Would knowing what other people are doing with their money affect how you save, spend and invest your money? Status Money, a New York City-based fintech company, is betting you’ll make a change for the better if you can see exactly where you stand compared with your peers and millions of other people.
Status Money’s founders are data scientists who hope the information their platform provides — like how much the average person your age spends dining out — puts your finances in context. Ideally, you can then use those insights to make improvements.
What is Status Money?
Status Money is a free financial management and budgeting service, similar to Mint or Personal Capital but with the added benefit of being able to compare your financial standing with about 15 million other people in the U.S. Like other personal finance services, Status suggests financial products or services, based on its analysis of your accounts and other financial information you provide.
You can access it online at StatusMoney.com, and a mobile app is in the works, slated for Apple and Android devices by the end of 2018. The service launched in September 2017 and, as of this writing, Status is only available to users based in the U.S.
Here’s a breakdown of what Status Money offers, as well as my experiences with the service since using it in May 2018.
Status’ major standout feature is the anonymous peer comparisons it provides — something none of its competitors in the fintech space do. Status collects and sorts data from millions of public and private records — including the U.S. Census report, credit reporting bureaus and the like — and organizes it for you in easy-to-read charts and graphs so you quickly see how you stack up compared with millions of others.
“The information itself should be available. There is no rhyme or reason in the world that the information isn’t available for free for everybody,” said Majd Maksad, Status Money co-founder. “It has to be useful and it just has to be out there.”
On Status, you can see in real time how every detail of your financial picture compares with your peers and either the national average, income range, your age group or a random sample.
Your peer group comprises of people in your age range (e.g. 18 to 29), your income range (e.g. $50,000 to $65,000), your area (e.g. the NY/NJ/PA area), the type of location you live in (urban versus rural), your credit score and whether you pay rent or own your home. All of those factors are taken into account for an accurate peer comparison.
Status provides analytics for just about every financial aspect from your spending habits broken down by category, to your net worth, credit score and the interest rate you pay on your debt.
Status provides algorithmically derived, real-time insights about how your data compares with your peers’ and lets you know about opportunities for improvement. For example, Status may recommend you consolidate your credit card debt with a personal loan at a lower rate if it notices you pay more interest on your debt compared with your peers.
Status recently added an entirely separate “Opportunities” tab where you can not only see recommended financial opportunities, but also how well you match with the opportunity. Maksad told MagnifyMoney the match was developed with Netflix in mind. It’s based on your financial behavior and your peers. It takes into account things like your financial situation, the financial institutions you use, your previous interaction with similar opportunities and opportunities your peers may have taken advantage of.
You can use the monthly tracker feature in Status as a budgeting tool. You can set a spending limit by category for the month overall, and Status will send you an alert when you go over your intended spending limit. You’ll receive an email, for example, if you spend $110 on expenses in the transportation category for the month when your limit was $109.
You can also see your projected spending in the current month for that category, your historical spending habits broken down by category and how your spending compares to your peer group and a second group you have selected (either the national average, income range, your age group or a random sample).
Is Status Money secure?
You might be wondering: With the ability to compare your financial stats with those of 15 million other people, is your information secure?
“Security and privacy have been our focus areas since the beginning,” said Maksad. “From day one we had to buckle down on privacy and security.”
Status says it encrypts and stores personal information using security technology independently rated by BitSight, a top security agency.
What about my data?
Status doesn’t sell your information to anyone but it may share your personal information with its partners that help it provide its service. That means Status won’t try to make money off your data, but it would share some of the information you provide with TransUnion in order to access your credit reporting data so you can use it with Status Money to help make financial decisions.
If Status is free and doesn’t sell data, how does it make money?
Status makes money through ads for products advertised to you based on your profile, as many of its competitors do.
What we like about Status Money
Peer pressure through information
Status money gives you information about the people most similar to you, and research has shown that knowing what your peers do may influence your behavior.
In a study released this year, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the University of Maryland Smith School of Business analyzed the spending habits of 6,000 Status Money users from September 2017 to April 2018.
The study found the average Status Money user reduced their spending as a percentage of monthly income by about 7% after joining. When people realized they were spending more than their peers, they reduced their spending by an average 23%, or $600 per month, regardless of income level. Those who realized they were underspending increased spending by an average 1%.
The university researchers approached Status to conduct the research and were not incentivized in any way.
Reviewer’s take: I was shocked to see I spent thousands less than my peers on average, and that made me feel good. So good, in fact, that I started paying more attention to my spending habits so I could stay ahead of the curve.
