A daily financial tracker that acts as an advocate for sensible spending.
Clarity Money knows my spending habits as well as I do—maybe better. Founded by Adam Dell, brother of Dell Inc.’s founder, the Clarity app uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science to analyze your spending habits in relation to your income. Knowing how you spend your money, Clarity aims to be your advocate for a balanced and sustainable financial situation.
The app is only available on iOS, but Android and desktop versions are in development. Mint, a personal finance app similar to Clarity, uses a desktop version as its foundation—its mobile app works as a hands-on complement to the website (CI’s Review of Mint). However, Clarity is built to offer its full functionality in front of you on your iPhone.
When the app is first opened after downloading from the App Store, it prompts you to create your account.
Creating an account is simple. Your profile consists of whatever banking and payment accounts you allow Clarity to access. Clarity also offers a demo if you would like to take a look at the app’s offerings before you link accounts. You can always link additional accounts later if you decide to continue using the app. In addition to your bank account, Clarity allows you to link any payment account you use—such as PayPal—and tracks your credit score if you grant authorization. The more access Clarity is granted, the better it can perform as your advocate.
Clarity’s main page displays like a mobile banking app, yet it maintains a friendly atmosphere. The app welcomes you with a greeting, the local temperature and a sometimes-humorous inspirational quote. Your current cash level is displayed first, followed by your credit debt and your investments at the bottom (Figure 1). Scrolling down, the app features sections that detail your recent spending, income and credit score.
These details are delivered in graphs and charts of soft, pleasing pastels. Recent transactions are displayed first with a graphic in either green or red. Green signifies usual spending and red signifies unusual (Figure 2). Monthly income is displayed as a pie chart showing how much you’ve spent so far (Figure 3), or a line graph that shows spending as a progression through time. Beneath this, a pie chart represents weekly spending by category (Figure 4).
Clarity’s algorithms categorized my spending without extra input and fine-tuning: a charge from the dentist, my lunch and my ATM withdrawals and transfers were all aptly identified. Clarity also identifies subscription payments and will offer to cancel them for you if applicable.
But Clarity only tracks payments made electronically. There is no category where you can input any cash you spend—a blind spot for a financial tracker that I will hope will be corrected in a future update. Despite the lack of this feature, Clarity does offer a thorough tracking of income and spending that it automatically updates. The latest update can be found in the accounts tab.
Four tabs are always present at the bottom of the app’s display: the main page, accounts, transactions and profile settings. The transactions page displays the money movements of linked accounts. It can also just show income, spending or transfers. Transactions can be sorted chronologically, by amount of money or by which movements appear as outliers (Figure 5).
Under the profile settings tab, Clarity explains how it secures financial data. Clarity uses 256-bit encryption systems for both data transmission and storage. Competitor Mint stores data with a 256-bit encryption but transmits with a 128-bit encryption. Profile credentials are protected with an encrypted token system, so if Clarity’s servers are hacked, login information can’t be taken. This security information can be found on Clarity’s website, along with other frequently asked questions.
Clarity isn’t a budgeting app., but it is your advocate for financial awareness. Clarity didn’t scold me when I spent outside my usual amount, yet made a point to remind me that a purchase seemed outside my historical expenses. Clarity felt like a wise and loving grandparent: aware of my circumstances and offering advice where best suited. When it comes to providing a quick and accessible look into your daily financial situation, Clarity lives up to its name.
For reviews of other personal finance apps, check out Computerized Investing’s Mobile App Reviews: Personal Finance.
Clarity Money (for iOS)