Goldman Sachs announced its plans to shut down Clarity Money, a popular budgeting app that it acquired in 2018, in an effort to focus on building a similar platform with Marcus Insights instead. Customers that used Clarity Money were notified of its shutdown on March 5th, when it ceased to operate completely.
The news of the shutdown was abrupt for users that calculated their budget with the app, myself included. So now that I’ll be spending my weekend connecting my bank information to a new budgeting app, I figured I would document my journey for the other Clarity Money users that are on the same boat. I tried a few apps out, or have used some in the past, so I’ve rounded them up below and compared the ones that come highly recommended with the one that Goldman wants me to sign up for now that Clarity is no more.
I figured it might be best to first check out Marcus Insights, the app that Goldman is investing its resources into now that it’s shuttered Clarity Money. The financial insight app is being touted as a piece of the puzzle in the future of banking, but since I bank elsewhere I chose to only opt for its financial insights tool.
The set up on Marcus Insights was pretty seamless. I was able to get my bank information integrated in just a few seconds as the platform integrates with Plaid, which connected to my bank through Face ID. The interface was also almost exactly the same as Clarity Money, but offered less features than Clarity did before and really pushed me to open additional accounts with Marcus’ other financial products.
Marcus, however, appears to have gotten rid of the budgeting feature that really kept me on Clarity in the first place. What I liked about Clarity was that it provided additional tools for budgeting that let you separate your income from your spending with a line graph. The line graph tracked your spending as the month progressed in relation to where your spending was at for the month before, which made it a great tool for people wanting to lower their overall spending.
Out of convenience I would probably keep using Marcus Insights, but losing the key feature that kept me on Clarity is a sign that I could probably find a better product in another financial insight app. Its interface is also almost too sleek, and I mean that in a “there’s nothing to this app” way and not a “they organized all of these features really well” way.
I made an account on Mint years ago but never actually used it, which is what prompted me to find Clarity in the first place, so all I had to do was log in and update my bank information. Mint doesn’t let you integrate your accounts within the app—instead it opens your bank’s website on Safari and then connects to your bank app for authentication, then you have to go back to Safari to finish the set up before it takes you back to Mint.
This process is easy, but is admittedly more confusing than being able to integrate your bank information from within just one app. It also froze after I connected my American Express account, but I found that it was able to integrate the account after exiting and going back into the app.
Once I was in, I found that Mint has now integrated all of the things I liked about Clarity into its own platform, and that stress-inducing line graph was front and center on the Mint dashboard. If you find yourself running to buy every Amazon product that gets recommended to you on TikTok, the line graph will be your voice of reason in stopping you from making useless purchases.
Visually, I also found Mint easy to navigate and pleasing to look at.
For the sake of having a lot of options I wanted to also check out a few other budgeting apps (though it appears Mint would be perfectly fine for most users that are coming from Clarity). PocketGuard was really the only other app that interested me as it appears to focus more on letting its users know how much left is in their budget to spend rather than on what they’ve spent already.
The set-up on PocketGuard was pretty seamless, but not quite as good as Marcus’ was. The app integrates with Finicity, a Utah-based financial data integration tool, which asks you to agree with its terms and conditions before you can connect your accounts. I did like this level of transparency in letting me know that I would be giving my financial data to a third-party app, and it was pretty easy to use.
PocketGuard itself is designed to help users track what they have left in their budget, as it advertised. The app isn’t as visually appealing as Mint or even Marcus Insights (to be hones its design looks like an early version of Twitter or Instagram in that it just looked like it was straight out of the app boom of the early 2010’s). I secretly still use Robinhood just because it’s UI/UX is absolutely stunning, so seeing an interface like PocketGuard was a bit of a turn off. I probably won’t continue using this app.
Like I said, Mint will likely be the best option for anyone coming from Clarity Money. I don’t recall exactly what it was that pushed me off of Mint in the past other than that I didn’t use it (I distinctly remember it was either missing some features or had some features I didn’t think were necessary), but it appears to have changed significantly since then. The initial dashboard gives you an overall breakdown of all of your accounts—both bank accounts and lending accounts, as well as brokerage accounts—and shows you what you’ve spent so far in any given month compared to last month.
In another tab you can see a deeper breakdown of your spending this month, with a color coded chart based on category and another bar that shows you how much you’ve got left to spend in your budget. it also has a compare and contrast bar graph that shows what you’ve brought in up against what you’ve spent, and another feature that lets you make financial goals. It’s just enough, but not so much that it feels overwhelming to create and implement a budget.
One thing that did draw me to Clarity was its feature that rounded up all of my recurring expenses and provided a way to cancel the services I didn’t use. I didn’t immediately notice whether any of these three services offer something similar, mostly because I was all caught up with my subscriptions and just didn’t need it. If they don’t offer that feature, though, I know that TrueBill does.
Marcus did have similar features, but it was lacking overall in that it seemed more focused on getting you to sign up for its other services than it did in providing a strong financial insights platform. So, Mint it is.