Trim Launches Trim Savings, a New Way for Consumers to Save Money

New feature allows consumers to earn cash back on purchases they are already making

SAN FRANCISCO — Trim has announced Trim Savings, a revolutionary way for consumers in the U.S. to get money back on their everyday purchases. With Trim Savings, users link their eligible U.S. Visa card and then activate offers for a variety of stores and restaurants using Trim’s chatbot. Activated offers are then automatically redeemed via a statement credit when consumers use their linked card.

“In the future, we want every American to have a digital assistant that works tirelessly to save them money,” said Thomas Smyth, CEO and co-founder of Trim. “That’s what Trim Savings does, and is the first of its kind to deliver tangible benefit to users.”

Trim Savings uses the Visa Commerce Network to provide offers from stores and restaurants that are relevant to the purchases an enrolled user makes. Trim then asks if the user would like to activate the offer, which upon a qualifying transaction, will appear as a statement credit on the user’s account statement, and they are alerted of the credit within the chatbot. Users don’t need to download an app, print anything, or worry about a coupon code.

For a limited time, new Trim Savings users are eligible for up to $40 in promotional cash back offers across four categories: groceries, dining, shopping, and movie purchases. These promotional discounts serve to introduce new users to the process of activating and redeeming a card-linked offer – a brand-new experience for most Americans.

Users can sign up at www.asktrim.com/savings using their eligible Visa card. There’s no charge to enroll.

Best Credit Cards of 2017

Rules of thumb:

If you don’t run a balance, then maximize the points you’re getting.

If you do keep a balance on your credit card, then minimize the interest rate you’re paying.

Explore a list of cards by category here.

What’s the point of a credit card?

How to maximize rewards: Look for cards with high sign-up bonuses and good long-term point value. 1 point per dollar spent (e.g., 1% back) is the baseline. Getting 2% back or 2x points is quite good. Remember that you’ll need a good credit score to get these higher point values.

Be skeptical of merchant categories or rotating categories – you may overestimate how much you will actually spend at those stores.

Where do points come from? Credit card companies make money in two big ways. First, they charge merchants a percentage of every purchase. When you swipe at a coffee shop, the coffee shop has to pay a small percentage to the credit card company. Second, credit cards charge interest if you run a balance. That interest can add up!

How to minimize interest payments: Some cards, called “balance transfer cards,” allow you to move the amount you owe on another card onto this new balance transfer card. Watch out for the transfer fee — usually 3%, but some cards offer a lower fee. Then you’ll get a 0% interest rate for a promotional period — anywhere from 9 to 21 months. Hopefully this will give you time to pay it off!

Here are three more things to remember.

  • Getting the best possible credit card is a smart financial move — but it’s smarter to make sure your finances are in order first.
  • Do your best to avoid running a credit card balance. Those interest rates are really high.
  • If you do run a balance on your card, look into balance transfer options — these could save you a ton.

Questions? Ask us at help@asktrim.com.

 

 

Advertiser Disclosure: This site may be compensated through third party advertisers. This may include fees from certain financial institutions with products or services mentioned on our site, when customers apply or get approved for these products or services. In many cases, we don’t receive any compensation at all, but we want to be transparent that we may in some instances. Customer trust is crucial to the success of our business, and we value your trust and support immensely. As a company, we are focused on building a world where personal finance is easier, by saving customers money one at a time.🤖 💵 😃

What Is Trim?

Trim_Protecting Whats Yours

Trim is a personal assistant that saves money for you.

It’s like a fairy godmother for your finances. Trim’s “A.I.” — artificial intelligence — automatically analyzes your accounts and finds ways to put money back in your wallet.

What Trim does today:

  • Finds and cancels your old subscriptions
  • Negotiates your Comcast bill
  • Contests overdraft fees with your bank
  • Sends you alerts about your finances: large transactions, deposits, low balance, unexpected fees, and more
  • Allows you to keep track all of your accounts and charges. For example, you can text “Balance” to Trim if you want to see your real-time balance.
  • Identifies expenses that can be reduced, like credit card interest payments and too-expensive car insurance.
  • Helps you save for retirement by opening an investment account.

You sign up for Trim by linking your accounts so that the Trim A.I. can scan them and get to work. You can see what Trim is doing in your online dashboard (go.asktrim.com), and you can also communicate with Trim through SMS or Facebook Messenger.

Someday, Trim will be able to handle your entire financial life for you.

What Trim will do in the future:

  • Automatically find more ways to save you money
  • Optimize your credit card based on your spending history
  • Refinance your mortgage, car loan, or personal loan if interest rates decrease
  • Help you navigate big, complicated financial decisions, like saving for retirement or managing a budget.

 

Let the humans behind Trim know if you have questions: help@asktrim.com. Thanks for trying out Trim!

 

Investing: Avoid the Fees!

stocks

Rule of thumb: You should put your money in index funds with very low fees.

What’s an index fund? It’s a way of investing in a bunch of different stocks and bonds at once. That way, is one of them goes down, you’re still OK. This is called “diversification.”

