Hi Reddit! I'm Rachel Lauren, the COO and Co-Founder of Debbie, an app that rewards you for good financial behavior, like paying off debt, saving, and spending less. Unfortunately, there's not a ton of scientific data around money behavior change, but we're working with professors at Cornell to create it.

We’ve turned the financial rewards system upside down - instead of rewarding you to spend (like all the credit card companies out there do), we reward you to get your money in order. Our program also guides people through the psychology of money and habit building, and helps them access lower interest rates on their debt and discounts for services they’re already using. We’ve been live for over a year and our users pay off 3x more debt and save 10x more, and have used the app to create studies around financial behavior change. I’ve written all of the content and work with the Director of Product and Growth at Noom (yes, the weight loss behavior change company) to constantly improve it.

I was inspired to build this company because my parents got themselves into about $250k of additional debt when they took out a second mortgage to invest in my uncle’s alternative energy venture. My parents are not wealthy people, and this led to my eventual need to learn about money and psychology when I had to take over managing my uncle’s finances. My background - I spent several years working in equity research at Credit Suisse and then in venture capital at a corporate venture fund. I finished my Series 7, 63, 86, and 87 and am now pursuing a CFP.

We are now opening up our waitlist which is now at over 20k signups. Sign up here.

AMA about money psychology and building a venture-backed business at the age of 26. Starting on August 9nd 8pm ET/ 6pm CT/ 5pm PT.

Other things to note for transparency: We do not sell anyone's data, we get paid by financial partners looking for new customers (while we help people refinance their high interest debt), and we pay out the rewards from our revenue.

Proof: Here's my proof!

Comments: 203 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

Piganon57 karma

Have you had any issues with the news that a lot of the economic/psychological nudge research couldn't be replicated and was likely fraudulent?

Debt_Debbie10014 karma

Interesting, would love to see those articles. I think we often find the bigger question is if its positive selection or whether we are actually having an impact. I believe Noom faces the same question (i.e. is it that the people who complete Noom lose weight because they are the type of people to be more engaged in the process, or did Noom do a good job of engaging them).

We do find there's a correlation between engagement and debt payoff, and so whatever we can do to engage people usually results in movement in the positive direction.

Not-original7 karma

Also Planet Money did an excellent episode about it.

Episode Here

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Will go check it out!

place_artist23 karma

Sounds like a helpful product! Are there instances where the best action for the consumer is not what maximizes revenue for your company? (e.g, refinancing through one of your partners) In that case, how do you safeguard consumers?

Debt_Debbie10014 karma

That's a great question, probably the biggest existential question for our business. Our perspective on this is twofold:

  1. We're willing to take a revenue hit where we don't believe a refinance is in the best interest of the consumer. We actually block this feature for a big chunk of our customers because we want to make sure it's actually relevant for them. That being said, we also reward people as they pay down the loan, so that they are incentivized to continue paying down debt
  2. We are looking to expand to other products right now that are not credit-related, such as HYSA and others.

It's a fine line we have to play with all the time and we're super aware of it, and are transparent to our users about how we make money.

place_artist6 karma

That’s awesome. It sounds like you’re making financial guidance accessible to a previously underserved segment of the market. That said, are you a fiduciary? Do you seek to become a fiduciary?

Debt_Debbie1006 karma

We are not a fiduciary - down the line we may decide to offer our own financial products. It's expensive though, so not in the cards at the moment because we'd just need more $$$.

place_artist5 karma

What are some success stories on Debbie? What’s your favorite story of someone the Debbie team helped?

Debt_Debbie1006 karma

Oooooo my favorite thing to talk about :). They're actually on our website. One of our users, Zoe, paid down $2k in a few months on a gig income. Des is another user who paid down over $8k and is now looking to do a refi through us for the remainder. The biggest metric we track is what does the debt payoff look like for active users vs those who don't continue the program, and it's about 3x.

bz0hdp3 karma

How many philosophy experts are enlisted as ethics consultants on this? Any findings are going to be gold to marketers.

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

That’s a good question for me to ask Simon Blanchard (the prof). We decided to go ahead because there’s pretty much no research out there on the impacts of money mindfulness, while there’s tons of it for health and weight loss.

bakuding23 karma

Will your company use customer data for any other reason besides financial guidance and visualization? Is revenue made from sharing it with other companies part of your business model?

Debt_Debbie1005 karma

It is not part of the business model - we plan to keep the data we have to ourselves, mainly because there's plenty of other ways to generate revenue in fintech without destroying consumer trust.

We feel that the data is useful as far as it allows us to give personalized advice and products. We'd rather be able to do that than give our financial partners to do it without us.

1zzie11 karma

What kind of cybersecurity/data integrity measures are you taking to keep the data safe from hackers or ransomeware? Or is this aspirational and not intended to be a promise to consumers that th FTC might take issue with later on, should the data leak?

Debt_Debbie1006 karma

The data is all encrypted and even I cannot access the database. Our CTO was previously a cybersecurity engineer. I can’t tell you all the measures we take (because 1. I’m not that technical and 2. That would make it easier to get hacked, if they knew our architecture).

