By: Andrea Eldridge
As a mom and a CEO (of Nerds On Call Computer Repair), I understand wanting to get the most out of every minute of every day. As much as I love tech, I'm not going to waste time that I could be spending planning my kids' birthday parties on figuring out confusing apps or programs. There are precious few minutes in the day as it is, and technology should help you to make the most of them. To help you join the ranks of the tech-efficient, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite time-saving apps and tools. Download a few of these, and you'll be able to go shopping, wait on hold, juggle, and bake little Janie's birthday cake all at the same time! (Well, maybe not juggle...)
1. Amazon Subscribe and Save: I’ve discovered that, like most parents, there are certain products I’ll always need. Some of them include: toothpaste, coffee, shampoo and dippers. Recently, I discovered that Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” feature will allow you to have these household staples automatically shipped to your door on a regular schedule. You can cancel the auto-delivery at any time, but I’ve grown really fond of things magically showing up in the mail just as I start to run low on them. On top of the timesaving convenience, you’ll get a discount every time the item ships to you just for signing up for scheduled delivery. Win-win!
2. Fast Customer: I find it incredibly frustrating to wait on hold for endless wasted minutes while the automated service mockingly tells me how important my call is to them. If you're a Mom, you know how tempting (and difficult) it can be to try to help your kids with a school assignment and wait on hold at the same time! One of the most useful apps I’ve discovered this year is FastCustomer. FastCustomer is a free application for iPhone or Android users that, once installed on your smart phone, can be used to wait on hold for you. Just launch the app, select the company you want to contact from a list of more than 2,000 customer service numbers, and FastCustomer will place the call and wait on hold for you. When a representative is reached, you’ll get a call back on your phone from an 800 number, allowing you to eliminate the time spent waiting for someone to help you. In the meantime, you can walk the dog, take a nap, or help Johnny finish his math homework. I bet you and the service rep will both appreciate it.
3. Gas Buddy: With gas quickly approaching $5 a gallon, fueling up the minivan can be a huge part of any road trip budget. Stopping at the gas station located nearest to the off-ramp can easily send you off track. Gasbuddy helps you locate the cheapest gas closest to your GPS location. There’s an app for Android, iPhone, and Widows phones, or you can use the website if you have your laptop with you. No more wasting time driving in circles looking to see "if this town has a cheaper gas station somewhere." Try not to heckle the poor, unprepared travelers paying ten cents more a gallon at the station down the street.
4. Sit Or Squat: Inevitably, on a road trip, someone’s going to have to “go.” If you want to avoid spending twenty minutes searching out a location that has a decent restroom (twenty minutes is more than you may have to spare if your child's situation is "urgent"), check out the Sit or Squat app. This free application rates public restrooms in your vicinity for cleanliness, kid-friendliness, etc., so you know where to stop. No more mystery science bathroom breaks!
5. Net Nanny: Net Nanny is a computer/Smartphone parental control program. The mobile app is going to be released sometime in the next few weeks. For parents who want to monitor or filter their children's use of a phone or computer without having to be present while their children are using electronic devices, Net Nanny is the best option available. It reads a web site's content, categorizes it, and allows you to block certain categories for each of your kids individually. If you want to allow your older child to see content related to drugs or alcohol, but not your second-grader, you can customize access for everyone in your house. The Mobile NetNanny app includes profanity masking, a white list/blacklist feature, and 18 different filtering categories. In the near future, NetNanny will also be releasing time controls, custom alerts, remote administration options, and automatic reporting.
6. Order from your iPhone: There are a number of apps that allow you to order food from the comfort of your car. All parents understand that sometimes just standing in line at a restaurant can be hard work. If your child is having a rough day, and standing in a long line in a public setting isn't an ideal option, here is a list of popular restaurants that let you place a “to go order” from an App. Now, you can walk in, go directly to the front of the line, pay for your food, and leave (some of these apps even let you pay for the food in-app, so you can just walk up, grab your grub, and go).
7. Map Quest: If you’re traveling somewhere new, you will need directions. Until your kids are old enough to read printed directions to you, or help you navigate with a map as you drive, you will probably need a backup plan. MapQuest is a mostly hands-off and completely free solution. Free in the app store for iPhone and Android users, MapQuest offers spoken turn-by-turn directions. To use the app, simply put your location into its simple search field and click on the “route” button. Even if you miss one of your turns because the entire back seat is singing "Wheels on the Bus" at the top of their lungs, MapQuest will automatically re-route itself and get you back on track.
For more tips on how to use technology to save time and money, drop me a note. We can be reached on Facebook seven days a week.