Get Your Apps Back on Track (New Year’s Resolution Check)

Here we are, about six weeks into 2012.

The time has flown by, and, at Independent Software, January was a blur.  As we’ve been catching our breath, our team has been talking about the New Year’s resolutions we made.  For more than a couple of us, those last-minute, overly-ambitious goals that seemed achievable on New Year’s Day have quickly fallen by the wayside.  Perhaps you’ve already waved goodbye to your own goals, or have felt your efforts slowly losing steam.

That got us thinking: Isn’t there an app for that?

We decided as a group that it was worth a trip to the App Store to find out!  So we’ve collected an unscientific sample of the most popular resolutions, and then looked for apps and websites to help you (and ourselves).

And so, it is our pleasure to present our list of…

Apps to Get Your Resolutions Back on Track

Resolution #1: Drink Less Alcohol

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, when compared to the rest of the developed world, the United States drinks a surprisingly low amount of alcohol per person. Also, 37% of our society reported completely abstaining from alcohol for various reasons including personal and religious.
(Yes, we were skeptical as well.)

But still, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are many Americans who are trying to cut back on their consumption.  Drinking less can help you cut weight, save money, and improve your health.

While there are plenty of apps for cocktail recipes and bar-finders, there are few which actually point the individual user in the opposite direction.  But after hours of research, we found the Drink Less Alcohol app by Diana Parkinson. With 20+ years of counseling experience, Diana is passionate about her app, which will may help you in your efforts to drink less.  She describes her app as “hypnotic and deeply relaxing” and suggests that it will heal you by offering “positive suggestions for a healthy lifestyle.”  The app and its recordings may be all that you need to lower your bar tab in 2012!

Cost: $2.99

Customer Rating: Unrated

Resolution #2: Eat Healthy Food

Eating healthy at home is a no-brainer. Preparing your own food means that you can control what is going in, and what isn’t.  If you cook with a pound of lard, it’s on you.

But when you’re eating at a restaurant, it’s harder to gauge the nutritional value of what’s coming out of the kitchen. If you’re one of the millions who’s vowed to eat healthier this year, you surely don’t want to eat like a rabbit at every restaurant.

But what can you do?

My Fitness Pal makes it easy for the user to lead a healthier life by keeping track of their intake and clarifying the nutritional value of dishes from your favorite restaurants.  My Fitness Pal automatically calculates a daily budget of calories and alerts you when you’ve reached your limit (“No deep-fried Snickers today, thanks.”).  The app also sports an exercise calculator so you put some calories back on your scorecard for the day.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (37,220 votes)

Resolution #3: Get a Better Education

With the national unemployment rate hovering around 8.5%, it’s no surprise that everyone is taking a second look at their education options.  Even current students are under pressure to acquire as many “marketable” skills as they can, in order to prepare themselves for a highly competitive job market.

For those of you who want to upgrade your education, forget the tuition, tricky schedules, and pricy textbooks.  There’s an easier way to sharpen your skills, from anywhere, on your own time…for free!

iTunes U is the largest digital collection of free educational material, and with over 500,000 free lectures, books, and other resources you can study virtually anything! High quality content is sourced from leading universities such as Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford, and hundreds of other great institutions. iTunes U also includes resources from the New York Public Library and even the Library of Congress!

All of the content can be accessed through your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (2,283 votes)

Resolution #4: Get a Better Job

Entrepreneurship is a full-time job within itself.  But hey, it takes an average of seven years for a venture to become profitable. If you’re looking for something to pay the bills in the meantime, why not give Job Compass a try?

This app searches around your location in order to retrieve a list of available jobs that you can review, email to yourself or a friend, and even apply for, right on your gadget! What we love about this app is the creative mapping feature which shows you how far away you are from your perfect, start-up funding gig.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ??? (1,625 votes)

Resolution #5: Lose Weight

Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity levels all across the country.  In 1996, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that an obesity rate in each of the 50 states was below 20%.  In 2011, all 50 states report an obesity rate of at least 20%, with the majority of states reporting over 25% of their entire population as obese.

So losing weight has become a popular goal among millions of Americans, but also a major healthcare issue.  Perhaps your goal is to have more energy, be more active, feel better, or just look better on the beach.  Either way, this app may have your solution.

Lose It! is one of the iTunes app store’s top apps, and for good reason. The easy-to-use system gives users the chance to enter basic information about themselves (weight, height, sex, etc.) and set a weight loss goal. Lose It! calculates a caloric allowance that will encourage healthy weight loss. The tool serves the function similar to a food journal, but gives the user the chance to document info like portion size and calories in a fraction of the time. The user can also document their exercise activity and track their progress with their friends through a social platform.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ???? (1,305 votes)

Resolution #6: Manage Debt

At the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, the average American had 3-4 credit cards. Currently, the average American is over $15k in debt. If you’re one of the many who are planning on being out of debt by the end of 2012, it’s gonna take a lot of careful planning and budgeting to get there.

