5 Reasons Budgeting Apps Don’t Work For Most People

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Can we all agree that one of the secrets to achieving financial independence is figuring out a way to spend less than you make? OK, good. Then why aren’t more of us better at it? Credit card debt levels are the highest they’ve ever been. Clearly, finding a way to budget is a bit of a holy grail for many people.

The thing is, there is no perfect way to track or control spending. The way people make spending decisions varies as much as the number of ways to order at Starbucks so as a financial coach, I’m always on the look-out for new ways to make it simple and painless. In other words, I’m in search of the My Fitness Pal for money.

However, I’m not so sure an app is what’s going to move the needle. In fact, using a screen to make financial decisions may actually promote bad behavior. How many times has a notification popped up that lead to you filling a digital cart? Here’s why I think we need to stop trying to find the perfect app and instead master the pen and paper or spreadsheet way of tracking money:

1. It’s too easy to ignore. If I had a dollar for every person that confessed that they tried Mint, but eventually the text alerts and notifications started driving them crazy, I could afford a personal chef. Yes, money apps can help you set alerts to notify you when you’re coming close to overspending, but they can easily get lost in the myriad of more fun notifications that already flood your screen. Just nagging isn’t enough to actually keep money in your account.

2. You still have to actually maintain it. No software is perfect. So even if you are able to effectively link your apps to all of your accounts for an accurate look at where you are, you still need to log in regularly to make sure it is categorizing correctly.

If you’re trying to track spending on dining out and booze, you have to go in and make sure it doesn’t think your liquor store is a grocery store (that happened), and what happens when you buy wine while grocery shopping or if your restaurant lunch is actually reimbursed by work? You have to manually fix that stuff, and if you don’t do it regularly, it will become too much. You might as well use that time maintaining a spreadsheet.

3. My Fitness Pal doesn’t actually stop the chips from going in my mouth. You can have your phone tell you six ways ‘til Sunday that you’ve blown your calorie allotment for the day before you even get to dinner, but unless I’m in the first four days or so of tracking, I’m probably still going to eat before I go to bed. Financial apps work the same way. They give you the data, but only you can take that next step of keeping the money in your account.

4. My brain is changing and I don’t like it. I do think I’m addicted to my iPhone. My compulsion to check email when I’m already feeling overwhelmed with tasks is constant, even when I don’t actually want to be working.

I’ve also noticed that it’s become totally socially acceptable to be texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Snapchatting, etc. while hanging out with friends. I hate that! Adding financial management to my phone just exacerbates the problem. So I’m putting the phone down and I think you should too.

5. We notice what we pay attention to. When I purchased my Mini Cooper, “Sheldon”, I was excited about the white racing stripes that I thought made him unique. Then I started to notice how many other electric blue Mini Coopers had white racing stripes.

Was there a sudden surge in the popularity of this style? No. I just started noticing it.

The same thing goes for your money. I started tracking my net worth on a monthly basis a couple of years ago. Nothing complicated – I just list all my accounts and about the same time each month, I add a new column with their current balances.

I love watching the amount grow in my 401(k) while seeing the value decrease on my car loan. And I LOVE putting a big fat zero down in the student loan line these days! This is a great way for me to make sure I’m checking in on my money at least monthly and it is fun to watch my net worth slowly but steadily increase. Try it and see if it doesn’t also get you starting to track other things like how much you spent the previous month on carry-out dinners.

There is one thing I think you can use your phone to help with and that’s checking your bank account daily. Every morning when you’re doing that first check to see what you missed on social media, add in a quick check of your bank account to see if anything funky posted overnight. This can save you from expensive overdrafts and help you catch fraud much sooner.

[“Source-forbes”]

Warning over iPhone apps that can silently turn on cameras at any time

The new iPhone X will feature an advanced front camera that can build up 3D pictures of faces CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

Apple has been urged to change the way in which iPhone apps are granted access to the phone’s camera after a security researcher demonstrated how apps can secretly record photos and videos without the user knowing.

Felix Krause, an Austrian developer who works for Google, built an app that was able to take pictures of its user every second and upload them, without notifying the user. He called it a “privacy loophole that can be abused by iOS apps”.

When an app wants to access the camera, for example to scan a credit card or take a profile picture during the set-up process, the iPhone user must give the app permission, in the same way that apps must ask to access the camera roll, location and contacts and to send notifications. Once allowed, it has to be turned off via the settings menu.

