[Edit: September 21, 2015. Hadn’t checked out Payoff in awhile, have noticed that they have changed their site significantly. It appears they now focus on helping pay off high interest bills by providing loans at lower interest rates (compared to what your other debts may be). I have not tried out this new Payoff, as I am not paying off any high interest debts. If anyone has tried it, let me know what you think of it. Also, noticed this post references Adaptu, which is no longer in existence. And while LearnVest is still around, I can’t find any reference to My Money Center. I guess things change in the money-tracking business!]
I’m a big fan of trying out personal finance tools (please don’t call me a personal finance tool).
Most of you know about mint.com. That seems to be one of the top sites among personal finance people (and “normal” people :P). But there are A LOT account aggregators out there that let you import your accounts and track things. They’re all a little different, and each have their own features and flaws.
Of all those sites, I’ve tried quite a few. There’s Mint.com, of course. More recently, I’ve been trying out LearnVest‘s new My Money Center. And I’m also testing out Adaptu. I’ll try to fully review those sites at a later time.
So, let’s get to the main topic of this post: Payoff.com.
Like most of these account aggregators, once you sign up, you can enter your login info for your assorted accounts: Credit cards, checking/saving accounts, loans (auto, student, mortgage, personal). Don’t worry, like most other aggregators, they are very serious about security of your data.
A big part of Payoff’s system is setting goals. You can set any number of goals, big or small. Then link an account with that goal. By working towards those goals, and doing other financially smart things, like finding out your credit score and saving up an emergency fun, you earn badges. And for every badge you earn, you get an entry into their weekly Sur-prize drawing. It’s a chance to win $15-25, just for being smart with your money!
So, what do I like about Payoff.com?
- It’s free! Always a good start when you’re trying to take control of your finances! (As with many free sites, they have recommendations of accounts and websites to check out, but you’re not obligated to click on anything. They’re just suggestions)
- The gamification of personal finance encourages users to be smart with their money and achieve their goals
- There’s a page for every badge. Each page provides advice and guidance for how you can earn that badge, including next steps and links to related posts on the Payoff Blog.
- The website is very playful and fun:
- It’s fun to earn the badges, and the badges themselves have fun names, descriptions, and icons. Look how many badges I’ve earned so far!
- The Sur-prizes are an awesome…well, surprise! I actually won one a week or so ago! It felt really good to be rewarded for doing good things with my money!
- When there’s an error message, they show the background image upside down. And when the site is down for maintenance, they show a night-time version of the background scene, with the message “Ssshhh! We’re taking a nap! Don’t worry. We should be awake and ready to play again in a little bit.” That being said, I’ve only seen the down for maintenance page once at an ungodly hour when I shouldn’t have been awake.
- They are very responsive to feedback. I have tweeted @payoff a lot, and they respond really quickly!
- They’ll categorize your expenses for you. At first, I was wary of this, but so far, they seem to be doing pretty well with it.
So, are there any downsides?
- Because the focus is on building up your savings and paying off your debt, there’s not as much of an emphasis on retirement accounts. In fact, it looks like they don’t currently support retirement accounts in their account managers (they don’t have companies like Fidelity or Vanguard).
- The expenses categorization isn’t always right. And there currently isn’t a way to edit the categories (that I know of).
- While it does show where you spend the most money, there aren’t a lot of budgeting tools.
Overall? I don’t think I’d make it my only account manager. I like the fuller capabilities of Mint. But I do find myself more motivated to payoff my loans when I know I could get a badge for it! And I think that it is really great for people just starting out on their personal finance journey. It’s a simple site to use, and it provides positive reinforcement!
What about you? Have you tried out Payoff.com? What do you think of it?
p.s. I was not compensated for this post. While I did win a Sur-Prize a few weeks back, that was unrelated to my decision to write about Payoff.com. In fact, I’d been thinking about writing this for a while, but I wanted to spend some time fully checking it out.