That being said, we don’t have any very sensitive data, like SS or credit card numbers. Mostly semi sensitive stuff that is likely floating out there in the ether already (not the opinion of the company, my own personal opinion).

tinycaw3 karma

do we have the option to opt-out of being the product sold to your financial partners? I'd like to not be some kind of sales lead in their pipeline.

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

There is a 3rd model, which is to have lenders pay for subscription because they see lower defaults/higher deposits. However, most financial institutions who are interested in this want our product white labeled or integrated into their app, and we want to build our own standalone app.

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Well, if you’re willing to pay a subscription then we’d consider it :) unfortunately most of the folks we work with have paid lots of money either to lenders or debt relief companies and are tired of paying money.

I’d love if we could have a subscription portion where we could charge consumers directly - got any ideas for features you’d pay for and how much you’d be willing to pay?

tinycaw2 karma

I appreciate the honest and open answer. I can understand where you are coming from as a business owner. I'll have to get back to you on the ideas

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Thanks for understanding and definitely would love to hear your thoughts.

texasfight198715 karma

Is this service strictly related to paying down debt or saving for long term goals? What other areas do you think monetary psychology could be applied to?

Debt_Debbie10010 karma

Right now it's for debt payoff, but we are looking at launching a version of the curriculum that focuses on saving for long term goals. I definitely think I would be a beneficiary of such a program, mainly because I'm not currently in debt but I myself learn a lot from creating the content. I'd like to save more myself and I imagine we could help folks do that with the program.

two-wheels-gal9 karma

Is money psychology a real thing?… or is just fluffy stuff

Debt_Debbie10010 karma

Well...psychology is a real thing. And it applies to pretty much everything you do. To money, eating, working out, daily habits.

So it may sounds fluffy, and some of the way we think about psychology is definitely fluffy, but that doesn't mean it's not effective.

SirHovaOfBrooklyn13 karma

My background - I spent several years working in equity research at Credit Suisse and then in venture capital at a corporate venture fund. I finished my Series 7, 63, 86, and 87 and am now pursuing a CFP.

Does this mean you do not have a degree/masters/doctorate in Psychology?

Debt_Debbie10010 karma

I do not - I wish I did. Just read a ton of books on the subject and work with people who are experts in psychology to write our content (one of our advisors has his PhD in behavioral psychology from Princeton and is the Director of Product and Growth at Noom).

The folks at Cornell reached out to us when they knew what we were doing and so we are now collaborating on a real study. Maybe my next gig, once we make Debbie hyper successful, I'll go get an actual degree in psychology :)

SirHovaOfBrooklyn14 karma

At least you’re honest about that and you actually work with experts too. Well good luck with your endeavors then!

Debt_Debbie1005 karma

Thank you!!!!

mywifemademegetthis6 karma

Are you saying there is an observable difference in behavior between offering someone a repayment plan that is $10 less a month than market rate vs. giving someone $10 for making their monthly payment at the market rate?

Debt_Debbie1007 karma

Yes - people feel more accomplished when they receive a reward, vs. by getting something for granted to start. We found was that people would rather take market rate if they have the POTENTIAL of having it go much lower, vs. starting with a lower rate (that is, as long as the lower possible rate in option 1 is lower than option 2).

texasfight19875 karma

So, are you trying to make it to where saving or hitting a long term goal is more rewarding than the short term reward you might get from buying something?

Debt_Debbie1009 karma

Actually, we're trying to make it so that the long term goals can be broken down into short term wins. We actually call our modules "Quick Wins", so the idea is that you are rewarded along the journey instead of having to wait for payout at the end.

The key to behavioral psychology is to make long term rewards feel more like instant gratification.

Gratinglama6404 karma

When was the last time you laughed so hard that you snorted?

Debt_Debbie1006 karma

You mean snarfed :)

spliced-chum4 karma

So what if I don't have any outstanding debt? Would I benefit from this app?

Debt_Debbie1003 karma

The dirty little secret is that you can get rewards for being a transactor (someone who pays your balance in full) vs just a revolver. We will be developing a track on the app that is more saving/long term goals focused vs just debt focused in order to serve those users.

We also will need to introduce ways to monetize them by expanding the suite of products we refer - in this case, savings and investing makes more sense vs refi.

CallMeVexed3 karma

Can you recommend any books or texts on the subject of money psychology?

Could you suggest any practices that parents/guardians can introduce with their children to instill in them good money managing habits?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Yes! First I'd start with just general habit-building books, like Atomic Habits by James Clear. The psychology of money by Morgan Housel is a good one as well.

For parents, I think it's worth creating a mini-economy in your house. If you plan to give out allowance, the kids should work for it and be able to trade it in for things (whether it's rewards in the house or one's they buy outside). Budgeting (spending less than you earn) is really the basis of what kids need to learn. Aside from that, setting up a HYSA for them is a good idea, and have them set up a monthly auto-save for their allowance money.

