Most finance experts agree that the best way to take control of your money is to make a budget. But it can be a daunting task if you’re new to budgeting or just never learned how to manage money effectively.
And when you’re part of a couple? Well, that’s when managing money can be especially tricky. For example, budgeting apps can look different for two people living in the same household. Moreover, couples and families who have difficulty talking about money may need another way to communicate.
But Firstly is different. It’s truly a budgeting app for families. This Firstly app review helps you discover what a budgeting app can do to improve your finances and conversations about money with the most important people in your life.
What is Firstly?
Traditional budgeting is done on paper or using a spreadsheet. Some apps can streamline the process, but most allow one user or login per account. Very few have a focus on budgeting for families.
Firstly calls itself “your one-stop shop for family finances.” And it’s true — Firstly is one of the few budgeting options that offer a collaborative mode. When two people work together using this app, you can define and set goals while staying on top of your daily expenses.
The app was first launched in 2017 under the name Honeyfi. Since then, thousands of couples have used the app to work together on their finances to save toward their most meaningful life goals.
How Firstly Works
When you launch Firstly, you connect your accounts for automatic importing. The platform updates your transactions automatically, so you don’t have to spend hours on data entry.
Firstly is uniquely designed to help families manage money. Essentially, it allows you to give family members access to your accounts and helps couples, partners and even multi-generational families manage their finances.
If you have financial goals, such as saving for emergencies, vacations, a new car, college tuition and more, you’ll discover that Firstly pays special attention to them. Additionally, Firstly makes allocating money for other family members or activities a breeze.
Features of Firstly App
Budgeting shouldn’t be hard. Luckily, when you sign up for Firstly, you’ll discover many features that make financial management smoother. The app's mission is to assist in paving a path to financial wellness for all kinds of families.
It’s an excellent first step to taking control of your finances. And if you’re not new to budgeting, you’ll find the app offers a complete overview of your financial situation and net worth for extra motivation to reach your goals
Yes, Firstly is currently free. That may not be the case forever, but today it's free.
And given that free is my favorite price, I'd definitely call this a major benefit.
See All of Your Accounts in One Place
The best way to navigate where you want to go is to know where you are starting from. Firstly helps you gather all your checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts in one place for a full overview.
You can also add debts like credit cards, car loans and mortgages to track your debt-free journey.
Firstly makes tracking spending, paying bills, and setting financial goals uncomplicated. With more than 10,000 financial institutions supported, most people will find adding accounts straightforward.
If you’ve ever missed a payment or two, you’re not alone. Thirty-five percent of consumers make late credit card payments because they simply forgot, according to NBC. Automatic payments can help, but many people like to keep more control over their expenses.
Firstly can help. The app sends you reminders when you have a bill coming due. It also lets you keep track of what you already paid, so you can stay on top of your bills.
Managing a budget without custom categories is a challenge. Personally, I’ve tried several budgeting programs only to be disappointed that I can’t personalize the spending categories. Everyone has different spending habits, so customization is key.
Firstly’s custom categories make sure you can earmark transactions to the right place and in a way that makes sense to you, whether you’re saving for your child’s future or your next great vacation.
Splitting transactions is an important feature that Firstly offers. It lets you sort transactions into different categories.
For example, suppose you shopped at a superstore and bought groceries, gardening supplies, electronics and pool supplies in a single purchase. Instead of selecting one category to allocate the entire purchase, Firstly lets you designate respective amounts to categories like groceries, home improvement and entertainment.
Share Accounts with Others
Sharing your account with others is where Firstly really shines. You can set up your Firstly interface to share or hide accounts with partners or other family members (children or parents). For example:
- Suppose you set up a bank account for your child. With Firstly, you can monitor their activity to teach them about responsible financial management.
- If you share bills with a parent, partner or roommate, the platform lets you allocate the amounts each person is responsible for paying.
- If you have private accounts you want to keep to yourself, Firstly can designate them for your eyes only.
Works on Desktop and Mobile
Firstly provides its full suite of services in both desktop and mobile versions. The mobile app makes it convenient to track spending when you’re out during the day or traveling. Then, you might switch to the desktop version when you want to see the bigger picture (literally) or when you have more time to sit down and work on your long-term plans.
Manage Day-to-Day in the App
Firstly's app puts all of your day-to-day transactions at your fingertips. You can review your spending habits, schedule, upcoming bills, savings goals and more.
Let's say you see a bill coming due but forgot to schedule it. Firstly makes it quick to move money from one account to another, making sure it is covered.
Add Comments to Transactions
Managing money can be tricky when two people spend from the same accounts. For example, most couples have one person who enjoys categorizing spending and allocating funds — and then both people review the budget together to make sure they’re on the same page.
But suppose your spouse bought a camera on eBay, but the transaction shows up as Paypal. Your spouse can add a comment to the transaction that says, “camera for our trip to Costa Rica,” so you can update the budget.
Where Firstly Falls Short
There’s a lot to love about the Firstly app. It has a lot of great benefits to help users manage their financial lives. But there are a few areas where Firstly falls short.
Must Link an Account
Firstly requires users to link at least one account to access the app’s features. Other apps usually allow users to enter data manually without linking their bank accounts, but that is not the case here.
However, Firstly uses Plaid’s secure network to connect over 10,000 financial institutions. So, you’re sure to find your bank in the system. For users concerned about security, Firstly uses the highest, bank-level security available.
Some Banks Might Not Work
Firstly works with most banks in the U.S. If you use a major bank, Firstly should have no problem importing your accounts. However, Firstly may not support the account if you work with a local bank or credit union.
No Investment Management
Firstly is primarily a budgeting app for families. You can link your Roth IRA and other investment accounts, set up automatic savings and transfer money between accounts. But the app doesn’t offer investment management or help you buy or sell investments.
What Happened to Honeyfi?
Honeyfi launched in 2017. It was a successful and popular app focused on helping couples manage their money together. In 2021, Strategic Financial Solutions bought Honeyfi to help families live financially healthy lives.
While Honeyfi was a strong contender in the short-term budgeting field, Strategic wanted to grow into larger projects like saving money for a home down payment. Further, the company plans to expand the app to include retirement planning in the future.
Additionally, Honeyfi’s founders joined Strategic as part of the acquisition. Now, they can continue working on the app under the Strategic roof.
Final Thoughts on our Firstly App Review
With dozens of budgeting apps on the market, families struggle to find the right one for their needs. However, very few apps make it easy to include spouses or other family members in the process.
Firstly makes it easy for beginners and experienced personal finance number crunchers alike to use a budget and include family members and partners. Auto-import makes setup a cinch, and your accounts update in real-time. You will always know where your budget stands at any given moment.
Set it up by linking your accounts, creating a budget, and getting your family members on board. Then, take time every week to review your spending to see what can be improved. Firstly makes it easy to find overspending and unused subscriptions.
There’s really no risk when you have a free app as well! Try out Firstly today and see if it's right for you. After all, the best way to improve your relationship with money is to talk about it with the people who matter.
Have you tried Firstly yet? What would you add to this Firstly app review?
Please let us know in the comments below.