I was also surprised to see I have $10,000 more in debt on average than the 34 million others in my age group, but I was I was pleasantly surprised to know I have competitive rates on all my credit cards and student loans.
And seeing that I don’t have as much in assets as my peers do motivated me to rebalance my retirement funds, increase my retirement contribution and get serious about my emergency fund.
Status doesn’t simply tell you that you’re paying more in credit card interest than your peers do. It will show you opportunities to reduce your costs, like debt consolidation. Just keep in mind that the products Status shows you may not be your only options, and you should shop around before opening any new accounts to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Reviewer’s take: I didn’t personally take advantage of the Opportunities tab, but I thought they were fairly accurate and I’m interested in moving forward with some of them when I’m ready.
I thought it was interesting that one Opportunity was saving on things to do in NYC with Groupon. I already use Groupon for self-care services like massages and facials, but didn’t really think to use it for entertainment, although I do spend a fair amount of money on live events. It made me feel the options were very personalized — more tailored to my tastes than recommendations from other budgeting apps.
Multiple levels of comparison
You can compare yourself in just about every way to your peers, and either the national average, income range or your age group on Status. Here are a few examples of what you can compare with Status:
- Monthly income
- Credit score
- Debt as a whole
- Debt, broken down by type
- Interest rate on debt
- Overall monthly spending
- Monthly spending by category
- Overall savings
- Monthly savings
- Overall net worth
- Net worth, broken down by debt and assets
- Overall assets
- Assets, broken down by type
- Historical home and car values
Maksad told MagnifyMoney the service aims to add comparison categories like marital status, household size, education level and gender in the future.
Important insights, all in one place
Like most of its competitors, Status allows you to see your net worth, track your spending and manage your budget, using a single platform. These are crucial components of any personal financial management system.
You get all of the insights, comparisons, budgeting features and financial opportunities Status provides, for free. There is no paid version of Status Money and there might never be, Maksad told MagnifyMoney.
Downsides to Status Money
No mobile app
Status says it plans to release iOS and Android mobile apps in 2018. Maksad said the app will also be free once it’s released.
No bill pay
As of this writing, Status doesn’t offer bill pay, but that’s on par with competitors.
As of this writing, Status doesn’t offer wealth management or investing features, which some competitors do (for a fee).
Who Status Money would be best for
Status may be a good tool for anyone who wants to see where they stand financially in reference to others, track their budget or monitor and build their wealth.
The service’s tech-savvy design and use of peer comparisons to influence spending behavior make it a better money-management app for the younger generations (millennials and Generation Zers).
Several studies have shown that peers are more influential to younger people. As we age, our peers have less and less influence on our beliefs and behaviors. On top of that, millennials and Gen Z are the first generations to grow up with social media. They are the demographics that have been conditioned to want to know what their peers are doing and care about keeping up with trends in the groups they identify with.
If you aren’t interested in what your peers are doing and would prefer to have access to bill management or investment features, you may want to try out a different budgeting and financial management service.
How to sign up for Status Money
To sign up for Status Money, you provide the usual personal information (name and email) and set a password to create an account.
Then Status requires you to enter more detailed personal information that’s needed to track your finances, set your peer group and pull your credit information like your income, housing status, Social Security number and assets like your car or home. When all of that’s done, you can link your financial accounts and access Status Money’s services.
Status says it can connect to more than 12,000 financial institutions. If your institution isn’t available, you can email Status and request to have it added. It took me about 20 minutes to link all of my accounts, but it could have taken less than 10 minutes if I had all of my passwords on hand. For that reason, I recommend you gather all of your login information for all of your accounts ahead of time.
After that’s handled, you’re all set. You will see a dashboard with various options to see high-level and more detailed financial information and comparisons.
How Status Money compares with competitors
Status Money has something no other fintech service provides: anonymous peer comparisons. But the service also lacks features its peers offer like access to a human financial adviser, and Status doesn’t yet have a mobile app.
Here’s a breakdown of how Status Money fares against its main competitors: Mint and Personal Capital.
Status Money vs. Mint vs. Personal Capital
Credit score monitoring
Credit report information
No. iOS and Android apps to be released by the end of 2018
Yes. Apps for iOS and Android.
Yes, but only for budgeting features. Apps for iOS and Android.
View net worth
Yes, 0.49%-0.89% of what you invest, if you want to use wealth management features
Yes, charged as a percentage of invested funds
Tax preparation assistance
Phone 24/7 & Email
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