Despite predictions that the world would end in 2012, January is here and 2013 is off to a promising start. Not surprisingly, many New Year’s resolutions revolve around money and finances — whether it’s to save more, make more, spend less, pay off debt, or just get a better handle on our finances. If you’ve marked 2013 as a year for financial resolutions, here are five free money apps that can give you a little extra help with sticking to (and achieving) your financial resolutions this year.
With more than 10 million users, there’s a reason why people use Mint to track, budget and manage their money. To use the app you’ll need to open a free account, add your bank, credit card, loan and retirement accounts and Mint will do the rest. Mint automatically pulls your account data to track and categorize transactions, and includes a customized budgeting feature that’s based on your spending patterns and net worth. If you’re looking for an app to help you monitor and manage your finances, Mint can help you with that.
Released in October 2012, LearnVest is one of the newest finance apps to hit the market and its feature-rich design could change the way you manage your finances. The app allows you to sign up and add your accounts directly from your phone, making it super simple to track your spending, stick to your budget and master your cash flow. The app also offers access to money-saving tips and financial advice, perfect for those new to managing finances or fresh out of college.
If your New Year’s resolution is to get out of debt, the ReadyForZero app is a great tool for helping you reach debt-free status. This app helps you create a debt payment plan and track your progress as you go. When you sign up, simply add your credit card, student loan and/or mortgage accounts to get started. Despite being relative newcomers to the personal finance realm, this small startup has made a tremendous impact, claiming to have helped users pay off more than $32 million in outstanding debt.
This app offers many of the financial management features you’d see in apps like Mint and LearnVest, plus a few more. Adaptu automatically updates, tracks and categorizes your bills and expenses for you, but it also allows you to store pretty much anything you carry in your wallet with a simple snap of a picture from your phone — membership cards, rewards cards, insurance and business cards, you name it. This is a comprehensive all-in-one mobile wallet.
If you’re uncomfortable with granting access to your financial accounts for apps that provide automatic real-time updates, Balance might be more to your liking. It’s a great app to track and monitor your money, but without the automated feature you’ll need to manually enter your transactions in order for the app to update and recalculate your account balances.
With the sheer number of money management apps flooding the market, finding the right app for your financial goals can be a daunting task, but this list should give you a solid foundation to start. When choosing an app, make sure it meets the needs you’re trying to accomplish, and always double-check the app’s security policy to make sure your personal financial information is safe and protected. It’s also a very good idea to use a PIN or password lock on your smartphone to keep the information from falling into the wrong hands if your device is ever lost or stolen. Enabling this feature on your phone will give you enough time to wipe the phone remotely without the added worry of having your private financial information compromised.