Best Goal Tracking Tools for 2011

Reviews Goal Tracker Software and Online Tools

In 2011 the online goal tracking tools that are out there grew and improved.

I published this post a year ago, but it is so popular that I wanted to re-publish it in hopes that it is still useful, and I have updated some of these for 2011. I still believe the tools that track S.M.A.R.T. goals (show below) are going to be the most possible to attain.

There are many online tools available for keeping track of and measuring progress on your goals. Many corporations have started to incorporate goal systems (Success Factors is one example) and S.M.A.R.T. goals. Not all goal systems utilize this method, however, it is widely accepted as an excellent way to achieve results with your goals. The following is a look at how to measure your personal goals and a review of some of the best online tools for measuring your goals.

So, what are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

S – Specific (the more specific the better)
M – Measurable (The criteria that you will use as measurement that you have completed a goal, such as getting your degree, etc)
A – Achievable (Do you currently have the skills and resources needed to reach this goal?)
R – Relevant (How does this goal tie to your passion or purpose?)
T – Time-dimension (When will you aim to start and finish the goal, will there be milestones to reach along the way?)

Many of these goals start with the questions (that you then fill in the blank for):

  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?
  • Next ask yourself, what specific benefits will come with achieving it?
  • When will you achieve it by? (time factor)
  • How you plan to achieve the goal?

There is a growing philosophy that if you share your resolutions or goals with others, your friends, family, or a social community can help encourage you to stay on track and keep your goals alive. The same often holds true for other areas in life, such as getting in shape, isn’t it more fun to do when you have a friend that will meet you at the gym and hold you accountable for sticking to your work out goals? So, some of the online tools focus on the social sharing element of goal tracking.

Best Online Goal Tracking Tools of 2010:

GoalsOnTrack.com Rating: ★★★★½ $68/year subscription

Goals on TrackThis simple, easy to use tool does a great job of allowing you to track your goals, visually chart your progress and see reports, create specific action plans, manage daily tasks associated with your goals, track specific time spent, as well as keeping a journal for your additional thoughts and inspirations that you want to capture. You can assign visual pictures with your goals, set overall categories with specific goals beneath that category, and assign any type of progress metric you want to show your measurement (dollars, percentage, etc). It follows the S.M.A.R.T. goal model. You can print out your goals, your daily tasks, and really use this tool to get on track. You can set email reminders, import and export your tasks to CSV or for iCal format, and much more. Just check out their full list of features on the site. This tool costs money, yet I believe its worth the investment if you want a full suite of highly effective goal tracking tools.

SuperViva.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free
Super VivaSuperViva is a social sharing goal or “life” tracking site that allows you to create goals to share or keep private. SuperViva was created in 2006 (runs ads and accepts donations to support it). It allows you to set up weekly reminders to check in with your list of goals. Super viva offers something closer to the SMART goal method by allowing you to group your goals, set specific goals within an overall list, assign what “Life Dimension” your goal applies to (Personal, Family, Finances, Community, etc) and also set the start and completion dates, priority, effort needed and budget needed. You can mark a goal as completed, on the backburner, or remove it. There is a section to find ideas from the community and ‘get inspired.’ Nice overall concept for a free tool, however, I find it difficult to navigate and you cannot visually see and chart your progress on a goal.

Goalmigo.com Rating: ★★★½☆ Free

GoalmigoGoalmigo is also a social sharing goal tracking tool. You start by adding your goals, and adding who is going to help hold you accountable or your ‘Supporters’ for your goals. You enter your completion date, and can set up reminders in day, week or month increments. A great feature is that you can assign a tracking log (they have some already listed such as weight, calories, etc). You can assign tags to help you to share your goal in the social environment. Once you set your goals, you can mark them as complete and also add milestones in your “Log” which display in a bar chart format. Beyond that, you can visually see a reminder of how long you have remaining to complete you goal such as “One Month Remaining”. You can also add notes to your goals. There are ads on this site, but otherwise its a pretty clean and user friendly interface.

