So you're looking at your credit score, wondering how it's ever going to get better. Or you're thinking you should do something about socking away more money for that South American vacation, the kids' college fund, your eventual retirement.
For most Americans, fiddling with finances is not high on their to-do list. But, as we all know, there's an app for that. Or at the very least a website.
Among the latest: Two financial advisers have earned attention for a new, free financial tool they call FlexScore. Introduced last fall in New York at Finovate, the financial-tech conference, FlexScore has merited mention by tech writers in Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.
As financial advisers, co-founder Jason Gordo said he and his partner, certified financial planner Jeff Burrow, were often frustrated trying to cut through industry jargon and give people easy-to-comprehend answers to their most basic questions: "Where do I stand financially today and what do I do to improve my financial situation?"
Enter FlexScore. Acknowledging that budgets and finances can be flat-out boring, FlexScore's mission is to make a game of doing better at managing money.
"The average American doesn't want to do financial planning," said Gordo. "Their eyes glaze over" when the topic is broached.
Using friends-and-family funding, the pair developed their tool, which lets you plug in your financial accounts -- income, bills, debts, investments and savings goals -- as well as ZIP code, marital status, number of children, etc. Using what Gordo says is a patented algorithm, users get a score, from zero to 1,000, that's based on multiple financial factors and industry standards for retirement savings, estate planning, mortgage and debt ratios, insurance amounts, and others.
Once you've got a score, you're given specific steps to boost it: lowering your credit card rates, refinancing your mortgage, contributing to your company's 401(k), adding more life insurance.
Based in Modesto with an office in San Francisco, FlexScore has signed up 20,000 users from across the country, according to Gordo.
Certainly, there are fistfuls of other financial tools and websites out there to help us manage our money, from the granddaddy, Mint.com, to new startups like FlexScore. For most people, it's a matter of finding the tool that suits your personality, your financial needs and your tech sensibilities.
Mint.com, for instance, which started in 2006, lets people organize all their financial accounts in one place, both online and from a smartphone. It lets you easily track your spending by category, investments and bills, plus sign up for 20 different email/text alerts when bills come due, your balance runs low, etc.
Started in 2006, the Mountain View-based site claimed 10 million users, as of November.
Last week, just in time for Valentine's Day, another personal finance site, Manilla.com, debuted its new "Bill Share" tool designed to help couples "minimize money arguments." It lets two people -- spouses, partners, even parents and adult kids -- view joint bills or accounts either online or from their smartphone.
"They engage consumers and expose them to similar evaluations and important attributes used to measure financial health. ... We can never have too much of that," John Ulzheimer, credit expert at CreditSesame.com, said in an email.
Here are other top-rated personal finance website and apps:
-- The Sacramento Bee