5 Reasons Budgeting Apps Don’t Work For Most People


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.


Top 5 Reasons to Protect Your Site Against DDoS Attacks with Incapsula

Business Impact of DDoS Attacks

Online security continues to be a concern for all organizations. Not only is it top of mind for WebOps teams to keep their websites protected, but it’s important for their customers to feel safe as well.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack can make websites unavailable triggering many additional issues. By flooding your online resources, a DDoS attack will cause site outage, ruin your brand reputation, disrupt your revenue intake, and compromise sensitive data. And, the mitigation process can also be costly.

Business Impact of DDoS Attacks - Number of Visitors Blocked from Your Website

Below are five reasons to protect your website from a DDoS attack.

Website / User Disruption

Creating the best user experience includes offering website availability and performance. However, with the proliferation of web threats no website can guarantee 100 percent uptime.

When cybercriminals target a website, they use botnets to unleash a flood of unwanted traffic and overload a site. By pounding the network with a sudden influx of traffic, many sites that cannot scale experience outages.

Being prepared for some type of downtime caused by a DDoS attack can go a long way in the event of an attack. WebOps teams deploy the following three security measures to keep their sites running smoothly.

  • Load balancing – avoids overloads by optimizing resources
  • Database caching – helps achieve efficient scalability and performance
  • CDN – Content delivery networks provide speed and high performance to end-users

Site Scraping / Vulnerability Scanning

Bots or software programs drive the internet. The good ones are legitimate applications that perform helpful, routine internet tasks such as search engines and site health monitoring.

Malicious bots, on the other hand, can do a lot of damage such as extracting large quantities of data from unprotected sites for competitive advantage. With site scraping not only can you lose proprietary data, but the activity slows down your website to unacceptable levels.

Similarly, vulnerability probing detects security gaps in networks. The connected devices you use at home, for example, are highly susceptible to these automated scans. Vulnerability scanning will reach out and identify unsecured personal routers, TVs, DVRs and other IoT devices to infect.

You may not be the prime target for one of these scans and subsequent botnet attacks, but once your network has been compromised, it can help launch a massive DDoS attack on a high-profile target.

Revenue Loss and Reputation Damage

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to disrupt business and access customer data. They often use a DDoS attack or web application attack to start the attack. E-commerce and other organizations that rely on websites for revenue suffer when they are unavailable or hacked.

If your organization depends on PCI compliance, you’ll need to find a service that protects both the data and your site

Data Breach

Data breaches are often in the news. Users whose private and professional information are leaked are vulnerable to identity theft as it is often difficult to contain.

Data theft may begin when hackers use a structured query language (SQL) injection with malicious code to “query” and hijack databases. Once in control, a hacker has easy access to personal data never intended for public viewing. This content may include sensitive data, user lists, intellectual property and personal identifiable information (like credit reports, and social security numbers).

Distribution spam is another popular way for criminals to cast a wide net to harvest users’ personal information. These spambots collect email addresses and reach out to unsuspecting individuals hoping to receive data as a result.

Cost of Mitigation

If your website is hit with a DDoS attack, the cost of mitigation can be high. Forty-nine percent of all DDoS attacks, for example, last between 6-24 hours (many last for a week), and it costs roughly $40,000 per hour to mitigate the damage.

How to Combat DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks have a large impact on the entire company, including IT, security and risk management and customer sales groups. There are ways to protect yourself against an attack.

Plan Ahead

We recommend building a plan to determine what to do in the event of a DDoS attack. Our “Network Ops DDoS Playbook” covers the different types of attacks and helps you plan your next steps.

Test your Network

Stress testing or checking the resilience of your network can help you assess how prepared you are prior to an attack. Use our DDoS resiliency score calculator to check the health of your security.

Choose a Security Solution

Select a security solution that can detect malicious traffic, determine mitigation options and scale in case the attack persists or grows.

Incapsula offers DDoS protection and a web application firewall to protect your assets in the cloud. To find out more, check out our plans and find out what works for your organization.


