I’m always excited about new personal finance products and services. Recently, I got to talk to David Kaufman, the CEO of Voyant, Inc. and one of the creators of Voyant @Home, a personal finance planning tool. I also tried out Voyant @Home. I must say that I was impressed.
“The problem with many financial plans online today is that they are really just budgeting,” says Kaufman.
“Not there’s anything wrong with budgeting,” he continues with a laugh. “We’re all about budgeting. But there’s no way to make a real financial plan. There’s nothing terribly personal. You need to be able to create a plan that you can compare it to others. Voyant takes the idea of the budget and lets you see how what you are doing now will affect you in twenty years.”
This is a pretty wild idea. It’s not just a forecasting calculator. I sat down to create my personal finance plan and was impressed at how detailed the process could be. (You can make simple plans that don’t require such complex information if you want.) But you have to be honest. If you are worried about privacy, you can use an alias, and set up a separate email account, and input in a false ZIP code. Other than that, you will get your best results when you share more information about your assets and liabilities.
Another thing I like about Voyant @Home is that it offers you the chance to build multiple plans easily. You can start with one plan, save it, and import it to make another plan.
“You can easily change things about your plan,” Kaufman says. “If you want to see the advantages of putting a little more in your retirement account each month, you can do that. Then you can compare the two different plans to see which works better for you.”
There are several scenarios that you can set up with this personal finance tool, and it can help you determine what would be best for you.
I also enjoy the community. In addition to forums, there is also the ability to connect with personal finance advisers — at no cost to you. You can submit your personal finance plan to advisers and they can help you find products and services that will help you reach your goals.
And if you don’t like the direction the adviser is taking you? “All you have to do is disconnect,” Kaufman says. “It doesn’t cost you anything, and you are in control.”
So who pays for all this? Kaufman says that personal finance advisers and companies pay Voyant for access to your plan — but he insists that advisers only get access if you come to them. He also says that as long as you are connected to an adviser, ads for their products and services may show up when you login to your Voyant account. The personal finance adviser makes money on commissions if you decide to buy something from him or her.