What’s a “very low fee”? You should be paying less than 0.25% in fees per year – hopefully a lot less.

Our favorite: Wealthfront. It’s completely free for the first $10,000 you invest. After that, Wealthfront has very low fees (0.25%), automated diversification, and an easy website. Wealthfront automatically allocates your investment across a number of low-cost index funds.

You can open a Wealthfront account for free in about 7 minutes here.

Other good ones are Vanguard and Betterment.

Many people get ripped off by letting high-fee money managers or financial advisers invest their money. “High fee” to us means anything higher than 0.25% per year. Don’t do this.

Here are three more things to remember.

  • Don’t check your investment account every day. Once every few months is fine. Once you have it set up, don’t change anything, even if it goes up or down.
  • Picking individual stocks is for geniuses and idiots. If you are not a genius, do not pick individual stocks.
  • Remember that this money in your investment account is for long-term goals like retirement. Put money in, don’t take it out!

Questions? Ask us at help@asktrim.com.

 

 

Advertiser Disclosure: This site may be compensated through third party advertisers. This may include fees from certain financial institutions with products or services mentioned on our site, when customers apply or get approved for these products or services. In many cases, we don’t receive any compensation at all, but we want to be transparent that we may in some instances. Customer trust is crucial to the success of our business, and we value your trust and support immensely. As a company, we are focused on building a world where personal finance is easier, by saving customers money one at a time.🤖 💵 😃

A Millennial Wonders: When Should I Actually Think About Retirement?

On rare occasions, I wonder about when to start saving. Is it once you start to earn a larger salary in your thirties? When your parents retire? Am I already too late?

The short answer is simple: start saving for retirement as soon as possible. Ideally in your early 20s, once you start earning a paycheck. Every small amount you can put into a savings account helps, and if you set up a tax-deferred account and invest your savings with an assumed 7% annual return (that’s generous), annual contributions of $3,000 can grow to over $300,000 in a few decades.

Once you exit the workforce, costs you don’t consider normally will become regular and grow year by year. Medical care, housing, and general necessities for getting by will determine your quality of life, and only careful retirement savings planning can ensure that these costs are covered.

There are two main aspects to planning your finances for retirement correctly:

1) Paying off outstanding debt and

2) Using low-fee, high-quality investment instruments to grow your savings contributions.

While it seems obvious, paying off debt or limiting excessive interest payments is key to having a comfortable retirement. Most people are still paying their home’s mortgage by the time they retire and often don’t account for these recurring payments when setting up their plan for retirement.

Furthermore, thousands of Americans each year continue to pay exorbitant interest payments on late credit card payments. Late fees and soaring interest payments detract from retirement savings, so do your best to pay off all your debts so that your retirement account can be used with a clean slate.

Secondly, take advantage of instruments that your employers offer you for saving, like 401(k)s and IRAs. Many companies offer a contribution match to 401(k) accounts, usually a percentage of your salary. For example, with a 6% contribution match, if you have an annual salary of $50,000 and put aside $3,000 into your 401(k) account, your employer will add another $3,000. This seemingly small amount of your salary can grow much quicker than you expected.

Too many Americans are afraid of locking their money into long-term retirement accounts and run into shortages during retirement. Don’t fall into this trap. Don’t be myopic. Start saving as soon as you can!

The 5 Biggest Subscription Rip-Offs

In an era where there’s a subscription for just about anything, it’s easy to fall prey to the system and subscribe for something inadvertently or forget to cancel a trial. Here’s a list of the companies that our users are most likely to axe.

  1. Blue Mountain eCards – Unbelievably people pay monthly and annual subscription fees to Blue Mountain (also known as American Greetings) in order to send electronic greeting cards or “eCards” to their loved ones, or perhaps would-be admirers. We recommend getting crazy with the free fonts in Gmail instead.
  2. Planet Fitness – Coming in at number two is Planet Fitness, at a cancellation rate of 30.4%. The monthly rate of $10 when you sign up around the New Year attracts a lot of customers, but as the year wanes so too does the interest in membership.
  3. TransUnion – This information services company is most well known for their credit report and credit score offerings. Reeling customers in with a $1 trial subscription, Experian continues to charge your account small amounts for the months following your first report. You’ll usually need to call in order to cancel.
  4. GogoAir - Airplane wifi giant GogoAir comes in fourth on the list with a 23.6% cancellation rate. GogoAir touts affordable monthly rates across multiple airlines for frequent travelers, reeling in customers and putting a small but consistent dent in credit card statements.
  5. Audible - Last on the list is the most popular audiobook service out there, Audible. With over 150,000 recorded bestsellers and other books, Audible offers a free one month trial followed by a $15/month membership. But some Trim users might tell you that listening to more audiobooks ended up being an aspiration rather than a reality.

Did your Comcast bill go up recently?

Comcast has a reputation not only for atrocious customer service, but also slyly hiking their monthly rates for services without any notice or explanation.