ShadyIsBack1233 karma

Hi Rachel,

Really interesting app idea - I'm quite intrigued. I think Debbie is truly a great idea. I have a few questions:

  1. How did you come up with the name of Debbie? (I think it's a great name)
  2. How does Debbie make money from financial partners? I've taken a look at the app store and it's free (which is good!), and since you don't sell user data and I've read that Debbie provides rewards as an incentive, which is amazing!
    Are these financial partners banks/loan agencies, and can Debbie connect users with these companies? Apologies if I have misunderstood.
  3. What kind of finance companies is Debbie looking to work with in the future?
  4. I imagine as an entrepreneur, you must have had many ideas for potential businesses - what made you take the leap of faith and start Debbie opposed to any other business venture.
  5. What is the process of getting a VC firm to back your idea? I understand that you worked for Credit Suisse and then worked in a venture capital firm - was it the same VC firm that backed Debbie?
    How would an entrepreneur even get in contact with a Venture Capitalist firm?
  6. Did you have to pitch your idea to venture capitalists? If so, how was your pitch, and what did you talk about? Were you nervous? (I know I would be!)
  7. Everyone has different financial situations - how does the app tailor the advice for the given person's financial information?
    Do you use artificial intelligence? (I think it would be an interesting avenue to explore if you don't use AI already)
  8. Since your experience is mainly in finance, how did you get the app developed, and what was the process of getting it developed? How did you ensure that the final product was what you wanted it to be?

Looking forward to hearing more about Debbie and your journey!

Debt_Debbie1003 karma

  1. It's my mom's and my co-founder's sisters name. Also, Frida, my co-founder, worked at Marcus, so it's a bit of an FU to all the male-named fintech companies
  2. And you understood correctly - we work with credit unions who pay us for new members we bring them. They also pay us a monthly fee to offer the Debbie app to their current customers. We make sure only to show people products that are a significantly lower rate than what their credit card is currently charging them, and we make sure to incentivize them to pay it off over time to they don't rebound
  3. Frida graduated with 15k in cc debt, and she's been my best friend since college. We've been talking about this issue for years and realized there's just nothing in the market actually solving the underlying problem
  4. We did get an investment from the fund I worked for (BDMI), which was a bit scary because I pitched them while I was working there. From there, we utilized my existing network (who also introduced us to other investors). We likely spoke to over 150 investors before finding ones who were interested. I'd say warm intros are the way to go - meeting VC backed founders is a good way to do this
  5. We did have to pitch! The original pitch was actually a debt consolidation product where the APR came down automatically over time as the borrower improved their behavior. Hopefully we still build this in the future.
  6. So right now we really focus on those in debt. Right now, that's the primary pain point. As we grow I imagine we will shift to other pain points as well (for example, people who are not in debt but aren't saving much). I think besides AI, we will likely ask the user a lot of questions about what they're trying to solve for, and tailor the content to them. We get really good response rates on the app, so we're not too worried about asking people what they want :)

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I totally missed some of your questions, that's my bad.

  1. Right now we work with credit unions, but we are also looking to work with financial institutions who offer great balance transfer and HYSA accounts

  2. We brought on a CTO who gathered a team in Argentina to build the app. He had over 15+ years of experience and worked at Earnest previously. we met him through a co-founder matching program done by Andreesen Horowitz.

ShadyIsBack1231 karma

Oh my god pitching to your own company must have been scary - was it ever discussed that if your pitch was accepted/approved that you would have to resign from the VC firm you were working at (to work on Debbie).

150 investors is a lot of investors to talk to! Must have been hard work and very tiring!

I'd like to ask another question that delves into a nuanced aspect of entrepreneurship and start-ups. Given your background in the VC sector, where you've likely acquired first-hand insights into the factors that enhance a start-up's attractiveness, could you elaborate on how you leveraged this experience to enhance Debbie's appeal and attractiveness to potential investors?

Apologies if I'm asking too many questions, I'm just really impressed with what you and the other founders of Debbie have accomplished.

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

So, they didn't it feel like I would need to resign if they said no. That being said, I was pretty set by that point that I was going to jump (and we had gotten a commitment from another investor). Also, I didn't have a path to become partner, so it was about time for me to go anyway (not due to my work product, just wasn't a firm that had a spot for another partner).

My bigger fear was if they had so no, then others would say no too because they would assume my own employer didn't value my skills.

As far as pitching goes, I think the main things I learned was what a nice deck needs to look like and what are the main questions and pushback we would get (based on the pushback I myself had given companies in the past). This allowed us to deal with the pushback before it would come up.

And thank you!!!!!!!

ShadyIsBack1232 karma

Thank you so much for being honest in your responses; don't see that often from entrepreneurs these days!

As an aspiring entrepreneur, I have learned a lot from your answers. I really appreciate it.

I hope Debbie achieves great success.

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

For sure! If you have more questions after this about starting a company, feel free to reach out to me ([email protected])

myrcenator3 karma

Of all the digital healthcare companies, why would you pick a place like Noom with a history of treating employees and clients poorly?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

We don't work with Noom as an organization, we work with Shane Blackman as an advisor. He is incredibly bright, and also one of the sweetest people I've met. As far as the product goes, every person I've ever spoken to who has used Noom (and I've spoken to at least 30 people who have), has had only good things to say. I remember there being some challenges with the way they charge which they've tried to fix, but again, not so relevant to the app itself and what they're built.

We don't model ourselves after Noom as an organization, but we definitely want to use their learnings from how they built the product.

