Money is often cited as one of the biggest sources of stress for Americans. One of the rising solutions to help fight the stresses of managing finances is with the help of mobile apps. From budgeting to debt payoff, there are all sorts of personal finance apps to help you stay on top of things.

One of these apps is Honeydue, a financial budgeting app for couples. To learn more about personal finance apps and what it takes to get a startup going, I sat down with Honeydue CEO Eugene Park.

But before exploring Eugene’s work with Honeydue, I asked for his opinion on how Americans see finance and financial literacy. 

“There’s just a lot of people that are struggling month to month to not overdraft on their bank accounts and avoid the huge fees that banks are charging them.

It’s not just about financial literacy, it’s about financial wellness.”

If you are unfamiliar with the term financial wellness, it’s pretty much the overall financial health of an individual. Your financial wellbeing, so to speak. And as it turns out, it’s something that a lot of Americans do struggle with.

“Somewhere between three quarters to eighty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and so they’re making tough decisions about which bill they need to pay each and every month.”

There are a number of factors that influence that impact the way people learn to manage their finances, but as Eugene told me, these habits start developing at a young age.

“It turns out that most attitudes about money, especially emotional attitudes about money, comes from people watching their parents. 

It may not always be a direct lesson or conversation but whether there’s an income spike, winning the lottery or losing a job, if your parents have gone through this before, your attitude is often subconsciously shaped by watching your parents go some of these financial shocks.”

That doesn’t mean that your parents are the sole influencers of how you handle your finances. By educating yourself and learning some of the most basic financial concepts, you will already be off to a good start.

“I think the first sort of and most important principle that that high school kids ought to learn is the concept of interest and the time value of money. When you go to college you’ll be bombarded with credit card advertisements and this is how you quickly get into a lot of trouble.”

Despite their rising popularity, personal finance apps aren’t always a go-to for every American.

“The number one personal finance app used by couples is actually spreadsheets. But a much bigger problem is that about 60 percent to 70 percent of Americans don’t even use anything at all. And so when we think about sort of other tools out there, our biggest competition and challenge is not one other tool or competitor or platform. It’s that customers don’t feel empowered in using anything to manage their finances.”

As it turns out, personal finance apps can be both helpful and harmful to Americans struggling with financial wellness. It all depends on how they are designed. 

“Most personal finance apps are designed as bad news. If you look at most apps, if your net worth is negative, they’ll show front center your net worth as being this very red negative number. 

And that is really disempowering. It’s really depressing to log into an app every day and see you’re not even worthless, you’re worth less than zero. A lot of Americans just don’t want to look at the finances. It’s just a bad reminder of how poor their financial wellness is.”

At Honeydue, not only have they managed to solve this issue, but they have also figured out how to do a lot more, especially in terms of couples finances.

“We believe it takes a team to manage your money, not just an individual. Financial wellness, unlike personal fitness, is a team sport.”

So how exactly does Honeydue work?

“Honeydue is a mobile app that you and your partner can use for merging your finances together. Most millennials today have individual bank accounts and they struggle in sharing access and trust and transparency to each other’s accounts. So we made it a little bit easier for couples to share more of their financial responsibilities together. 

You download the app, you invite your partner, and assuming he or she connects and accepts, then you connect your bank accounts and that’s when the magic happens. You can manage your individual finances by yourself or you can share access with your partner and encourage them to look over your shoulder and help you if you need help.”

And how did you come up with this idea?

“A lot of arguments with my partner at the time. And so when my partner moved in, we argued a lot about money, about what was fair. She didn’t have a job at the time, I did, and we worried about whose responsibility each sort of task or chore or errand was. And so achieving that sense of both autonomy as well as fairness was a struggle for us and something we hoped to make easier for others. So a big part of our app is encouraging communication.”

Like any other startup, Eugene’s work with Honeydue has not been without challenges.

“When we first had this idea, we thought it was a great idea and we pitched around and there were a lot of nonbelievers. And so I think the first challenge was convincing ourselves that this was a worthwhile effort.”

Before parting, Eugene shared some final advice with me. 

“Find something that’s worth failing for. Most startups struggle. Most startups fail. The only way that you’ll be able to grind through some of the valleys and lows of a startup is if it’s worth experimentation and it’s worthwhile.”

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