A simple Google search for “Comcast increasing my bill” will yield thousands of disgruntled customers bitter and confused as to why their bill was increasing. One customer went so far as to say “I would NEVER recommend Comcast to anyone unless you want to add more stress and frustration into your life.”

It seems that Comcast has a tendency to inch up their rates a couple of dollars some months for certain services, or package deals like their Triple Play for phone, internet and cable.

Another customer who experienced particular issues with their Triple Play package pricing. “I signed up for the triple play in December 2014 that was supposed to be $79 the first year and $99 the second year.  They have been charging me $148 the entire time, they are not able to give me any of the money that I overpaid,” the customer said.

People who call Comcast are greeted with hold music, infamous customer service, and a generic response about the increasing costs of installing new Fiber Optic technology. Unfortunately, the customers who are paying for these upgrades are far from receiving the benefits. They are never warned of emerging price hikes, and have to wait on the phone for hours to get explanations, rarely resulting in a price adjustment.

Comcast hopes that users will:

(1) Not notice the change in the price of their services or

(2) Be so sick of their customer service that they won’t bother to inquire.

So watch your bill carefully!

To the Moon: Why Are Credit Card Interest Rates So High?

No matter which credit card company you choose, you will inevitably find one major thing in common – a very high interest rate, and a zero-tolerance late payment fee. In fact, if you compare this interest rate to that of a mortgage or car payment it might even be twice as much. As of this month, the average annual credit card purchase interest rate (APR) lies at a hefty 16% for travel reward credit cards, all the way up to 21% on average for cash rewards cards.

But why are they so high?

The answer lies in a combination of profit and risk. Many credit cards charge no upfront cost or annual fee for use, but instead capitalize on monthly $35 late fees (which luckily the government capped!) and interest on statement balances at these soaring rates of 20% per year. As long as banks charge interest rates that are more or less on par with their competitors they will do their best to hike the rate as high as possible.

They start with this thing called a “prime rate” which is an index of interest rates banks charge their most reliable customers. The Fed also helps determine this rate – it’s normally around 3.5%. Then, depending on your individual situation and credit history, the bank will add a margin. This is usually a pretty healthy chunk if they ultimately end up at around 20%. The worse your credit history, the more risky a customer you are and thus the higher your APR. Credit card interest rates (and late fees for that matter) are significantly larger than those for mortgages etc. because banks have no collateral against your use of their credit cards (like a house or a car), so they adjust the rates to account for this increased risk.

How do you solve this?

Well, the 🔑 here is managing your credit history and credit score so that banks “trust” you more and in turn lower your respective interest rate. This comes from:

  1. Consistently paying your bills on time (and in full when you can)
  2. Budgeting to spend within your means and;
  3. Cutting out any frivolous expenditures.

Finally – do your best to avoid running a balance on your credit cards! That’s the only sure way to avoid these killer APRs.

First Person: Get It Together, Bank of America

First Person: This is the first in an ongoing series of personal stories about our broken financial system. This article is written by Kabir, Marketing Intern @ Trim and recent Bank of America customer.

Credit card companies make exorbitant profits by exploiting their customers’ unawareness of shrouded costs and terms of using their cards.

I’ve experienced these unfair tactics myself with Bank of America’s credit card offerings. BoA’s mobile and online banking technologies are far behind their competitors, and they made me jump through countless hoops to set up a recurring payment. While most credit card companies will easily let you pay your statement balance via an auto-debit, and set this up online, BoA (the third largest retail bank in the U.S., you should note) takes “the road less traveled.”

After I messed around with their ancient website for about an hour, I found that online you could only set up recurring payments for fixed amounts or for the minimum payment. I called the bank up, and was then transferred to four different people before I was told the process required of me to auto-debit my statement balance. It was as follows:

  1. Print out a form;
  2. Fill out the relevant details;
  3. Attach a voided check with my bank account and routing number information and;
  4. Mail it in to Bank of America.

The worst part: the payment scheme only activated two cycles after they had approved all the details. Wanting to pay my bill in full and on time should NOT have been such a difficult process!

This is one example of a disease that enables the credit card industry to force late or forgotten payments, and it needs to be stopped. 

I am a young adult, managing my mounds of work in college, trying to sort out job opportunities while staying on top of other commitments in my day-to-day life. I need something to keep my finances in order, because otherwise they fall by the wayside.

No Weird Tricks: Get On That Resolution

BOOM! 2017!

“New year, new you,” right? Or same you, with a few new, ambitious goals. Perhaps they’re health or job related? What about the moolah? If you’re making resolutions, don’t forget the 🤑.

While exercise and getting a raise at work are both important, it’s also worth taking this clean break from last year to give your finances a review.

With the current transition of virtually every service to some form of a subscription, it would be worth your time to have a look at your bank statement. What’s the plan? What are your recurring payments? Do you want to save for a vacation? After all, you just had one.

Maybe take some time to do some budgeting. Where does it all go? Cut the fat. Burn it, if you have to. Sign up for Trim, of course. Look at your new dashboard and marvel at the account balances. Or cry, depending.

Start 2017 off right before you get too busy, or run out of money. Happy New Year from Trim.