Managing your finances and getting rewarded for saving rather than spending is the idea behind a new collaboration between a Calgary-based non-profit organization and a fintech company from New Brunswick.
Momentum, which has been helping low-income Calgarians since 1991, is partnering with QUBER, an app-based money management service, to teach simple but effective tips to manage and save money.
According to a 2019 report from Equifax, Albertans carry the highest household debt in Canada – at an average of $29,117 – almost $6,000 more than the Canadian average. These numbers show that finances are a problem many people, both at home and across the country, deal with daily. The numbers are also the reason why the companies teamed up.
“Working with QUBER gives us the opportunity to scale up our savings work by using technology,” says Jeff Loomis, executive director at Momentum. “This creates more opportunities for people to build a savings habit and create savings for themselves by using an app. We've had over 2,500 people learn how to save through our programs, but we feel we can reach a lot more through technology.”
QUBER co-founders Jen Leger and Venky Kulkarni acknowledge that getting out of debt isn’t always easy, but the pair’s app takes teaches the boring basics and adds challenges and games to keep users engaged and saving.
“Saving money is boring and hard. QUBER makes it easy and fun,” says Kulkarni.
“Along with traditional automated savings like round ups and scheduled withdrawals, there's a lot of gamification and incentives built into the app to help motivate people to keep saving,” adds Leger. “There are community challenges – like no-spend days, make your coffee at home – and all kinds of things people want to do anyway that motivates them to think about and actually save money.”
The two organizations were first introduced in October 2019 through Innovate Financial Health, which is focused on improving the financial lives of all Canadians. They launched their shared pilot program in January and have already had a number of people signing up to start saving.
An added incentive for those who sign up and successfully save $110 by the end of the pilot program – Momentum will top up the account by $40 – meaning a total savings of $150, as well as a wealth of knowledge about managing finances.
“Research shows that even just $500 in a savings account is a critical factor to prevent being evicted and to avoid taking out a high cost loan,” says Loomis. “The idea of this program is that over a period of a few months, we can get people started to that $500 in savings and kick start their savings habit.”