PowerWallet is new personal money management software that helps you create a budget, track spending, manage and pay bills and save with customized coupons and deals. PowerWallet recently reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their free online service as well as partnering with them, assuming I felt it would be a helpful tool for readers.
Well, I love to check out new money management software tools and share them with readers. So, here’s what I learned when I signed up for my free PowerWallet account and tried out some of the features myself.
How Does PowerWallet Work? PowerWallet Review
PowerWallet has some handy features which include a dashboard, account summary, bills, ability to create a spending plan, set alerts, manage transactions and a unique ability to earn points and get customized deals to save money (more on that later).
Let’s look at some of the core PowerWallet features a little more closely.
The dashboard provides a summary list of all your accounts, current balances as well as an overview of how you’re doing according to your plan. You can see what percentage you’ve spent of your plan and how much is remaining. You can also see a quick view of your total perks, alerts, bills due and latest transactions from the dashboard.
Account Set Up
The accounts feature provides the ability to link your accounts with PowerWallet. You can link bank accounts, credit cards, bills, investments as well as create a cash account.
Accounts can be set up manually (you enter the transactions) or automatic (PowerWallet automatically reads them from your financial institution. PowerWallet states on their website they are “read-only” and they use 256-bit SSL encryption to secure information over the internet (more on security below).
The transactions screen provides the ability to see all the transactions that have been read, or entered for each account. You can edit each transaction and assign it to an appropriate budget category. PowerWallet provides a list of categories to choose from or you can create your own. PowerWallet will auto assign to a category to save time, if you’re not interested in doing this yourself.
The planning feature is where you do your budgeting. You can create a plan for any number of categories you desire. Once created, you can see a summary of your plan and spending totals by category to see how you’re doing. There is some flexibility with this approach in that you can choose to only create plans for categories that you need to watch the closest.
You can select from a number of standard alerts that PowerWallet provides as part of the service. At this time, it doesn’t appear you can customize these. Alerts include low balance, bill reminders, over plan limit, bank fees, large purchases and large deposits. You can view alerts when you log into the website or receive them via email. After a quick review, I believe they’ve covered all the primary alerts people would typically need.
PowerSavers & Points
This is where PowerWallet gets really unique and creative. PowerWallet tracks your spending habits and matches spending with relevant deals, coupons, discounts and offers on products and services. These are called PowerSavers and they are totally customized to you.
I immediately noticed some PowerSavers showing up in my transactions list. One of my favorite Mexican restaurants in Dallas showed up with a 50% coupon! So, you can see the benefit here. You just need to make sure that purchasing a PowerSaver is still within your budget.
You can also find plenty of daily deals and offers under the Perks section. Offers and Daily Deals can be filtered by categories to narrow down your search. Overall, this feature is sort of like finding deals where you do your budgeting an spending. There really isn’t a need to go to another website or sign up for a daily deals email service anymore with PowerWallet.
Points are yet another feature of PowerWallet. They are earned by performing various tasks within the application such as adding accounts referring friends, creating a plan or setting an alert. Points appears to be a fairly new feature as the redemption of points hasn’t been released to users yet.
PowerWallet doesn’t share a lot of details about points, but it looks like they will also be offering a cash back PowerWallet card that provides a way to redeem them. I’m not sure if this will be a credit card, or a debit card and how it will work.
Here’s what PowerWallet says on their website about the points:
Redemption of these points is currently in development, but believe us, you will be more than happy you started earning points ahead of the game. We can’t reveal everything we have up our sleeve, but we can tell you it involves money going back into your pocket with the new and handy PowerCard.
Information protection is a fair and common concern for any online financial service. In reviewing the PowerWallet website, they state they use the same security applications used by banks. Your information is sent over a 256-bit SSL encryption backed by monitoring systems such as VeriSign and MacAfee. In addition, PowerWallet is read-only and you can’t move or withdrawal funds using the system.
How Do You Sign Up for PowerWallet?
Signing up with PowerWallet was easy and only took me a few minutes. If you’re curious, I’ve outlined the steps you’ll follow below:
- I entered the following personal information: name, email, birth year, zip code and created a security question.
- I received a confirmation email in my inbox in seconds and clicked the link to set up my password.
- That’s pretty much it. I found myself logged in and the next few steps involved me setting up my accounts.
Account Set Up
- I entered the accounts I wanted to track such as my Perkstreet Financial checking account
- I simply waited a few minutes and my transactions were read from Perkstreet. I was able to see them listed on the transactions page and a few PowerSavers immediately appeared
- I then headed over to the planning page and created some budget categories to begin tracking my spending and was able to immediately see the results for the transactions with the same categories as my plans
So, there you have it. I’ve covered most of the primary features you can expect with PowerWallet. Now, let’s take a look at the overall benefits and any drawbacks to this software service.
- PowerWallet is free and covers all the basic budgeting and transaction features I think most people would want with financial software. No up front investment is a great deal for a lot of people and I’m not sure how you could ask for anything more.
- The perks, PowerSavers and points are all pretty cool. I know that this is likely how PowerWallet is making money and personally, I think that’s perfectly fine. It can be viewed as a win-win situation. They bring you customized deals and they earn money when you buy them. Just keep in mind that no deal is a good deal if it causes you to overspend!
- The online service is user friendly. It didn’t take me but a few minutes to get used to the navigation and understand how to use the features. The graphics are also very nice and appealing.
As with any service or software, there are some drawbacks. All of these are just a matter of my opinion so you might feel differently, but keep them in mind.
- I searched the iPhone app store but I didn’t find the PowerWallet iPhone app. :( I hope this and other mobile platforms will become available in the future. Update (1/30/13): I received an email from the PowerWallet team and the mobile apps are set to be released Q1 of 2013 and they currently have a mobile site.
- PowerWallet read my transactions from Perkstreet, but I couldn’t tell from the description much about those transactions. There is some generic POS description, so this was a bit disheartening. I’m not sure if PowerWallet can do anything about this, but essentially, I’m trusting them to categorize transactions for me. Still, it’s not a deal breaker. I’m used to entering my transactions manually and assigning them to budget categories.
- I love that PowerWallet allows you to set up a plan and even set up alerts for overspending, but I found it a bit time consuming to create a plan per category. I’d rather have a list view in PowerWallet of all the categories and simply go down the list and type my budget number into them. The same holds true if you’re entering transactions manually. You do this in a pop-up window and have to fill in a number of fields. A register feature would make it easier and faster. Of course, creating your plan is a one-time exercise in PowerWallet so after you’ve set up your categories, you can easily maintain them going forward. But, not so with transactions.
Overall, I like PowerWallet and what these guys are doing. It’s creative and they covered the core budgeting and spending features I needed to see in order to share this software with readers and co-brand with my blog. They make my best money management software list and I look forward to updating you as they bring enhancements to the service.