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Do You Have a Financial GPS?

For Christmas, many years ago, my in-laws gave me a GPS. I am not sure of the exact reason why. It might be that they think I get lost a lot, or they think I need someone to tell me when I am going the wrong way. I guess they forgot I already had my wife do that.

I didn’t have a lot of chances to use the GPS, as I mostly have been going to places I had already been to before. However, I eventually did try it out to see how the device works and how it deals with various issues, like when I decide to take different routes.

While I enjoy having this technological marvel, it got me thinking: I wish there were something like this for financial decisions and spending follies, sort of a Financial GPS.

Car in Pond
I said left Harry

Just think of how great it would be to have something that would announce to you, “Because you went out to dinner and spent $135.67, you will now only be able to retire in 37 years, three months and two days” or even better, “You have just spent $400 more than your budgeted amount for discretionary spending this month, and there are still 17 days left in this month“.

Wouldn’t that be astoundingly cool?

In some ways, Quicken is kind of like that, but it doesn’t have the instantaneous feedback that this kind of tool would need.

What Does it Need ?

I guess that if you had a stern voice in this contraption (my GPS has a Female English accent, so it sounds a lot like my Mother), might it stop folks from impulse buying? Might it prevent them from squandering money if they were afraid of how the device would react to it? Maybe, but think how embarrassed they might be standing in line at a store and have a voice boom out, “You do not have enough money to buy that, put it back on the shelf!“?

If anyone does invent such a device, I have already put a patent claim on it, so you will owe me royalties or pay me a lump sum, and you can use the idea :-).

Follow On

I wrote this about ten years ago, but unfortunately, the GPS technology fad ended. Apps like Waze and Google Maps have replaced them, and the GPS now fades into the technology sunset. A good idea that is now part of our day-to-day lives.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. GPS Systems have grown to be better as computers get better – it is simply just mind-boggling those things technological innovation can achieve now!

  2. Great post, I loved this. I agree with you completely that such a tool is needed. I actually have such a tool and use it. Unlike Quicken and other “Tax”/”Budgeting” Programs it actually provides instantaneous cause and effect feedback of every financial decision. It also prompts and dynamically re-calculates just like a GPS when families take the “wrong” turn and assists them in getting back on track. Best part though is being able to pre-plan and look forward into the future by running realistic scenarios on your life for future events and the “best time to Buy” feature which then helps you plan effectively to have money aside when that date arrives.
    Very cool. Not for everyone, but has been very helpful for many people I know.

  3. Catch 22 – if you put this device in “try me” mode on the store shelf, a potential customer will pick it up, and it will announce “you can’t afford me!” and you will never make a sale.

    Quicken is excellent for telling me when I’ve spent too much discretionary money. Not instant, but I update it most days, so its pretty quick.

    1. Good point, I’ll have to have my marketing department figure out a way to put it in PROMISCUOUS mode on the shelf and have a nice voice which says, “All is well” until you buy it.

  4. Not sure I’d want this! I think it would discourage me from buying things I genuinely need — like new glasses or a new bed! Sure, that $1000 would be better off in an investment, but I need to sleep and see right now!

  5. People definitely need instant feedback that they’re doing something wrong. Getting a credit card statement at the end of the month is about as effective as smacking a dog in the nose with a rolled up newspaper a day after it rips up your slippers.

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