Online lending company Affirm has announced it is acquiring Sweep, an app-based personal finance tool.

The move comes just two weeks after Affirm raised a $100M Series D round, which was partially raised to help the company expand into new product categories outside of lending.

Specifically, Max Levchin, co-founder and CEO of Affirm, acknowledged that users will most likely never be using Affirm's loan products on a daily basis. So, the company wants to expand into services outside of lending, with the goal that users would use these services more often than they use Affirm's loan product - maybe even on a daily basis.

Sweep seems like a perfect first step towards achieving this goal.

The app, founded in 2014, provides users with a future view of their cashflow so they can better plan ahead for things like bills and other expenses.

Essentially, the app collates all of your financial activity into a single dashboard, which could function as an alternative to simply checking your account balance. And, since most Americans check their bank account balance daily, there's a good chance Sweep's users do the same.



Mobile bankers are becoming obsessed with budgeting.

The simplest money advice financial planners have extolled for years, but which surveys show many Americans do not follow, may finally be starting to stick thanks to the ease of smartphones, according to data out this month from Nielsen.

Smartphones have made it easier than ever for people to track their lives, with apps giving access to an exciting amount of personal data, from how high our heart rate got on our morning run to the number of calories we consumed at lunch and even the details behind our sleeping patterns.

Phones are also giving people more insights than ever into their financial habits, thanks to banking and budgeting apps that provide immediate updates to account balances, spending trends and progress toward financial goals. And for a small group of heavy users, being able to constantly view all that data about their spending and saving may even be turning them into better money managers, the Nielsen data show.

In a survey of more than 3,600 smartphone owners who use their phones to shop or bank, out this month, 18% said they use their phones to budget and of those, 69% said they strongly or mostly agree that budgeting apps have helped change their spending habits.



Draft budget includes $186,000 for Tappans base wages

An eye-popping increase in the line item for Chief Jay Tappans base pay in the proposed Columbia River Fire Rescue budget isnt what it appears, according to the fire districts budget officer.

Finance Director Marit Nelson said the proposed increase from $114,050 to $186,000 out of the general fund for the fire chiefs base wages does not represent a massive pay hike being sought for Tappan. Instead, she said, the draft budget is planning for Tappans possible retirement during the next fiscal year.

We are expecting two people to retire this fiscal year, and I have selected Chief Tappan as one of those two people to retire, Nelson said. I also expect a lieutenant to retire.

However, it is not certain either will retire.

I havent made a retirement decision yet, Tappan said Wednesday, April 29. Neither has that lieutenant.

Tappan has been fire chief at CRFR since 2004. Before that, he was fire marshal for eight years.

He could retire this year, if he wanted to, said Nelson.

Nelson said the increase in the line item is one of those planning tools that enables CRFR to be financially prepared for the departure of Tappan or another top official. Retirement would cost the district, she explained, because outstanding vacation and sick leave pay will be due to an employee who leaves CRFR.

Any time that theres a sick leave or vacation payout, we charge those to the line item, Nelson said.

There is a corresponding increase in the line item for CRFRs six lieutenants in the proposed budget. Their base wages jump from $530,000 this year to $561,000 next year, under the proposal.

Nelson noted that budgeting money for something does not mean the district will end up spending that money.

Last year, the $17 million adjusted budget included about $6 million the district expected to receive from the sale of bonds to pay for equipment and facility upgrades. But voters rejected the bond measure at both the May and November elections, denying that funding source to the district.

Nelson said, We budgeted for it. It didnt happen. So we wont be spending any of that.

This years proposed budget is about $11.3 million. The sharp decrease from last year owes to the failed bond not being included in the budget, Nelson explained.

The budget does reflect a negotiated wage increase for union firefighters. It also boosts the combined base wages out of the general fund for CRFRs two division chiefs from $212,750 to $220,000, as well as Nelsons base wages from $88,000 to $93,000. Tappan said his pay is also set to increase by 2 percent.

Nelson said CRFRs contingency funds will remain mostly steady at $250,000, with total unappropriated reserves increasing to $347,980 by the end of the next fiscal year, under the proposal.

Our cash balances are gradually starting to increase again, which is nice, she said. Its working out. The board really wanted us to stop interim borrowing, and that means that we have to beef up our cash balances at the end of each fiscal year.

Nelson added, It can be pretty difficult, though, to try to save cash money.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday evening, May 5, for the CRFR board of directors to hear public comments on the proposed budget. The meeting will start at 6:30 pm at the districts administrative office, located at 270 Columbia Blvd., St. Helens.

The fire districts next fiscal year starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2016.



Having at first hand experienced the heated battle of CCMCs, in which costs draftsmen and (usually) junior Counsel joust in front of a Master on the level of costs incurred thus far and those yet to come, it seems that change might be in the air.

Lord Justice Jackson is preparing a speech / paper on costs budgeting, to be finalised by mid-May. He is looking, amongst other matters, at the circumstances in which the Court should decline to carry out costs budgeting (because of a concern at the delays being caused to listing generally by the new regime) and at whether there should be some sort of provisional costs budgeting exercise on paper.

You will no doubt remember Ian Millers prediction on this very lsquo;blawg that costs budgeting was likely to be reformed or abolished in 2015. He may well yet be right. Claimants have got very good at shoehorning as much cost as possible into the incurred box, which is impossible to challenge, and Defendants have got very good at getting future costs disallowed on the basis that incurred costs are already too high. None of this makes for better value for the lay client, and only adds to the costs of litigation.

The Personal Injury Bar Association has helpfully listed the other issues which those involved in the costs budgeting regime face:

(1) The long listing delays caused by the new costs budgeting regime.

(2) The waste of money and time in budgeting cases through to the end of trial especially where liability has been admitted, quantum is relatively modest and it is highly likely that the case will settle without a trial after the exchange of expert evidence.

(3) The interplay between incurred costs and future estimated costs. This is causing huge uncertainty and ought to be further clarified in the Rules.

(4) The extent to which hourly rates and times should be scrutinised at the budgeting stage. Again, this is causing huge uncertainty and different courts are taking very different views.

(5) The difference between a costs management order being made and costs budgets being exchanged without a costs management order. If costs budgeting is dispensed with altogether, then the other party has no costs information at all, because costs budgets have replaced the old estimates.

Given all this, it is hard to imagine that there will be no change to the current system. We await Lord Justice Jacksons pronouncements with interesthellip;