eLifeList.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free

eLifeList is another social sharing tool which allows public or private goal tracking. What’s awesome about this tool, is that it has very useful categories and goals already entered in it. I’m not sure if there are from the community or were created ahead of time, but they can help you get started. You can add descriptions, photos or videos to your list, and also set reminders to be sent to your email. The site is pretty user friendly, though some of the features you don’t edit until after you’ve set the goal, such as reminders. I would think you’d create everything when you are creating the goal. You can mark the goal as complete, and see a progress indicator (from 0-100%) of how far you are toward reaching your goals. From the design of the site, it appears to be focused on a younger demographic (perhaps college students?). Overall, it does the job for simple goal tracking.

LifeTango.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free
Life TangoLifeTango is a very clean and effective goal tracking tool. As the other tools, you can choose if you want public or private goals. You can sort by priority, date, and other categories. You have to manually update the progress you are at in your goal by a percentage from 0-100%. Ongoing, periodic goals are considered “Tasks” and are tracked using their “Task Tracker” (as opposed to goals that you want to assign a specific due date for). And example of a Task Tracker goal would be to workout every day for 1 year. You would then set these recurring tasks and mark your progress daily. They assign stars that you click on to indicate that you have completed your recurring task goal (kinda cute like when you were a kid and got stars for getting something done). There is also a fun little sticky note for “reminders”. Overall, I like this site for their Task tracking but I think it is a little confusing for tracking larger picture life goals.

Stickk.comRating: ★★★★☆ Free

Stickk

Stick is a tool meant to motivate you to stick to your goals through the use of accountability with other people and putting a bet or monetary value at stake if you don’t meet your goals. It is much more focused on coaching and pushing you to achieve your goals than any of the other tools. You start by setting a goal (Referred to as a Commitment Contract, much more formal and committed sounding!), then setting the ‘stakes’ or what’s at risk to complete it (You literally have to pay out money to your selected charity or person if you miss your goal deadlines), then you ‘get a referee’ or a person in your life to to push you meet your goals, and you can also add friends to help you achieve your goals. Many of their pre-set goals are around losing weight, quitting smoking, or other life-changing habits that it often takes a ‘coach’ to help with. However, it can be used for other goal tracking as well. You can set the category, whether it is a one-time or recurring event, get reminders and view your progress. Oh, and you don’t HAVE to set a “Stake” of financial value, you can still use this tool without the pressure of a stake. For many people though, I can imagine that this method (fear of losing your money!) works great for actually getting them motivated and on track. This is by far the most unique of the tools I’ve seen.

43Things.com Rating: ★½☆☆☆ Free
I saw this mentioned often as a goal tracking site, but it really isn’t. This site is really just a simple social site to measure trends for goals and resolutions with the answer to 1 question: “What do you want to do in the year 2010?”. To me, it seems similar to Twitter and many other social sharing tools, so who knows if it will be used a lot. Cute idea, but not that helpful for achieving your goals.

42 Goals [rating 3.5/5] Free or $5/mo
This fun tool is web based and shows a calendar of your goals. Its easy to use, and show progress and charts along the way. It also has a social element.

Joes Goals [1.5/5] Free
I’m not as impressed by this tool as 42 Goals or others, but it is simple so it may be worth a try if you want something calendar based and easy. It does have some clever concepts such as tracking negative goals or vices.

Props to Former Fat Dudes for their suggestions on setting goals.

Which one to choose?
You decide. Just keep in mind, when searching for a goal tracking tool, I would recommend determining if you simply want to have to do lists, or if you are ready to have specific goals with associated tasks. Goal tracking is about all of the small tasks (from your TO DO Lists) that add up to one overarching goal. Sometimes, you may have random TO DO’s that don’t really seem like they fit into any goal, but you feel that they have to get done anyway. Go ahead and add them to the list and perhaps even do them, but first consider: WHY am I doing some task if it doesn’t help me reach any of my goals? This can lead to the type of self reflection that will ultimately help you to reduce the amount of mindless, or purposeless tasks that you are doing, and help you to find the best use of your time.