Five reasons to give the new Top Gear a chance

The presenters of Top Gear season 24: Chris Harris, Matt LeBlanc, and Rory Reid
Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

On a windy, and eventually rainy, day last month, I got to experience something that my teenage self would have been very jealous of: I rode around the Top Gear test track, being expertly flung around its corners by show presenter Chris Harris. It was part of a press preview of the 24th season of Top Gear, and you can already get a taste for what that’s like from my colleagues’ roundtable discussion of the season opener last week.

But I’m not here to give away spoilers or specifics of the new season. In my time at the Top Gear facilities, I interviewed all three of the show’s presenters, and now I just want to tell you why I’m rooting for the newly rebooted Top Gear to succeed. Yes, Vlad is being a fanboy.

  1. Chris Harris. The unabashed geek of the show, Chris Harris is in many ways the ideal car reviewer. His uncynical enthusiasm for cars is infectious, and he brings an encyclopedic depth of knowledge to Top Gear that I don’t think the show has ever had. The man can identify cars just by their engine noise, for crying out loud. At a time when popular culture seems impatient with real expertise, I’m delighted to have a true expert on TV from whom I can learn about cars and the joys of pushing them to their limits.
  2. Top Gear became pretty awesome last season, but few people noticed. We can all agree that Chris Evans was a poor replacement for Jeremy Clarkson in the lead presenter role of Top Gear season 23. He tried to be as loud and brash as Clarkson, but didn’t have the same level of camaraderie with his colleagues, and ultimately put audiences off from watching. I think the show’s producers grasped that fact quickly, and the latter half of season 23 ended up with more group driving adventures and fewer spots featuring Evans. As I observed at the time, the show became instantly more watchable, and with the promotion of Harris and fellow car journalist Rory Reid to more prominent roles, it’s only going to improve.
  3. The assholes are gone. There are many people who’ll tell you that the chemistry between Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond — consisting primarily of them playing pranks and being rude to one another — was at the heart of Top Gear’s previous appeal. I disagree. There’s nothing particularly charming about the emotional immaturity of three men incapable of openly acknowledging their friendship and shared passion. When I watch that old trio, I’m transported back to my school days, where I had to say “fuck” every now and again to reassert my masculinity. The new crew, on the other hand, features two long-tenured car journalists and the son of a mechanic. Harris, Reid, and LeBlanc are more interested in the cars than self-promotion, and I find that refreshing.
  4. The production quality remains stellar. This is another aspect of Top Gear’s first post-Clarkson season that went unappreciated: season 23 was full of gorgeous footage that turned cars into kinetic art. I’m convinced that whenever Top Gear does finally run out of gas, its signature achievement will be one of cinematography and staging. That stuff, the good stuff, hasn’t dropped in quality one iota, and season 24 promises to keep the standard high. Many of the best gadget review videos produced by sites like The Verge and YouTubers like Marques Brownlee owe a creative debt to Top Gear’s innovation in this space. Top Gear took the format of a luxury watch commercial, replete with excruciatingly tiny details and an admiration of the most basic mechanics, and turned it into a way to showcase big and burly cars.
  5. We all need an escape from fighting. Have you looked at Twitter lately? A CNN news broadcast? A New York Times front page? How about the latest choice of blockbuster Hollywood movies? It seems like life today is characterized by polarization, argument, and conflict — whether it’s between sports teams, political ideologies, or superhero motivations. Even our favorite modes of escapism don’t really give us a chance to relax and calm down (I’m about the start the new Mass Effect, for example, and I don’t anticipate it will let me casually farm on a rural planet for 100 hours). So it’s a little bit awesome to get a show on TV that has no villainy, that requires no obligatory two-minute hate for the bad guys. Top Gear is an indulgence. Everyone in it is on the good team, everyone has a common interest and fascination, and, except for the danger of overactive script writers, everyone just gets along harmoniously.

