I spend a lot of time online, which will probably come as no surprise to those who know me, both on and off the internet. And, I can safely assume that if you’re reading this blog, you spend at least a bit of time online as well. But while I spend lots of time online, mostly spent reading blogs, I don’t like to spread my information all over the place by creating a multitude of accounts. The last thing I want to have to do is remember or track sign-in information here, there and everywhere, so I try to keep as many things in one place as possible- a sort of virtual landing strip, if you will.
My virtual landing strip is the wide variety of services available- for free- from Google. I use Google mail and I love it, but I also use Google Documents and Google Calendar to keep me organized and help me stay frugal. Disclaimer- I used to use Yahoo! mail- in fact I still have an account there- but switched to Gmail as my primary email when I started job hunting as the email seemed more professional. I’ve never used any other email provider than Yahoo! or Gmail, so other services may offer these same benefits as I describe below, but you’d have to tell me.
I use Google Docs to save money in two ways. The first is by keeping my budgets in their online spreadsheets. I like that both my husband and I can access them from anywhere we have internet access (I created the documents and then gave him ‘permission’ to edit them…if only I could give him permission to do the laundry too!). I also use Google Docs to keep track of my to-do list, or, now that the holidays are coming up, my gift-buying idea list. I’m dreaming of an Android phone where I’ll be able to access these from anywhere, but for now I have to be content with just checking in from home and work…but the fact that the files are online and I can get them from any location helps remind me of what my goals are or what I need/want/was planning to buy.
Most of my bills are withdrawn automatically from our accounts, but for the few that aren’t I find it useful to have a reminder alert in my Google Calendar that lets me know when I need to check that something was paid. This is especially useful in the first few months of the school year, as all the afterschool activity checks roll out the door. I don’t need to keep track of how many payments are left for swimming- I can just check the associated event in the Google Calendar.
Another reason I love the calendar alerts is because it tells me when to go grocery shopping. I rarely go shopping in the store, so I have an automatic reminder set to buzz me every Monday evening; that way I can do my online shopping enough in advance so that my groceries are delivered on Wednesday, my day off. No more visiting the overpriced neighborhood grocery or ordering pizza because there’s nothing in the fridge!
What online, non-traditional tools do you use to help you save money?