Modest Money Reviews Empower - the Best Way to Find Savings and Squash Debt

I’m somewhat hesitant to give recommendations to new personal finance apps (as there seems to be a new one cropping up every day), but Empower really is different. If you don’t read any further, at least go download it from the App Store. It only took me 3 minutes to connect all my accounts and it’s changed the way I think about my money.

Empower’s thesis is that fundamentally, there are two ways to get ahead financially: by saving more and by squashing debt. Empower is the app that helps you do both. It just came out on iPhone last month (with an Android version in the works). And it’s already been featured on the App Store as a “new app we love” and named by Time Magazine as one of the “25 Best Apps of the Year So Far in 2017”. With such strong endorsements, I wanted to give you a first-hand look at what the app offers.

Empower First Impressions

When I downloaded Empower, my first thought was, thank God it’s not another blue or green personal finance app. The orange look and feel is a refreshing change, and its simple design makes it easy to scan through the app and get the information I need.

Today Empower is about all recommendations and savings. I was able to connect all my accounts in about 3 minutes and when they finished connecting, Empower had already categorized almost all my transactions. I could quickly see where my spending had gone on a month-by-month basis. The app’s home screen shows a graph of my spending this month to date, a pie chart of where my money has gone, and a list of real-time transactions, as they come in from my bank and credit card accounts. (Empower also supports loan and retirement accounts.)

The way Empower helps you with the savings piece is by using their AutoSave feature, which automatically transfers a percentage of your paycheck each month to an existing savings account. This is great because I don’t have to open a new savings account. Win!

Similarly they are working on new features that would allow me to cancel subscriptions and keep a close eye on my credit cards by keeping my balances under a certain threshold.

After spending a bit more time in the app, I soon discovered I could transfer money between any of my accounts and U.S. financial institutions. This can happen as quickly as next business day so I thought I would put it to the test. I transferred $25 at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday and lo and behold, the money was there the next day.

Empower shared with me that their next focus is to help users pay down debt (eventually leading to better credit). This is where it becomes very interesting. The app can help automatically figure out how aggressively you could pay down debt—be it credit cards or student loans—in a manner that doesn’t impact your current financial lifestyle.

A Deeper Look: How does Empower make money?

Right now Empower is free and will make money by introducing you to personalized products like lower interest rate loans when the app thinks those make sense for your financial situation.

Final Thoughts

Empower is off to a great start considering the small handful of folks behind the company. What I find most compelling about the business is the combined savings and debt approach to personal finance. No one else is really trying to tackle both and neither should be discounted. Empower can help you work out if either paying off debt or building savings is the best thing for you to concentrate on right now.

Having launched just over one month ago and already boasting over 30k downloads and a 4 ½ star rating on the App Store, it’s easy to see why there is such a buzz about the product.