Let me know your thoughts on these tools or if there are some great ones that I have missed.

Can You Have Too Many Long Term Savings for Spending Accounts?

A while back, I wrote a post that I still find to be an extremely valuable, but somewhat idealistic, way to manage your finances on Eker’s Jars budgeting. One of the accounts he recommend setting up is called a Long Term Savings for Spending account. He recommends saving 10% of your income towards this ‘jar’ and you can divide it into sub-jars if needed.

I also found and use the amazing site SmartyPig for Long Term Savings for Spending accounts. This amazing system has gained so much in popularity, its now being bought out by BBVA Compass.

So, now that I am fortunate enough to be making a little more income with my new business, I am eager to get beyond debt and expense payoff, and focus a little more on the long term savings for spending accounts. However, I think I have gone of the deep end. When I actually make a list (ie mini savings accounts) of all the things we want to save for, it is daunting and frankly, way more than 10% of our income. I have reached $5K in a Contingency Fund and have decided that is enough for me to warrant putting funds towards long term savings for spending now.

Here’s All the LTSS Funds I’ve Got Set Up:

  • Savings Goals:
    Car Maintenance Savings
    Laptop Savings
    Lasik for Ariel
    Living Room Furniture
    New Baby Costs
    Presents
    Travel
    Vaccum / Grill
    Weddings
  • I’m thinking this is largely because of the stage of life we are in. Not quite thirty, wanting to make large purchases and build a family. We have our house on the market, and ideally would like to have 60 to buy the next house we want. But that is so unrealistic when you actually look at the numbers. Needless to say, I’ve decided that Eker’s Jar’s needs an upgrade that should be different based on your AGE and/or STAGE in life.

    Also, I have so many graduations, weddings and gifts, that my jar for GIFTS is truly for gifts, not charity or giving in the sense that Eker intended.

    So, ideally I would like to mimic the jars theory that Eker has, but in reality, I believe it is better suited for a higher income, slightly older demographic than my family.

    Healthy Way to Combine Finances When Married

    Joint and Individual Accounts Keeps Couple Finances Fair and Fun

    The following is a guest post by Shannon Pray.

    I’ve been married for almost a year now. Prior to being married, we were engaged and kept our finances separate. We decided that if we were going to be married and sharing a home and many expenses for the rest of our lives, we needed to come up with a system for combining our finances. Having talked to other friends in similar situations, I’ve found that there are a number of different ways people have come up with to make this work.

    Unique Ways Couples Manage Finances

    1. For one couple I know he owns the house they live in and she pays a set monthly rent and utilities, etc. This system may or may not change when they get married this fall.
    2. For another couple who has been dating for a long time, they own the home together and keep track of spending and work it out at the end of each month. This couple alternates who gets to pay for things when they go out with friends or on dates.

    For a long time we were pretty similar to the second couple. We alternated who paid for things when we went out and we both wrote separate checks for rent and utilities. This worked while we were dating and when we were engaged, but as we were getting ready to get married and really start a life together, we decided we needed a new system. After discussing some different options (total combination, partial combination, zero combination) we came up with our plan:

    Joint Income, Joint Account PLUS Individual Accounts

    1. We decided to do some math on how much money we spend on rent, utilities, cable, food, eating out and entertainment in a typical month.
    2. We took that total and divided by two. That’s how much money we each put into our joint checking account each month from our paychecks.
    3. I get paid monthly, so I put the whole amount in on the 2nd of the month, he gets paid bi-monthly, so twice a month he transfers half the total.
    4. We kept our individual accounts for savings, gifts, and our own decisions for what to do with it.

    The main problem with combining our finances entirely was that we have different spending patterns. I love to buy shoes and clothes, he’s much better at resisting and only buying things when he needs, though every once in a while he “needs” a new golf club. I like to have dinner or lunch out with my girlfriends; he’s less likely to meet the guys for a similar event. He’s more likely to play round after round of golf in the summer, I am generally uninterested. While it’s possible that our various spending patterns would even out, I didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t buy things I wanted because in essence he was paying for them. Likewise, I didn’t want him to feel guilty about playing golf or grabbing a game with the boys since it was my money too. And, a biggie, I didn’t want to be able to look at our account online and see where he’d gotten me presents from, or vice versa.

