We’ve decided to update our pricing for individual members and wanted you to be the first to know. If you are a current employer customer or individual member, these pricing changes won’t apply to you.
The changes are as follows:
1) We are raising our price for individual memberships to $100 per year (from $89.95 a year).
2) We are eliminating the monthly payment option of $8.95 a month.
3) We are eliminating the 30-day free trial.
4) We are expanding access to our charitable 1:5 subscriptions through our website.
5) We are making new, user-testing memberships available
At this time, we are not making changes to our employer options, but anticipate that we will be later in the year. Below are specific explanations for the changes.
Why annual plans?
Our goal is to help members build good financial habits. And, frankly, we’ve learned that habits take time to build — much more than one month or even a few months. There are lots of folks out there looking to track their spending for a few months and that is a great first step! But if that is all someone is looking to do, there are plenty of free personal financial management (PFM) tools available out there. We help our members track their spending too, and we think we do it pretty well but HelloWallet is primarily about building long-term relationships with our members to help them transform their finances, plan for the goals they want to reach, and then helping them build the right habits and make the right decisions to reach those goals. Given this, having a monthly option was confusing to people who thought that we were just an alternative to a free PFM, and it sent an unintended message that we think you can improve your financial habits in one month. Further, as many of you know, the majority of our business comes through employers who buy HelloWallet for their employees. Those employers usually provide three-year memberships to their employees – they do that because the data show that our software has a greater impact on people who commit for more than a few months at the outset.
Why raise the price?
We raised the price because we have been busy over the last year building a lot of additional functionality to offer our members and we want the price to reflect that value and innovation. Is $100 per year expensive? That depends on your perspective. When my first son was born, I paid for a financial planner to build me a long-term financial plan and it cost $3000 for comprehensive planning guidance that covered budgeting, investing, insurance, retirement, etc. It was great but pricey – that equates to $300 an hour for 10 hours of work – and my wife and I were the ones doing most of the actual work. At $100, we think we’re offering a steal in the market – especially since our software has now been proven to nearly double our member’s savings rates and speed up their debt repayment. But, you’re the best judge, so we’ll leave it up to you decide. If you have friends or relatives who can’t afford $100 a year and want to use HelloWallet, then please direct them to one of our other options described below.
Why charge at all?
We charge because we have to make money to keep building our award-winning software. And we refuse to make money the way most financial companies do – by selling your data, pitching you products you don’t need, or managing your assets in a manner that may compromise what is in your best financial interest. If you receive HelloWallet from your employer, they pay the bill because they have a well-aligned interest with you to help you maximize the value of your salary and benefits. While our pricing changes won’t affect you directly now, you should consider the value that HelloWallet provides to you because if you change jobs and your future employer does not offer HelloWallet, we hope you’ll see that value and want to pay for it yourself. If you receive HelloWallet through one of our charitable 1:5 subscriptions, we pay the bill but we hope that perhaps one day you’ll be in a position to cover the cost.
We thought about charging $99.95 to be consistent with how most things are priced (and how we have priced in the past). The psychology of dropping a penny or a nickel from the total price to create the impression that something is less expensive is pretty common. We decided that we don’t need to rely on those tactics. Our business is going well and most of that business comes from organizations that buy memberships in bulk for their employees, so consumer-pricing techniques aren’t as relevant to our strategy. More importantly, the willpower and mathematics required to develop good financial habits are hard enough without adding in arbitrary fractions that make you feel like you are paying less than $100 when the impact to your financial opportunity is the same.
Why no free trial?
We really wrestled with this one. Our R&D team wants everyone on the planet to see our product, but for the same reasons I list above about eliminating the monthly option, we are eliminating the free trial. We found that it was sending the wrong message about the ability to develop financial habits in one month. However, we still wrestled with this decision because our goal as a company is to enable all Americans to achieve their financial potential and we were afraid that we may be accidentally excluding some people who can’t access HelloWallet through an employer, a 1:5 partner or by self funding. For that reason, we are creating a user-testing membership for folks who want to use the product and can’t pay; but are willing to help us improve the experience. We won’t market it too much, but it will be easy to find on the site if you are looking for it.
1:5 partner support
On the membership page, you’ll see a new option to sign up as a 1:5 member right next to the option to sign up for a paid yearly membership. These are the memberships that we provide as a part of our social mission. In particular, for every 5 memberships that we sell, we give 1 free membership to a family or individual in need. Our partners, which include Goodwill and the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America, have asked us to make it easier for their constituents to find out how to become a member on our site. We were happy to help out.
Employer and future offerings
Our employer options remain the same in terms of membership. They are also easier to find from the membership page. We have had a lot of requests for small business packages and we are planning to make those available in the future.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @rpinkerton