isn’t one close alternative to Savology. Instead, there are a handful of apps that provide some similar features:
#1. Personal Capital
Personal Capital can help you plan for retirement and other financial goals. Personal Capital’s free version provides you with the ability to sync your financial accounts. Similar to Savology, Personal Capital then allows you to see whether you’re on track for your retirement goals.
While Personal Capital’s retirement planning tools are much more robust than Savology’s, that’s where the comparison ends. Personal Capital isn’t a financial recommendation engine and doesn’t provide any financial guidance except for retirement.
#2. SoFi Money
SoFi Money is one of our favorite mobile banking apps. It’s free to sign up for and there’s no minimum account balance or fees. While this appears to be very different from Savology, the reason one might consider SoFi Money over Savology is that SoFi Money offers its members free financial consultation with a CFP®.
SoFi Money is a very good low-cost alternative for those looking for one-on-one advice, but who turn to Savology’s automated tools because they assume they can’t afford to speak with a human financial advisor.
Savology Review Bottom Line: Is It Right For You?
Research has shown that people benefit emotionally and financially from having a financial plan. Yet not many people can define what a financial plan is, or what theirs would look like.
Savology offers a quick and realistic financial plan for those who need to get their finances organized or under control. In our testing, Savology’s recommendations are similar to what one might expect from working with a financial planner.
Where it falls short is:
- Helping you prioritize for short-term goals like a wedding or a down payment on a house. Savology sticks to the basics, such as emergency funds, retirement, insurance and estate planning.
- Savology doesn’t offer asset allocation advice, like what to invest in.
Overall, I see the service as very valuable for those who are attempting to gain control of their finances but also confused about what they need to do.