When you split bills with a group of friends or coworkers or share monthly bills with roommates, it can get confusing to determine who owes what to whom. I have a great solution: online apps that do the cost splitting for you and let you track who has paid. Plug in your expenses and the members of the group who are sharing the cost, and these apps do the rest for you. Some of these apps send out instant reminders to anyone who hasn't paid and one is even great for doing some online fund raising and collecting donations.
Here are my picks:
Online apps definitely have some advantages, like being able to access your debt reduction plan from any computer (password required, of course). I have three online apps that are free and actually kind of fun to use, one with an option for a paid upgrade to help you stick to your plan and to help you with other financial areas. You can read more about what online debt reduction apps can do for you by reading Best Free Online Debt Reduction Tools, or skip right to the apps:
- Ready for Zero, which is 100% free unless you want to add online bill pay services for just under $5 a month to automate making payments.
- Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover Snowball Debt Tool, which is free to use and to print planning information from, but you have to create an account and join the Total Money Makeover to save your data. After seven days, you'll be charged if you don't cancel.
- Debt Coach provides a thorough debt payoff plan and can connect you with services that will help you to attain your goals.
Image: Ready for Zero online debt planning app with mobile app
There are tons of budget spreadsheets available on the net. But you don't have to go searching for a decent spreadsheet to track your budget - I did that for you. Whether you want to use an online spreadsheet for your budget, or you're looking for a something to work with Excel or OpenOffice Calc, you need something simple or you want to get into the nitty-gritty details of your spending, here are the best free budget spreadsheets.
Maybe it's me, but the Webby Awards website has the most difficult to figure out navigation. It wasn't difficult once I figured out that I need to first select the year, then category, then subcategory on the left nav bar, but until I had that light bulb moment, I was clicking around blindly. Now that I have found my way around the 2014 Webby Awards site, I can list the winners for financial apps, both online and mobile.
Not sure what the Webby Awards are all about or want more information about the winners and nominees? Read 18th Annual Webby Awards for Personal Finance Websites and Mobile Apps.
Google announced yesterday that the Google Search app on Android mobile devices has been updated with Google Now, which will tell you if an item you were considering buying is at a store that is near the area you are passing through. I'm not clear on why Google Now isn't its own app, it's currently a part of the Google Search app, which can be downloaded from Google Play (although it would be kind of weird for an Android device not to have Google Search). There's a Google Now / Google Search app for iOS, but the announcement was specific to Android devices.
In addition to letting you know where stuff you want to buy is available and providing the price, Google Now keeps information you want easy reference to organized on cards that pop up only when you need them on your phone or tablet. The cards arranged on a tablet kind of remind me of the now defunct iGoogle, which was a rockin' start page for browsers.
Google Now doesn't give you information on finding the best price. If this feature was added, I would be more excited about the app. There are price comparison apps that you could use to be sure you would be buying at the best price when Google Now notifies you that your coveted merchandise is near. Try Slice for Android or iOS.
Wave Accounting is part of a set of online small business finance tools that are specifically aimed at serving very small business. The apps included in the set are Invoicing, Payroll, Accounting and Receipts. All of the Wave apps are free, made possible by the small business service and product ads that are served up in the software.
Wave Accounting is simple and uncluttered, downloads transactions from banks, Paypal and other financial institutions, and generates many financial reports. Sound good? Check out my Wave Accounting profile for details.
Image: Wave Accounting online and mobile apps
Xero is small business accounting software that works great for people who are self employed. Use the free trial and if you like it, pay $19/month for ample accounting features and a dashboard that shows you an overview of recent sales, bills that are coming due and bank account balances. Xero can keep inventory, pay bills and track customer data with a CRM tool that links to Google Maps and Skype. The online collaboration feature let you work with an accountant without going to their office, and you decide what in your records to hide and show the accountant.
Xero has a lot of add-ons, too, but most pertain to larger businesses. Still, it's worth taking a look at.
For more information, see my Xero profile.
Image: Xero dashboard
Clark Howard, one of my favorite personal finance frugal dudes, reports that The New York Times has published an article noting that online shopping can result in very different prices on the same item depending on whether they use Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer. Prices can vary by hundreds of dollars. One example is Orbitz online travel service using Mac identification through browsers to charge up to 30% more than it does to PC users because the company believes that Mac users are willing to pay more, as reported at About.com Macs.
Clark's answer to this problem? Use a browser plug in to comparison shop. He specifically mentions Invisible Hand, but I have more options for you. You can also use PriceBlink, Shoptimate or Shopping Assistant.
- Do you use one of these shopping comparison plug ins, or do you like one that's not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments.
Image: PriceBlink browser plug in
There are just a few more days left to cast your People's Voice votes in the 18th Annual Webby Awards, which honor the most useful and cool websites and mobile apps of the year. I've outlined the nominees in the Banking Financial Services Websites and Real Estate Websites and Mobile Apps categories here in 2014 Webby Awards for Personal Finance Websites and Mobile Apps. There are two links to the voting in the article, and although I explain the financial websites and apps that have been nominated, you can vote for any category using one of those links.
The best apps for finding a home or apartment on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch include the dependable "old timers", Trulia and Zillow, which have real estate and rental apps. You'll want to check out the comparatively new Movoto or Homesnap apps if you're in the market to buy a home. Movoto connects you with vetted real estate agents, and Homesnap gives you info after you snap a photo of a property that's for sale (how cool is that?).
The best iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad apps for apartment and home hunting in 2014 are: