Introducing Carefull: A new way to organize and protect a loved one’s finances

by Max Goldman & Todd Rovak, Co-Founders of Carefull

In every family, there comes a moment when the children get involved in their parent’s financial life, either by choice or out of necessity.

Sometimes this moment happens organically — perhaps as the result of end-of-life planning by an aging parent, or a cultural value that prompts children as they reach adulthood to begin taking care of their parents.

Other times, it happens when something goes wrong — unpaid bills, strange cash payments, an illegible check written to a housekeeper, a charitable contribution found to be recurring instead of one time only, or a mortgage payment missed. Often, that moment occurs in a doctor’s office when a parent receives a medical diagnosis that prompts them to begin planning for the future.

It is these moments when adult children begin the “financial caregiving” journey that will escalate in complexity, intensity and effort as the years pass.

What is financial caregiving?

Despite its prevalence, the concept of financial caregiving was—and in many ways still is—so under-the-radar that there is no simple way to define it. We think of it as the act of helping a loved one manage day-to-day finances.

Financial caregiving is helping to pay bills, set budgets, deposit checks, dispute credit card charges, monitor for fraud or scams, coordinate with siblings and other family members, and handle other daily money management tasks — typically for aging parents. Often, it means actually reaching into one’s own pocket to cover costs for loved ones.

According to research from AARP and Merrill Lynch, there are an estimated 45 million Americans who serve as financial caregivers for an aging parent or loved one. These caregivers shoulder a unique set of emotional, financial and technological challenges in providing for aging parents. Until now, there has been no financial platform to help families manage the myriad of financial tasks and issues that emerge over the five, 10, 20 or even 30 years that adult children may be involved with their parent’s finances. We are working to change that.

Until now, there has been no financial platform to help families manage the myriad of financial tasks and issues that emerge over the five, 10, 20 or even 30 years that adult children may be involved with their parent’s finances. We are working to change that.

Our mission

The story of Carefull dates back to 2014, when Todd, then CEO of Fahrenheit 212, started to focus on financial caregiving while exploring underserved areas in financial services. Through his research and countless conversations, his eyes were opened to the tens of millions of Americans who were quietly helping a loved one with financial tasks. He imagined a new kind of financial company that could attend exclusively to this unique part of a family’s journey and partner with families throughout this stage of life.

In 2014, Max was working at Google following the acquisition of his last company, Directr. Todd pitched his idea to Max, and it just didn’t click. But fast forward five years and, by then, like so many in the so-called “Sandwich Generation” who are caring for both their children and a loved one, Max had started to experience the challenges of the financial caregiving journey for himself. Together, we could see that there was so much that could be done to support financial caregivers and their families and we joined forces to begin the Carefull journey.

Since we started Carefull a year ago, we’ve spoken in-depth with hundreds of financial caregivers and their loved ones about their day-to-day money challenges and have built a platform that we believe will provide these families with peace of mind.

Today, we are thrilled to share what we’ve been building with the world and to announce our $3.2 million seed funding, led by NextView Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners.

Fast forward five years and, by then, like so many in the so-called “Sandwich Generation” who are caring for both their children and a loved one, Max had started to experience the challenges of the financial caregiving journey for himself.

Our platform starts where financial caregiving starts: helping to make sure that small money mistakes don’t turn into big problems. Our new service — launching today on the App Store and Google Play store — monitors day-to-day transactions and alerts financial caregivers and their loved ones to issues that may be problems.

Carefull looks out for things that commonly affect seniors — missed bill payments, unusual cash transfers, duplicate transactions or transactions involving suspicious new people or places. Then, we help caregivers communicate those issues, work together to resolve them and plan the path forward. If that sounds like something that could help your family, you can get started for free.

Our vision is to continue to take on more pieces of the financial picture, making a complex, emotional and challenging financial life stage simple, smart and transparent and to bring families closer together at a time when family is what’s needed most.

Max Goldman and Todd Rovak are the co-founders of Carefull.

Max has worked in technology venture capital, managed products at Google and started up three other companies. Directr, his most recent company, was acquired by Google.

Prior to his role at Carefull, Todd was the CEO of Fahrenheit 212, an innovation consultancy based in New York City that was acquired by Capgemini.

Learn more about our founding story on our About Us page.