Aggressive-Ask87073 karma

How do you define good financial behavior? and why is paying off debt considered good financial behavior?

Do you have plans to study the psychology of people that abused the PPP funds?

Debt_Debbie1005 karma

That's a fair question. I'll shoot one back at you - is spending other people's money without returning it moral? What if they explicitly told you that it wasn't a donation?

Taking on debt isn't inherently immoral - almost everyone does it. But, if there's something you want but you didn't make enough money for it, and someone gave you that money, I think our economy would be pretty messed up if you didn't give it back. Trust would erode, and no one would be willing to lend anyone money, unless they just accepted that they wouldn't get it back.

On PPP loans, most of the folks I know who took them out were afraid of getting audited and returned it. Though, I know there's likely a bunch of folks for whom that is not the case - I'd be curious to chat with them.

Basically, the way I define good financial behavior is 1. things that increase your money, while 2. don't also impede on other people's money

Aggressive-Ask87070 karma

Spending other people's money without re-paying it is not moral if you do it on purpose. It's not necessarily immoral if you are not able to re-pay it.

I find it interesting that you seem to be framing this as wanting to incentivize morality with, if I'm not mistaken, financial benefits...

Is it moral for an immensely wealthy lender to continue to pursue poor individuals for money that they cannot reasonably repay? What effect does that have on the economy and trust, especially when large banks, large corporations are often let off the hook for their much larger debts?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

You’re 100% right - it’s not immoral if you can’t repay.

And most lenders for unsecured installment debt don’t benefit from people who don’t repay. Credit cards are a different story because people can just pay forever on revolving credit and stay stuck in the debt cycle. For installment debt, the lenders lose money if you can’t repay. Other types of debt (mortgages, auto loans), have a different story, as they take the underlying asset. 2008 the big issue was with mortgages.

But I’d say credit card refi lenders aren’t looking for folks who can’t repay, cuz they end up losing money on defaults and have no collateral recourse.

Aggressive-Ask87073 karma

Got ya. I see what you are saying, I think it's good to help people get out of that cycle.

I guess I don't find it convincing to equate these things with being good or moral. Or to think about how messed up our economy might be if people didn't pay back their debts. The economy is already pretty messed up that there are certain types of people that can seemingly get away with severe financial malpractice that impacts entire economies, while everyone else is forced to go through the debt repayment meat grinder.

If I'm understanding, your app is aimed at helping people re-pay credit card debt. I am interested in understanding the psychology of the various players involved with other types of debt as well. Particularly medical debt, and government student loans, as well as considering that all of the benefits of these types of loans may not be able to be directly measured via economic or financial metrics.

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

That’s fair - I’m not trying to equate the two from a moral standpoint. I think what the banks did and continue to do at a mass level is much worse than what we as individuals do. Your original question though, is what defines good financial behavior - I would argue it’s about making money, spending less than you earn, and borrowing money you can afford to pay back.

Now if something happens that impedes that process, there’s plenty of lenders today that implement hardship. Most people are just too ashamed or scared to call up their lenders to negotiate or create a payment plan. It’s understandable, they’re stressed and not sure what to do - on top of that, why should they care about some company?

We try to help people understand that communicating hardships is better for everyone, because at the end of the day lenders need to make their money back to.

Student loans is totally effed because the government will just keep paying schools out of our pockets. These loans have actually contributed to the current tuition prices and created a vicious cycle. We don’t deal with these as much because there’s less spending behavior associated with it.

Medical debt is a shame and a function of our opaque medical system and poor health. Honestly, not sure the path out here. It seems to me care just needs to be more affordable, and price transparency is a path there.

Aggressive-Ask87071 karma

thanks for answering my questions

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

For sure :)

BodySurfDan3 karma

Hi Rachel, have you heard that Citadel has 65 billion dollars of securities sold, not yet purchased on their liabilities sheet and just got fined for spoofing trades in Korea? That's some interesting behavior, huh?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I have not and that is interesting. As another commenter said, we gotta fight the "mafia" out there.

namastehello3 karma

How much money is really enough?

Debt_Debbie1008 karma

It's never enough! Obviously kidding, though it does often feel that way.

I think it's the point at which you can live your life and have bumps along the way without totally messing up your financial situation. If you've got a sizable emergency fund, are making a normal income, and are saving for retirement. I'd say you have enough. Owning a home and car is great, but to me, it's a bonus we strive for to motivate us. Having money to live should be enough.

sarpon64 karma

"“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Debt_Debbie1002 karma


New_Country_31362 karma

What has your research/work been with Noom?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

So one of our advisors is the Director of Product and Growth at Noom (Shane Blackman), who is also a phd in behavioral psychology from Princeton. He has helped us design the app/the overall experiment of the app.

hidden_rp2 karma

What are the requirements to be able to join your growth team? Or is there a careers website where I can check

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Reach out to [email protected]! I’ll take a look at your resume :) we don’t have a careers page because we’re a bit small right now.

Mushimishi2 karma

Which professors are you working with at Cornell?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Simon Blanchard! He’s at Georgetown but the research is being done in collab with Cornell.

nicacio2 karma

Hi professor. Have you ever worked with or done research on people who have been scammed out of their savings? This recently happened to me and it is very difficult psychologically.

