Make Your Resolution Mobile: Essential Money Saving Apps for 2013

Happy New Years Eve!

Look, we all do it. Even if we’ve got more than a nagging feeling of doubt, there’s something about January 1st that inspires beacons of hope inside us to say, “Be a better you.” We’ll probably all make resolutions. Most of us do it every year. Some years, we’ll write it down, but a New Years resolution almost always ends up some nebulous idea you conceived in a moment of clarity over the Christmas cookie platter and forgot, naturally, over the course of the following week. If you suffer from resolution amnesia, it’s probably because you haven’t linked your goal to a push notification yet. Using apps to manage your resolutions doesn’t just inflate your sense of control/security; it amps up your accountability, too. The great news: there’s an abundance of conventional and not-so-conventional personal finance apps that can turn just about any New Years resolution into a money maker/saver – helping you kill two birds with one smart phone stone.Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 2.48.56 PM

  • New Years Resolution: “I want a better body.” Apps: GymPact, RunKeeper. Gympact basically pays you to work out. You set a goal of how many times a week you want to work out, sync the app to your gym location or RunKeeper, and then complete thirty minute minimum workouts while either at your gym or hooked up to your RunKeeper GPS. Make your goal, you earn cash. Miss it, you pay cash. The pros? I can earn about 100 bucks a year with Gympact. The cons? You could lose just as much if you slack. And that’s depressing.
  • New Years Resolution: “I want to plan for the future.” Apps: ImpulseSave, Ballpark E$timate. ImpulseSave works on the simple understanding that we’d all be a lot richer if we didn’t impulsScreen Shot 2012-12-31 at 2.51.55 PMe buy. The app encourages you to “impulse save” instead, by setting a goal and working towards it by using the app to set up a free FDIC-insured savings account and linking it to your already existing checking account. Each time you want to waste $20 on toiletries you don’t need at Target, you can choose to save those 20 dollars with an ImpulseSave transfer instead. Need help setting goals? Ballpark E$timate creates a custom life equation for users who want to start successfully saving for retirement. Plug in your numbers, and the app will tell you how much you should put away now for later.
  • New Years Resolution: “I want to spend less money.” Apps: SnipSnap, shopkick. Look, couponing is the new, cool thing to do. Every day, you’re getting money in the mail. The average American receives thousands Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 12.27.53 PMof dollars in print coupon savings a year, but most of this money gets lost or forgotten. SnipSnap allows you to take pictures of your print coupons so you can store mobile-optimized offers in your phone. Plus, you can share coupons other users have snipped, so you’ll essentially never have to pay full price at restaurants and retail stores ever again. Want to get paid to shop while you’re already saving money with coupons? Shopkick is an interactive shopping app that rewards users for walking into stores, scanning items, and making purchases with “kicks,” incentive points you can redeem for real world rewScreen Shot 2012-12-31 at 3.00.09 PMards like gift cards and Coach bags.
  • New Years Resolution: “I want to give back.” Apps: Charity Miles, instead. Charity Miles is a great app for resolution-makers because it inspires you to stay fit and help others at the same time. Just log in to the app and take it for a spin on your next run, walk, or bike; you’ll earn 10 cents for every mile you bike and 25 cents for every mile you run/walk to donate towards the charity of your choice. Instead is similar to ImpulseSave in that it asks users to re-evaluate their spending and use their money for more important things. Make the decision to brown bag your lunch instead of eating out, and you can donate the money you save to the charity of your choice.

No matter your resolution, here’s to health, happiness, and good spirits in 2013. Stay safe and start saving!


The GymPact Impact!

So, I’m a little obsessive about exercise. It makes me look and feel way better than I would without it. It gives me the ability to challenge myself with goals and discover myself through accomplishments. It’s made me many friends, who are just as passionate about the physical and psychological benefits exercise bestows on those of us lucky to be caught in its grip.

Which brings me to this, somewhat controversial point: It might be so that, when it comes to exercise, you either wanna do it or you don’t.

People will indulge in a lot of quick fixes to get their butts to the gym, but a lot of those don’t pan out, simply because they aren’t properly motivated in the first place. Right? Even the most expensive personal trainers get stood up.

For years, I’ve been running/racing with a fantastic app called RunKeeper, which GPS-maps all my runs, times my splits, and gently interrupts my music to tell me my pace whenever I want to hear it. RunKeeper is motivating because it gives me solid data about my workouts that I can use to measure and track improvement. When I heard RunKeeper was teaming up with GymPact, a motivational fitness app that pays you to work out, I was pretty stoked. I thought, “How amazing! I can get paid to do what I already do!”

Here is how GymPact works:

You have two workout options:

1. Sync GymPact with your RunKeeper, and take it for at least a 30 minute run/walk/bike however many time you pledge to a week.

2. Set your gym’s location in GymPact, check-in to the gym each time you visit, and spend thirty minutes on-site (presumably working out) as many times a week as you say you will.

Before you sign up to collect your money, you have to create an account and submit your credit card information. Then you set your goals and your stakes. For example, you could promise to workout three days a week, at the penalty of five dollars if you miss a workout. At the end of the week, all the people who miss a workout (or more – if you set five dollars as your “punishment” you’ll pay it each time you skip a workout) will have to pay up, and the winnings get split up amongst the people who kept their workout promises. If you’re one of the winners, you’ll earn around fifty cents a workout, which would add up to a pay out of about $2.50 a week for someone like me.

That is awesome, right? I could earn well over $100 a year, literally just for doing what I love. Gympact could pay for a new pair of running shoes, or even my gym membership, so the whole thing is a rather brilliant investment in my fitness.

But here’s what I know about at least my own psychology: When my heart’s not in something, I cheat. There are two major downfalls to GymPact as I see it now:

1) Just because you check into your gym, doesn’t mean that you’re going to workout (in any meaningful way).

2) Just because you bet money, doesn’t mean it’s enough to make you care. (Because your gym membership costs a lot of money too and, if that doesn’t motivate you already, clearly money isn’t the right carrot (or cookie) to be dangling in front of your nose.)

Gympact alone probably won’t be the miracle training tool that shaves a minute off your 5K or 5 pounds off your butt. And, if you haven’t been motivated to go to the gym already, it might not make a dent in your mindset either.

I know, I know, it’s the fallen exercisers that fill the GymPact money pot at the end of the week! I don’t think most of them are going anywhere. But, if you’re on a budget and you really don’t like exercise, this probably isn’t the app for you (because the only thing more depressing than falling short of an exercise goal is going flat broke over it).

If you like exercise though, this is totally for you! And it will be an incentive. Because everybody, even marathoners, get lazy.

Have you worked out with GymPact?  How much money are you raking in (or shelling out)?  Email me at!