Why not begin managing your debt with a free app? The app was designed to work alongside its web-based software which sets up and manages a handful of budgets and accounts. Mint automatically pulls data from your online accounts and turns that data into a better understanding of your financial picture. It covers a variety of accounts ranging from checking, savings, credit cards, loans, even retirement accounts.  The Mint app also offers a comprehensive assortment of charts and graphics which can display spending habits and help you develop a plan to manage your debt.

What we love about this app is that it’s portable and quick, allowing you to keep an eye on your accounts quickly and easily.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (8,425 votes)

Resolution #7: Manage Stress

Stress triggers are everywhere, and vary from person to person. When you’re not in control of your stress, you suffer from its many side effects, from physical pain and fatigue to cognitive problems. In order to avoid serious and long-term medical issues such as heart disease and depression, getting your stress in check is a great way to start.

According to a recent study performed by Texas A&M International University, video games have been linked with lower stress levels and better ‘mood management.’  (We think that is awesome.)  The study is one of many which suggests the power of video games may go beyond simple enjoyment. Lucky for you, games are available everywhere. Just download, and within a few minutes, you’re relatively stress-free!

One of our favorite games is Temple Run, which you can download for free in the iTunes app store. You’ll get the hang of it in just a few seconds, and it’s super addictive.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (581,555 votes)

Resolution #8: Quit Smoking

We all know the dangers of smoking, and the short and long term benefits of quitting. Within a few days of kicking the habit, you have more energy and find it easier to get a more restful sleep. Within two weeks, your blood circulation improves, and over the course of a few months your overall health improves.

But quitting is notoriously difficult, and if that’s what you’re trying to do this year, it’s going to take some outside help. (And you get a lot of respect from us for trying.)

Max Kirsten is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist. After helping thousands of people quit smoking , he decided to bring his Quit Smoking Now program to the iTunes store.

Much like Drink Less Alcohol (featured above), this app uses audio recordings to help the smoker break their habit. This app also includes features like a a cigarette calculator and facts to help the user take full control of their usage.

Cost: $6.99

Customer Rating: ???? (469 votes)

Resolution #9: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The United States has been doing pretty good with recycling, having doubled their efforts over the past decade from a mere 14% of all waste being recycled to 28%. However, the U.S is still the worlds largest trash-producing country with an astounding 1,609 pounds per person being produced annually.

There are a lot of reasons to avoid recycling: it’s notorious for being a confusing, time consuming, and messy task.

For those of us who are trying to improve our recycling track record, we could be more effective if we kept track of what we wanted to recycle. My Recycle List does that, and then some! The innovative app allows the user to document their recyclables and when it’s time to haul them off, the app provides insight on the nearest locations to leave a variety of materials from the everyday paper and glass to more complicated recyclables such as hazardous and automotive goods.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (215 votes)

Resolution #10: Save Money

Saving money just might be the most difficult resolution to tackle. Those who make it their New Years resolution are often overwhelmed with coupon clipping or cutting corners when shopping and dining out to see the few dollars saved as anything worthwhile.

When emptying your coins into a jar and buying generic versions of your favorite products doesn’t seem to be doing enough for your bank, consider revising your spending plan- only 43% of Americans have one, and many financial experts agree that the key to saving the most money is having a clear picture of the goal.

Our favorite money-saving app can help the user get the most out of their spending, without making any drastic changes to their lifestyle. Groupon is a mobile app which combines with an online service which features discounted gift certificates for your favorite local eateries, museums, attractions, beauty salons, etc. What’s even better is that Groupon is completely free, and simple to use. Simply sign up for your local area (in CT both Hartford, and Fairfield counties are available) and begin saving!

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ????? (8,438 votes)

Resolution #11: Take a Trip

Last year, USA Today polled their online visitors to explore how the downturn in the economy was expected to affect the popular annual family vacation. As it turns out, 36% of respondents expressed that taking a vacation away from where they lived was ‘very important’, and 25% followed by saying that the trip would be ‘somewhat important’.

If you’ve made an awesome vacation your priority for this year, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it? Are you seeing all that there is to see and doing all that there is to do?

TravelMuse has made it easy to plan your trip without missing a single detail. You can save webpages and text all in one place and use the information to make an itinerary.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ‘Liked’ by over 900 people on Facebook.

Resolution #12: Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to spend your free time. It offers the chance to learn something new and collaborate with members of your community. Connecticut has an annual volunteer rate of 32.2% with 887,000 volunteers serving 97 million total hours per year. Joining this crowd is easier than you may think, thanks to VolunteerMatch.

The popular, award winning web-based tool can now be found on the iTunes store for use with iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The service has over 62,000 open volunteer opportunities. You can search for volunteering opportunities around your home, work, or school and even share your experiences with your friends and family.

We like that this app includes details of the project that you’ll be volunteering on. You’ll know everything about the project up front, so that there are no surprises later.

Cost: Free

Customer Rating: ??? (194 votes)

Over To You:

Have you used any of these apps to kick your resolutions back into gear? Were there any on the list that you would have liked to see? Let us know in the comment section below!

About Michael Romano

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