How to Spend Less, Wisely

by Alexandra Pacurar

Learn how to better manage your finances and make smarter decisions for a better, easier life. Float, an independent platform, has made it its mission to give its users all the information that they need to care for their wallet without sacrificing their lifestyle.

People around the world are notoriously bad at spending money in the sense of making the right decisions on available options, and given the flood of variable factors, this comes as no surprise. Choose A or choose B? Buy now or buy later? Spend now or spend later? Immediate gratification or delayed gratification? Subscriptions, long-term commitment, locking in pricing, reduced availability, taking advantage of deals here and now. All these come into play when deciding how much to spend and for what.

Traditional personal finance applications have focused relatively on the masses and not on understanding—in real-time, on a daily basis—how consumers are spending or on making specific recommendations on how they can make better decisions and change their behavior. 

“To change their behavior, we need to show them clear alternatives,” said Float Founder & CEO Stew Langille. “For this, we need to know how they spend, we need to know their personality.” 

To begin with, AI company Float will be looking at spending related to transportation, travel and local everyday purchases. 

“What we’re looking at is areas that are greenfields—they have high variability, unpredictable, opaque pricing. One of those areas is travel and transportation. It’s the second biggest part of the users’ budget—17 percent—second only to housing. It has high variability, a poor predictability and people really need to know how much they’re spending.” Langille added. 

A major factor that caused even more disruption in this spending sector is ride-share mobility. Variable pricing strategies practiced by Uber, Lyft, Grab etc. can be considered an assault to a consumer’s budget and wallet. Why? Because these operators do not reveal their pricing policies, do not predict it and take advantage of various factors, whenever they can. Their subscription offerings are geared toward their own benefit, not the consumers’. 

These variables include safety—especially with COVID-19—congestion, time, availability (especially with scooters and bikes), reliability and pricing. In order to benefit from services like renting a bike, scooter or car, a deposit is required. This is particularly true with bicycle renting companies that require $50 or more for a user to start using their program. Often, it is unclear how to get the deposit back, which doesn’t make these new models consumer friendly. 

Another area of interest for Float is everyday consumer spending around the city. One component refers to car ownership and gas consumption. This is also a highly variable, hard-to-predict spending category that can easily be mitigated through certain gas credit cards, savings cards etc. Restaurant spending and shopping spending are other data components that can help improve overall consumer spending decisions. 

“The problem we’re solving is give the consumer better information, learn about the consumer, be an advocate for them, give them an understanding of how they can save time, money, emissions and be more safe,” Langille said.

A major advantage of Float is the fact that it’s an independent platform focused at all times on consumer’s best interest. This increases security and trust, essential characteristics for users to provide information on their spending habits to an analytics, machine learning company.