    In the end, we opened a joint-checking account with Charles Schwab because I’d heard great things and because they do high-yield checking, which was somewhat exciting to us. Interest on a checking account?! There have been some pros and cons to using Schwab checking, but overall we like it. In any case, we each have a check card, so we can use it whenever we need for whatever we need. I’ve come to realize that money is something we need to be able to talk about, so we’re working on that front. We discussed what we thought were appropriate things to use the check card for and we’re both pretty good about sticking to that. I do use it if I’m picking up groceries; I don’t use it if I’m buying lunch out with my girlfriends. Sometimes, by the end of the month we’ve overspent and then we each use our personal checking accounts to make up the difference on rent or cable or whatever it is. We’re still working out some kinks and reigning in our spending, but overall this system works for us. He always gets to pull out his joint-checking card and pay when we go on dates, letting him maintain a feeling of being a provider (he does after all provide half of the money in that account). I get to buy outlandish shoes out of my personal account and not feel guilty about spending his hard earned money on them. Mine, yes. His, no. When we’re buying things for our apartment we generally use the joint account, and when I take a weekend trip with my girlfriends I use my personal savings.

    Communicate Openly About Money

    One thing we’ve learned in this process is to talk pretty openly about our finances. We discuss large ticket purchases that might be coming up (house, furniture, international trip) and how we plan to pay for them and what sort of savings strategy we need. We hash out how to best attack out debt rather than keeping it as some hidden shame. Our system is not perfect, and I know it is far from the only one out there, but it works for us. We have our combined-life financial plan, but we also still maintain some freedom to make independent purchases without answering to one another about them. And, he never knows when I buy him presents because they don’t show up on our joint statement!

    Simple Way to Organize Your Day in Your Mail or Calendar Tool

    Use Your Calendar to Schedule Out Blocks of Time

    I use a very simple, but extremely effective, method of planning out my day that has helped me immensely when I worked in the corporate environment using Outlook’s calendar feature, but also will be an essential part of my success as an entrepreneur.

    I wanted to share it with you, because whenever I have told others about it, they find it very different and a helpful way to organize their time to be the most efficient.

    Schedule Out Your Time Visually – Here’s What I Do:

    Organize Your Time on Your Calendar

    I plan out my week ahead of time, by putting blocks of time on my calendar labeled with “tasks” or “big picture” labels for what I need to accomplish. I have been consulting long enough now, that I have a sense of how much time it takes me to accomplish things. Though it is not fail-proof, it works. This time management technique also helped prevent me from having my calendar TOO filled up with appointments and meetings when I worked in the corporate world. Not that it completely prevented it, but it helped others respect my time when they looked at what I was doing on my calendar to schedule appointments.

    Schedule Out Your Time Visually – Here’s What You Can Do:

    1. Determine how long on average it takes you to accomplish your work in 1/2 or 1 hour increments
    2. Schedule your time out ahead of time in blocks on your calendar (Use tasks or simply appointments)
    3. Adjust as required

    To some, this concept may seem to simple or maybe you already do something similar. We all manage our time differently. There are many advanced task options, categories, and other time management options in Outlook and other office clients that help immensely as well. This technique that I listed above has been the single most helpful way to manage my daily work load that I have found. Now, to manage multiple clients and multiple time frames for projects, I use a project planning tool.

    A Note on Monitoring Your Email Inbox

    One last thought that I have heard  from many works wonders in freeing up your time to be more efficient with the workday.

    Only check your email at certain intervals in the day.

    Let’s say you block off 15 minutes in the morning, before lunch, after lunch, and about 1-2 hours before you leave. If this is a possibility for you, it can extremely help you focus your time and stop allowing for constant distractions.

    What other techniques do you use to organize your calendar?

