This week we’re taking a brief pause in the Finding Freedom series to talk about a pretty amazing new personal finance app that’s been garnering a lot of attention. It’s not even available for widespread use yet, but it’s still got people talking.
Oh, and to be clear, they aren’t paying me for this post, giving me a kickback for referrals, or any other form of compensation. So why am I writing a feature post, when I RARELY write feature posts?
Well, I’m incredibly stoked to see this product launch. From the moment I spotted these guys, I was intrigued.
Quite simply put, this is an awesome idea that deserves our attention, because I have no doubt it’s going to be the #1 financial planning tool for every money nerd out there.
So – What is it all about?
The new platform is appropriately named “whatifi”?. Created by Jon Cowley and his team here in Vancouver, it’s a tool that’s been long overdue in terms of personal finance planning.
While any PF junkie generally has a pretty good handle on putting together a useful spreadsheet, this app provides options for creating complex financial scenarios AND giving the user a ton options for how to rank and compare a wide variety of paths.
Much more than your typical spreadsheet is going to be able to do.
Not to mention it’s presented in a visually friendly manner that’s both intuitive to use, and easy to navigate.
Want to know if you should buy a house vs. rent? Contemplating 4 different neighbourhoods, and want to compare purchasing and renting in each location and then weed out the best option for your lifestyle goals? No problem.
whatifi will give you the breakdown on every option, and rank them according to your priorities.
Want to know if you should return to work, stay at home, or work part time after having kids. Yup, whatifi can help you run those calculations, and let you compare short and long-term outcomes side by side.
Want some help deciding what investment portfolio will best achieve your long term goals for Financial Independence. whatifi has your back yet again.
The Nitty Gritty
So what exactly does the app do? Think of it like a visual graph, or story board. The app allows you to put in multiple scenarios, or threads. Each individual thread is composed of node’s that represent income, expenses, budgets, income tax. You name it.
Not only do these nodes offer you a ton of customization options, they also allow the user to turn on a related inflation algorithm, so that you’re actually comparing apples to apples when conducting short and long term evaluations.
You can create forks in the road of any scenario, branching off into idea’s such as, whatifi:
- rented out an extra bedroom on AirBnB;
- created a dog walking side hustle;
- opted for a job in another city with a lower/higher cost of living;
- enrolled my kid’s in private school;
- decided to buy that luxury car I’ve been drooling over; or
- paid off my mortgage instead of investing.
It’s one thing to run the numbers in the short term, but whatifi also lets us see how our day to day financial decisions can play out over the long term. Including just how much that luxury car will actually cost us over the next 5, or 10 years.
Did I mention, whatifi utilizes a growing list of 3rd party APIs to help “fill in the blanks”. Google Maps, Numbeo (cost of living in cities around the world), Zillow, Flinks (bank account integration), Quickbooks for small businesses, etc.
Lastly, if you want to get some feedback on your decision(s) from your friends, family, financial advisor, or online PF circle? You can do that too.
What I Love Most About This App
Well, there’s a lot a to love here, but for someone who has been a long-time spreadsheet loving addict, two features in particular really caught my eye.
1 – The ability to rank options and experiences.
Um – awesome. How many times have you heard me saying that personal finance is about more than just the numbers? Factoring in our quality of life, and taking an individualized value based approach to making those decisions is equally, if not more, important than the black and white numbers.
This app gives us exactly that.
It utilizes your own customized rankings to filter for your optimal thread. Meaning the app allows you to rank each decision/choice/experience along your storyboard in terms of how you feel about it. Not just from a numbers perspective, but how well it aligns with your personal goals and quality of life.
When filtering your threads for the optimal choice, the app then allows you to utilize a sliding scale to rank what is most important to you at any given time. Are you strictly about the scenario that produces the best numbers, or do you want to maintain a specific quality of life along the way?
To use FIRE language, are you an Extreme FI individual, or perhaps more of a Slow FI participant?
