On the 12th day before Christmas my true love is no where to be seen so here's five free things to help your personal finance cause in 2013

By Amanda Morrall

Well, I've already told you about my Christmas boycott so it should be no surprise that I'm not producing a list of the best buys of anything in the lead up to the Xmas frenzy. For my tips on how to prevent a budget blow out you can check out the video above. 

As per my traffic generating headline above, Amanda is not expecting any partridges, golden rings, pipers or any of that nonsense. If I'm lucky I'll spot a wayward Canadian goose in the wetlands when I go dog walking. I'll be pleased as punch.

For the thrifty and financially self-aware, here's five resources to fill your financial toolbox with or to gift to someone who needs some help getting their money in order.

1) Save the Change 

You'll have to be an ASB customer for this one I'm afraid but Amanda loves the idea of an electronic piggy bank that rounds up your purchases (to an amount you nominate) and diverts the money into savings. It's a brilliant and painless way to save for a specific goal, be it next year's university tuition, a holiday, a deposit on a home or next year's Christmas presents to alleviate your guilt for this year's boycott. Cost to ASB customers: free.

2) Impulse Savings

Another nifty banking tool I like is Westpac's Impulse Saver app.  This app makes saving as easy as hitting a button, literally. Once you have configured the amount you'd like to save, when the mood strikes you hit the little red button on your phone and "kahching", it transfers the money into your savings account. It may not have the same fun factor as Angry Birds but the rewards will be pretty sweet for those who get hooked on the savings habit and hit their target. Cost: free. Don't buy the iPhone on credit.

3) Investing app

I haven't had a chance to trial the new investing app from Forsyth Barr but I like the sound of it. Also available through iTunes, For Barr's custom designed app allows users to follow market movements as well as access research and reports produced by the brokerage house. Rather than compulsively checking Facebook, or Twitter, you can keep tabs on your favourite equities. This might be handy for those planning on investing in the upcoming SOE floats.

4) For the debt laden

Okay, this one ain't free but the $2 could be worth it. The "Pay off Debt" app allows you to organise all your debt in one place to see how long it will take to pay off at what rate of repayment and how much the real cost of borrowing is to you. Here's a helpful demo on how it works and why it can be effective.  Here's another review by manvsdebt.com as well.

5) Heaps

For those of you still working off a traditional personal finance platform (i.e. a computer), Kiwibank's Heaps budgeting software offers much of the functionality as those items above, except the investing part. Bonus,:Kiwibank doesn't discriminate against its competitors so it's free and available to anyone. Here's my interview with Kiwibank's John Scully who explains more about the features and how you can use this resource to take control of your money.

And here's some other unconventional ideas brought to you by the Canadian comic duo Bob and Doug McKenzie. Amanda will not be hanging beer on her tree this year but maybe one for Santa. Have a good day, eh!

To read other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter @amandamorrall or at www.amandamorrall.com

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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"On the 12th day before Christmas my true love is no where to be seen"
Hebrew Proverb: Even in laughter the heart may ache and the end of joy may be grief.
Amanda. I know there are a few columns yet to come but a timely moment to wish the very best for you, your new venture and your boys with their life and dreams.
I have really enjoyed your column here. What many seem to overlook is that past the big picture economics, theorising and endless debate - all finance is, in the end, personal.
And because I follow the teachings of Jesus and because hope, if placed in the correct places, is a wonderful, wonderful thing, I leave you with the following blessing; 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.

Thank you for your heartfelt message above. I couldn't agree with you more re:what many seem to overlook is that past the big picture economics, theorising and endless debate - all finance is, in the end, personal.
 I have enjoyed your comments all year as they reflect a wisdom, maturity and sensibility that is all too rare.
I wish you and your family all the best at Christmas too and a happy, healthy and prosperous in the ways that count 2013. Celebrate with one of those nice pinots eh?!:) 

Hebrew Proverb: Even in laughter the heart may ache and the end of joy may be grief.

My favorite bit of Hebrew wisdom: if two men are arguing, and the wife of one man tries to help her husband by grabbing the testicles of the other man, her hand shall be cut off without mercy.

Deut 25

I do believe you are confusing wisdom with law.

