Review of Trim
Trim is a financial management platform that helps you pay down debt and save toward your goals with a high-yield savings account. Like Clarity Money and other budgeting services, Trim links to your accounts to give you an overview of monthly income and expenses, and it helps identify ways to improve your finances.
Trim is particularly focused on helping users reduce credit card debt, according to founder and CEO Thomas Smyth, so it’s of most value to people looking to get out of debt or establish savings.
The platform offers several useful features, including subscription cancellation and bill negotiation services. However, it’s not an especially user-friendly service. While sign-up is simple and free, you can only access Trim through a web browser and key features and information can be difficult to find.
What is Trim?
Trim is a browser-based money management service that aims to help you organize your finances, reduce spending and boost savings. While Trim does not offer a mobile app, you can access features such as monthly spending plans and subscription reviews through an online dashboard.
Trim Simple Savings Account
Once you link a checking account to your Trim profile, you can sign up for a Trim Simple Savings Account. The account features an APY of 1.50% (as of October 14, 2019), and you can automate your savings by establishing weekly transfers from your linked checking account. Trim will suggest a weekly deposit amount based on your monthly spending, or you can choose the amount yourself.
Trim partners with Evolve Bank & Trust to hold funds kept in the Trim Simple Savings Account and provide FDIC insurance up to the legal amount. Federal law mandates certain types of telephone and electronic withdrawals, including transfers from savings accounts up to 6 per statement cycle, and withdrawal amounts are capped at $1,000 per week.
Trim budgeting features
The basic Trim account features spending alerts, bill pay reminders and overdraft negotiation. If Trim picks up an overdraft fee in your transactions, it will notify you and ask whether you want Trim to contest the charge on your behalf. With your approval, the company will send a request to the bank to waive the fee. Trim does not guarantee that the bank will agree to remove the fee, but the feature is free to use regardless of the bank’s response and Trim does not take a commission on any overdraft fee savings.
The premium account gives you access to debt payoff assistance, bill negotiation and the Trim Simple Savings account. You’ll also be eligible for financial coaching and interest rate negotiation. The premium plan allows you to automate additional monthly payments to your credit cards with TrimPay as well.
TrimPay differs from the AutoPay feature you’ll find with most credit cards: you can reduce your debt that much faster using Trim’s payoff calculator, which can tell you how much to pay regularly and how long it would take to relieve yourself of your debt. With this timeline as your guide, connect your bank account and you can schedule automatic transfers to your Trim account in amounts of your choosing, on a schedule of your choosing. For instance, you might schedule weekly payments, depending how often you get paid. Then you can automate those payments to the company you owe until the account is paid off.
This feature is currently only available for credit cards, though the company may expand it to other types of debt in the future, Smyth said.
How does Trim work?
Signing up for Trim is a quick, easy process. You can sign up using your Facebook account or create a standalone Trim account, whichever you prefer. Even if you opt for a standalone account, you can allow Trim to contact you through Facebook Messenger, which is useful if that’s a platform you use often. Alternatively, you can choose to receive SMS messages about your transactions.
To create an account, you’ll need to fill out a short form with your full name, email address and a password. Once you’re signed up and have connected a messaging service, you can choose a primary financial goal to focus on. Your choices include tracking your budget, building savings, paying down debt, investing, reducing your spending or planning for retirement.
The program then tailors suggestions and next steps based on the goal you chose and the information you provided initially. You’ll see these steps, along with your monthly spending plan, each time you log into your account.
After selecting a goal, you can link your accounts to Trim, including checking accounts, savings accounts, investing accounts and credit cards. The more accounts that are connected to the service, the better Trim will be at assessing your finances and offering recommendations and insights.
As you use the service, Trim will give you options for tailoring its services and recommendations to what you most need at a given time.
If you sign up for a Trim Simple Savings account, you can link your preferred checking account and set up automatic weekly transfers to your savings. You can also set savings goals based on your priorities.
How much does Trim cost?
Trim’s basic account is free, but you’ll pay $10 a month for a premium account. The Trim Simple Savings account costs $2 per month, though if you enroll in the premium account, you can enroll in the savings account at no additional cost.
Trim also takes a commission on bill negotiation. If the company successfully negotiates your rate down, they take 33% of what you save for that year. So, if they negotiate a $15 bill down to $10, you’ll save $60 for the year. Trim’s commission will be $19.80, and you’ll keep the remaining $40.20.
Should your rates increase in the future, you can enlist Trim’s help again, in which case the company takes that commission again. However, the commission only applies for the year in which the negotiation took place, so you’re still likely to come out ahead with what you save.
Who should use Trim?
One of the nice features of Trim is that you can choose different goals to work toward. Even if your budget is already well in hand, the ability to emphasize goals such as investment and spending reduction are valuable for anyone working to build wealth and increase financial stability.
