My finances are a little messy. Tracking what I spend and covering all my expenses seriously stresses me out. I’ve tried multiple budgeting apps in vain. There’s always a honeymoon period with the software where I spend hours filling out detailed budgets—only to shamefully give up a few weeks later after some surprise expenses.
But I’m not yet ready to go low-tech and try that cash-stuffing trend from TikTok. So when the founders of a finance app called Allo (Android, Apple) reached out, offering to show me how their app was different from others, I decided to try it out. It’s a rare finance app that doesn’t ask you to build a budget. Instead, the software focuses on aligning your money habits with your values.
“It’s trying to be holistic about your entire life,” says Paul Montoy-Wilson, cofounder of Allo. “Helping you think through all the different areas of your life that you spend time and money on, and what’s important to you in this moment.”
Even though the app’s less strict approach may not be for everyone, my experience with Allo has been quite positive. I feel more cognizant of my overall financial situation while using it. Here’s what you can expect when getting started and a few tips for using the app.
Align Your Spending With Your Values
At the core of Allo is its “mindful money practice,” which emphasizes value alignment, awareness, and reflection over financial embarrassment and shameful avoidance. While a subscription to Allo costs $50 a year, WIRED readers can use the app for free for three months with a special promotion.
After downloading the app, you start off with five onboarding lessons that explain how to get the most out of Allo. Don’t rush these! In the first lesson you’ll lay out what’s most important to you for multiple value categories. For example, under Health, I selected exercise, therapy, and sleep as priorities that I want to spend my limited income on.
In the second lesson, Allo asks to view your bank transactions, using Plaid, in order to help you examine your spending habits. When reviewing recent transactions, Allo lets you tag expenses that contribute to your values and flag ones that don’t—for further reflection.
Once you complete the onboarding, you get to choose how often you’d like to interact with Allo: daily, weekly, or monthly. I like the cadence of checking the app weekly; it’s not an overwhelming chore to do every day, and it’s more involved than a monthly check-in.
Tips for Using the App
For more concrete calculations about your finances, check out the Timeline tab at the bottom of the screen. Here’s where you can see what your income, expenses, and overall cash flow were for the last month. Scroll down and you can compare what spending tags you used most often.
Want to adjust your priorities? Tap on the Values tab at the bottom of the screen to make tweaks. Don’t see a tag that perfectly captures what you want? Allo lets you add custom spending tags.
Every expense that you Flag is collected and available to review in the dedicated tab. In addition to marking expenses that you don’t feel great about, you can use this feature to highlight items where you need to pester friends to get paid back, submit reimbursements, or any custom category you’d like to flag for attention.
Finished with your spending review and want to discover even more financial advice? Visit the Resources tab, where you can find recommendations for good books and podcasts. This section also includes blogs to read and YouTube videos to watch, sorted into topics like investing and abundance mindset.
I can be cynical when it comes to money advice, and I’m skeptical of financial narratives like the abundance mindset. (You’re telling me I’m poor because I’m ungrateful?!) But Allo feels genuinely helpful without resorting to a hardcore budget. Instead of experiencing shame after checking the app, I close Allo feeling like I have a firmer grasp on the chaos and what I value most in life.