Do you ever feel as if your budget only seem to go up? Or you find yourself spending on things you never remember spending it on?
If you're already budgeting, it can be a frustrating experience.
But not uncommon. And if you're as busy as I am, it could be difficult to muster the time and energy to plug all the holes.
But there is an app available – called Trim – that can do all the legwork for you. For free.
All you need to do is sign up for the service, add your recurring bills to the app, and Trim will get to work cutting or reducing over-priced or unnecessary services.
It's really that simple.
Does it sound too good to be true? We thought so too… so we dug a little deeper.
Trim describes itself as a holistic financial management service that enables you to achieve your financial goals. They do this through personalized recommendations and saving opportunities.
It performs various functions to do this, including negotiating recurring expenses, analyzing your transactions to enable you to see where your money is actually going, providing personalized recommendations for the right financial accounts, and recommending the elimination of unwanted subscriptions.
Launched in 2015, and based in San Francisco, California, Trim works closely with its users to determine what features to add to the platform. In that way, Trim is continuing to evolve and grow to become an even more efficient source of saving money. The company claims its users saved over $1 million in the last month.
Much as is the case with financial aggregator websites, you will include all your financial accounts on the Trim app. They host their servers using Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is a secure online data storage and hosting service, also used by the Department of Defense, NASA, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Trim is looking to build the equivalent of “a self-driving car for your financial life”.
How Trim Works
When you register for the service, you'll be asked to provide online banking credentials for each account you add. Trim can connect securely to more than 15,000 financial institutions across the country. Your credentials don't actually go through the Trim app, and are not stored by Trim. Instead, your credentials are sent through a service known as Plaid (see Trim Features & Benefits – Trim Security below, for more details).
You'll enter credentials for bank accounts, credit cards, insurance companies, utility providers, and any services you have that involve recurring payments.
Trim works by analyzing you're spending accounts to determine where you can save money. It will cancel subscriptions you don't use, negotiate existing service provider bills, or find lower cost alternative providers.
Whatever decision Trim makes or actions it takes on your behalf, you always have the option to override the activity.
In addition to reducing your expenses, Trim also can set spending alerts, provide you with account balances, and let you know how much money you spent in various expense categories and with individual vendors and service providers.
Trim Alerts. Alerts can be triggered by events such as your payroll deposit, a late fee on an account, an overdraft fee from your bank, or a large transaction.
Features on Hold
Previously, Trim offered these two services that are now on hold because of changes with how banks handle it:
Coupon search. You know those various coupon services, like Groupon? You won't need them when you sign up for Trim. The app will help you find coupons and automatically apply them to your purchases. It can alert you on coupon offers in different spending categories, such as restaurants, movies, and certain retailers.
Amazon Price Patrol. Trim also works specifically with your Amazon account. If you make a purchase on Amazon, and the price drops, Trim may be able to get you a refund for the difference in price. They file the paperwork on your behalf and send you a check if the refund is approved.
They are currently not able to file claims so the above two services are on hold until further notice. (many thanks to reader Octavio for letting us know!)
Bill Negotiation Process
This is one of the major features of Trim. You upload your current bill to the Trim platform, and they then go to work on finding better plans and promotions. One of the expenses the app focuses on is cable TV. They can negotiate with most of the major cable providers, including Direct TV, Dish Network, and Comcast. But they also work with cell phone services, including AT&T, T Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint.
In fact, Comcast is the company that inspired Trim. Since they tend to raise their prices in small increments over long periods of time, it's an expense that's ripe for negotiation. Trim negotiates that bill automatically if you use Comcast, and can save users as much as $50 per month. Trim will be worth having just for this negotiation alone!
Auto Insurance Savings. Trim also works with various auto insurance companies. By providing the app the login information for your auto insurance policy, Trim will work to find better rates from other carriers. In cases where Trim identifies a lower cost provider, you can generally expect a phone call from Trim, helping to make the transition happen.
This is also part of how Trim is funded. The company takes 33% of your total yearly savings. For example, if they negotiate you into a less expensive program that will save you $120 per year, they'll keep $40, and you'll get the benefit of saving $80 for the year. It's an excellent service to help you find lower cost providers, if you lack either the time or the desire to get involved in the process personally.
What's more, once you sign up for the service, Trim will negotiate savings on your behalf on an ongoing basis.
Trim Simple Savings
This is an automated savings account that allows you to determine a set amount of weekly transfers you'll make from your checking account into savings. Trim provides a 1.5% annual reward on your balance.