I'd like to think that laws were based on wisdom rather than foolishness, although banning eating all animals with a cloven hoof seems pretty foolish to me - a life without bacon would not be worth living IMHO

Mmmmm bacon...

Homer - is that you?

Forsyth Barr should be launching an android version of their App shortly I am led to believe

Ready set grab....coming to urban areas in NZ very soon...
 "...a council pledged to fine any driver £70 if their car ends up further than 20 inches (50cm) from the edge of the road".

Iwouldn't access anything from FORSYTH BARR  until they can explain to the public of NZ their involement with the South Canterbury Finance debacle.
Lots of questions need to be answered.
Can't wait until the SFO start probing deeper.

Still expecting the SFO to do something right are we?

you could try rephrasing that. ie.
Still expecting the SFO to do something [deleted] are we?

ah Canadian humour. Or is that humor? Great to see a couple of comedians that didn't make all Canadians seem even more like the stereotype we have in mind...

My Xmas budget blew out thanks to the gouging of your national carrier who seems to think $800 one way from Sydney to Wellington is celebrating the spirit of the season. Just one more reason why I avoid Air NZ unless they are the last resort, and slag them off constantly. Unfortunately Emirates don't fly SYD-WGT, and my parents seem to be soldiering on past 80 *sigh*

lol...Bob n Doug McKenzie, used to watch those guy's on CBC when I was a teenager in the '80's. Good ole Canadian HOSERS with a Molson EX and a TOQUE.

Take off eh?! :) to the Great White North. 
This one's my favourite: How to get a mouse in a beer bottle.

Good ole Canadian HOSERS with a Molson EX and a TOQUE

I have no idea what that means. Although that doesn't upset me much :-)

haha....that's right "Second City TV" SCTV.....they were on that show. John Candy was on there as well.....good times. Toque is a beanie....Hoser is a kind of loser. And the stubby beer bottle....

SGV - you could fly SYD - AKL and then do the last flight of the night on AIRNZ, AKL -WGN for $29 one way (if you can find a seat) would work out cheaper than flying direct from SYD -WGN

Thanks Craig, unfortunately as it was a bit of a last minute thing the flights to AKL were about the same and the time of the SYD-WGN one made the extra $30-40 worth it (leaves Sydney @9:30am Thur, which means I don't have to leave the apartment til 7am).

VERY annoying the way they bump up prices at Xmas. Especially as I am flying WGN-AKL-RAR-ALK-SYD for only $100 more on the 27th (and 5th Jan).

BTW have I mentioned how much Air NZ suck lately? I thought that black plane was one of the lamest things I've ever seen, until the Hobbit one just recently. I wonder if the shareholders mind how much that cost, and how much extra it costs in fuel due to the increased drag and weight of the paint?

Clean Green NZ. Except for your airline. Who suck.

Ha ha - have you tried the lame kangaroo lately maaaaaatey?
Emirates is the only way to go across the tasman. Of course they only fly to real cities.
Edit:  Okay best airline deal story.
My wife booked the ticket off the web for NZ$299 return. With air points she then upgraded me to business class. I get to the airport and we're lining up, they call my name at the gate and upgrade me to first class. Get on the plane and they are serving Dom Perignon 1996. At the time, if you could still find it (not easy), it was skywards of NZ$400 minimum and twice that in a restuarant. I say yes ;-).  After take off she comes around and tells me I am the only one drinking it ... would I like the bottle? Just to help out I say sure. They serve me lobster medalions. When I finally navigate my way out of customs a man picks me up and drives me in a Mercedes S500 across Sydney, which normally costs $120 to where I go.
Am I well taken care of - or what?

Good story! Well I can't beat that. I seldom get upgrades but then I belong to no airmiles group so it's hardly surprising.

I haven't flown Qantas for a long time. Invariably any destination further than about 8 hours is always most expensive on Qantas and Air NZ. As a rule it's possible to get to most Asian destinations for between $800 - $1000. The equivalent airfare on an antipodean airline is usually $1400 - $1600.

And I'd rather fly emirates or Singapore or even Cathay Pacific.

Good Karma I reckon! That is a fantastic tale indeed.

Are you implying that those of us who don't get upgrades have bad karma? Hmmmm?