Mint promises to make your personal budgeting “ridiculously easy”. True to its word, the site categorizes your expenses (groceries, gas, entertainment) so you can see how your money gets spent. (Find out how much you really blow a month on ATM fees.) It aggregates your historical spending pattern to help you make realistic budget decisions. If you eat out most every night, the service will allot more to food. If you commute by car to work, it will devote more to gas. Mint’s most attractive feature is their “Ways to Save” option. The site monitors the latest cost-saving offers—credit cards, sales, etc.—then recommend how you can exploit them. (Transfer a credit card balance to a lower interest card; enroll in Netflix).
Eager to take that Caribbean vacation or splurge on the new iPhone, but can’t scrounge up enough cash? SmartyPig bills itself a twenty-first century piggy bank. Tell it how much you want to save and over how long, and it advises you how much to contribute with each pay check. Store your cash with SmartyPig and you can even invite friends and family to contribute! The funds collect 4.3% interest, probably better than the rate offered by your local bank for savings accounts. Once you reach your goal, the money can be withdrawn onto a debit card. Or buy a giftcard from one the site’s blue-chip partners—Amazon.com, Gap and Home Depot among them—and get up to 5% off your purchases there.