By MELANIE LOCKERT
As the year winds down and comes to a close, you might be gearing up to set your New Year's resolutions.
While making resolutions can help inspire you, the fact is that most people don't achieve their New Year's resolutions. According to StatisticBrain, only 8 percent of people are successful in achieving their New Year's resolutions.
So how can you avoid being a part of that statistic and actually reach your financial goals? Technology just may be part of the answer. Check out these digital financial tools that can help you reach your goals in the new year.
1. Tip yourself
Have you ever wished you could save more money, but it just seemed too difficult -- or, dare I say, boring?
Luckily, there's a fun app that can make saving money painless and rewarding: Tip Yourself.
The premise of the app is that we tip everyone else for doing a good job -- waiters, hairdressers, Uber drivers ... why not tip ourselves when we do something positive?
You can tip yourself after you've done something good for yourself -- or just because. "New tips are transferred from your checking account into your own Tip Jar. Money in Tip Jars is held with Tip Yourself's FDIC-insured banking partner, says Tip Yourself co-founder Mike Lenz.
Tip Yourself user Aja McClanahan of PrinciplesofIncrease.com says, "I like it as a savings tool because it's intentional. I use it primarily for fitness-related rewards."
"For example, if I make it to the gym or decline a donut ... I'm tipping myself! I'll use my tip jar to buy a nice exercise outfit or something. It's a good way to be intentional about recognizing the good you accomplish," she says.
If you ever want to take money from your Tip Jar, you can transfer money back into your checking account.
Tip Yourself is free and has absolutely no fees. However, the bad news is that it's only available for iPhone users. Android users should expect the app to be available to them in 2017.
Additionally, don't expect your tip earnings to accrue any interest.
If you're one of the 44 million Americans with student loans, one of your goals is probably to make a dent in your balance -- or ditch your debt altogether. After paying all your bills each month, though, it can seem tough to put extra money toward your student loans.
Using the app Spared, you'll be able to easily put your spare change toward your student loan balance. Spared will monitor users' bank accounts and round all the transactions up to the nearest dollar. That "spare change" will then be put toward your student loans.
The app focuses on the debt avalanche strategy, which emphasizes paying off loans with the highest interest rates first.
Spared is in development -- set to launch in early 2017 -- and will be free to users. "The only time [users will] pay is to open their account to outside contributions (a one-time $10 payment), but this fee can also be paid by an outside contributor.
Outside contribution can be done in the form of lump-sum gifts, rounding or matching," says Ryan Lockwood, co-founder of Spared.
Are you sick of paying checking account management or overdraft fees? Want an easy way to manage your money? Financial banking app BankMobile could help you keep your finances on track in the new year.
Essentially, it's a no-fee, digital bank that you can access via your smartphone. If you use BankMobile, you won't be charged overdraft fees or minimum balance fees, says Ash Exantus, financial empowerment coach at BankMobile. You also have access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs across the U.S.
There's also a feature that allows you to hide your savings account so that you don't have access to it easily, Exantus says. With this feature, you make your savings account invisible, and this can reduce the temptation for you to use it.
One downside of having a mobile-only banking app is that you can't go to a local branch any time you need something done right away. You have to rely on phone or email customer service should any issues arise, so this may not be ideal if you prefer person-to-person interaction.
Also, the hidden savings feature is unique, but ultimately you need to simply unhide the account to access your money. This can be useful, but if you're looking to automatically save and limit access, you may need strong self-discipline.
4. Prosper Daily
According to consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, many people are looking to spend less and save more in the new year. She recommends using financial app Prosper Daily, formerly known as BillGuard, to keep track of your spending as well as your financial information.
"The app tracks your spending while keeping a watchful eye on your credit card activity. You'll receive notifications when questionable charges appear on your account, enabling you to quickly spot fraudulent activity," Woroch says.
Prosper Daily is available for iPhones and Android phones, and it offers features such as data breach alerts, fraud notifications and spending analytics.
One drawback is that the free version of the product doesn't give you access to some of their premium features, such as 24/7 live support and credit monitoring from all three bureaus. You have to upgrade to Prosper Daily ID protect, which costs $9.99 a month or $83.88 for the year if you pay for the year in full.
Maybe one of your New Year's resolutions is to give back, but you're not sure how you can do so easily and within your budget.
Using Drops, you can connect your bank account, and every time you make a purchase, Drops will round up your transactions.
You can then donate that spare change to charity. Drops will also send you weekly updates with the amount you've donated and the impact you've made.
While Drops can help you easily donate money, there are a few downsides. First of all, there are some fees involved. According to their website, "We charge 2 percent per donation to cover payment processing and 99 cents per active month."
Second, it's not an app that is available on iPhone or Android -- you simply sign up for an account online.
Lastly, while it syncs with many large banks, it's not available with every financial institution. Currently, it works with Bank of America, BB&T, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, US Bank, USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union, TD Ameritrade and SunTrust.
If you want some assistance reaching your New Year's resolutions, these five financial tools could help. However, keep in mind that it's still important to check in with your goals and your finances on your own and not depend entirely on apps or services to do this for you.
What are your financial goals for the new year?
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