New ways to be smarter with your money: Rate Surfer, Gazaro, Kangalope

My advice: Cash under the mattress. These sites differ.

In the TechCrunch50 "Demo Pit," companies take up temporary residency -- new ones each day -- hoping to catch the eye of the conference attendees. Three grabbed me so far today. These are companies for our time: They're helping consumers be smarter with their money.

First up, Rate Surfer. You give it access to your credit card accounts, and it will alert you when rates change (useful if you sign up for cards with teaser rates) and it will, if you let it, move your balances between your accounts to make sure you're paying the least amount of interest.

I offer no financial judgment here, but if you run credit card balances and try to keep ahead of interest rates, this is worth checking out. It requires a download, by the way, which you may find comforting. Unlike Mint, Rate Surfer doesn't store much of your financial data on the Web. The service is not live yet, unfortunately.

A piece of your custom sales flyer, from Gazaro.

Then there's Gazaro, a sale finder. If you're looking to buy some particular items, this service will scour sales near you for the item and make a personal "flyer" of the type you see in the Sunday papers. I will offer financial advice on this: Please don't be suckered into buying something based on the percent off the retail price. Retail prices are engineered to sell things, they're only loosely based on actual cost or value. Ok? Lecture mode off.

Finally, Kangalope. This is an event tracker for your family. You tell it what your family is in to and your budget, and it will send you advice on things to do. Also, if you're taking a road trip (the modern family vacation), it will find cool stops for you to make based on things happening along your route. Nice idea, although not completely unique, and it will be tough to get users.

Of these three companies, Rate Surfer is the most interesting and aggressive.

 

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