As Matt LeBlanc put it to me, his job is to drive the cars not being driven, and to recount the tales of those experience. His top priority at the show — after not crashing the cars — is to be honest. As a technology reviewer, I can’t help but relate to that ambition. When I speak to Chris Harris, I get the sense of a kindred spirit, a person who’s passionate about his subject matter and about doing it justice. And Rory Reid is someone I used to hang out with at the Geneva Motor Show, gawking at the latest Ferraris and Lamborghinis. So you can say I’m partial to this trio. In person, they convey a humility and seriousness about their jobs that was never apparent with their predecessors. But even without them, Top Gear is still the best and prettiest stage for car enthusiasm on TV, and well worth watching.

In the US, Top Gear airs on Sundays at 8/7c on BBC America.

Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge


5 Reasons Why the LG G6 Could Be the Phone to Beat in Early 2017

5 Reasons Why the LG G6 Could Be the Phone to Beat in Early 2017

LG went in a bold new direction last year with the modular design of the G5. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly pay off. Going the exact opposite way this year, the G6 is looking to be a more conventional smartphone that can compete with Samsung and Apple at every turn.

Thanks to the fact that Samsung has moved its S8 release way back to May, LG is left with a wide open slot at Mobile World Congress (MWC). That means for the Spring, the LG G6 really has plenty of time to make a splash in the industry and convince people to upgrade their S7’s to a G6, rather than wait for the S8.

We know that a lot of the rumored features in the G6 could very well be included in phones such as the S8 and the iPhone 8, but because G6 will be out of the gate first, it will can make all sorts of claims about the technology it presents. The LG G6 will be announced at MWC 2017 on February 26.

But not only is it going to be able to compete, the LG G6 has a lot on its side this time around. Here are five reasons why the LG G6 just might be the smartphone to beat this year.

1. Samsung’s Fall

One of the biggest advantages LG has this year has to do with its closest rival: Samsung. The Note 7 and its exploding batteries was one of the biggest news stories of 2016. Samsung didn’t just lose a lot of money with its battery failure, it also has undoubtedly lost quite a bit of favor in the eyes of the public.

As much as Samsung wants the public to quickly forget the Note 7, it might not be as easy as it hopes—and LG should be able to capitalize off of that in a big way this year.

2. Display

This year is going to be all about bezel-less devices. As stated above, LG will be the first company to be able to show off its button-less, bezel-less, massive screen phone. The G6 is rumored to have a QHD 5.7-inch display with a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent.

More than that, the G6 will have a 2:1 aspect ratio, which is a trend we may see other smartphone manufacturers follow. Overall, this beautiful new display is going to be the big feature that LG pushes.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 1.05.04 PM.png

3. Headphone Jack

In a world that is rapidly running out of headphone jacks, the G6 could make a big marketing push with keeping the old analogue intact. Companies from Samsung to Motorola has followed Apple’s lead, to the disappointment of pretty much everyone.

It might seem like a very small thing on the surface, but it could be the final straw in convincing frustrated people to jump aboard the LG train.

4. Battery Life

LG will be pissing off plenty of people this year as it finally moves to a non-removable battery, unlike every other LG smartphone that’s come out. That’ll probably mean that the G6 will be waterproofed, to compete with the other phones in the market.

However, the good news is that LG is rumored to be including a massive 3,200 mAh battery in the back, while the Galaxy S8 is rumored to have a 3,000 mAh battery. This could give the G6 better full-day experience, which it’ll probably need to power the massive display this device is rumored to have.

5. Software

Lastly, we have to mention that LG has released a new video that teases its new UX for the G6. In addition, rumors have been pointing toward the fact that LG is going to be using its additional screen real estate to improve multitasking, though we’ll have to wait to see exactly what the company has up its sleeve.

While it’s true that we don’t know much about what Samsung will be doing, both LG and Samsung have always stumbled with its software skinning. So far, it looks like LG could be finally making a turn on this with the G6.