Several times a week, I’ll overhear someone lamenting money. Usually this happens while said person is handling over $6 for a coffee or anteing up with a bartender at the end of the night. I’ll give a tight smile and sympathetic head tilt. Even with all my insanely frugal ways, I’m not immune to the occasional budget leak. So, when I stumbled upon the app Earmark, I was immediately drawn to their party line: “You’re money has a higher calling. Earmark helps you find it.”
Earmark, a free iOS app, helps users develop goal-oriented money spending habits. It doesn’t encourage deprivation, but instead helps you evaluate a purchase. Even though I would love to buy a chai tea latte at my favorite coffee house to start my mornings, I know the fiscally responsible thing to do is buy chai tea bags and brew my own cup. Instead of just mentally patting myself on the back for this move, I now “earmark” the money I save by BYOChai.
Earmarked items add up towards a greater goal. When you download the app, again it’s free, you first identify your “High Five” otherwise known as the top five items you’re hoping to splurge on. I’ve got an anniversary trip with Peach to save up for. Whenever I’m sipping on that lukewarm cup o’ chai, I just picture the bicycle wine tour around Niagara on the Lake we just booked. The earmarks move a meter underneath your “high five” item to show just how close you are to affording your splurge.
Now, you’re probably all wondering what exactly happens to this “earmarked” money? If you’re writing down that you decided to just drink water at happy hour or rummage through your fridge for leftovers, what’s to keep you from spending those sweet saved dollars on something else? Well, you could always hold yourself accountable and transfer the money into your savings account each day. But, if you find looking at your bank account to be extremely depressing, then may I suggest using Earmark’s integrated solution: Dwolla.
By setting up a Dwolla account you can automatically move earmarked funds out of your bank account into the Dwolla account without any transaction fees. As soon as you’ve reached your goal (or need the money for any reason) you can cash out and splurge (or get tipsy while riding bikes and hope the Mounties don’t give you a DUI…).
There is also a social media component to Earmark, because naturally you want to brag about your fiscal responsibility to your Facebook friends. Luckily for said friends, all your social commenting only exists within the app. No spamming of homepages and walls will occur. Friends can send you suggestions for items they think you should high five and can provide emotional support, because we all need that when it comes to money. Facebook is the platform used to sign into Earmark. If you’re being a rebel and bucking Facebook, then you have to wait for the next round of updates when the app integrates Twitter.
This may be one of the “frugalest” of frugal finds. A FREE app that helps save you money. Come on guys, that’s pretty awesome. If my writing didn’t convince you then just try watching the two-year-old Lola explain Earmark. She really gives Pearl the Landlord a run for her money.
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Best New Personal Finance Blog
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LINK LOVE FOR THIS WEEK
- Great Customer Service Changes Everything via Saving Outside the Box. Joel lays out some examples of great customer service that just made me want to call up my bank to remind them of just how amazing their customer service is. No sarcasm. USAA is amazing. If someone has great customer service, tell them.
- How Much Should My Net Worth or Savings Be Based on Income? via Financial Samurai. This post, and Sam’s story in general, really inspires me to up my savings game. Granted, I’d need to move out of NYC or get a big raise to save 50% of my income. Challenge Accepted!
- Entrepreneur Highlight: Interview WIth Jim Wang From Microblogger via Careful Cents. I loved Jim’s story, but really loved finding this resource! P.S. Jim seems like the nicest guy! He even emailed me to say thank you for tweeting this story. When I mentioned having a lot of questions about monetizing my blog he encouraged me to reach out to him as a resource. Speaking of resources, Carrie (founder of Careful Cents) is a great one for freelancers.
- Balancing a Bridal Shower Budget On Your Own via Caviar & Quarters. I’m a maid of honor for my best friend next summer! I’ve already have the theme picked out and naturally looking for the most economical way to make it all happen. This post had some great tips.