5 apps to help you stick to your New Year's resolutions
Let these apps help you find a New Year's goal, then motivate you to keep at it.
Lose weight, stop smoking, save for a new house, organize your life: Your resolutions are set, and you have every intention of keeping them -- at least until life gets in the way. Don't give up on your goals before February, instead download a few apps that can nudge you in the right direction and coach you to stay on track.
I've rounded up five apps that can help you keep your resolutions, from quitting smoking to whipping your budget or body into shape. Share your favorite goal-oriented apps in the comments below.
For managing your budget and savings goals, my favorite service is Mint. This tried-and-true app connects with your bank account, credit cards, mortgages, and loans to track your spending by type, such as food, medical, or entertainment. You can set exact budgets for each type of purchase, and Mint will alert you when you go over. As you use the app more and more, you'll get a strong sense of where your money goes every month and how you can cut back.
My favorite feature in Mint is the savings goals. You can set a goal for anything you want to save for, be it an emergency fund, a new car, or a vacation -- just enter in the amount you need and set your due date. Mint then tells you how much to set aside each month and lets you know when you're falling behind. You'll need to log onto Mint's Web site to create a new savings goal, but you can track your progress in the app.
Lose It! (Free)
Lose It is one of my top picks for getting in shape. Give the app your goal weight and it will give you a plan to shed the pounds safely. You get to set your personal weight loss pace (between 1/4 and 2 pounds per week), and Lose It coaches you on how many calories to consume each day.
For best results, record everything you eat and every exercise activity in the app so it can give you the best advice on how to stick to your plan. As you lose weight, Lose It will celebrate your victories and motivate you to keep going. If you need encouragement along the way, you can reach out to other users in the Lose It community. Lose It also connects with fitness trackers and other exercise apps, such as Fitbit and Runkeeper. If you sign up for a premium account ($40 per year), you can track health metrics, including sleep, blood pressure, body fat, and hydration.
Quit Smoking: Cessation Nation (Free)
If your New Year's resolution is to finally stop smoking, Cessation Nation is great place to start. The app asks you set a quit date, then tracks your progress throughout the quitting process. You'll see how much money you save by not purchasing a pack, plus keep tabs on how your health improves every day that you don't grab a cigarette. When a craving hits, you can play one of four simple games to distract yourself.
The best part of Cessation Nation is that in the app you can signup for AchieveMint, a free service that rewards you for healthy habits. For each day that you don't smoke (and record that in the app), you earn points that turn into cold, hard cash.
Available for Android.
Chances are you've heard of Evernote, but in case you haven't, this app is excellent at organizing all of your digital and physical clutter into one streamlined space. On the surface, Evernote is a note-taking app that syncs your notes to any of Evernote's desktop, Web, and mobile applications. But dig a bit deeper and you'll find that Evernote can house PDFs, checklists, photos, documents, and snapshots of Web pages. I use it to store and organize important documents, and it serves as my digital recipe box.
If you add the Evernote Web Clipper to your favorite browser, you can save anything you find online for safe keeping. The mobile apps help you access information on-the-go, while the Mac and Windows desktop apps offer tons of organization features. You can even stored scanned documents and photos in Evernote, so you can get physical paper off your desk.
Perhaps your New Year's resolution isn't specific enough to have its own app, or you're hoping to work on several goals at once. In that case, take a look at Lift, a beautifully designed app that helps you start a new habit and cultivate it over time.
You can browse Lift for habits that other users have already created, including spending time outside, flossing, or calling mom. You can also create your own habit if you can't find what you're looking for. Each day, the app asks you if you did one of your habits and keeps track of your progress. Lift also gives you daily discussion topics for each habit, so you can see how other users with the same goals overcome common hurdles.
Lastly, Lift has special Coaching Plans, which are specific goals with step-by-step instructions written by experts. These long-term projects include learning how to meditate, eating more fruits and vegetables, and taking control of your e-mail.