8 Free Apps That Practically Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions For You
According to the number crunchers at Statistics Brain,45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions but only 8 percent keep them. If you’re not in that 8 percent (you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you were), you’re going to need some help. And since you’re a modern man, by “some help” you really mean “some apps.” The below are endorsed by category experts and users, plus they’re all free, so you can check “save more money” off your list.
If You Resolve To …
… Dedicate Exactly 7 Minutes A Day To Getting In Shape
Combines aerobic and resistance exercises in a high-intensity set of intervals — basically a slightly less aggressive version of what CrossFit pioneer Kelly Starrett recommends for new dads. The app comes with circuits built in, or for the more ambitious, the ability to tailor a specific series.
What’s Awesome: All that’s required is a small amount of floor space and a chair. Also, it’s designed by one of the guys who’s credited with inventing the whole “7 minute workout” thing, and presumably he knows what he’s doing.
What’s Less Awesome: They do recommend three circuits at a time, but “The 21-Minute Workout” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
… Keep Your Workout Routine Going Even While Traveling
What’s Awesome: No more waiting awkwardly in the too-small hotel gym while Johnny Omaha leaves a gallon of meat sweats all over the only elliptical machine.
What’s Less Awesome: There are currently gyms in 19 cities. While big markets like New York and San Francisco are particularly well served, if you’re spending a lot of time in places like Des Moines you’ll either have to drive a bit or accept that you’re getting fatter.
… Finally Stop Eating Twice The Recommended Calories Per Day
Creates a calorie budget based on weight loss goals, and then reveals how much everything eaten takes from it, including lots of meals on popular restaurant menus.
What’s Awesome: May have the single largest food database of any calorie tracking app. It also links to fitness tracking tech like the Fitbit One or Jawbone UP 24, effectively integrating information about exercise into the budget.
What’s Less Awesome: Like any calorie counter, MyFitnessPal requires commitments both gastrological and logistical. Input needs to be consistent and accurate to be effective, so this is less a “pal”, and more a completely humorless consultant.
… Eat Better Even When Eating Out (Or Ordering In)
Scans the menus of restaurants near you and only serves up healthy options. It’s like Seamless was heavily curated by your friend who used to be totally normal but is now an annoying health nut.
What’s Awesome: You can order takeout or delivery straight from the app. In many cases, it provides detailed nutritional information on individual dishes, including specific diets that the dish is compatible with.
What’s Less Awesome: While they claim to communicate directly with some restaurants, a lot of the app’s info is based on simple dish descriptions published online. If those aren’t detailed or accurate, neither is the app.
… Get So Organized, People Think You Hired A Personal Assistant
Syncs with and scans your email, calendar and social media accounts, and then alerts you to all sorts of stuff based on parameters you establish, e.g., auto-generating travel times for upcoming appointments, auto-sending birthday greetings or gift cards, and creating calendar items from emails even if they don’t include formal invites.
What’s Awesome: Unlike the similar Google Now, EasilyDo works with all major email providers (Hotmail!) and social networks. The latest version adds things like geo-gated text messaging that automatically alerts your partner when you leave work, plus the ability to manually add to-do’s.
What’s Less Awesome: There’s almost too much functionality for a phone app, and certain things can require navigating 4 or more menus to set up. You might actually need to hire a personal assistant to program this thing.
… Just Get Organized Enough That You Know Where All Your Lists Are
By making lists, duh. To-do lists, grocery lists, homework lists, lists for your taxes, babysitter lists, travel checklists, whatever you need, Wunderlist makes them easy to create, share and delegate to family members. It also helps assign deadlines and track progress, making it double as a measure of how much respect your family has for you.
What’s Awesome: A super-simple user interface, near-ubiquity on any mobile or desktop platform and seamless syncing between your and your spouse’s devices, so you can update wherever and whenever and everyone on your lists will know. It also integrates easily with both iOS and Android alerts, so selected lists can always be top of mind.
What’s Less Awesome: If you can’t make a list out of it, Wunderlist can’t help you.
… Finally Get A Handle On Your Monthly Budget And Expenses
Still the gold standard for budgeting apps, Mint puts all of your bank accounts, credit cards and savings vehicles into one place, categorizes all transactions and makes it simple to create specific budgets that you can then track spending against.
What’s Awesome: Mint’s been around for a while and remains the best reviewed and most recommended budgeting app out there, but it’s not resting on its laurels. Recent updates include a bill pay companion app and the ability to regularly check your credit score.
What’s Less Awesome: While the app provides a very detailed and well organized view of your current financial picture, it’s just a one-month snapshot. Also, you have to add cash transactions manually, so it’s a bit of a pain for bartenders and drug dealers.
… Get More Proactive About Investing
App-ifies stock trading by distilling what have traditionally been complicated tables into clean graphs and charts optimized for a phone UI. The ease of use and access to information makes understanding and participating in the stock market relatively simple.
What’s Awesome: Robinhood charges no commission on trades and requires no minimum balance, making it a low-cost way to explore stock trading. For more experienced traders, the app lets them day trade anywhere from a coffee line to the bathroom, doubling the hilarity when Henry Blodget calls a stock a “piece of crap”.
What’s Less Awesome: The app provides access and functionality, but not wisdom. It’s possible that making trading as easy as playing Angry Birds could be a bad idea for certain non-risk-averse personality types.