The fact that Trim regularly analyzes your transactions for savings opportunities and recurring expenses will help you keep your spending in check as your finances and priorities change.
Is Trim safe to use?
Trim encrypts its site and databases to protect user information, and it requires two-factor authentication when signing into your account. Smyth said that while Trim personnel sometimes need to access your information in order to troubleshoot, fix bugs or conduct user research, access to that information is highly restricted and only used when necessary. Smyth also said that because Trim is a relatively new company, having been founded just four years ago, it’s built using the most current security and encryption technologies.
Additionally, all funds kept in the Trim Simple Savings Account are parked at Evolve Bank & Trust, which is an FDIC-insured bank, meaning your funds are protected up to the legal limit.
The pros and cons of Trim
- Easy to sign up: You need less than 30 seconds to create a Trim account, and the goal selection process is simple and takes only a few minutes. Linking all of your financial accounts will take longer, but the process is clear, if repetitive.
- Bill negotiation: While you’ll pay Trim a commission for successful negotiations, you still stand to save money if the company can reduce your expenses. Perhaps even more attractive is the fact that you don’t have to be the one to call each provider and ask for a reduction. The time savings, and the lack of headache, might be worth even more than the financial savings.
- Overdraft negotiation: Overdraft fees can be a tough blow, especially if you’re strapped for cash as it is and can’t afford an extra $35 in penalties. While Trim can’t guarantee that they’ll get the charge refunded, the fact that it’s an option — and a free one, at that — is a great perk of the service.
- Insights into recurring subscriptions: When you view your account online, you can review your recurring monthly charges: for example, your Hulu subscription and other regular expenses. This is useful because it’s easy to forget what you’re paying for, and how much you’re paying for it, with “set it and forget it” purchases like streaming services and subscription boxes. Seeing them laid out on the page makes you more aware of your spending so you can make conscious choices about whether these costs are hindering your financial goals. The subscriptions feature also recognizes recurring expenses like car insurance or student loan payments, so you can easily review how much you’re paying on those as well.
Another handy feature here is that you can rename different subscription bills to make them easier to recognize. So, if a monthly bill appears in your transactions with a confusing acronym or string of numbers, you can manually shorten it. You can also remove any bills Trim mistakenly adds to your recurring subscription page, improving the accuracy of your profile.
- Notification options: Trim allows you to set notifications for balance updates, late fees, large transactions and other key pieces of information you don’t want to miss. You can also turn Trim recommendations on and off, depending on whether you feel you need the extra help.
- No mobile app: If you like managing money from your phone, you’re out of luck with Trim, unless you don’t mind using a mobile web browser.
- Savings account is difficult to find: For all its benefits, the Trim Simply Savings account isn’t easy to find on the website. Despite being advertised on the home page, there’s no button or clear navigation to the account. Sign-up is quick and straightforward once you’ve located it, but the navigation to the savings account isn’t intuitive.
- Switching goal tracks is not obvious or intuitive: Once you select a primary goal, you’ll receive suggestions and updates on your current steps. But while Trim says that users have the option of selecting multiple goals or choosing one goal at a time, that option is not intuitive during sign-up. It’s also not clear whether you can choose a new goal once you’re satisfied with your progress in a given area. Additionally, there isn’t a section of the site where you can read about other goal tracks to figure out what you want to focus on next.
- Lack of customization: If you want the ability to create your own budget categories and customize your targets, Trim isn’t the app for you. The platform generates a spending plan based on your income and expenses, and it shows you whether you’re on track every time you log into your dashboard. But if you are looking for a customizable service, you’re better off with YNAB or Mint.
- Customer service options are limited: When using a platform that deals with your finances, it’s nice to know you can easily reach a customer service representative if you’re confused or having issues. However, Trim does not list a direct phone number on its site. You can access a chat screen through which you can search for answers to your questions or fill out a contact form, or you can email the support team. But as of this writing, it does not appear that you can easily call the company.
How does Trim stack up to the competition?
Trim’s most attractive features are the overdraft and bill negotiation features and the option to connect with its high-yield savings account. However, because the overdraft negotiation is the only free element of the two, you may be better off signing up for a high-yield account elsewhere and opting for a more intuitive free budgeting service like Clarity Money. While Clarity Money discontinued its bill negotiation service, its web interface is much more user-friendly than Trim’s, and it offers iOS and Android mobile apps. If you’re especially keen to find a budgeting service packaged with a savings option, Empower offers a higher APY savings account at 1.65% (as of October 14, 2019).
If you’re focused on reducing your experiences and paying down debt, particularly credit card debt, Trim is a solid choice. But for ease-of-use, customization and returns on your savings, you’ll likely want to find a more robust service.