Would there be a different approach to getting past the trauma of being scammed versus getting to debt through other means?

Debt_Debbie1003 karma

First of all, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m not a professor, but thanks for thinking so highly of me to ask me.

I work with my father who gets scammed all day long (he had a stroke about 6 years ago and is vulnerable to giving up his money). A lot of what he feels is guilt and shame for allowing it to happen, and my mother just yells at him for not being the man he was. So the root of that trauma, at least for him, is shame and the guilt that he could’ve done something differently.

The fact that there are scammers out there is not your fault. Beating yourself up will keep you in the trauma loop - try saying to yourself out loud that it’s not your fault multiple times. Sounds fluffy I know, when you say something enough times you start to believe it.

Once you feel comfortable you’ve established that, look for ways to protect yourself. Take a week before making big financial decisions, research phone numbers/institutions, avoid clicking on links and always go to the relevant websites directly after receiving alerts. These are all broad protections, so not sure which of them apply to you.

GPT--42 karma

Could you go into more detail about how your company makes revenue while seemingly providing a free service to the customer?

Debt_Debbie1005 karma

Sure thing - our lenders pay us a fee for new customers we bring them. The primary products we show are refinance loans (i.e. we will only show you offers that are significantly lower interest than your credit cards), as well as HYSA accounts.

We block people from accessing refi if it's not relevant for them or they're not yet in a place where they can handle it. We also reward people after they've taken out the product to incentivize them from rebounding and re-racking up the debt.

We work exclusively with credit unions because they actually care about people's financial health and offer much lower rates than traditional lenders.

Those financial partners also pay us a monthly fee to offer the Debbie app to their existing customers - in this case, they are looking for increased savings.

HappyChappy152 karma

How do you get past the “Debbie Uses Method to connect to your liabilities” screen on the app? When I click “continue” nothing happens… tried reinstalling the app and everything :(

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Oh no! Reach out to [email protected] - our CX Lead should be able to help you out and see what’s up with Method.

1zzie2 karma

Is it your position that you can "nudge" your way out of the effects of poverty wages? Or is money psychology only for people with disposable income?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Most definitely not. If you don’t earn enough then nudges are not helpful.

We do give tips on how/where to earn more. Like scripts on how to ask for a raise, how to negotiate with a new employer, or side gigs that don’t require upfront investment

DaThrowaway19452 karma

How does this profit your company?

Debt_Debbie1000 karma

We work with financial partners who pay us for access to the app for their customers, as well as for leads to new customers.

We make sure to only show people HYSA offers or credit which has a significantly lower interest rate than their existing debt.

NorCalAthlete2 karma

Have you been to wallstreetbets?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I know what it is but I haven’t interacted on it - do you think that community would appreciate this?

coffeequeen05231 karma

r/wallstreetbets sub pops up in my feed from time to time. I’ve not joined the sub. Yes, I think that community could greatly benefit with your app and knowledge!

Is there a waiting list to sign up for the app?

I’m the oldest of 7 kids. Our parents were entrepreneurs. Some business success. Many business failures. The yo-yo effect of our family finances stressed me out big time. I didn’t spend birthday and Christmas money for fear our family would need it to keep the lights on, gas in the car, groceries, etc. I’m the oldest of 7 kids. I’m a saver. I’m blessed with a very good life and on track with retirement, etc. No debt. Home paid for. I’ve taught my 6 sons money ebbs and flows. Don’t stress about it. Each got an allowance, a bank account and a debit card. All were taught they could spend a percentage of their earnings if they chose and a percentage went into their savings account. Initially, they’d each spend their max but it quickly faded. The newness of their purchases and the dopamine highs of their purchases quickly faded. I feel sure the embarrassment of each running their debit cards a few times and being declined also impacted their spending habits.

4 of my siblings stay in constant debt and spend their paychecks long before they get them. They live paycheck to paycheck and their adult children do the same. Constant evictions, moves, job losses, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped them begin anew with them telling me “this time it will be different. I’l staying put and will get my finances in order.” I help them with budgeting and prepare their tax returns for free. Sadly, it hasn’t happened yet.

My other 2 siblings are hoarders. They live in fear to throw anything away for fear they’ll need it and not have money to replace it. Both of these siblings are frugal and seem to manage their finances I think. They are ultra-private. The pandemic sent both into a complete tail-spin with their spouses and adult kids. It was them against the world. Both siblings believe covid is still a real threat so no one can visit their home and they still wear their masks away from home. Our family is ok with that and try to support them to maintain the relationships. I find our family dynamics related to finances and money fascinating. We each chose different paths regarding finances, debt, money as assets as we grew up. Do you find this occurs in family dichotomies?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Thanks for telling me your story - and it’s interesting to see the turns each of you took based on what you saw at home. My brother and I also have different attitudes with respect to money, but I also think it’s based on different upbringings (we have 16 years between us). They never had much when he was younger, so I think when he got money he spent it. When I was growing up my parents were better off, so I didn’t want to lose that. It could be that you and your siblings all came of age at different times of your parents financial cycles, and that impacted you all differently (in addition to natural personalities). Not an expert on this topic, could be something interesting to delve deeper into. There’s definitely research that shows that people come into money after not having it tend to lose it/spend it.

