“If you’re not paying for a service, then you’re the product,” says Bill Barnett, founder,
He should know – his product, which he describes as the antithesis of the popular budgeting website Mint, helps people plan spending in advance, rather than tracking dollars spent after the fact.
Like many of today’s lean startups and lean programmers, Barnett created the cloud-based BudgetSketch program for himself first, and tested it by rolling it out as soon as possible, then tweaking features and design for a layout that, he reports, currently gets rave reviews.
But why use BudgetSketch instead of the larger, more feature-heavy Mint?
“Most financial tools on the web are backward looking: what you’ve spent, what you’ve done, your history,” Barnett says.
He cites American consumers’ habitual overspending as evidence that tracking money spent doesn’t work. Instead, his program helps consumers shift their focus to planning future spending; if you don’t plan to spend money in a given category, you don’t spend it that month.
Talking to Barnett, it’s clear that he’d be a good financial advisor if he hadn’t chosen software programming as his second career (he was a mechanic for Delta Air Lines in years past).
He hates to watch today’s “get it now” spenders rack up extra expenses by purchasing over-budget items, and says he’s changed his own spending habits, driving older cars while saving enough to purchase new vehicles outright.
His advice for today’s hardship-driven spenders is offered in earnest.
“The solution to your problems lies in the future. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Change your future behavior you’re going to end up in a different place and, hopefully, a better place.”
By Robin Donovan