    Recovering PC User Tells All: Why I Obsessively Love my Mac

    I Heart My Mac

    Photo from Apple.com

    Alright, this post is just a shameless plug for my iMac on the Leapord OS X. But really, this computer has allowed me to use so many organizing and helpful tools so that I can expand both my business and improve my use of time. I know this is a bit off topic, but I just have to share some of the reasons why my Mac has made it possible for me to progress my quest for organizing, budgeting, and overall happiness since I have owned it.
    For years I have wanted a Mac. I just never was ready to take the leap until Parallels (and Boot Camp) arrived. I bought my first laptop mac, but was quickly scared by my failure to get Boot Camp working and quickly returned it and went back to the comfort of my PC.

    Now, I know that most Mac converts already know this stuff, but a lot, and I mean a lot, of PC users don’t. So, I’m going to share my version of what you’re missing out on if you still own a PC.

    Time Machine Rocks

    Photo from Apple.com

    What PC Users are Missing:

    • I can use my mac and PC software at the same time
    • I don’t have to buy or install virus software all the time, that comes with the mac worry free
    • I don’t have to worry about backing up my files. I just plug in an external hardrive and Time Machine does all the work without me thinking about it. If you want to revert, its actually FUN to enter into the time machine which looks sort of like a star wars show and go back in time to a previous edition of a file, etc.
    • Built in video, fun tools, iPhoto, and so much more. I’m not kidding, the list goes on and on with the features that PC’s are leagues behind on.
    • Expose is awesome to be able to view multiple windows that you are working on at once and the dashboard widgets are also an easy and simple way of keeping your workspace clean, but allowing for quick access to widgets of your choice.
    • There are many applications that come standard with the Mac and many free or cheap ones to install that just run, there is very little to do to get your apps running.

    Trade Offs – What Will I Loose if I Switch from a PC?

    • Old software that isn’t compatible may not work. Its unlikely though. You can get Parallels to work with XP or a newer version of windows, which works with most old software.
    • Add on software tools do have an upgrade cost associated with them, such as Parallels. For some reason Parallels tells me I don’t have enough 3D video memory for optimal performance, which surprises me as I got my mac not 6 months ago.
    • You have to adjust to folders and icon sorting, as well as a slightly different way of using applications, but the newer version of PC operating systems like Windows 7 and Vista are moving in that direction anyway.
    • That’s all I can think of off hand. You can still use Microsoft Office if you are addicted to that. However, I have also become a large fan of iWork and the Mac Office tools. UPDATE: Please see the comments below about compatibility issues if you are an avid Microsoft Office and software user. You may not be able to make the switch if you are, because it just plain wouldn’t be worth it.

    If you can, I say ditch the PC. Its worth it.

    Visualize with Wordle

    If you haven’t happened upon it, check out the site Wordle.net. Its a great free tool for fun, or to use as part of your process to visualize your goals. Somehow making a nice picture out of words from what you are working on can really help you focus.

    The one above is a tool that categorized weights not to TAGs like a TAG cloud does, but as a word cloud from the most frequently used words on my blog feed. Guess you can tell what I’ve been writing a lot about lately: GOALS.

    You can enter words, a blog feed or a de.li.cio.us bookmark list and it will automatically add frequent words. You then can sort colors, direction of words, and play around with the settings on the fly. After which you can print, save or share the wordle publicly if you want to.

    Pretty fun tool to get the creativity started! Rating: ★★★★☆

    Best Online Goal Tracking Tools for 2010

    Review of The Best Online Goal Tracking Tools for Personal Use

    There are many online tools available for keeping track of and measuring progress on your goals. Many corporations have started to incorporate goal systems (Success Factors is one example) and S.M.A.R.T. goals. Not all goal systems utilize this method, however, it is widely accepted as an excellent way to achieve results with your goals. The following is a look at how to measure your personal goals and a review of some of the best online tools for measuring your goals.

