Can't Buy Happiness?

Money, personality, and well-being

Here are 7 apps for a happier life.

Think apps can't make you happy? Think again.

happy apps iphone
Think apps can't make you happy? Think again. Apps can do just about anything while you wait in line at the post office, from letting you play games to updating your expense records. Specifically, using financial apps allow you to be happier because you know how much money is coming in, and how much (and where) it's going out.

Here are 7 apps for a happier life. Five show you how to manage and budget your money, and two are just for fun:

  • iReconcile

iReconcile is an app that lets you "keep finances in check." Manage day-to-day financial transactions with a checkbook register right on your phone. There's no need to list purchases in detail; iReconcile does it for you. Just enter each transaction as you make your purchase, and your new balance appears immediately. Online backup means that your data are safe even if you happen to lose your phone, and free updates keep security and functionality top-notch.

  • Grocery Gadget

Grocery Gadget is a free shopping app that lets you manage your shopping on the go so that you spend less money – and less time – in the grocery store. Grocery Gadget’s barcode scanner lets you create a grocery list by scanning items and/or by typing the list into your phone. Multiple lists are possible, including a master list that you can use every time you shop. As you shop, scan the item you plan to buy and Grocery Gadget continually calculates your total. Scroll through your shopping list as you go, add items, delete items, or check them off as you shop, and the total you owe appears before you reach the register, including any sales tax. 

  • Mint

The Mint app is invaluable for anybody who needs to track his or her finances on the go. It keeps track of your entire financial life – including bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and general spending –in one place on your phone, allowing you to see the "big picture" and just where you stand financially in one quick snapshot. Intuitive to use, even newbies don’t have problems using Mint.

  • Shoeboxed

None of us can keep track of all those darn receipts, but come tax time, it’s important to have them. With Shoeboxed, you simply snap a photo of your receipts and hit submit. The app scans and verifies the information and posts it to your account. If you are the organized type, you can also group your expenses and export them to a personal finance application or to tax preparation software. Shoeboxed works with both Android and Apple. Check out the great 30-day free trial.

  • BillTracker

With BillTracker, you see all your outstanding and upcoming bills in one place. It also includes a reminder function so that you won't forget to pay, and archives past bills so that you see your full history at a glance.

  • Pinterest

Now for some fun. Pinterest is a content- and image-sharing app that is, shall we say, addictive. On Pinterest, you share or "pin" just about anything -- recipes, do-it-yourself ideas, craft ideas, pictures, witty or profound memes…truly anything. It is the ultimate online corkboard, for those of us who remember those.

  • Flipboard

Find it confusing to navigate all your social networking sites, websites you frequent, etc., on your smartphone and keep them straight? Thanks to Flipboard, all your sites and feeds are aggregated and organized so that you can flip through them just like you would a magazine. Try it; you might just find new content you didn't know existed when you were lost in the smartphone social networking maze.

Beyond The Purchase is a website dedicated to understanding the psychology behind spending decisions and the relationship between money and happiness. We study how factors like your values and personality interact with spending decisions to affect your happiness. At Beyond The Purchase you can take quizzes that help you understand what motivates your spending decisions, and you’ll get personalized feedback and tips. For example:

How do you score on the five fundamental dimensions of personality? Take our Big Five personality test and find out.

How do you feel about your past, present, and future? Take the Time Attitudes Survey and learn about your relation with time.

How happy are your Facebook updates? We can analyze your last 25 Facebook status updates and determine how happy you have been.

How happy is your subconscious? Take our Happiness IAT and find out.

With these insights, you can better understand the ways in which your financial decisions affect your happiness. To read more about the connection between money and happiness, go to the Beyond the Purchase blog.

About the author:

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, offering mobile merchant credit card processing solutions. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management & marketing and also serves on its Board of Directors. 

Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at San Francisco State University.

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