There is a waitlist, but we’re starting to open it up.

sarpon62 karma

  1. Is there a sample module? In my line of work I deal with lots of people in varying degrees of financial difficulty, and I'd like to find out more about how Debbie works.
  2. Is Debbie only for people who can get approved for new loans?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

  1. Sure, some of the modules we do are “What’s Your Why”, “How to Deal with a Rebound”, “Power of Positive Reinforcement”, as well as some more financial concepts like “How to Prioritize Financial Goal” and “Avoiding Predators”

  2. Debbie is for anyone who is in debt - while we can’t qualify everyone for a new refi loan, we will have other products that will be relevant for everyone

Morvius_MEMO1 karma

How does a business use money psychology to their advantage?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

That's an interesting question I haven't thought about - it's a pretty broad question so I'm not quite sure which direction to take it.

If you mean, how do they use other people's psychology to their advantage, it's often used in a negative way. For example, large clothing companies will price things cheaply and offer tons of discounts to make you think you aren't spending much, and then you end up with a cart of $500 having bought a ton of crap.

If you want to use money psychology in a positive way, it's about creating value for the end user and customer before asking them to do/buy something. You celebrate them in small ways, and they become loyal to you. For example, Noom gets to know you and asks a very long questionnaire before they ask you to buy - by the time you get to the page where you have to pay, you're already bought in and have received some perceived value.

Joe19721 karma

do you have any advice on how to teach children to save? My daughter will choose instant gratification every time. How do I teach her to "pass the marshmallow test"?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

The truth is, adults also don’t pass the marshmallow test. I don’t think the effective strategy is to go against our natural psychology, but rather to work with it.

Perhaps, she help her set a big goal/motivator for her money, but you set a schedule for “mini marshmallows” along the way. That way, she knows to expect them and won’t be impulsive, and they don’t get in the way of the larger goal.

Gratinglama6401 karma

Ever mistaken someone else's shopping cart for your own at the grocery store?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

all the time

Gratinglama6401 karma

When was the last time you whispered compliments to your plants, hoping they'll grow faster?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

my plants all died

fuck_your_diploma1 karma


Debt_Debbie1002 karma

There’s always a point to make things better. This attitude is actually what is called an “external locus of control”, where you believe nothing is in your control. It’s a one way ticket to depression, anxiety, and other terrible sh**. We as humans need purpose and meaning in our lives to survive. Systems suck, and gen z is incredibly depressed. The solution is to start bringing the locus of control internally.

fuck_your_diploma0 karma


Debt_Debbie1002 karma

My point is not that these things don’t exist or even depress the sh** out of me.

My point is that if I wallowed in these realities forever I’m not sure I’d feel life had any purpose. Also, it’s not true that there aren’t affordable places to live and earn remote income. It requires sacrificing activities and entertainment, but it’s not impossible.

I guess if I wanted to take this extreme view, there’s one of three outcomes: 1. Fall into deep depression and do nothing, 2. Say f*** it and just take on debt, spend lots of money, and go off grid or move countries, or 3. Try to join this mafia.

Which one are you advocating for?

fuck_your_diploma0 karma


Debt_Debbie1002 karma

100%. In another life I think I probably would've become a lawyer and gone up against these folks. I think we're in the "awareness" phase of all of this but most people aren't really quite sure how to change any of it. Not only that, it seems to me that people's solutions for fighting injustice is with more injustice and policies that go against common sense math. Thankfully we have a growing contingent of folks going against this, but I'm not sure how much power they have.

I think you're more idealistic and positive than you let on :). I do feel that all empires are bound to end at some point, and so perhaps my goal is to help people survive in whatever situation they find themselves. I'm Jewish, and perhaps it's not such a relevant detail, but I feel like the ethos of my upbringing and people is just to protect yourself and adapt with whatever comes. The folks on the other side who go out and do what we call "tikkun olam", or fixing the world, often find themselves creating destruction (Marx, Oppenheimer, etc). I go back and forth and ask myself what is my responsibility to the world vs. to myself.

fuck_your_diploma2 karma


Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I think you're absolutely right - I think we're in a place right now where people think money will save them, that money is G-d, and that the way to find meaning in their lives is to pursue money.

Which is why, even when we try to create good in the world, we think that somehow that solution is more money. Not only is it corruptible, but even when it's given to people it doesn't have the impact people hope for. Money is a good incentive, a means to an end, but not the end itself. That's also how we think about rewards in the app, and why we design the program to slowly deprioritize the rewards as people build intrinsic motivation and see the fruits of their labor. As I worked on this project I realized that the process of improvement in money is pretty much tied to the improvement process in every other facet of life: health, mental/emotional stability, addiction, etc. If you are not in the right place in any of those areas, our solution is useless. At the same time, the learnings we share when it comes to growth and self-improvement can be applied to all of those areas (and in fact, we talk about those things).

