Time and Sanity Saving Tools, for Even the Technology Challenged

threecellsperspective

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am not the most technologically savvy person. I didn’t even own a smartphone until about a year ago. I’d get laughs as I pulled out my basic slide phone to take down phone numbers. I was also pretty much the only person at the preschool holiday parties taking photos with my point and shoot and not my iPhone. I was okay with it though. More than okay, I actually took a little bit of pride in the fact that I was using basic technology and wasn’t staring at my phone 24/7.

Eventually, not having access to the internet and email on the go began to get very inconvenient. I was also losing out on things like great coupons, changes in social plans (I had no access to email outside the home), easy photo sharing with friends and family, among many other things. It was finally time to upgrade to an iPhone.

I’m starting to come around in other ways as well. My family has switched from a family wall calendar to an iCloud family calendar (although I still carry a paper planner). I’ve also started to take advantage of all the great apps and websites out there for things like navigation, accounting, and even grocery shopping.

Technology is also helpful for increasing productivity and keeping you organized. Obviously, this is a big appeal for me. Here are some of my favorites that I find useful for those reasons:

Calendar Syncing– Now that I have started syncing my calendar with my husbands, managing our schedules has been a lot easier. I simply use the calendar on my iPhone and created a family calendar that is shared with my husband’s phone. I know some people prefer to do this with an app like “google calendars,” but so far using the phone calendar has worked great for us. When I add an event, I choose to add it to the family calendar so it appears on his calendar as well, or my personal calendar where only I see it. I also like that when a new calendar event is added to the family calendar he receives an event notification that has to be confirmed. So basically, he can’t claim anymore that I didn’t tell him about an event coming up.

Online/App Grocery Shopping– Honestly, I use to think people who ordered their groceries were lazy but in reality, they are smart. I don’t generally have my groceries delivered, but I do order them online and pick them up in a sort of drive through. It’s a small fee to do this, but I save so much money in the process that it makes up for this fee and some. I order my groceries the night before and pick them up the next day. This method helps me stick to my grocery list and I don’t ever have to question whether I’m out of something, because I can just look. I can sit down and meal plan with sales ads, and add my ingredients on the spot. Pickup is so easy too. I usually just grab them on the way home from picking my son up from school. Seriously, I’m never going back.

Chatbooks While I store most of my photos online, I still love printing out some of my photos into photo books. Chatbooks is a great way to easily create photo books that area printed and sent to you. They are smaller books that don’t take up as much space, are priced great, and with their app you can easily grab photos from your phone and social media accounts. It can also sync with your social media and automatically create the books as you go. It’s not a fancy customized book that you spend hours creating, but sometimes simpler is better. http://www.Chatbooks.com

Artkive Artkive is a great app that is use to scan and store artwork. All you have to do is take a picture of the artwork and Artkive will store is along with the child’s name and age. The art can then be printed into books or other awesome things like pillows and shower curtains. Apps like these are great for people like me who have children who create A LOT of artwork. I always save my favorites, but now I can throw the others away without as much guilt. http://www.Artkive.com

Banking Apps- I was skeptical about this one at first. I’ve used online banking for years, so I didn’t think I really needed an app for it. Plus, I was slightly worried about the security of it. I gave in one day because I didn’t feel like going to the bank and wanted to try mobile check depositing. I love it now! It’s so easy to use and no longer needing to drive to the bank to deposit a check is awesome. There are other great features of the app as well, but it’s worth it for the deposits alone.

I may tend to be a little late to the game with new technology, but I am always willing to embrace something that makes my life simpler, saves time, and my sanity. I’ve found these do just that.

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You’ve Decluttered, Now What?

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This time of the year, many people go into Spring cleaning mode. This may involve some (or a lot of) decluttering and removing items from your home that you no longer want taking up space. But what is the best way to get rid of these items?

I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of options available for getting rid of all those items you are ready to part with. I’ve broken it into two sections: ways to sell and places to donate.

Sell them:

Yard Sale- Spring is a great time of the year to do a yard sale, or even an estate sale if you need to. It’s a pretty simple way to get some extra cash and get rid of things that you no longer want in your home. Simply advertise your sale, price tag your items, and host your sale outside your home (or at a community yard sale if that’s an option).

Craigslist/EBay- Another option for selling your items is to use Craigslist, EBay, or another of the many websites available to sell items. Craigslist doesn’t involve shipping your item like EBay does. Just be careful to be aware of scammers on Craigslist. It is also best to meet your seller in a public location when possible.

Facebook Yard Sale Group- To find one of these groups search Facebook for your state and “yard sale” and a variety will pop up. For example “Maryland Yard sale.” These groups are great because you can sell a variety of things to others in your area simply by uploading a picture and posting it on the Facebook page.

Consignment Store in Person- Local consignment stores will take a variety of different items. Some will even pay upfront for items. Others will put your items on consignment, so that you get a percentage of the sale WHEN they sell. This is usually the case for higher end items like designer clothes, handbags, or furniture.

Consignment Stores through Mail/Online- There are many online consignment stores these days. My favorite at the moment is Thredup.com. Simply request a bag on their website, fill it up, and drop it at the post office. They will pay upfront for the clothes they want to sell, consign (pay when someone purchases) higher end items, and donate what they don’t want. You have the option to have the items they don’t want returned to you for a fee.

Amazon- Amazon is a good place to sell items such as used books. Many books also have the option to be traded-in for Amazon gift cards.

Donate them:

Depending on where you live, there are multiple locations that donations can be made of just about anything. Smaller, local donation centers are great because the items donated usually help serve individuals in the areas you live. A quick Google search will help you find some local options. Donationtown.org is a website that will schedule donation pickups and deliver to donations centers in your area.

Some other donation options that are available in most cities are:

Goodwill- Supports employment training and job placement. Accepts most items. Pickups available. (Free pickups must be scheduled a decent amount of time in advance. Priority pickups are available for a fee. www.goodwill.org. Amazon also has a partnership program with Goodwill called the give back program. Delivered Amazon boxes can be filled with donations and shipped to Goodwill free of charge. All you have to do is request a shipping label from http://givebackbox.com/amazon, fill up your Amazon box, and ship for free.

Purple Heart- Donations help fund programs to support veterans and their families. They accept clothing and household goods. Pickups are available. www.purpleheartfoundation.org

Habitat for Humanity ReStore- Provide shelter for those in need around the world. They accept donations of new or gently used furniture, appliances, housewares, building materials and more. They offer pickups of larger items or large amounts of donations. www.habitat.org.

Lupus Foundation Household Goods Program- Proceeds from donations are used to support programs in the fight against Lupus. They accept most household items and offer small or large pickups in many cities. www.lupuspickup.org.
Also, if you don’t already know what Lupus is, please learn more here: What Is Lupus??

Diaper Banks- There are many diaper banks across the country and they usually accept much more than just diapers. Many also accept items such as: unopened baby food and formula, bottles and accessories, baby clothing, adult hygiene products, and more. Check with your local diaper bank for a complete list. If you are in the DC Metro area the DC Diaper Bank is a great place to donate these items.

Craiglist Free Section/Freecycle Network-  Craiglist’s free section and The Freecycle Network aren’t tax deductible charity donations, but they are still a good way of finding a new home for something you no longer want/need. Simply post the item you want to get rid of for free and wait for someone to respond that they would like it. Many times items are simply placed outside your home or “curbside pickup” for easy pickup.

These are only some of the great options out there for taking items you no longer need and putting them in the hands of those that do need them.

What are some of your favorite ways to sell or donate the things you no longer need or want?