It came and went, often without telling me. When it sat in one place, it didn't do much. It wasted itself on trapeze classes, sushi, and subscriptions to magazines that went unread. Short of off-track betting, or picking up a very unattractive and pricey drug, things couldn't have gotten much worse. My money was not living up to its potential. And, sure, I'll admit that I wasn't doing much to help my money act any smarter.
Luckily, I'm not the only person whose money languishes because of, ahem, remedial management. In fact, so many people have "dumb money" that there are a plethora of free websites and mobile apps that have been created for this exact pecuniary problem.
If your underperforming money needs a kick in the right direction, turn your mobile device into a financial adviser, motivational coach, and investment guru with these apps. Because a penny saved is a penny earned, they're all free.
Does it feel like you're getting your pockets picked on a regular basis? Odds are you're the one doing the picking -- and it may simply be a matter of spending more than you think you are.
Mint.com will show you where the holes are in your pocketbook by pulling all of your accounts into one place to give you an overview of your spending habits. Owned by Intuit (INTU), the makers of TurboTax and countless other financial software, the site allows for goal-setting and helps identify ways you might save money. The site is ad-supported, but ads are discreet, relevant, and significantly less annoying than on other budgeting sites. The mobile app is a lighter version of the site, but it's a great companion resource for spending on the go.
Tip: Look for Mint to integrate with Weave, Intuit's new nifty project-management app, and TurboTax in the future.
App available for: iPad, iPhone, Android
Ever argue with your spouse or roommate about their free-spending ways? Or create a budget only to find you're the only one sticking to it? Of course not. But maybe you've been on the other side of that conversation. If so, check out HomeBudget with Sync.
HomeBudget with Sync is a fairly straightforward household budgeting tool that comes in both free and full versions. A key feature of this app is its ability to sync among household members and various devices to create a consolidated budget. Unlike Mint, entering bank-account information is optional.
Tip: the free version is limited to 10 expense entries and five income entries. If you like it, you may find the $4.99 price tag for the full version worthwhile.
Available for: iPhone, iPad
One of the best apps for investors comes from Bloomberg. It features news, market data, and portfolio tracking. Charts and graphs illustrate business trends and analyze world markets by industry, region, and popularity. Check out a stock's performance and key statistics from the past five years. And (shameless plug alert!) for commentary and analysis on the day's breaking news, use The Motley Fool's app.
Tip: Don't turn these on before cocktail parties. You'll spend the evening in the corner with your phone, not talking to anyone. Or, do turn them on and wow the room with your insightful stock market musings.
These apps won't let you file an insurance claim, dispute fraudulent credit card charges, or make a trade, but apps from your banks, brokerages, and insurance companies might. Check each of the companies with which you do business for full-service apps, but don't stop there. Many bank and brokerage apps offer features even for non-members.
Tip: Check out video reviews of apps on YouTube before downloading to see whether the features are relevant to your needs.
While these apps may be rich in features, not a single one of them has the ability to knock a $4 latte out of your hand or break your addiction to penny stocks. But by using your smart device to track your spending, saving, investing, and other financial housekeeping issues, you'll be making smarter decisions with your money in no time.