Test-driving the new improved 22seven.com app

22sevenOver the last few weeks I have been working on the Show Your Money Who’s Boss campaign, a collaboration between Maya on Money, City Press and 22seven.com, which required me to test drive the money management app 22seven.com.

I had tried out 22seven.com before, when it first launched in 2012. Although I thought that the concept was brilliant, the hassle factor was huge with far too many hurdles to overcome to get my accounts linked, plus I found that the format was not that user friendly. I don’t have time for hassle and I never really used its functionality.

When I agreed to work on the Show Your Money Who’s Boss campaign, I warned 22seven.com that I was going to be brutally honest about the app. But I must admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much the app has improved in the last three years.

It took literally minutes to register and link not only my bank account and credit card but also my investments. The fact that you can now link all your financial accounts to a single profile takes this smart money app beyond just a budgeting tool, as all your finances as well as total net worth are r22seven1eflected on one page. This includes:

  • Bank accounts
  • Store cards
  • Reward points
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans
  • Vehicle finance
  • Mortgages
  • Investments

It covers most major financial institutions and if you have an online account you can link it to your profile. If your investment house is not linked to 22seven.com, then you can also physically input the figures, although you would need to update this manually each time you added to that investment.

The thing with an app like this, is that it doesn’t let you hide from your money realities. Firstly you now know your net worth (a calculation between what you have saved and what you owe) which can be a scary reality. Secondly it shows you where your money has gone.

I always recommend to people who are trying to manage their money better to write down what they spend every day. The problem with writing stuff down is that we can still cheat. It’s a bit like trying to write down what you eat when dieting. If you don’t write it down somehow we think the calories don’t count! With the app there is no hiding the money that is leaving your account or where it’s going. As someone who already budgets, I have a pretty good handle on where my overspending happens, but colleagues at City Press had some cold harsh truths shown to them when they realised how much they were spending on, for example, take-aways and data.

Over the next few weeks as part of the campaign I am going to be blogging about my 22seven.com experience – I have already found some tips and ideas to optimise it for my specific needs like creating a separate profile for our household which links both my husband’s account  and my own.

If you want to download the app and follow the journey (and share your experience) you can click here and also receive a R25 airtime voucher to cover the data cost of signing up.

How it works

You need to create your profile and provide the login details for all the accounts you want to link, including your current account, clothing accounts, credit cards and investment accounts.

The 22seven site is secure and uses technology from Yodlee, a US-based company specialising in money management software which currently has 30 million customers and is used by eight of the top ten financial institutions in the US. (I’ll be interviewing the head of security for my next blog)

The system then downloads your bank statements and categorizes your spending for you. If, however, you want to have different categories from the standard, or categorize merchants differently, you have this flexibility as well. For example, Woolworths could fall under groceries or clothing depending on how you shop. So you need to spend some time organising your categories according to your spending.

Once you’ve allocated a specific merchant to a category, the site will remember your selection and continue to allocate spending from that merchant into that category so you don’t have to update it each month.

You are able to set budgets on each category and track how much of that budget you have used.

Family members’ accounts can also be linked onto the same dashboard, assisting families to budget and plan for their future.

For more information on how the app works, watch this video.