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Your lifeline is your savings and you should have more than one savings account. If you weren't able to save as much as you had hoped this year, you should pledge to make 2014 better. Do you have an emergency savings account? That's critical and it should be at least three months of living expenses set aside in the event you lose your job or suffer some other awful event. Six to nine months’ worth of living expenses would be even better but it's critical that you have at least three. Do you have just one savings account and dip into it as required? Then you should make creating a separate emergency fund a top priority.
This is where knowing where you spend your money comes into play because it's where you should be able to see money that could be redirected into your savings. The fact is at least a part of your spending should be in a savings account drawing interest and not in the cash drawer of the store you gave it to. Given this, you need to go back and find those areas where you could cut your spending and add to your savings. Since now is a time of New Year’s resolutions, this would be the perfect time to create new financial goals for 2014. Creating an emergency savings account would be a great beginning but you also need to be saving for college, retirement or that 10-day vacation on Fiji. This means that when you're creating a new budget for next year you might want to think about setting some extra goals.
Install new financial software
There is an abundant number of smart phone apps and software that could help you get into better shape physically and there are also ones that can help you become more fit financially. Keep in mind that all software is not created equal. You will want a program or application that makes budgeting simpler and not harder. We like Mint.com because set up takes only a few minutes. You can easily add all of your accounts and the software does the rest. It will let you make a budget with different goals and then see your daily progress. It makes it easy to tweak your budget anytime you want or need to. By the time December of 2014 rolls around, you should find it easier to evaluate the year and set new goals.
Mint is great because it takes the difficulty out of budgeting. It can be used on your computer but also has mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. This makes it portable and shareable between devices. We suggest you sign up for Mint today because it’s free and could help make 2014 your best financial year ever.
Other apps worth considering
In addition to Mint there are some other smart phone apps you might want to consider that do only one thing but do it very well. For example, the app Ready for Zero can help you become debt free. The way it works is that you create a plan to pay off your debts. Ready for Zero will then display your payment progress and even provide you alerts when necessary to help keep you on track.
Your bank may have an app that would allow you to check your statements online, transfer money between accounts, pay bills and even track your spending. If your goal is to save money on your groceries, the Coupons App includes a coupon database along with a widget that will deliver daily deals directly to your phone. It also has a barcode scanner that enables you to compare prices and when you have a coupon all your have to do is show it on your phone when you check out at the register.
Finally, there is SigFig, which is a good introductory app for investing if you're just getting started. It puts all of your investing information together in one place and offers advice that could help you save money on hidden fees or bad investments.