NEW YORK (3/23/16)--Small paychecks or irregular pay schedules can wreak havoc on workers’ budgets. An innovative app from Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners helps consumers maintain a balanced cash flow and avoid check cashers or short-term, high-interest loans.
The PayGoal app is being piloted by the nonprofit Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, which is associated with Neighborhood Trust FCU, a community development credit union in New York.
With average monthly earnings of between $1,500 to $3,000 per month, PayGoal users are encouraged to use the virtual financial planner to take a proactive approach to their income and expenses.
The app works by tracking users’ income and outstanding bills, making sure they are not overspending and setting some aside for upcoming expenses. “We are seeing a lot of people we believe could get by with the right money moved around at the right time,” said Eric Cantor, PayGoal vice president of product development.
PayGoal user Efraim Vasquez is a chef who is balancing student loans and rebuilding his credit. With an erratic work schedule, he said, “Sometimes I work so much, I don’t focus on the financial stuff.”
The app, featuring an avatar named Paula, alerts Vasquez when his bills are due, suggests how much he should pay toward each bill and completes the payments for him. “It was like I had someone to watch my back when I was somewhere else not thinking straight,” he said. “It made me pay more attention to my financial situation.”
PayGoal is one of nine Financial Solutions Lab winners selected in 2015 by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to tackle consumers’ cash-flow challenges. Each member received $250,000 in capital, as well as support, strategic guidance and resources from CFSI and JPMorgan Chase.
CFSI is seeking applicants for the second year of its five-year initiative to improve consumers’ financial health. The 2016 topic is helping Americans weather financial challenges.