Last week I wrote about a new personal finance app called Seedly that I’ve started using to track my expenses. It’s one of a kind in Singapore in the sense that it is able to extract transaction information from your bank accounts in the 5 major banks in Singapore and allocate them into expense and income categories.
The process is a bit tedious as I need to manually log in to my bank account using Seedly each time I do a download, it’s a small price to pay considering I no longer have to manually enter my expenses each time I use my credit card or pay for something online. To me, that’s Seedly’s main differentiation between popular personal finance software like YNAB.
After posting my article, a reader also questioned how good Seedly’s security is, given the fact that I am passing sensitive information like login details to my bank account through the app. I thought it’s a good idea to field this question to the team at Seedly and hear what they have to say.
I sent a quick email to the team at Seedly to request for an interview and I’m surprised that Kenneth Lou, Co-founder of Seedly got back to me within the hour agreeing to the interview. I guess that’s the difference between engaging a start-up and a multinational company. We agreed to do an email interview due to our busy work schedules.
It started from my co-founder’s CTO Tee Ming personal pain with budgeting having lived in US for a year and living as a student-working adult. He subsequently built the first version of Seedly on web, and won a hackathon for it. When I met him in the US and after that heading back to Singapore, we started to raise a first round of funding for Seedly and started in our last semester here at NUS 🙂 We found that such a product could potentially have a huge appeal here, together with a mix of fintech movement coming from MAS side.
Especially, we felt that there are tons of financial products and advice out there, but we never really know what is relevant for us, and it often takes alot of time to research. So we decided how we can short-circuit the process with a personal finance assistant role.
We are a team of 5 now comprising of 2 software engineers and 1 UIUX and 1 growth and 1 biz development. A small team now but we feel strongly about the product and idea, as at the end of the day, we are building this for people just like us 🙂 Solving our own problems as we negotiate adult-hood heading towards understanding how can we best deal with our own personal finances.
Your everyday personal finance app that helps you save time and spend smarter. View all your accounts in one place by importing bank transactions, and generate insights from our Seedly platform* coming soon.
Fresh graduate, planning to get married or just married, planning for a house, with basic debt like student loan, or home loan to pay for. He or she is looking to get a basic view of their finances but do not want to open up excel sheets or use complicated financial modelling tools for their own basic finances.
As described above. too much information and products, too little relevance to me… (as a user) Helping users make the right financial decisions from expenses, savings and in the future, investments.
We totally understand the concerns and I believe rightfully so. On our end we take security as top priority being users ourselves and understanding that financial data is highly private.
Here are some of the security steps we adopt:
There is a full list here to highlight them.
Again, we fully understand and are also working with the banks to work around a deeper integration for real-time transactions and etc.
Something along the lines of giving useful recommendations potentially.. 🙂 something that is smarter and not just any other manual-tracking apps (there are honestly too many of them out there *laugh*)
Tee Ming, and I are both really bent on creating a CAR not a faster-HORSE, as it goes back to the saying of how FORD Motor Company started 🙂
Try out Seedly, and let us know what you are really thinking… what are pressing concerns that you have from day-to-day. Oh yes, and share this with any of your friends who may be interested as well in something really basic.
A big thanks to Kenneth for taking the time to do this interview. I know you’re super busy and running a start-up does mean that you need to do everything yourself.
This is my first interview article and I’d love to hear your comments on how I can improve. At the same time, if you have any question for Kenneth, please feel free to leave them in the comment box below.
I’ve been really slack with my Income Report posts as I haven’t been that hungry for side hustles. That’s on top of the fact that I’m quite satisfied with my day job at the moment. Besides, what’s not to like when you are doing the job you like, have a boss who appreciates you, and work with a team that values your opinion.
That aside, I have earned $573.50 in August, on top of my regular income.
Active Income: $500
Webhosting Renewal ($500)
I’ve just received a few payments for webhosting renewals from my existing clients.
Investment Income $73.50
The SPDR® Straits Times Index ETF (STI ETF) in my stock portfolio paid out its dividend in August and I received $73.50.
Because I have no urgent need for these excess income, it is needless to say that my investment income has been allocated to my investment war chest for reinvestment into my portfolio and all other incomes are allocated to my Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) contribution f0r 2015.
Income Summary 2015
We have crossed the first half of 2015 and I felt that it’s worth looking back at how my life has changed after starting this blog. I started tracking my expenses in October 2014, just a few months after starting my new job. Expense tracking was tedious but I got used to doing it. I found that having all that data to digest and pulling out interesting statistics about my life was fun.
The simple task of tracking my expenses changed everything
It was only after I started the journey of tracking my expenses, that I realised that my financial lifestyle was horrible despite earning a decent income each month. I was behind bills and incurring unnecessary interests on my credit cards. Once I got used to tracking my expenses, I started to see where all my money was going and worked on reducing unnecessary expenses.
Soon enough, my personal balance sheet became positive and I was no longer behind payments anymore. Next, I started setting up budgets to give me a clear view of how much I needed to spend on necessities and discretionary purchases. The life changing moment came in May when I was able to depend on my income in April to pay for expenses in May. I was no longer living from pay check to pay check.
Becoming more aware about how I spend my money
Here is a monthly expense chart (excluding mortgage repayments) to show how my financial lifestyle has changed after I started tracking my expenses, optimising them, and setting up budgets to manage my money.
I examined my expenses and made significant changes to them. Apart from small changes like packing work lunches and shopping online for better deals, I also made major changes like changing my insurance policies to enjoy the same coverage for lower premiums and refinancing my mortgage loan.
I managed to turn a lifestyle of frivolous spendings to a lifestyle of optimal spending without sacrificing quality of life. I’ve reached a plateau where my monthly expenses hover around $1,300 and I’m keeping it that way because anything lower will affects quality of life.
Saving more money for retirement
The biggest change to my life is savings. Like most Singaporeans, I used to have problems saving money for retirement. For the past 4 months, I have been able to sock away more than 75% of my income compared to the 38% that I was saving in January to build a retirement nest even though my income hasn’t changed in the last 6 months.
Ability to withstand unexpected expenses
With more savings in my bank account, I created multiple saving goals to hoard my savings. Each bucket represent a single monthly, yearly, or infrequent expense that needs to be budgeted for. I also have a few goals that cater to unexpected expenses such as family emergencies.
The family emergency saving goal came in very handy this month when my insurance agent informed me that my mother’s shield policy would require cash payment from this year onwards as my mother’s age (she is 71 this year) just crossed over to a new age band where the premiums required is more than the maximum Medisave withdrawal limit allowed by CPF. This unexpected expense was easily covered by my family emergency saving goal and did not make a dent on my budget this month.
Paying bills on time makes banks and other companies appreciate me as a customer
When I started making improvements to my finances in January, the first thing I wanted to focus on was to ensure that all my bills are budgeted for and paid on time. Fast forward to 6 months later, I’m finally reaping the benefits of being a customer who pay his bills on time.
Companies love me as a customer. SingTel released the deposit they held on my account when I was always late on bill payments and that’s $60 refunded to my account. OCBC sent me a $5 Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift card for paying my bills on time for 6 months in a row. Small perks, but I feel the love!
Some readers question how this is sustainable and why am I torturing myself. The matter of fact is that spending more money does not necessarily make me more happy. The question you should really ask yourself is, what really makes you happy? For me, it’s the luxury of being able to choose what I want to do and the joys of travelling. The long term prospect of early retirement excites me and the ability to travel without impacting my finances through saving goals keeps me happy while I work towards early retirement.