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ImpulseSave: Channeling Impulsive Habits to Help Achieve Financial Goals


There are plenty of online platforms, mobile apps, and advisors that seek to help users save money. Massachusetts-based ImpulseSave fits into the same category, but uses a creative, reverse approach.
I chatted with ImpulseSave Co-founder and CEO, Phil Fremont-Smith, to get the inside scoop, then tried it out for myself to get a better look at the platform.


ImpulseSave gives users a savings account, backed by Massachusetts-based Leader Bank, into which they can make weekly contributions and small, “micro-saves” towards a specific financial goal. These impulsive micro-saves can be deposited using the online platform, the ImpulseSave smartphone app (see right) or by SMS text.
So rather than purchasing a candy bar at the grocery store or buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks instead of making it at home, users can redirect that money into their savings account, giving them a point of saving at every point of sale. This moves money out of harm’s way, where it can build towards a goal.
  • Savings average over $3k per user per year
  • Individual users save, on average, more than 2 times per week
  • Since ImpulseSave’s launch, users’ average weekly savings has risen from $15 to $28
  • About 1/3 of users have referred ImpulseSave to a friend, averaging 3 friends each.
  • Over the last 2 months, ImpulseSave’s Net Promoter Score rose from 39% to 60%
What I liked:

1) Easy account creation
I needed only a driver’s license and credit card to open an account. My computer’s webcam, combined with optical character recognition (OCR) technology, made this very simple and fast.
2) Autosave feature
ImpulseSave gave me the option to make automatic, weekly transfers from my checking account into the goal account I opened to save for a new kayak helmet. 
The slider tool made it easy for me to adjust the amount of my weekly deductions from my checking account into my ImpulseSave goal account. As I increased the amount of my weekly transfers, the number of months until I achieve my goal decreased. 
With weekly deductions of $15, it will take 2 months to achieve my goal of $153. However, the more impulse saves I make, the closer I get to achieving this goal. 
Every Monday, ImpulseSave emails me a reminder that my weekly autosaves will be deducted from my checking account Monday afternoon. In case I want to skip this week’s autosave, the bottom of the email contains a small link that gives me the option to skip the autosave for that week. 
3) The user dashboard 
This is my favorite piece. Seeing a picture of my goal, progress, and a detailed view of each of my impulse saves, makes saving money tangible. 
Each week, the progress graph fills in with auto saves and impulse saves. This kept me coming back to monitor my progress and watch the date I was projected to achieve my goal change.
ImpulseSave gives me the option to edit, delete, or pause the goal. I can also transfer money from one goal to another. Once I reach my goal, it’s easy (and free) to withdraw money from the goal’s account back into my checking account so I can make the purchase.

What’s next
  • Account aggregation: this will change the user experience into an even more active one. The ImpulseSave platform will serve as a base where users can not only track their goals, but also monitor their other accounts, bill payments, etc. 
  • Danger Zone feature: this will allow users to gamify savings with friends and family. Danger Zone will invite users to identify locations in which they are most tempted to make bad purchasing decisions (For some, this is the Apple store. Tor me, it’s REI). After users identify their danger zones, friends and family members can leave a “trap” for them in that location in the form of a push notification. For example, the message may read, “Put the credit card down and step away.”
To learn more about ImpulseSave, see its live demo video at FinovateFall 2012.