    So, what are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

    S – Specific (the more specific the better)
    M – Measurable (The criteria that you will use as measurement that you have completed a goal, such as getting your degree, etc)
    A – Achievable (Do you currently have the skills and resources needed to reach this goal?)
    R – Relevant (How does this goal tie to your passion or purpose?)
    T – Time-dimension (When will you aim to start and finish the goal, will there be milestones to reach along the way?)

    Many of these goals start with the questions (that you then fill in the blank for):

    • Why do you want to achieve this goal?
    • Next ask yourself, what specific benefits will come with achieving it?
    • When will you achieve it by? (time factor)
    • How you plan to achieve the goal?

    There is a growing philosophy that if you share your resolutions or goals with others, your friends, family, or a social community can help encourage you to stay on track and keep your goals alive. The same often holds true for other areas in life, such as getting in shape, isn’t it more fun to do when you have a friend that will meet you at the gym and hold you accountable for sticking to your work out goals? So, some of the online tools focus on the social sharing element of goal tracking.

    Best Online  Goal Tracking Tools of 2010:

    GoalsOnTrack.com Rating: ★★★★½ $68/year subscription

    Goals on TrackThis simple, easy to use tool does a great job of allowing you to track your goals, visually chart your progress and see reports, create specific action plans, manage daily tasks associated with your goals, track specific time spent, as well as keeping a journal for your additional thoughts and inspirations that you want to capture. You can assign visual pictures with your goals, set overall categories with specific goals beneath that category, and assign any type of progress metric you want to show your measurement (dollars, percentage, etc). It follows the S.M.A.R.T. goal model. You can print out your goals, your daily tasks, and really use this tool to get on track. You can set email reminders, import and export your tasks to CSV or for iCal format, and much more. Just check out their full list of features on the site. This tool costs money, yet I believe its worth the investment if you want a full suite of highly effective goal tracking tools.

    SuperViva.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free
    Super VivaSuperViva is a social sharing goal or “life” tracking site that allows you to create  goals to share or keep private. SuperViva was created in 2006 (runs ads and accepts donations to support it). It allows you to set up weekly reminders to check in with your list of goals. Super viva offers something closer to the SMART goal method by allowing you to group your goals, set specific goals within an overall list, assign what “Life Dimension” your goal applies to (Personal, Family, Finances, Community, etc) and also set the start and completion dates, priority, effort needed and budget needed. You can mark a goal as completed, on the backburner, or remove it. There is a section to find ideas from the community and ‘get inspired.’ Nice overall concept for a free tool, however, I find it difficult to navigate and you cannot visually see and chart your progress on a goal.

    Goalmigo.com Rating: ★★★½☆ Free

    GoalmigoGoalmigo is also a social sharing goal tracking tool. You start by adding your goals, and adding who is going to help hold you accountable or your ‘Supporters’ for your goals. You enter your completion date, and can set up reminders in day, week or month increments. A great feature is that you can assign a tracking log (they have some already listed such as weight, calories, etc). You can assign tags to help you to share your goal in the social environment. Once you set your goals, you can mark them as complete and also add milestones in your “Log” which display in a bar chart format. Beyond that, you can visually see a reminder of how long you have remaining to complete you goal such as “One Month Remaining”. You can also add notes to your goals. There are ads on this site, but otherwise its a pretty clean and user friendly interface.

    eLifeList.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free

    eLifeList is another social sharing tool which allows public or private goal tracking. What’s awesome about this tool, is that it has very useful categories and goals already entered in it. I’m not sure if there are from the community or were created ahead of time, but they can help you get started. You can add descriptions, photos or videos to your list, and also set reminders to be sent to your email. The site is pretty user friendly, though some of the features you don’t edit until after you’ve set the goal, such as reminders. I would think you’d create everything when you are creating the goal. You can mark the goal as complete, and see a progress indicator (from 0-100%) of how far you are toward reaching your goals. From the design of the site, it appears to be focused on a younger demographic (perhaps college students?). Overall, it does the job for simple goal tracking.