I myself became gluten free as a result of a diagnosis that was triggered by the stress of running a company. That stress led to bad habits, not eating properly, going to bed very late, and as a result auto-immune issues and hormonal imbalances. Through the process of learning the content and repackaging it for our users, I myself started using these learnings to create a routine for myself, learn to cut out certain foods, exercise more, etc. I just had a doctor's appointment yesterday and nearly all of the markers that were out of wack are now getting back to normal (and it's been about 3 months of this). This sh** is real and I believe that it's useful for pretty much anyone willing to listen.

Side note, I think it's not a coincidence that some of the biggest financial influencers (like Dave Ramsey, though I don't love his approach), are also religious people. I think they give people meaning and purpose to the money beyond what it can buy them, but rather as a means to support their family, to better society, etc etc.

BillHicksScream1 karma

LOL. So it's our fault wages are stagnant and fixed costs soared? This is like DeSantis' mandated "Teach the kids how to balance a checkbook and they'll be no more poor" classes.

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

No, it’s not. And our solution isn’t for everyone. We can’t solve an income problem, that’s an unfortunate reality. We can’t be all things to all people, but we definitely can help people who earn a normal income but don’t manage it properly.

Basically I’m not implying that everyone is in this situation, and while I’d love to help everyone, it’s just not possible with a team of 9 people :)

Agent5571 karma

I don't want to sound like a boomer but the Luxury Goods market is continuing to grow even during tough economic climates - more and more younger people are buying products from Luxury brands e.g. LV, Supreme, Dior, Gucci etc

In my opinion, I believe this is due to younger people not really being able to afford housing and therefore it is more and more common to live with parents (as it is much cheaper) and as a result, the younger people who are still working have quite a bit of money to spend on Luxury Goods. Not to mention the amount of advertising they see from influencers flexing.

I think if one is under intense debt, a core strategy should be to minimise spending on Luxury Goods and any non essential purchases - is this something that has been researched or will be researched by Debbie?
(In particular I am referring to the psychological effects of wanting to buy Luxury Goods. I myself have spent a lot money on Luxury Goods which I later regretted..)

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

This is definitely something we touch on - the impact of social media and how a lot of our purchasing behavior is being driven by folks with fake lifestyles.

I have no problem with luxury goods if it’s in the budget. However, when you have a motivator (like buying a home) to look forward to, you forgo buying luxury products. I think our problem today is that people don’t have a grand motivator until they’ve gotten themselves in a hole and seek financial freedom. Or until they have a family and kids they need to feed.

The lack of responsibilities is definitely a driver of not getting sh** together financially, because people don’t need to. I’m an advocate of kicking adult children out of the house :)

Agent5571 karma

Your take is compelling...

I believe that adult children shouldn't be kicked out of the house immediately - I feel it makes the most sense financially, no?

I'm imagining a typical situation where someone has just graduated from college and thus they don't have that much money and housing prices/rent prices are very expensive and will eat up a large portion of a salary quickly.

For growing anything including money/wealth, exponential growth is an important factor and that cushion early on where you may have just graduated and you're not paying much rent can definitely be advantageous.

Obviously the bad habits of being pressured to spend money on stupid things make this all go to waste.

What do you think of my take? You definitely know a lot more than me but do you think im wrong?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Ideally college students should have a job right after they finish, and schools should actually be on the hook if that’s not the case.

Obviously a parent shouldn’t just leave their kid with nowhere to go, but there should be a timeline on getting a job/making money. that being said, more emphasis should be placed on getting gainful employment while in school. I’ve interviewed lots of college students for intern positions who never had any real internship experience (or any experience for that matter). There’s so many ways to make money or show work ethic today without working for a company - social media, virtual assistant, copywriting/editing. I would suggest all students try to do some of this on the side.

Living at home can be awesome financially if it means no rent and no food expenses, but that’s with the caveat of someone who is hardworking with a stable job. Otherwise it’s a recipe for dependent adults.

tallgordon1 karma

How do you feel about macro-trends in finance that are brought about by seismic shifts in demagraphics? Like how the baby boomers withdrawing all of their retirement investments from high-risk investments is affecting investment growth? Are you familiar with the works of Peter Zeihan?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I am not familiar but I guess now I should be. The biggest shift we’re seeing now is how student loans is subsuming all of the dollars that would’ve otherwise gone to investment.

Each generation is getting smaller, so it makes sense that we’d be seeing a decrease in high risk investments overall.

My bigger concern right now is that things are just much more expensive today than they were in previous generations, relative to our income. It’s become much more difficult to afford a prosperous life. This is why it’s due time for employers to give profits back in the form of 401k match in a locked account.

Agent5571 karma

How long has it taken to take your company to where it is right now - when did you start it?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

We started in October of 2021 and launched the app in March 2022, we’ve been live now since then.

Agent5571 karma

what is the plan to grow debbie and make it more popular/mainstream - social media growth is really hard - what is your strategy to overcome this.?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Good question. We’re working on referrals right now because we have a lot of super engaged users. The goal is to create a self-service referral and ambassador program to grow.

We also plan to use affiliate marketing through other fintechs/sources.

A good chunk of our users also come from our financial partners.

Agent5571 karma

i see the CEO of Yotta has backed your company - he posts all the time in this subreddit - when I went on your website and I saw his name i had to pause for a sec. how did you meet him?

lol imagine if he found about your company through this subreddit.