The system is similar to the permissions required by apps on Android. Google has recently deleted several apps that surreptitiously recorded users and masqueraded as legitimate apps.

But Krause said that once an app has been granted initial access, it can take photos and videos whenever it is opened up. Unlike on Mac computers, which have a small green light next to the camera when it is being used, there is no indication that an app is recording videos or taking photos, or when it sends them elsewhere.

Facebook app permissions
App permissions are indefinite, apply to both the front and back camera, and can be used for photo and video

The iPhone’s camera app permissions do not differentiate between the phone’s front and back camera. Allowing camera permissions can grant extra access in the latest version of iOS, which has a facial recognition engine that could allow apps to detect emotions.

The permissions system is not a bug or a flaw – it works in exactly the way Apple has designed it – but Krause said malicious apps could take advantage of it to surreptitiously record users.

He demonstrated this by building an app that took a photo of the person using it every second, and which also ran a facial recognition program to detect the person using it.

He warned that other apps could monitor users’ emotions as they scroll through a social network news feed, record what they are saying, or live stream video of them in the bathroom as they tap away at a smartphone game.

Krause said Apple should introduce a system of temporary permissions – one that allows apps to take a picture during the set-up process, but revokes it after a period of time – or to introduce a warning light or notification to the iPhone that tells people when they are being recorded.

There are few examples of apps being found to secretly record users – apart from those specifically designed for this such as Stealth Cam. The practice is banned by Apple’s App Store guidelines, which state that a “reasonably conspicuous audio, visual or other indicator must be displayed to the user as part of the Application to indicate that a Recording is taking place”.

Krause claimed it would be easy to hide the behaviour, allowing it to make it through Apple’s approval process.

Facebook users have often claimed that the social network is secretly listening to their conversations in an attempt to better target adverts, something that Facebook itself has denied.

Some privacy conscious users have taken to covering up the cameras on their computers in an attempt to prevent being spied on, including Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Krause recently demonstrated how malicious apps could steal a user’s iCloud password by appearing to be an official command. The developer works at Google but says his work on security is a hobby, in no way affiliated with his employer.

Apple did not comment.

[“Source-telegraph”]

Station combines all your messy web apps into a single app

Meet Station, a startup that was created by startup studio eFounders. Station has been working on the only work app you need. It combines all the services you need into a single window and handles notifications and documents better than a normal browser.

If you don’t spend your life in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook, chances are you spend most of your days in a web browser, navigating between countless of tabs. When you are working with five different Google Spreadsheets, a couple of Trello dashboards and a handful of other services, it gets harder to find what you’re looking for.

With Station, you can find the document you’re looking for more easily. Station is a Mac and Windows app. You then need to add all your accounts one by one. Station supports dozens of services, but the most popular ones are Gmail, Google Drive, Slack and Trello.

“We have 300 app integrations. We have a good user base with 2,500 people who use Station at least 4 days per week,” co-founder and CTO Alexandre Lacheze told me.

Each service has its own icon in the bar on the left. You can switch from one service to another just like you’d switch from one account to another in Slack. This app metaphor works quite well for document-based apps, such as Google Drive. When you click on the icon, Station shows you your most recent documents and you don’t get lost between multiple tabs.

By centralizing everything in one app, Station adds a couple of nifty features. For instance, there’s a universal search bar that lets you search for content across all your apps. Think about it as a sort of Spotlight for web apps.

Notifications also get their own tab. You can scan recent emails, Trello notifications and Slack messages in the same interface. And there’s also a focus mode that lets you silence notifications for a 15 minutes or an hour.

“We noticed high retention rates among marketing and sales teams,” co-founder and CEO Julien Berthomier told me. “It works well for operational, support and marketing profiles. The usual marketing person is going to use more than 20 different apps.”

While Station is free for now, the startup is working on a paid offering for teams. Companies will be able to subscribe to Station to build pre-configured profiles. If a company recruits new marketing persons, the marketing team will be able to share a Station template so that new employees have everything they need from day one.

Station is also a good way to get insights about who is using what. For instance, if a company pays for a service but nobody is using it, chances are you can cancel your corporate subscription. Let’s see if this will be enough to make companies pay for Station.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

10 best Halloween apps for Android!

October is a very special time of year. There are pumpkins everywhere. People are watching horror films, The Simpsons Halloween Specials, and Bruce Campbell movies at energetic rates. The Monster Mash plays on the radio for the first time in a year. It’s time for Halloween, folks! Your mobile device will always play a relatively minor roll in the festivities. However, there are some great apps out there that help put you in the Halloween spirit. Here are the best Halloween apps for Android!