    LifeTango.com Rating: ★★★☆☆ Free
    Life TangoLifeTango is a very clean and effective goal tracking tool. As the other tools, you can choose if you want public or private goals. You can sort by priority, date, and other categories. You have to manually update the progress you are at in your goal by a percentage from 0-100%.  Ongoing, periodic goals are considered “Tasks” and are tracked using their “Task Tracker” (as opposed to goals that you want to assign a specific due date for). And example of a Task Tracker goal would be to workout every day for 1 year. You would then set these recurring tasks and mark your progress daily. They assign stars that you click on to indicate that you have completed your recurring task goal (kinda cute like when you were a kid and got stars for getting something done). There is also a fun little sticky note for “reminders”. Overall, I like this site for their Task tracking but I think it is a little confusing for tracking larger picture life goals.

    Stickk.comRating: ★★★★☆ Free

    Stickk

    Stick is a tool meant to motivate you to stick to your goals through the use of accountability with other people and putting a bet or monetary value at stake if you don’t meet your goals. It is much more focused on coaching and pushing you to achieve your goals than any of the other tools. You start by setting a goal (Referred to as a Commitment Contract, much more formal and committed sounding!), then setting the ‘stakes’ or what’s at risk to complete it (You literally have to pay out money to your selected charity or person if you miss your goal deadlines), then you ‘get a referee’ or a person in your life to to push you meet your goals, and you can also add friends to help you achieve your goals. Many of their pre-set goals are around losing weight, quitting smoking, or other life-changing habits that it often takes a ‘coach’ to help with. However, it can be used for other goal tracking as well. You can set the category, whether it is a one-time or recurring event, get reminders and view your progress. Oh, and you don’t HAVE to set a “Stake” of financial value, you can still use this tool without the pressure of a stake. For many people though, I can imagine that this method (fear of losing your money!) works great for actually getting them motivated and on track. This is by far the most unique of the tools I’ve seen.

    GoalsTogether.com Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Free

    Goals Together Logo

    This free social sharing site offers the ability to create and track your goals, and share them with the community. You can choose to have private or public goals. You can search for other goals for people in the community. It allows ‘basic’ goals which are manually updated for progress, and ‘checkpoint’ goals which you set the checkpoints or milestones needed to attain the goal at the beginning of the tool. When you have completed a task in the goal, you mark it as complete by checking it off, like you would on a to-do list. Overall, I would say that this tool is very basic, and not all that useful for the serious person trying to implement a SMART goal process or anything much more than a task list. There are ads on this site.

    43Things.com Rating: ★½☆☆☆ Free
    I saw this mentioned often as a goal tracking site, but it really isn’t. This site is really just a simple social site to measure trends for goals and resolutions with the answer to 1 question: “What do you want to do in the year 2010?”. To me, it seems similar to Twitter and many other social sharing tools, so who knows if it will be used a lot. Cute idea, but not that helpful for achieving your goals.

    Which one to choose?
    You decide. Just keep in mind, when searching for a goal tracking tool, I would recommend determining if you simply want to have to do lists, or if you are ready to have specific goals with associated tasks. Goal tracking is about all of the small tasks (from your TO DO Lists) that add up to one overarching goal. Sometimes, you may have random TO DO’s that don’t really seem like they fit into any goal, but you feel that they have to get done anyway. Go ahead and add them to the list and perhaps even do them, but first consider: WHY am I doing some task if it doesn’t help me reach any of my goals? This can lead to the type of self reflection that will ultimately help you to reduce the amount of mindless, or purposeless tasks that you are doing, and help you to find the best use of your time.

    Let me know your thoughts on these tools or if there are some great ones that I have missed.

    Review of YNAB 3.0 You Need a Budget Software for PC or Mac

    Best Envelope Budgeting Software: You Need a Budget YNAB 3.0 for PC or Mac

    YNAB Electronic Envelope Budgeting Just when I thought I had it all figured out by using online tools like Mint, I repeatedly saw mention of one of the top rated budgeting software for download on your PC or Mac, YNAB 3.0 (You Need a Budget). YNAB is a budgeting software that incorporates the envelop method of budgeting. This may just be the next step for me in advancing my money management and control of our finances. The tools that I am currently using are easy to import my financial information and great for big picture trending, but we still haven’t really done well at isolating how to break some of our patterns and stick to our budgeting goals.

