Do you need a personal finance assistant?

When Shark Tank first aired, I fell in love with the show.

It was the first time you could get a peek at how entrepreneurs pitched their companies and their products. Some were polished, giving really good pitches to the panel, and some were excellent businesses that fit nicely with one of the Sharks’ existing businesses.

One particular app, Fixed, promised to help you fix parking tickets. You take a photo of your ticket, they run it through their “proprietary algorithm” to find errors that may invalidate it, and they send a contest letter on your behalf. If it works, you just avoided a hefty fine, points, and insurance ding. And you pay them a percentage of the fine.

If they failed, well, you were going to pay the speeding ticket anyway and they charged you nothing.

It was ingenious.

Now, there’s a new crop of personal finance assistant apps that are modeling that idea and taking it into less treacherous waters. Fixed went up against local governments. Local governments don’t like seeing their tickets contested! (Fixed would eventually be acquired by a law firm)

These new assistant apps are brilliant because they don’t cost you anything. I’m not talking about microsaving apps that help you save money or the apps that help you manage your money, I’m talking about bona fide personal finance assistants. The money version of picking up your dry cleaning.

Table of Contents
  1. What is a personal finance assistant app?
  2. What can personal finance assistants do?
    1. Rocket Money
  3. Can You Do This Yourself?
  4. What If You Want More?

What is a personal finance assistant app?

It’s an app that you can take over the mundane drudgery you don’t want to do.

The best example is Trim. Trim will look at your spending, find recurring subscriptions, and negotiate down the ones it knows how to renegotiate. If you want to cancel something, they can take care of that for you as well. This all happens absolutely free.

Much like Fixed, you only pay when they succeed. In Trim’s case, they take 33% of the total yearly savings. If they save you $120 ($10/month), they’ll take $40 as their fee. If they save you nothing, you pay nothing.

What can personal finance assistants do?

A lot.

We’ve already talked up Trim, which can help you negotiate cable bills, but there’s a whole universe of apps that can lower your bills.

Rocket Money

Truebill was acquired by Rocket Companies (most well known for Rocket Mortgage) and renamed Rocket Money in mid-2022.

With Rocket Money, you can connect your accounts to the app and they will analyze your transactions to identify areas of savings. They can cancel subscriptions and negotiate down your bills. In recent years, they’ve expanded to build a lot of features into their app including budgeting and dashboarding.

There’s also a separate bill negotiation tool where you take a photo of your bill, they try to find discounts, and negotiate on your behalf. The companies they are able to negotiate it quite long and includes many of the major cable and internet providers. They charge a 40% success fee on the savings.

Rocket Money also includes a financial snapshot, since it has your financial accounts, and can help with cash flow management.

Can You Do This Yourself?

Of course!

You can do anything yourself. There isn’t a single thing these apps do that you can’t do yourself.

But will you? And do you look forward to talking to a Comcast customer service rep for an hour?

You can make the argument that these apps know what they’re doing. They’re better at negotiation that you are because it’s all they do. You’re going to have to study a little, struggle a little, but eventually, you will get it right too.

Or you can sign up, use their service, pay their success fee, and save money with minimal effort. That’s what they’re banking on and that’s something you can bank on too.

What If You Want More?

What if you want an actual assistant? There are places you can go online to find a virtual assistant.

My best recommendation is to look in your social network for folks who may already be virtual assistants. You might have some friends, or friends of friends, who wouldn’t mind picking up a few hours of work each week doing online tasks. This will rely on a little legwork on your part, which includes vetting them, but it’s often the quickest way to find a virtual assistant.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a site like Upwork to find freelancers for task-based work. With Upwork, you have to submit a request, work through the bids, and find someone. If you’re willing to wade through some names, it’s a great way to find support.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Empower Personal Dashboard, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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