“There must be a better way to manage your fixed expenses”
Whether it’s energy bills, mobile phone subscriptions, rent or mortgage; every adult has fixed expenses in life. And all of those expenses are deducted from your account at different times. That can be confusing, and some people can lose their grip on their finances. So Jeffrey van Dam, Product Manager at Rabobank Non-Performing Accounts, thought that there must be a better way.
Based on real life
Jeffrey was participating in a talent program at Rabobank. Their assignment: Come up with an innovative idea to solve a social problem. “I stuck with what I know. I work with a lot of customers with financial problems, so I know how important it is to keep things simple. I also thought about the time-consuming and illogical money issues in my own life. That’s how I came up with the fixed expenses. I use an Excel file to keep track of my finances, and I had a second bank account to deposit the amount of my fixed expenses. But that’s actually a pretty cumbersome way to deal with it. So I came up with the idea that won the challenge: FinBuddy .”
Making direct debit more logical
“The idea behind FinBuddy is simple”, Jeffrey explains. “Companies often choose a fixed moment to collect monthly expenses. One uses the 25th of the month, another uses the 21st, etcetera. FinBuddy brings order to that chaos, and performs all of the monthly direct debit payments on the same day. For example, if you get paid on the 21st, then it’s good if your fixed expenses are deducted on the 22nd. That way you don’t have to remember which amounts still need to be paid. And you also now exactly how much money is left to do the fun things in life.”
An address change service, but for monthly expenses
According to Jeffrey, FinBuddy is similar to the address change service people use when they move. “We want to be that same central medium for your finances. A single party where you can arrange payment for all of your fixed expenses. To do that, all you need to do is sign up on our website. Then we arrange for companies to deduct payment on the day of your choice. The technology is ready, so now we can test the tool in a pilot with partners like Essent and TotalFit. Several other parties have also expressed their interest in participating in the pilot, including Rabobank and a large telecom provider.”
Benefit for businesses
To make it as convenient as possible for users, FinBuddy is free for consumers. “The companies are willing to pay us”, says Jeffrey. “From a social perspective, they benefit from having financially healthy customers. It also saves them a lot of money on reminders or collection services. We were actually surprised that major parties were so eager to participate in our initiative. They’re open to making a contribution to social challenges like this.”
FinBuddy is for everyone
“FinBuddy doesn’t focus specifically on people with debts”, says Jeffrey. “I’m convinced that you can reach a much larger audience when you make things fun and easy. And when you reach a large audience, some of the people will have financial problems. Plus, people are often hesitant to admit that they have problems paying debts. If FinBuddy has a reputation as a tool for debt relief, then it would probably raise the threshold for people to use the online tool. We want FinBuddy to help people avoid falling into debt, but basically we’re doing it to make finances more fun and more convenient. And as a result, people experience more structure in their finances.”
Working together to stay out of debt
To address the problem of debts comprehensively, Jeffrey believes we need a wide selection of solutions. “From my perspective, Rabo Foundation does it well by working together with all sorts of partners in this area, and by bringing them together. Rabo Foundation gave us a financial contribution to build the online FinBuddy tool for our pilot partners. We’re entirely IT-driven, and our technology needs to be safe and reliable. With Rabo Foundation’s help, we were able to build the entire platform and run the pilot project. The bank has also given me the financial room to set up FinBuddy as an independent company together with a team of enthusiastic people, supported by the organization’s knowledge and expertise.”
At Rabo Foundation, we’re eager to contribute to solutions that help prevent people from developing money problems. FinBuddy has come up with an easy-to-use application that can eliminate a lot of irritation and show people how much they have left to spend after paying their fixed expenses. And that’s a big step towards a financially healthy life.