Upgrade Your Cool: 5 Personal Finance Apps to Kick-Off Your New Year!

As I navigate the world day-to-day, I often wonder how prior generations made it through life without smart phones and the almighty world of amazing apps!  Apps (software programs you can download onto your average smart phone either for free or for a nominal fee) have recently become such an integral part of what it means to be more efficient, socially-adept, and even consumer-savvy.  Naturally, we thought it was fitting to prescribe our top 5 FREE personal finance apps for you, the smart phone user in search for an edge on managing your finances in 2012, while simultaneously upgrading your cool-factor!

1.    SnapTax

D.R.E.A.M. Cool Factor: TAX SEASON cool! 

Why We Like It? File taxes simply by snapping a photo of your W2 form on your phone.  The SnapTax app, brought to you by TurboTax, is designed to help you file a simple 1040EZ form.  After all, it’s tax season, so if your taxes are simple (particularly if you don’t own real estate, a business, or investments), this app can save you a trip to the tax-man and his or her hefty fees (saving you money).  That is a noteworthy enough reason to put this app at the top of our list.

Drawback: Only works for simple W2’s; otherwise, using an online version of TurboTax or consulting a tax professional is strongly advised.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Cost*: FREE

*Note that you still have to pay for filing your taxes ($20+) if you utilize the SnapTax service, but the cost of downloading the app is free.



  2.  Mint

D.R.E.A.M. Cool Factor: Year-round budgeting cool!

Why We Like It?  Have you ever struggled with creating a budget or lacked the motivation to analyze your daily/monthly/quarterly/annual spending?  With this cool, dynamic app, you can do all of those things and some!  Mint allows you to track your spending habits and auto-create a budget based on your historical spending habits; it also suggest ways to save, invest, and help you plan and implement future financial goals – ALL FOR “FREE 99”!

Drawback: Allowing mint to access your external financial accounts and sensitive credentials is a deterrent for some people; so this app is not for the hyper-sensitive or worrisome individual.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Cost: FREE



  3.  ShopSavvy

D.R.E.A.M. Cool Factor: Consumer-savvy cool!

Why We Like It? Scan a barcode while in a store and instantly search the web for the best deals and reviews on the same item (online and in-stores near you) at no cost to the efficient, savvy-consumer!  

Drawback: Not all local stores and boutiques have an online presence, so they will not be captured in your searches.  Also, the app cannot scan nonstandard barcodes.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Cost: FREE



   4. Groupon/ LivingSocial (deal-site favorites)

D.R.E.A.M. Cool Factor: Collective-bargaining (group buying power) cool!


Why We Like It? Groupon and Livingsocial are personal favorites of the D.R.E.A.M. Team!  These deal-site apps allow you to purchase products, services, and even lofty vacations at 50-90% discounts all in the name of group buying power.  These apps are perfect for the cost-efficient consumer!

Drawback: Notably, if you have ever used a coupon, you should know that there are usually expiration dates and customer restrictions.  Be mindful of the fine print with every deal site purchase so that you are not allowing vouchers to expire and thus wasting your money.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Cost: FREE



   5. PayPal

D.R.E.A.M. Cool Factor: Business & Consumer-savvy cool!

Why We Like It? Whether you are paying for a bill, splitting a check with a friend next to you, or transferring money to a business account, this dynamic app makes these kinds of exercises child’s play without even breaking a sweat!  We certainly use this app for business and pleasure.

Drawback: The transaction history list is limited in length and profile data cannot be manipulated via the PayPal app.

Available for: iPhone & Android

Cost: FREE


Now that you are set to upgrade your cool-factor for 2012 with these 5 apps, it’s our pleasure to thank and congratulate you: you are well on your way to meeting about half of our 10 Commandments of Financial Empowerment!




About the Author:  Jaleni Thompson is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of D.R.E.A.M., who dubs himself a “financial literacy crusader”.  



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