by Kirk Douglas
By now we all know that you can use the web for personal banking, a line of credit, managing stocks or even a payday advance, but can you effectively use it to start a personal savings account for yourself when you’ve got spending habits that may not be in tip-top shape?
I set out to answer this question when it recently occurred to me just how awful I am with spending decisions, particularly those that have hindered my ability to establish a personal savings.
Given my recent discovery of a pretty useful service called Digit, the answer may be a resounding YES. Digit, (Digit.co) aims to take the hassle out of saving by helping you ‘save money, without thinking about it,’ as the site describes.
The site greets you with a short video that proposes the services’ usefulness and details how it works, along with presenting a few links to glowing reviews from major website publications. The video describes the methodology they employ of studying ‘your spending and income history to predict your cash flow’, and debiting your account accordingly thereafter. The simplicity of the site and its comprehensive explanation paired with positive firsthand accounts made signing up both easy and comfortable.
Like many banking-related services, during sign-up you fill out some basic information about yourself, link your bank account and agree to ACH access and terms and conditions. You’ll also provide a cellular phone number to which daily communications will be delivered about your account. Setup is easy, secure and the savings seemed to begin straight away as i’m pretty certain my first transaction happened automatically the second day the account was open. They even sent me a text message with a contact card so I could add them to my address book!
Digit isn’t entirely clear about how much it will take or when, but since I started using it on November 9th (exactly a month now) my largest transfer amount was for $7.88, while my smallest has been .35 cents. They give a comprehensive online ‘savings journal’ that shows each transaction date and amount transferred, for easy future reference.
In one month’s time, there’s been a total of 12 transactions, 11 of which were savings transfers and one of which was a withdraw I took for testing. Had it not been for that one withdraw, the site details that I’ve saved a total of $44.46 since my account’s inception — Money that I would have never otherwise saved on my own.
Without Digit, I’ve tried moving money from checking to savings with my personal bank account, but quickly find myself moving money back to the checking side when necessary since the accounts are linked. Because snap decisions around moving money with my bank are made so easy, this makes having my savings account less than optimal without a good amount of self control. This also means features like Bank of America’s “Keep the Change” don’t do folks like me any good because I am all too quick to transfer money back to my checking account should I need it.
Of course, Digit allows the same ability to transfer money out of your account as well, but because it takes a full business day to do so, I found myself not wanting to take money from the account or simply not even thinking about the possibility. You could say it probably helped that among my daily texts from Digit they do not detail the full account balance. Rather, messages usually detail recent banking account activity or recent savings deductions made.
Periodically, the service will detail how much you’ve saved for the week, something I found to be strangely motivating. Upon my first transaction completing, they even sent this rather funny text that included an animated GIF image of Scrooge McDuck, swimming in his money.
In the short month I’ve used Digit my take-aways are as follows:
The service is simple and easy to use, offers great communication methods that are not annoying and seem strangely motivating to someone like me who generally doesn’t like services to communicate by text. The clear benefit to this service is creating a small savings that I might not otherwise have. It could easily amount to an end of year vacation or a new gadget or computer in a year’s time and it will be interesting to see if I stick with it.
The only real downside I found, is that the service relies entirely on its website as opposed to an app; something that seems strange in todays app-centric world of services but is by no means a deal-breaker. The other downside is that you won’t accrue any interest while your money sits safely in your digit account.
Overall, there is more good than bad for the less than disciplined like myself. If you think Digit sounds like something you might like to try, head on over to digit.co now and give the service a go. With financial tools like this now available online, there is hope for my personal savings after all.