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Geezeo: Money Management With A Perk

Geezeo: Money Management With A Perk

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    Geezeo

    isn’t the newest online money management tool on the block. It’s been around for over a year and a half — an eternity as far as these things go. But the site does have an unusual promotion going on right now, turning basic money management options into incentives.

    Geezeo’s Perks

    The Great Geezeo Bailout includes a whole list of prizes for the site’s users, all geared toward improving those users’ finances. The largest prize is $6,000 intended to cover a few months worth of mortgage payments or help a user get out of debt. But there are other prizes up for grabs:

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    • 12 months of identity protection from Identity Guard
    • $1,000 investment account from Trade Monster
    • $500 lending account from Lending Club

    To be eligible for Geezeo’s bailout package, users have to login into Geezeo between now and March 31, 2009 — and you receive one entry into the sweepstakes for every day you login during the contest period.

    But Is Geezeo Worth Your While?

    It’s all well and good for a website to give away money. But what makes Geezeo any different from the lists of other online money management tools? There are plenty of similarities, of course: once you’ve created an account on Geezeo, you can import the information from your variety of bank and credit card accounts. The site can categorize purchases, helping you to see just where you money is going. And you can easily set a budget based on your goals and your past expenses. But that’s where Geezeo starts to split off from the rest of the pack.

    Geezeo places a huge emphasis on community, drawing a comparison from dieting: for most people, dieting is much easier when they’re on the buddy system. Geezeo holds that the same is true in paying off debt and meeting financial goals. Once you have a profile in place, you can join groups, share goals (and progress) and even take your efforts a step further. You can share your financial confessions on the site — you can share where you’re having problems and get reassurance that your struggles with money aren’t unusual.

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    The Geezeo community is more than a support structure, though. It provides access to tips in specific area and help from both other users — people who have already been in the position you’re working on — as well as from experts who administer groups that cover specific topics. Those experts are full participants on Geezeo, as well. They routinely share goals and confessions of their own.

    The last unusual component to Geezeo is the site’s public feed: it’s a real-time look at what Geezeo members are doing. Whether they’re creating goals, posting questions or making purchases, as long as users have chosen to share their profiles, you can see the steps that they’re taking to get their finances on solid ground. While it may seem on the surface that the public feed is simply a community-building tool, it actually has a lot of value for helping users move forward on their finances. It’s easy to get ideas on how to proceed on your own goals (or even an idea of what your goals might be) by seeing what other people are doing.

    Geezeo’s Security

    I’ve long been concerned with the security of personal finance websites. Handing over pretty much all of your financial information to a website, no matter how many cool tools or perks it offers, requires a little more information. Geezeo has made an explanation of its security measures available on its website. This personal finance site has taken some very reasonable measures to protect information, including using both SSL and SSH to transmit information and storing a minimal amount of data. The security policy even explains that Geezeo’s developers have taken extensive steps (including filtering information out of their system logs) to ensure that even they can’t access a user’s information.

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    Because I’m not be entirely sold on the idea of sharing all my personal information with the entirety of the Geezeo network, I’m comforted by the fact that the site’s security policy specifically states that users’ actual balances are never shared. I also like the fact that Geezeo makes a point of never selling your data to a third party: there are more than a few financial sites that have turned sharing your information — prequalifying you for loans, for instance — into a feature of their sites as well as a main method of monetization. Geezeo does provide a marketplace, where you can browse through financial products, but the decision to do so is entirely up to the user.

    Should You Switch To Geezeo?

    If you’ve been trying to decide on a tool to manage your money, Geezeo is likely to be a good option — and its bailout sweepstakes does add a little extra incentive. If you’ve been working with a particular tool, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend making a switch, though. The important thing about any personal finance tool is whether it works for you: you don’t need an account on every shiny money management website, even if you manage to maintain multiple social networking profiles.

    I know that Geezeo’s social nature isn’t a positive for everyone. If you aren’t entirely comfortable with sharing even a few details with the rest of the internet, you do have the option to keep your information private — and there are plenty of other money management tools that might serve you better.

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    If you have any experiences with Geezeo that you would like to share, please share them in the comments.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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