Whatever financial goal you're trying to reach, there's an app to help you get there. Here are some ways -- many of them free -- to use your smartphone to get control of your financial life.
1. Pay off debt.
Debt Free and Debt Snowball Pro use the popular snowball method to pay off debts, helping you organize, monitor and incrementally pay off all your bills in a comprehensive way. If you just need to pay off a credit card, Credit Card Debt Payoff is a calculator app that will generate a payoff schedule based on how much you owe and when you want to pay off the card, or the amount you want to pay monthly.
2. Stick to a budget.
New Year's resolutions are easy to break. But if one of your resolutions is to live a greener life, here are 10 simple ways to make a real change:
1. Go cold.
Rather than washing your laundry in warm or hot water, wash every load in cold water. Your clothes will get just as clean, and you'll save energy. According to the Department of Energy, washing in cold water can save consumers up to 80 percent of energy per load, which translates to up to $100 per year.
2. Pitch the paper.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton top Gallup's annual "Most Admired" poll, leading to speculation the two could become running mates for the 2012 presidential election.
Obama was the No. 1 pick of 17 percent of people polled, ahead of former Presidents George W. Bush (3 percent) and Bill Clinton (2 percent), as well as the Rev. Billy Graham, Warren Buffet, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Pope Benedict XVI, Bill Gates and Mormon leader Thomas Monson, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The term "Bucket List" became part of our lingo after director Rob Reiner released a movie of the same name in 2007. The film depicted two two terminally ill cancer patients -- portrayed by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman -- on a madcap round-the-world race to do all the stuff they'd always wanted to do. Since then, the idea of creating a checklist of things that you aim to accomplish or experience during your lifetime has become a pervasive cultural meme.
That's particularly true for those of us in our forties and fifties, who are just awakening to the realization that we don't want to be like the guy futilely chasing after the sinking sun in that old Pink Floyd song "Time," or like Harry, the protagonist of Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro, who who lies dying in a tent in Africa and thinks of all the memories he'd been planning to turn into novels someday, but now never will. (Poor Harry -- if he hadn't been in such a Lost Generation existential funk, he might have realized that he actually had lived a life so rich and full of adventure that a lot of less daring souls would envy him.)
If you're the sort of avid reader who carries around a half-dozen novels and biographies on your iPhone to read in checkout lines (as I do), you've been looking forward to the perennial best-books lists as eagerly as college basketball fans wait for the NCAA tournament brackets to be released.
The lists are both a chance to spot some overlooked gems and to kvetch about what Philistines various critics and publications are for not giving the proper accolades to my particular favorite volumes.
Maria Peagler, founder of Social Media Online Classes, has spent years teaching businesspeople to harness the power of technology. She started out when PCs were new, working for an Atlanta-based computer training company that helped Fortune 500 companies make their employees productive on PCs. In 2009, Peagler saw a need for small-business owners to learn how to harness the power of social media, so she began developing online courses to teach them. In her first month as an online course provider, Peagler made more money than she'd made the entire previous year in her second career as a book publisher.
"I'm a lifelong learner myself and would much rather take an online class from an established small-business owner than have to schlep to a university or take their courses on the semester schedule," Peagler says.
Let's face it -- these are frugal times: As the holidays pass and the New Year begins, everyone's looking to pinch pennies.
Here are 10 ways to save money in 2012, all tips taken from SecondAct's best posts on frugal living.
Bing Crosby used to croon about silver bells ringing and "busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style," but a lot of this year's shoppers are only hearing mouse-clicks and the beep of their laptops. According to this Associated Press article, the week that ended Dec. 18 was the busiest seven days of online holiday shopping in history (or at least since the inception of the web in the early 1990s). Shoppers spent a hefty $6.3 billion on Amazon, eBay and other e-commerce sites. That includes $1.04 billion that shoppers spent last weekend, the last full one before the Christmas holiday.
That shopping spree added to the $32 billion that American shoppers have spent online since November, according to the Reston, Va.-based research firm comScore. That represents a robust 15 percent increase over 2010, and analysts are now expecting total holiday online sales to reach $38 billion by the end of December.
If you're a pilot for Southwest Airlines and save through your company 401(k), congratulations. You've invested in the country's highest-rated retirement savings plan of 2011.
On Tuesday, BrightScope, the independent 401(k) rating service, released its annual list of the top retirement plans with assets of more than $1 billion. In addition to Southwest, companies in internet services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, management consulting, oil and gas production, and financial services topped the list.
With the advent of new technology, DNA testing has become more popular not only with crime-fighters, but also with people who want to trace their family lineage.
With a swab of the inside of your cheek, you can learn where your original ancestors hailed from and the migration paths they followed. And National Geographic's Genographic Project, a multiyear study, has helped thousands of people from around the world take DNA tests to help show the ancestral connections we all share.