Your Simple Savings account is held with Evolve Bank, where your funds are fully covered by FDIC insurance for up to $250,000. Since it's a savings account, it's subject to Regulation D, which means you will have a maximum of six electronic withdrawals per month, and you can manually initiate deposits into your account at a maximum of 10 times per month, in addition to the recurring, scheduled transfers.
Other Trim Features & Benefits
Customer service. You can contact Trim by email at [email protected] There is no phone contact or live chat available.
Trim Security. Trim Offers 256 bit secure socket layer encryption on the website, as well as an encrypted database and two-factor authentication. They also use a service called Plaid to securely connect more than 15,000 financial institutions in the US.
Your online access credentials for each financial institution are actually handled by Plaid, which means they don't pass through Trim, nor are they stored by Trim. Instead, Plaid sends back an encrypted token to Trim. The token provides read-only access to your transaction data, which means Trim cannot move money or make any changes in your account.
Trim also promises to never sell your data or to use it in any way without your permission.
Trim Debt Payoff Program
The Trim Debt Payoff Program is new as of November 2018 and it's a game changer. There are three key parts to what makes this payoff program different than others.
First, Trim will build a personalized payoff plan based on your actual credit card balances and APR information pulled from the accounts you have linked to Trim. They tell you what to pay off and when. They don't consolidate your debt, they don't offer you a loan, there isn't some back office financing way they're earning money off your debt.
Next, they will call the credit cards to negotiate down the interest rate. They don't negotiate the principal amount you owe, they just negotiate the interest rate you're paying. This is the secret sauce step that helps you get your rate down. They will do this every 3-6 months, hopefully getting you a lower rate.
Lastly, there's coaching that offers some accountability and help in case you need anything.
This new program is $10 per month and there's a 90-day refund period (meaning you can get the last three months refunded) if it isn't working out for you. One thing that I like is that if they do negotiate down your APR, you don't have to keep paying to keep that lower rate. 🙂
Trim Pricing & Sign Up
This may be the best part of all. Trim is a free service. Just sign up at either Trim using your email address or Facebook login.
If you sign up on the website, you'll be asked to provide your full name and email address, then to create a password.
Once your account is up and running, you connect your Facebook Messenger or phone number, which will enable the Trim application to communicate with you.
You will then begin the process of securely connecting your primary bank account or a credit card, so the app can start finding savings and recommendations for you.
If Trim is free, how do they make money and continue in business?
While the basic application is free, they do offer premium services. These include Trim Concierge and Trim Simple Savings. In addition, Trim is compensated by third-party partners, like credit card issuers, in exchange for referring customers to them. If you're familiar with Credit Karma and other free services, you'll get the basic concept of how this works.
Should you decide to cancel the service, you're free to do so without any further obligation.
Trim Advantages & Disadvantages
- Trim works like a virtual financial assistant, constantly monitoring your financial activity and looking for savings, while you're busy doing other things.
- The app tracks and eliminates expenses you may not pay attention to, like unused subscriptions that you never got around to canceling.
- Trim analyzes your recurring bills to look for savings and applying for discounts.
- Trim incentivizes savings by providing you with an annual 1.5% reward on the amount of money you transfer to your Trim Simple Savings Account.
- If you're not comfortable negotiating your bills or finding alternative services, Trim will handle it for you. This can be especially valuable in negotiating with some of the more annoying expenses, like cable TV providers, cell phone services, and auto insurance carriers.
- The service is free to use (unless you sign up separately for premium offers).
- Customer contact is limited to email; there is no phone contact or live chat.
- The app is still somewhat in the developmental phase, since it's only been around since 2015. They are promising new features to increase savings but implementation takes time.
- Trim isn't a budgeting app. Its focus is on expense reduction, and if you choose, building up savings.
- Though you can access the platform from your mobile device, Trim doesn't have a dedicated mobile app.
Should You Sign Up with Trim?
Not everyone is comfortable signing on with a budgeting software program. But virtually everyone wants to save money. Trim is a service that can do that automatically, and with very little input from you. They can negotiate lower bills, eliminate unused subscriptions, or transfer various services over to lower cost providers.
Though these services may seem incidental, a lot of people lack either the time or the inclination to tackle expense reduction strategies. Trim can take the emotion out of expense reduction, by automating the process completely.
The fact that the service is free to use makes the decision even easier. It means that whatever the service saves you, will be completely in your favor. That makes it seem like one of those too-good-to-pass-up offers.
If you been looking for a way to cut expenses, but haven't had the time or the commitment to do it, Trim can do it for you.
If you'd like more information, or you'd like to sign up for the service, visit the Trim website.