Free online tools for tracking your goals

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About Mandi

Mandi Ehman is an entrepreneur, online publisher and author who is passionate about encouraging other women to live intentionally. She's the blogger behind Life Your Way, the author of Easy Homemade and the founder of BundleoftheWeek.com. Mandi and her husband have four spunky little girls plus one baby boy on the way, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

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.

Financial Goals

money goalsPhoto 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:

1. Mint.com

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 Capital One 360, 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

exercisingPhoto 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.

2. SparkPeople

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

blank paperPhoto 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:

1. Goalmigo

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.

3. Disciplanner

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?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. Awesome list that comes at a perfect time for me. I actually just started doing Spark People on Monday (third day in – so far so good!). I really like how easy it is to use and how complete it is – the community aspect of it is really nice too. I like the look of Mint.com for financial goals, but I’m not sure how I feel about putting all my financial info (bank info and such) out there so I haven’t done it yet. Will have to look into it a bit more…

    But still – great list!

  2. Thank you for this post! It was very useful and informative. I can’t wait to try some of these sites out. Perfect timing.

  3. Mandi,
    This is a brilliant post! So much incredibly useful and actionable info. Back to school always feels like the beginning of a new year for me. It isn’t until the kids are away from the house all day that I can even begin to focus on what I need to accomplish for myself. I have a free goal-setting kit on my blog, and I hope you don’t mind if I share it with the readers of Simple Mom. Here’s the link:
    http://liveboldandbloom.com/resources/free-downloads

  4. My husband and I are about a month and a half in using Mint.com and we love it! I especially love all of the iphone app notifications when we are nearing a budget overspend in an area. We also love not having to keep track of receipts. Such a great post today! I love Goal setting! You can’t take step #2 until you take step #1!

  5. Have you heard about stickk.com – it’s a way to put your money where your mouth is. Set a goal, add your credit card number and if you don’t meet that goal, your money goes to charity.

  6. For very short-term goals (okay, more of a ‘to do’ list) I use “Remember the Milk”. It’s part of my iGoogle page and it sure beats writing lots of lists of things that I never get to (or sometimes do…:) ).

  7. Thanks for the list of resources! Great post!

  8. My favorite tool for keeping track of goals is Excel. I have one document on my desktop that I update every week. It has several worksheets for different goals (financial, health, personal,…)

    • Alison,
      What kinds of things do you put in your Excel worksheets (column headers, etc.)? I use spreadsheets on Google Docs to track some daily routines, if I took my vitamins, etc. I would be interested in some ideas on how you track your goals in a spreadsheet.

  9. Has anyone found a particular goal-setting tool for career development? Some of the tools listed in this post may be used for that but a more specific one for this purpose is really useful. ;-)

  10. Eerily timely — I just grabbed Joe’s Goals yesterday. But I’m curious now about disci-planner. I can plan with the best of ‘em, but the discipline…..echh.

  11. Mandi,

    This is a great list. Thanks!

    I find what works for me is a goal setting app called GoalsOnTrack, though it’s not free, it has worked very well. It saves me a lot of time in keeping track of my goals and most importantly it helps me better organize my daily todos towards achieving my goals. You may want to check it out.

  12. I have been using Mint.com for a while to track our finances. I love it. It’s so user-friendly. I can see all of our financial picture in one place – budgets, cash accounts, investments, credit cards, vehicles, even the home mortgage (when we had one). I haven’t used the goal tracker though.

  13. Amazing list! I really need the last three to help me track my personal development goals. And yes, I love FitDay!!
    Thanks for sharing these, Mandi.

  14. Thank you, Thank you!!!! You have truley provided here a fantastic resource! After a summer spent without routine or structure, I am feeling out of tune and off blanace these days. The kids are going back to school, which is definately helping to regain some rythym to our days, but I am still in need of lots of help! All of this info. and links will be great help!

    Cheers, Kate

  15. Great information! Thanks so much for the awesome resources!
    Fondly, Paula

  16. Woohoo for Mint.com!! My husband and I started using this when we got engaged to start the merge of our finances and now use it as our sole budgeting tool. It is AWESOME. Highly recommended!

  17. This is a fantastic list of tools! I am going to go check out several of them. You know, many of of set goals, but if we have no way to be accountable, they tend to fall by the way, so this is great!
    First time here, love your blog name, will def be back!
    Bernice

  18. Thanks for sharing these, Mandi!

    We really like Mint. For to do lists/short term goals, another simple,fun, and free tool is TeuxDeux.

    http://www.AboutOne.com
    check us out with a free trial!

  19. habitforge is also a good site to use! :)

  20. Another great fitness tool for iPhone users is LoseIt! (http://www.loseit.com/). I previously used and loved CalorieKing, but they moved to a monthly fee and don\’t have an iPhone ap – I found it was so much easier to log meals throughout the day vs. whenever I hopped online.

    Really interested in habitforge, thanks for sharing – checking it out now!

  21. Mandi, Thanks for great list. Been using Mint.com since long. A really great tool. Didn’t know about others though. Would love to have list of iPhone/Android apps for such tasks too.

  22. We’ve been using Goodbudget.com (formerly EEBA) for several years. It has free and paid plans and phone app.

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