You hear a lot about life hacks, but often the term is tacked onto a variety of different services and products without much thought. In truth, very few things really simplify your life in a substantial way. The select few that do are worth paying attention to.
It seems as if every personal-finance tip or hack promises to get you a leg up on navigating an increasingly option-filled and complicated consumer market. Here are four simple startups that provide necessary value to users.
1. Mobilligy, Inc.
Few personal-finance tools for mobile platforms aggregate data as well as Mobilligy's Prism Bills and Money. Not only is the tool extremely intuitive and mobile-optimized in app form, it covers all the bases for budgeting and planning.
More From Entrepreneur.com
Prism syncs with your bank account, credit card and relevant billing information, pulling in even some of the less-considered sources -- student loans and utility bills among them. The tool requires no manual input. It matches your total monthly bills against your monthly income, producing an easy way to track your surplus (or deficit). You even can pay those bills directly from the app. It's a much-appreciated function for consumers who have few other chances to visualize all their finances in one intuitive, easy-to-use platform.
Operator provides a modern solution to a modern problem: It connects consumers to products via an intuitive search function. Ecommerce is increasingly popular, with mass growth among companies that offer online shopping and available ecommerce channels. This means more options than ever, and that can complicate the buying process by creating confusion. Customers often must spend more time to locate just the right product. Operator adds input from experts to steer buyers to products that fit their needs. In the process, the program effectively hacks the online shopping process for the average consumer.
How does Operator work? Download the free service and then use specific terms to tell your representative exactly what you need. In a matter of seconds, the expert researches the options and connects you to a product that fits your description. The app puts back into ecommerce a crucial element of personal service, setting apart Operator in a sector that's growing more impersonal each year.
3. Robinhood Markets, Inc.
This startup has seen a meteoric rise since 2015 thanks to a combination of extremely effective fundraising and a truly groundbreaking product. Robinhood has taken the normally exclusive sector of stock trading and made it accessible to the everyday consumer.
Robinhood cites the typical $10 fee per transaction for publicly traded stocks as the main reason average citizens don't regularly dip their toes in the market. The company claims this fee is due almost entirely to cover the brokerage houses' own brick and-mortar-brokerages. Robinhood argues these physical expenses need not exist in today's online market.
What makes the service so useful? It's optimized for mobile operation and uses modern technology to hack the stock system for the everyday user. As needed, users gain access to real-time market data, encrypted trading and a link directly to their own bank accounts.
4. Car Buyer's Edge.
Car shopping has long been regarded as a cut-throat, highly stressful experience, especially for consumers without expertise in the automotive market. This startup aims to restore confidence and control back to the demand side of the equation.
The Edge Report is a unique, simple service that provides all the details on a specific vehicle. It then narrows down the process to identify an accurate price. Whether you're using the desktop website or a mobile platform, you can "build" the car you're looking for by entering your desired make, model, year and features. Car Buyer's Edge uses this information to generate a price substantially lower than the vehicle's MSRP.
Maybe you're skeptical. You've heard this one before: a product that saves you real money when shopping for a new or used vehicle. The difference is in the guarantee you get from Car Buyer's Edge. If you find your real-world car at a price that's at least $97 cheaper than the Edge report generated, the company will refund the report's entire cost.