With a total of $32.5Billion paid in overdraft fees last year in the US, American consumers desperately need some smarter ways to budget, save, invest, and manage everything from day-to-day spending to long term investment.

These startups offer three innovative approaches to savvier financing.

Best for Serious Stock Investors: Clarintelligence

Describing its service as “the missing curriculum for business thinking in the post-industrial age,” Clarintelligence aims to merge the business intelligence of professionals with the clarity of German design culture in its new series of published books.

Its “smart readers” are designed to cut straight to the most critical factors, and offer actionable content that consumers can implement immediately. First up is “The Logic Behind The Numbers – Financial Analysis and Valuation Demystified,” which hopes to make analysis of all things finance accessible and provide a unique toolkit for stock investors seeking to understand how valuation is anchored in the underlying business.

But can its hints and tips really make a difference in today’s dire financial climate? With the latest McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report confirming that investment returns over the next 20 years are likely to be far less than the previous 30, it’s likely to take much more than a book to get profits up (but it never hurts to try).


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Best for Regular Day to Day Spending: Moven

“Apply, load, spend, track, control,” is the five-word mantra of new 100% digital checking account, Moven. The mobile first finance platform provides US consumers with a digital bank account and free partner app to help them better understand and manage their money.

Purchases with the Moven card are categorized on the app in real-time, spending spike alerts notify users when they’re spending faster or more than usual, and the money path graph charts daily spending against their average. Improving your finance couldn’t be easier.

In theory, these real-time tools should make staying on top of daily spending easier, particularly if you choose to deposit a percentage of your paycheck into the account directly each month, or set up a regular direct debit from a linked current account.

It does mean opening and managing yet another bank account, however, and topping up your account via the app can take up to five business days. Still, as a way to monitor a fixed amount of disposable income each month, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes.

Best for Fuss-Free Savings & Investments Exeq

Promoting itself as the “smartest personal finance app yet,” Exeq hopes to revolutionize the way consumers budget, save, and invest and manage finance. Its app allows users to view categorized spending habits at a glance, automate their savings, and invest in diversified portfolios that are tailored to their risk level – all in one place. How?

  • Exeq Savings aims to save users a month’s worth of income each year by automatically transferring small amounts each week from their linked account. Safety guards, such as the 5.7x rule, ensure that users will only save what their balance shows they can afford to, and eliminate any danger of becoming overdrawn.
  • Investment Portfolios hope to democratize the trading floor somewhat, giving users a straightforward way to get their foot in the stocks-and-shares door. A number of data points, including balances, credit card debt, and spending habits, are used to calculate financial health before suggesting an initial portfolio deposit, and users can easily monitor performance, make withdrawals, and add cash at any time.
  • Exeq Categorized Spending provides a more data-oriented view of a user’s financial health, by automatically sorting transactions by category from their linked current account.

Recent research shows that 62% of the US population has less than $1,000 in personal savings, and that over half own $0 in stock. So, making it easier for more people to start saving, while staying within their means, certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavour.

While there’s no upfront fee for joining Exeq and savings accounts are free to manage, the charges start to kick-in with investment portfolios, and although its products are FDIC and SIPC-insured, there’s no guarantee on returns.