A new Web site called Voyant@Home — www.planwithvoyant.com — offers a holistic view of how your current savings and spending rates might affect your long-term goals.
NEW YORK — What impact would eight weeks of maternity leave have on your dual-income family?
How would a change in personal finances affect your hopes and dreams?
These are the kinds of questions many consumers ask themselves, but few do-it-yourself financial planning tools are qualified to answer.
Unless you can afford a highly paid financial adviser, you have probably grappled with some of the current online offerings for budgeting and financial tracking.
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But traditional personal-finance software, expense aggregators and budget calculators such as Quicken give only a one-dimensional picture of the current state of your financial house.
A new Web application that takes into account not only that, but also the impact of specific future life events such as births, marriages and retirement, Voyant@Home — www.planwithvoyant.com — offers a holistic view of how your current savings and spending rates might affect your long-term goals.
Voyant’s singly innovative feature is that within minutes it can help you visualize the big-picture outcomes of key life decisions.
Once you have identified a goal — say, buying a house — and input your current account balances and the value of any other assets you may have, the tool crunches the numbers and forecasts how close you actually are to fulfilling that goal.
For example, Voyant’s snapshot feature can give you a concrete idea of how long a maternity leave you can afford based on the income and savings you and your partner share, without jeopardizing your long-term financial well-being.
In addition, a timeline feature shows you potential obstacles and opportunities, such as market performance, that may affect your success. Over time, the application can help you measure progress against your established goals.
“Our goal is to empower consumers to participate more directly and frequently in the financial-planning process, and to help them understand the immediate impact of specific planning assumptions,” says David Kaufman, CEO and founder of the company.
A core component of Voyant is the application’s social-networking platform, which allows users to exchange ideas and seek solutions from friends, family and other members with similar interests.
Unlike other virtual communities, where information is shared through discussion only, Voyant users can embed their actual plans and snapshots into personal messages, forums and chat rooms (anonymously, if they choose).
Typical situations in which people may resort to this peer advice feature involve a small-business owner considering expansion or an adult child supporting aging parents.
For users who wish to go beyond a simulated assessment of how close they are to attaining their goals, Voyant also offers individual recommendations.
For instance, it can “tell” you that you’re not saving in a tax-optimized way or “suggest” how to revise your budget if you have recently lost your job.
To register on the Web site, all you need is a valid e-mail address.