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Actually the other way around - we found out about this Subreddit through him :) and we met him through the Village Global accelerator, which is an investor of ours. Adam is an advisor through them.

Agent5572 karma

thats kinda funny lmao - the fact that adam recommended the subreddit to you means that he had a lot of success with doing ama's on reddit where he spread more awareness about Yotta.


Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Oh he’s had a ton of success doing these - hopefully one day we’ll be as lucky :)

Agent5571 karma

How do you feel about the discipline of debt?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Can you be more specific about what you mean? Like how disciplined should you be?

My view is that most people likely go too hard on their debt freedom journey to start (like deciding to work out 5 times a week). It’s not sustainable and people eventually give up.

It’ll take longer to pay off debt, but more sustainable to first cut out spending minimally and work on small debts. As you build the habit you double up, and eventually it becomes natural.

BodybuilderFast85511 karma

I'm curious, how many hours does your COO work in a day, and how many days off does he have in a week?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

I’m the COO, and I work 5 days a week and hop on some Sundays. I’m typically working until 7/8 on a normal day.

ProofChampionship1841 karma

Hi Dr Lauren, how do you feel about the fact that personal responsibility is unrelated to good financial outcomes?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

First of all, I'm not a Dr, but thanks for the thought! Second of all, that's a pretty blanketed statement.

Sure there are plenty of folks who don't earn enough to meet their basic spending. But there are also just as many folks who do earn enough and don't manage their money.

I know some folks who have 6 kids and still manage to save every month while living in NYC, and they don't have college education and manage to earn a healthy living. They are able to hack their expenses and utilize the system to their advantage, and hustle to make money. They also make a lot of sacrifices in terms of shopping, vacations, etc.

I think that's something my generation is not willing to accept - they don't want to make those sacrifices. I myself, as a startup founder, had trouble doing that when I cut my salary after working in a bank.

itxploded1 karma

Can you tell me why my money is not worth shit anymore and my wage stays just above the poverty level nomatter?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

I'm sorry, that really sucks :/ What do you do for a living, out of curiosity?

There's lots of strategies on how to move up - switching industries, asking for a raise, side hustles, but I don't want to recommend anything because I don't know your situation.

Real wage growth did outpace inflation for at least 10 years before 2021, so we're in a sh**hole rn where everything is just every expensive.

GamerlingJvR1 karma

Why do I not really care that much about money? I just can't be bothered. I pay my few bills and that's it...

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Honestly, that's fair. Not everyone should care so much.

If you know that you spend less than you earn and you just auto-pay everything (and set up auto-save in 401k and just choose the basic packages), you're good to go. It's a bit hard to build wealth if you don't care about money, but not everyone needs to care about doing that. It's also perfectly fine to just make money to live and go about your day.

The only thing I'll say is with digital money it's hard to know if you're hitting your limit of how much you can spend. With cash, you know cuz you run out. That being said, digitizing the financial system allows us to track everything much more easily, so for me it's actually easier than having cash. Different strokes for different folks.

Zed_The_Undead1 karma

Should you not formally disclose this is basically a #Ad?

Debt_Debbie1000 karma

I think people get it :) also, not sure if that's part of the rules of this subreddit, lots of the posts on here seem to be ads.

Agent5571 karma

How did you meet the director of growth at Noom?

What less apparent, specialized factors contributing to the success of Noom have you discovered (perhaps from working with the director of growth at Noom), and how do you intend to incorporate those into your own app?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I cold messaged him on LinkedIn and he was kind enough to respond :)

I think their approach to product is something we look at a lot. Even their ultra long onboarding I believe is something innovative and contributes to the high levels of buy in from their users. The content is super transferable to finance as well.

Bigtastyben1 karma

Can you buy love?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

My short answer, definitely not. Love is the result of going through sh** with someone over many years.

iampakky1 karma

What is your opinion on Charlie Javice?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

I mention her a lot actually - I think she gives us a terrible name given we are a female founded team with a human-named business. I know people who went to school with her (and someone who works for the law firm representing JP Morgan) and were shocked she didn't run with the money - the whole thing is honestly very stupid and negative for the industry.

MagicSPA1 karma

What seemingly simple things (if any) result in the largest changes/differences in spending habits in an individual?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

Literally checking your balance and transactions on a daily basis, or every other day. Even just being conscious about your spending and money makes a huge difference.

Gratinglama6400 karma

Ever whispered sweet words of encouragement to your plants? Did they grow taller?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Again, all my plants died :/

Gratinglama6400 karma

When was the last time you had a deep conversation with Siri or Google Assistant?

Debt_Debbie1002 karma

I hate siri!

Gratinglama640-1 karma

How many times have you mimed talking on the phone to avoid someone who was approaching you?

Debt_Debbie1006 karma

Not sure what is has to do with money psychology, but, surprisingly not so often.

MurkyPerspective7671 karma

It's an AMA, not AMA-only-if-its-money-related. :p

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

Fair point :)

Gratinglama640-2 karma

What's your go-to dance move when you're alone and the music takes over?

Debt_Debbie1001 karma

The head bop