Amazon is one of the obvious Halloween apps. There are plenty of specialty stores for stuff like costumes. Plus, most brick-and-mortar stores have decorations. Thus, Amazon’s app may not always be the best choice. However, they do sell basically everything on Amazon. It’s a great place to look around and find those fun Halloween items that you may not otherwise find in stores. Additionally, you can always add stuff to wishlists and lay in wait for next Halloween as well!
Amazon Shopping

Google Maps

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Google Maps is another easy choice for Halloween apps. Most people know the trick-or-treat routes through their neighborhood. However, many more may have just moved or otherwise don’t. It helps either way, especially if you travel to different neighborhoods for Beggar’s Night. You can also plan routes if need be. Those who have kids going out on their own should also check out Google’s Find My Phone app. That way, parents can keep track of their kids as they walk the streets in search of candy.
Google Maps

Pinterest

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Pinterest is a great Halloween app for ideas. The app usually has tons of DIY Halloween projects around this time of year. That includes costume ideas, decoration ideas, and other useful stuff like party suggestions, Halloween inspired food recipes, props, and other Halloween stuff. This one is also useful during other parts of the year as well. It’s also an excellent place to find ideas when you don’t have any.
Pinterest

Reddit

Price: Free / $3.99 per month
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Reddit is a lot like Pinterest. It’s a fantastic place for ideas. You can find all kinds of subreddits about costumes, pranks, party ideas, recipes, and other stuff. It’s a little difficult to find that stuff. However, there are some decent ideas here. We’ve linked the official Reddit app. However, there are a host of third party Reddit apps as well. Any of them should work fine. The site is free to use with an optional $3.99 subscription to remove ads and add extra stuff.
Reddit

Wallpapers HD

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Wallpapers HD is one of the better Halloween apps. Most wallpaper apps have Halloween-inspired wallpapers. It’s a quick, easy way to theme your phone for the holidays. We liked this one in particular. It only shows you wallpapers that are the proper resolution for your phone. However, most wallpaper apps have Halloween stuff so no one has the market cornered here. Most wallpaper apps (including this one) are free. They do usually have advertising, though.
Wallpapers HD


Zedge

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Zedge is one of the great Halloween apps. Its wallpaper selection is a little inconsistent. However, the ringtone and notification tone selection is top notch. You can find all kinds of Halloween-inspired ringtones, notification tones, and alarm tones with this one. They are all handmade by the community. They’re also completely free along with the app. The advertising is a little annoying, but it’s worth it.
Zedge

Halloween icon packs

Price: Varies
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Icon packs are another easy customization method for Android phones. There are tons of Halloween-inspired icon packs as well. You can find pumpkins, festive colors, and other types of icons. Most launcher apps support them, including some OEM launchers. That makes icons a quick, cheap way to add some Halloween spirit to your phone. They vary in price from free to a few bucks. However, none of them get overly expensive.
Halloween icon packs

OEM device themes

Price: Free / Varies
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Many OEM skins have theming. That includes Samsung, LG, most Chinese manufacturers, and others. The themes are generally hidden in the settings somewhere. Most of them are free to download or cost very little. Samsung has the best theme store out of the lot. However, most OEM theme stores have themes for various holidays. Android proper (and thus, pure Google Android phones) doesn’t have native theming. However, you can still theme for the holidays if you’d like. We have a list of the best Android themes toward the bottom of this article.
OEM device themes

Your favorite music streaming service

Price: Free / Varies
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Music streaming services are excellent Halloween apps. Virtually all of them have Halloween playlists with modern and classic tunes about the holiday. Some of the popular options include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Google Play Music, Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. Simply open the app and search around for Halloween playlists. Add in some headphones, a Bluetooth speaker, or a streaming stick (like a Chromecast), and you get an excellent, on-demand Halloween music experience.

Your favorite video streaming service

Price: Varies
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Video streaming services are also excellent Halloween apps. Many have classic Halloween TV shows and films. Netflix has a seriously good selection of horror stuff, including newer stuff like Stranger Things. Google’s Movies Anywhere lets you buy your favorite movies (like Nightmare Before Christmas) and watch them on your mobile device or streaming stick. Some classics, like The Simpsons Halloween Specials, can be hard to find. However, live TV services like PlayStation Vue, SlingTV, and YouTube TV no doubt have channels that will run Halloween specials around this time of year.
[“Source-androidauthority”]