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Budgeting, Guy Style: App Zaps Personal Finance’s Gender Gap

by on July 9, 2012

By Ross Kenneth Urken

Adam Levey, a 23-year-old graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is set to begin his stint as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va. New to life outside his parents’ financial purview, he’s learning how to budget his salary of just over $3,000 a month. He’s got major expenses — a car loan on a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a career starter loan from the Naval Academy — plus twice-monthly trips to see his girlfriend in New Jersey, which cost $80 on gas alone.

Like many men his age, Levey hasn’t been the most conscientious about his money. “I spend money quickly, and I don’t think about it,” he said. “When you don’t have a girlfriend, it costs a lot of money, and when you do, it costs a lot of money. It takes a lot of discipline to manage your finances.”

To help him buckle down, he’s turned to PowerWallet, a new online money management tool. He likes it because he can see his bank accounts, loans and investments all in one place, plus get bill-pay reminders and spending-limit alerts to keep him from busting his budget.

But what really appealed were the incentives for staying on top of his balance sheet. Every time Levey accepts a coupon offer or sets a new bill-pay alert, he earns “PowerPoints.” Earn enough points and he gets cash back, in the form of gift cards or prepaid debit cards. In addition, the site offers deals custom-tailored for Levey: If his spending history shows that he’s been dropping big bucks at T.G.I.Friday’s, for example, the interface may offer him a discount alternative at Applebee’s.

PowerWallet is just one example of a new crop of budgeting tools designed with men in mind. Common wisdom holds that those in Levey’s generation are often entitled moochers, sponging off the Bank of Mom and Dad, and that they lack the skills of financial independence. PowerWallet aims to help them change that with strategies that make household accounting into less of a chore and more of a game.

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