Have you experienced that awful feeling of worry and anxiety over money? I certainly have. As a teenager growing up in New York, my Dad was a school teacher and my Mom decided to go back to grad school. Money was tight. There were four kids in the house and a lot of anxiety about our finances at the time. One summer, my family took a trip to visit our cousins in Massachusetts and our car broke down. I remember overhearing my parents trying to figure out how they were going to pay the repair cost, something they had not budgeted for. It was scary to feel powerless over something so random.
Sometimes the cause of your financial stress isn’t quite as unforeseeable. After graduating from college, I ran up a lot of credit card debt while living in New York City–at the time, and still today, one of the most expensive cities in the country. I used to “surf” balances to keep my interest expense low and available credit high so I could keep spending. I knew this was risky behavior and I worried that the “music would stop” and I’d be stuck. Fortunately, my career accelerated faster than my spending habits and I found some relief from the constant anxiety over money that I felt during my 20’s. Many people don’t end up as lucky as I did and spend their lives feeling a lack of control over money.
“Regardless of the cause, dealing with money can be stressful.”
Throughout my time in financial services, I have had the opportunity to hear the stories of countless customers, many of whom had experiences dealing with money similar to my own–or worse. Whether it was a single parent having to support a child while going paycheck to paycheck or someone trying to recover from falling into bad credit habits, one message was apparent: regardless of the cause, dealing with money can be stressful. These stories, along with my own experiences, fueled my passion to find ways to help people gain more control over their financial lives.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, during my time at major financial institutions, I tried to help from the inside, but the inertia and misalignment of incentives ultimately led me to pursue a different path and start a new company: Varo.
As the CEO and Co-founder of Varo, my top priority is to build a company that is dedicated to making money less stressful and empowering millions of people. I am excited about what we are creating and the potential it holds to improve people’s lives.
“I am excited about what we are creating and the potential it holds to improve people’s lives.”
Through our app, consumers can manage all their finances, both Varo accounts and those with other financial companies. But it’s not just any mobile app. We are designing Varo to be more approachable and intuitive than current alternatives. Yes, you will be able to hold a Varo deposit account* and other banking products, but the coolest part is that Varo will focus on you as an individual and help with managing your money. This can be in the form of helping you build emergency savings, setting aside money for a particular goal, or accessing Varo Flexible Credit** to smooth your cashflow. The best part is Val, our AI personal financial coach. You might see Val as a “a trusted friend” or “the wise teacher that guides you to realizing your potential.” Whoever Val is to you, she will be at the heart of Varo and there to help empower you to take control of your money.
We are in a private beta phase right now, refining features and adding new ones every week. We will keep iterating based on user feedback until we have something we are really proud to share with the rest of the world. Everyone here at Varo is working hard to help you feel more in control of your money. It’s personal and it’s exciting!