    One of the goals of this tool is to help you get off of living only paycheck to paycheck. This is accomplished through the “YNAB Buffer” or by organizing your money in a way that you are able to save enough to off set one month of bills.

    Your YNAB Buffer is the equivalent of one month’s income which, once saved, will allow you to use paychecks received during the current month for the following month, removing you from the “Paycheck to Paycheck” cycle.

    This tool is not for the faint of heart. It is for people that are truly committed to managing the budget and investing the time and energy necessary to do so. When your are ready to get serious, give this tool a try.

    Rating: ★★★★☆

    Type of  Tool: Downloaded Budgeting Software for PC or Mac, imports .OFX, .QFX or .CSV files (Download from your online banking)

    Price: $59.95

    Compatiblity:
    Windows 7 / Vista / Vista 64 / XP / 2000
    Mac OSX
    Linux

    Pros:

    • Simple, user friendly interface includes “Accounts”, “Budgets” and “Reports”
    • Intuitive categorization
    • Flags for follow up
    • Excellent reports for trending with ultimate control of what you are looking at and exportable to Excel or to Print
    • Helpful how tos section and blog for getting started
    • Helps set up and manage your funds for one time expenses
    • Helps save for larger 1 time expenses
    • It can help you track EVERYTHING you spend – even cash which I hate because its usually disappears without a trace.
    • Very helpful for people with variable income

    Cons:

    • Getting started can take a long time to set up. Unlike some other tools (Mint.com) that auto categorize the majority of your expenses, you need to manually categorize all of your expenses, at least at first.
    • Cannot auto-import your information, you must download it and import it into the tool (This could also be seen as a PRO for some that are weary of the online only methods for security reasons)
    • Not as full featured as Quicken or MS Money for investment and business tracking

    Screenshots:

    Reports Trend for YNAB


    Timeline Template for Mac iWork Pages or Microsoft Office Word

    Timeline Templates for iWork (Mac) or Microsoft Office Word (PC)

    A few years back, I had the inspiration to start simple timeline templates for tracking both personal and professional goals. There are plenty of expensive tools for project planning, but for the rest of us we just need a simple document to see the overall picture for our personal goals or project plans in iWork Pages or Microsoft Office Word.

    Everything I tried was too complex for my purposes, or cost hundreds of dollars, so, I created my own and decided to share it for anyone that wants to use a visual, big picture format for planning out events, projects or milestones in their own family or business.

    Screenshot:

    Timeline Template iWork or Microsoft Office

    I think these really complement the planning work that you can do in the goal tracker online software to get yourself organized!

    Please let me know in the comments if you would like to see specific versions or support for other iWork or Office tools – I am planning to do Keynote and PPT versions shortly.

    Here’s to Planning!

    Store & Share Family Addresses & Events Online

    Easily Keep Track of Family Addresses, Birthdays and Events Together

    Around the holidays, I always send out emails to family members and friends alike in a frantic attempt to mail holiday cards. Why do I keep repeating this process? Because people move, or I get forgetful and don’t update the many places that I store addresses.

    I was thinking about starting a Google Doc to share a long list of family contact information, but before I did, I did a quick search to see if there were any useful online tools that already solve this issue for me.

    And of course, there is! FamilyCrossings.com

    At Family Crossing you can get a free or premium account. You can ask your family to join, and then everyone can store their addresses as well as pictures, videos, and also very handy, a family calendar of events. I’m very much hoping I can convince my family members to at least use the address and events calendar. I’m thinking that if I put videos of my daughter on there and share them, that might just be enough to entice them to start using the site.

    Beyond those features, you can also store family history, recipes, chat, and more. I don’t know that my family will utilize ALL of the features, but it will be a huge help if we just can all update our addresses, birthdays and key events on the family calendar!