The Ladder

A Blog from New America's Asset Building Program

Online Personal Finance Is Growing

Published:  March 16, 2010
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www.hellowallet.com

Some months back I noted the arrival of the NY Times' personal finance blog "Bucks." At the time I expressed some concern about the scope of their work, I wrote:

"One of the challenges Bucks might face is handling the Times' propensity to focus on the "not quite rich enough." For instance, today's "Special Section on Wealth and Personal Finance" includes this piece on minimizing your tax bill if you make more than $200,000. I'm sure that's handy advice for much less than 5% of the population. What about the other 95% of us?

Hopefully Bucks will be able to balance their coverage and include tips, ideas and features that are of benefit to the bottom 50% of the income spectrum as well as the top 5%. There are significant innovations occuring, both public and private, which are aimed at making saving and building a sound financial foundation easier. President Obama waved a magic wand and made savings bonds, a safe and reliable product, available for purchase on the tax form. Websites like Mint.com, thebeehive.org (and soon hellowallet.com) are available to bring basic financial planning tools and guidance into easy reach."

In the grand scheme, I generally think Bucks has done a good job and provided interesting content. And today they showed that they might even be listening to us, or at least to folks that care about the financial needs of the lower 50% of the American income spectrum. In a blog post today, "New Tools for Financial Planning Advice," Bucks announced the debut of hellowallet.com, complete with a description of their services and a some quotes from their founder, our old friend Matt Fellowes.

The interesting thing about hellowallet is that they claim to go beyond what other sites have done in the past and are aiming to provide actual financial planning services to low-income Americans at a very low cost ($4/month, that's $48/year, I did the math myself!) They also have a commitment to reaching low-income families and say that for every five paying subscribers they'll provide free services to a low-income family, and they hope to reach 300,000 families with free services in the next five years. This is an innovative product and potentially a very fruitful resource for a lot of low- and moderate-income families. Congrats and best wishes to hellowallet on their debut, and kudos to Bucks for paying attention to issues that matter.

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