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We all struggle to keep our New Year's resolutions. You might not get to the gym as often as you like or still text your exes from time to time, and I will almost certainly still order food online every night. For resolutions about personal finance, though, we have little beeping gadgets to help us stay true to our goals about saving well, spending wisely, and not going overboard on buying more little beeping gadgets. Here are four apps to help you keep those financial resolutions as far into 2013 as possible.
Available for Android, iPhone, and on the Web, Mint.com is probably the most popular personal finance app out there. With a simple graphical user interface and a feature that interprets your purchases and places them into discrete categories, Mint.com's popularity stems from its simplicity, its surprisingly advanced features, and its price tag (or lack thereof). Now, any free service needs to support itself with advertisements, but they're relatively easy to ignore. If you can also get past the fact that the app may add to financial stress for less affluent users by throwing up alerts with practically every purchase, Mint.com can help you organize your finances and your mind.
Sure, organization tools are great, but sometimes we can't be expected to do all the work ourselves. iExpenseOnline, which is available on the Web, provides advice from professional financial advisors and offers more specialized tools, like customizable spending and saving plans based on expected income, to people who are hoping to change their financial behavior for the better. The app may be a little less automated (and far less mobile, obviously) than Mint, but its wide variety of options makes up for this: more graphics, sure, but also customizable financial targets and goals to hit rather than simple overage alerts. It's nice that the app notifies you when you've stayed under budget rather than when you've strayed over, and that positive reinforcement can go a long way towards establishing good habits.
If you have children, it's important to allow them to make their own mistakes: skin their knees, fail a driving test, date a leather-clad biker dude named "Lips." Money, on the other hand, is one thing you'll want them to be good with. For that, there's Tykoon, a money-management app aimed at teaching children about the basics of personal finance, like earning rewards for doing things like finishing chores or getting a good grade. According to the app's website, co-founder Doug Lebda came up with the idea when explaining to his daughter how to use her allowance. Sure, this is a pretty minor branch of personal finance, but teaching your kids about finance will help you think more confidently and clearly about it yourself. Even better, the app gives your kids the option to donate a portion of his or her earnings to charity. Come on, that's adorable.
I never stop hearing the joke "It must be true; I found it on Wikipedia!" Somehow, it always gets a laugh despite the fact that several studies have shown that Wikipedia's error rate is comparable to Britannica's. Wikinvest works on the same principle: that an infinite number of monkeys will at some point produce Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor. The app (compatible with iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, and free to use) combines investment tips with a supportive and informed community and has won several awards, including the 2009 Webby for financial services. The large user base (perhaps the largest financial wiki out there) means that the site may be updated more quickly to reflect current events (earnings reports, SEC filings, etc.) than any other site, even those run by its competitors' paid services.
This article by Jonah Loeb was published on Minyanville.
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Disclaimer: The views represented on this blog are those of the individual authors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.