As the nation digs out from one of the worst financial crises in history, guess what the No. 1 financial New Year’s resolution is?
If you answered, “Get out of debt” — DING! DING! DING! You are correct.
In a survey of more than 3,000 people, nearly 70 percent said getting out of debt was their No. 1 financial resolution for 2011, the National Foundation for Credit Counselingreported.
But let’s be honest with ourselves: We may go to the gym a few times, nobly order a salad for lunch and jot down “Check 401(k)” on a post-it note, but before the confetti's even settled, we’re back with a bucket of chicken in one hand and the remote in the other, watching a marathon of “Ice Road Truckers” and buying bigger pants online, promising ourselves this is a one-time event because we’re working hard in the new year and dangit, we deserve it!
You want to make 2011 the year you stick to your resolutions? Yeah, there’s an app for that. Several, actually, that will help motivate you, hold you accountable and show you the results — all the things behavioral experts say you're gonna need to make a real change. Check out these 10 apps for keeping your financial resolutions.
1. Mint.com (Free). First and foremost, you need an all-in-one program like Mint.com that allows you to track your budget, your bills, your investments and your bank account no matter where you are. So no more saying, “I don’t know if I can afford that because I haven’t been home all week to check my finances!” It’s laid out in an easy-to-read format: You can see how much of your monthly budget you’ve already spent, your income vs. expenses for the month and the current value of your investments. It even links to Zillow to show you the current value of your home. It’s available for the iPhone and Android phones and has a security feature in case you lose your phone.
2. BillMinder (99 cents). Juggling all of your bills and their multitude of due dates is no small task. It’s way too easy to miss a due date and wind up having to fork over a late fee. BillMinder is an easy way to organize your bills, with a list of all your bills, the ability to check them off as their paid and a master to show when all are paid. Plus, a calendar view to show you when your due dates are. It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry .
3. Indeed.com (Free). With so many people still unemployed, we’re adding a job-search site to our list of essential financial sites. Now, there are no more excuses for why you’re not looking for a job, or why you’re not looking for a higher-paying job! Having a job-search site on your mobile device, you can search for jobs from anywhere, whether you’re waiting to meet a friend for dinner or sitting with the kids on the couch. The Indeed app lets you search for any job anywhere, remembers your recent searches and shows you how many jobs have been added since your last visit. Available for the iPhone, iPad and Android.
4. SaveBenjis ($2.99). Some of our parents were famous for driving around from store to store to find the cheapest price around for groceries and other items. But who has time to shop around these days? You do, if you’re smart and use your iPhone, not your car, for price comparison. SaveBenjis (You see, that’s funny because Benjamin Franklin’s picture is on the $100 bill.) is an easy to use app that lets you type in the product name and it will return stores (retail and online) where it’s available and the price at each spot. Plus, you can use the built-in barcode scanner to spare your precious fingers the typing time! It’s available for the iPhone.
5. Grocery Gadget ($4.99). Speaking of groceries, there’s a lot of money to be saved right there if you’re organized, know what you want and don’t wander around the store aimlessly tossing things in your cart. Even if you make a list, you sometimes forget it. But not if your list is on your smartphone. Grocery Gadget allows you to quickly make a list, upload and share your list, manage recipes, search for e-coupons and check things off your list as you go. Plus, it also utilizes the built-in barcode scanner. And, it automatically syncs with every mobile device in your house, so you never miss a beat — or an ingredient! Available for the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones.
GET A SHERPA ... AND SAVE!
6. Coupon Sherpa (Free). First of all, anything with the name Sherpa in it is adorable — am I right? But more importantly, this cute-as-a-button app will save you money on the fly. You can search for mobile coupons by category (jewelry, restaurants, etc.) or store, find the nearest store location or save the coupon to your favorites to cash in later. At the register, just have the cashier scan the barcode on your screen and cha-ching! Savings. Plus, a bonus: No more crumpled up — and probably expired — coupons in the cup holder of your car. Available for the iPhone.
7.Buzzillions (Free). What’s better: Plasma, LCD or LED? Is this a good brand? Save yourself the heartache — or should we say wallet ache — of a bad purchase by downloading an app like buzzillions, which offers millions of customer reviews at your fingertips. It’s pretty much a search engine for customer reviews. You type in the product and it will turn up a list of reviews, each with a rating out of five stars, five being best. Available on the iPhone, Android, Windows and Palm phones, plus the BlackBerry.
8. CraigsPro (99 cents). OK, you’re managing your money, you're saving money, now guess what else you need to do? Make MORE money. A site like Craigslist helps you find used items at a discount and sell items you’re not using anymore. With CraigsPro, now you can have that gigantic yard sale at your fingertips anytime, anywhere — and you can search multiple cities at a time. Say, when you’re rummaging around the attic, thinking “Huh, I should sell this and make some money,” you can look up similar items and find out how much you can make — and if you’re ready to part with it! Available for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones.
9. ATM Hunter (Free). Stop wasting money on ATM fees. This free app from MasterCard allows you to search for nearby ATMs so, unless it’s an emergency, they’ll never be a reason to not go to your bank — and save the fees — again! Available for the iPhone.
10.Gas Buddy ($2.99). With gas prices heading towards $4 a gallon, just as many of us are getting our financial footing, finding the cheapest gas around is more important now than ever. With the Gas Buddy app, all you have to do is plug in your city or zip code and it turns up a list of gas prices in the area, starting with the cheapest. You can add additional search criteria like fuel type and distance to the station. If you click on a station, it will not only call up the prices for each type of fuel, but also a picture of the station and detailed information like is there a convenience store, ATM, are they open 24 hours, etc. Plus, you can upload your own photo, report prices and show the location on a map. For the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
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