Written by organizing columnist Mandi Ehman of Organizing Your Way.
This month here on Simple Mom, Tsh is focusing on reviewing — and renewing — our goals. I’ve heard it said that New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be made in January but rather in September, and it’s true: there is something about the end of summer and the start of the school year that leaves me refreshed and ready to tackle the goals I’ve set for myself!
Today, I want to share with you some free online tools that are available to help you track and achieve your goals. I haven’t used all of these myself, but I’ve read tons of reviews on them, and I think they represent the best of the best. Please feel free to share your experiences – and other services you use to track your goals – in the comments.
Tracking your goals — whether on paper, online, on your phone or on your desktop — is an important part of staying motivated and on track. The cliche “out of sight, out of mind” was coined for a reason, and it’s important to keep any new habit or goal front and center where you can practice thinking about it and making the changes necessary to achieve it.
Photo by stopnlook
First, let’s look at tools available to help you achieve your financial goals. Whether your goal is to curb discretionary spending, stick to a budget, build an emergency fund or save for a vacation, it’s important to take incremental steps to get there. Start by tracking your current income and expenses, looking for areas where you can make changes and mapping out a plan for achieving your goal. The tools below make it easy to set, update and track goals:
If you’re not familiar with it already, Mint.com is an online budgeting tool that connects to your accounts and automatically downloads and tracks your transactions, providing reports about your spending habits, budget surpluses and shortfalls and more. With their built-in goal-setting application, you can also set goals, create milestones and track your progress alongside your regular budget.
2. My Spending Plan
My Spending Plan is another budgeting program that also offers goal-setting and tracking and works especially well for family’s who use the envelope system. Just be aware that the way both Mint.com and My Spending Plan are able to offer free services is by promoting shopping and credit card offers in your account, so if you’re not able to resist those, you probably want to avoid both of these!
3. Smarty Pig
Smarty Pig is actually an online bank, similar to ING Direct, that allows you to keep a sinking fund separated from all of your other accounts. They also use fun graphics and tools to allow you to visually see your progress toward your goal, and you can even set your account up to receive payments from other people who want to help you reach your goal.
Health & Fitness Goals
Photo by lululemon athletica
Health and fitness goals range from losing weight to eating better or exercising more. No matter what your goal is, stay motivated by finding a system to set and track your goals and progress.
1. Fit Day
If you’re looking for a simple food journal, Fit Day offers tools for tracking not just your calories but also your carb, fat and protein intake. You can set weight loss goals, track your progress and see long-term reports to watch for trends and bad habits.
If you’re motivated by sharing your goals and interacting with other people, SparkPeople is an online community focused on “sparking” a lifestyle change in its members. It’s not about just dieting but really creating healthy habits for life, and you’ll find tips, tools and community forums to help you do just that.
3. Live Strong.com
Another online community is Live Strong.com, a community inspired by Lance Armstrong that provides articles on healthy living, tools and calculators and a community to help motivate you along the way.
Personal Development Goals
Photo by Kristian D.
Finally, if you’ve set personal development goals for yourself — to get more sleep, to pursue your passion or to write a book, for example — there may not be a dedicated tracking tool just for that goal. However, the three tools below all help you stay on track and work toward any goal you might have:
Goalmigo lets you set short- and long-term goals, share them with friends, family and the Goalmigo community and track your progress along the way. You’ll also find forums where community members with similar goals can connect and share tips.
2. Joe’s Goals
If you’re looking for a simple goal-tracking tool without all of the bells and whistles and community features, Joe’s Goals may be the perfect choice. Users consistently give it high marks for simplicity and functionality.
Disciplanner is specifically geared to help you track long-term goals with once-a-week check-ins and a system that allows you to set goals, create exercises to help you work toward that goal and tools to track your progress.
I’m sure this list just scratches the surface of the tools available. What is your favorite way to track your goals?