Top 10 smartphone apps that save you time, help you achieve your goals and don’t cost a bomb.
Our phones are fast becoming integrated with every aspect of our daily lives. We know they can be a powerful tool that, if harnessed, can help us set goals, keep track and monitor our activities. It seems there’s an app for everything – from finance to health and fitness, productivity and even personal growth.
Here is a quick guide to 10 of the best that won’t hurt the hip pocket!
1. Strides ($4.99): This app may be the one that puts all other apps out of business. It allows you to track any kind of activity you can think of – weight, fitness, finance, productivity – in an easy-to-manage interface that’s pretty intuitive. It has different types of tracking, so you can choose how you want to track your goals – do you want to have a certain amount saved for a holiday by a certain date? Or perhaps you just want to track your ongoing weight loss? All of these are achievable in Strides and you can easily make updates from the dashboard. The data is presented in a visually appealing chart.
2. Banking apps (free): All of the major banks have apps that allow you to move money between accounts in real time. You can check your balance instantly, which is very handy and saves you time and hassle hunting for an ATM. In the queue at the check-out and realise your grocery bill is probably going to exceed the funds in your daily transactional account? No problem! A few clicks and taps and you can move money from one account to another instantly. Many banks now also allow you to pay someone, using just their mobile number. Very handy.
3. MapMyWalk (free): This is a great tool for setting fitness goals. It has a social media component that will post your achievements to Facebook and/or Twitter and allows you to connect with friends within the app (which would suit competitive types who want to boast about their times and exercise achievements). The app tells you when you’ve reached each kilometre, the time taken to complete each kilometre, and the overall time taken so far. The free version will also give you total calories burned and elevation data as well.
4. MyFitnessPal (free): This handy tool, with free and paid versions, will help you track your food intake, your exercise regimen and your weight loss – and will present the data in an intuitive, handy format that will help motivate you to work harder. It’s one of the most popular health and fitness apps on the market and the free version has very good functionality.
5. PayPal (free): This is a handy app to have if you have a PayPal account. It allows you to securely transfer money to just about anyone, with a minimum of hassle. Owe someone $50 for your share in a Christmas present – transfer the money using their mobile phone number or email address! It’s easy with the PayPal app and it will save you time running around looking for the nearest ATM or place to withdraw money.
6. TrackMySpend (free): Wondering where you money is going? This handy little tool is a gem for identifying where the money is flowing to and also helping you budget and create a financial plan that you can stick to. Created by MoneySmart, this free tool is a fantastic way to set up reminders to let you know when your phone bill is coming due (a great way to avoid the expense of late fees) and setting budgets. It’s a must-have app for anyone trying to get their finances under control and be proactive about their financial goals.
7. Nozbe (free for basic version): This is a productivity tool that is quite helpful if you use it regularly (like all these apps, really!). If you are a list-maker who gets satisfaction from crossing things off, then this app might be the handiest tool in your phone. It can be quite complicated to get started, but the tutorial video is very clear. This app is an advanced level app that works with your Google account and iPhone tools.
8. Evernote (free): The big daddy of all productivity tools, this is a highly functional app that allows you to organise your life into categories, using photos, documents and drawings to get stuff done. It’s popular with journalists for its capacity for note-taking and recording. It’s great for people who like making lists and crossing things off. This app helps get your jobs organised easily and saves time by syncing everything across devices and keeping all of your information at your fingertips.
9. HomeBudget with Sync ($6.49): This is the most expensive of the apps we reviewed. But it does have a lot of bells and whistles, and also comes recommended by The Sydney Morning Herald. One of the handiest features of this app is that you can download it over multiple devices and other family members can input their expenses from their own devices. The devices then all sync over wifi. This app offers a detailed level of data and is for someone who really wants to identify the minutiae of their family finances and budget. To make the most of this app would require spending a significant block of time setting everything up. It tracks multiple bank accounts and offers budgeting tools and tips.
10. Unsplurge (free): This is a simple goal-setting app that simplifies the process and helps you stay motivated. It offers tips for saving along the way and keeps track of your savings streaks. It also uses photos and other motivational tips to keep you focused on the finish line. Simple and intuitive to use, this one is great if you’ve got a specific target in mind and want something to help you track your savings goals.