With whatifi, it really doesn’t matter where you fall on that scale, because this app allows you to tailor the rankings to match your individual financial and lifestyle goals.
AND change those rankings and scale as major life events impact your priorities.
2 – The ability to compare the long term opportunity cost of combined decisions.
It can be hard to compare a ton of different scenarios, and all of their implications, in a way that allows you to accurately forecast the opportunity cost of: buying a bigger house, choosing a job that pays less, staying a single income household, or using transit over having a vehicle.
Don’t get me wrong, spreadsheet’s are great if you just want to compare each of those decisions as a stand alone. But whatifi gives you the ability to start comparing variations of ALL of those decisions combined. Maybe you want the bigger house, with the higher paying job, but your partner to stay home with the kids, and you only need one car. How does that compare to every other possible variation?
The growth of those variations is exponential. And the sheer capability of the app is pretty amazing.
Frankly, after the latest demo Jon and his team gave me, I promptly walked away and told Mike that just contemplating how much work it must have taken for them to build in all of these capabilities made my brain hurt.
One More Thing I Really Love?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another thing I LOVE about this app.
Jon, and his team, are locally based here in Vancouver, Canada.
And in a time and space when one of my highest priorities is to support local business in any way I can, I’m even more stoked to be able to toot their horn.
And Yet….Another Exciting Thing
Remember how I said this app has a lot of people’s attention? So much so, that they’ve advanced to the final stages of National Bank’s Innovation Competition.
And no small feat!
In tandem with major financial data player Flinks, the 6 month competition called all the best and brightest in the Fintech startup space to present their products to a panel of National Bank executives, venture capitalists, and technology leaders.
Not surprisingly, whatifi has steadily edged out the competition. In the final round, scheduled for the end of April, they’ll be going head to head with 4 other heavy hitters, including the new investing platform, Wealthica.
How To Get Involved
If you want to use this new tool as much as I do, head over to the website, and sign-up for early access as a product tester.
If you want to see more about the capability of this app, head on over to this demo video, where you can see the app in action, firsthand.
whatifi will help you answer all of your most burning financial questions, allowing you to weed through the noise and clearly identify a customized plan that will get you to your finance goals, faster. So check them out, sign up, and give them some love on your favourite social media platform.
This is amazing! Signed up already. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome!Let me know what you think of it 🙂
Thanks for this Phia. I have never heard of whatifi before but will definitely be checking it out.
I spent an hour or so playing around on the Beta the other day. While I do appreciate the amount of work that went into developing the program, and the complexity of it’s operation. I just found it was tedious to create my own scenario. No doubt this will improve as API’s will allow my personal info to be onboarded without manual entry. However, I guess I’m still a little old school. I’m a pretty analytical person so I spend a lot of time considering options mentally before I put them on paper and crunch the ‘numbers’. I also didn’t really get much out of the decision engine, but maybe I was doing it wrong. I looked at the pre-made scenarios and tried to work out the logic as I slide the bar between $ & star. I think I figured it out, weighing the cost benefit of each path. Something that us ‘older’ people have had to learn to do ourselves by trial and error, usually error! I think Whatifi will have a lot of value for people that struggle with complex decision making, especially when understanding how those decisions impact ‘future you’. I’ll be interested to follow along and see how the program improves as more features are streamlined and more template scenarios are created.
Hey MM, thanks for checking out the app! And double thanks for that great feedback. I agree with your comments, and my understanding is that as the creators continue to integrate third party API’s, there will be added options to adopt existing data into scenarios, rather than researching and entering everything manually, which sounds very useful. Also, as the app builds out, the availability of other user’s experience ratings (IE: employers, geographic locations, etc) will add quite a bit of depth to the decision engine feature. Glad to hear you’ll follow along, from what I’ve seen thus far, they have some great features in the works and definitely welcome feedback on this Beta version. Thanks for reading!