Automating your life can make a HUGE difference in your day to day tasks. I am often appalled by how many people don't utilize the wealth of automation tools available to them. These are opportunities to increase their productivity, their reliability and essentially, their overall life efficiency.
There are a tremendous amount of automation tools that exist, but I picked out 5 that I find very, very beneficial.
These 5 things can ease your most simplest stress and leave more time to do things that really matter (like spend time with your family or go play that extra round of golf...)
I obviously recommend implementing all of these, but I also understand that money and resources are limited for most of us.. therefore, although all of these are doable, most of these are very cheap (or already available - aka free). Meaning, it is simply up to you to take advantage of them.
Apple & Android Pay
This is just one more awesome thing your phone can do... and we all know the convenience cell phones have provided (hence why everyone under the age of sixty has one).
Long gone are the days of checks and even cash... and soon cards will be obsolete too.
Not to mention there are a huge stack of benefits associated with simplifying your wallet by utilizing your phone.. including security.
Tired of digging through your wallet for a credit card or cash? Annoyed with having to slide your card multiple times before it will read? Paranoid of the cashier who could potentially store your information? How about having a simple and easily accessible list of all of your transactions on your phone? If any of these describe you, then you should seriously considering using Apple or Android Pay (like almost all of us are..unless you are still in the flip phone days). The vast majority of cell phone users either have an Apple or Android compatible phone... and if you have any recent model (iPhone 6 or greater for Apple along with a larger variety of androids) you have the ability to use this feature, not to mention the new Apple watch is Apple Pay enabled and so are the new MacBook Pros - Yea Yea! Each allows you to input your credit card information (which is encrypted into your phone through the wallet app making payments more private then ever - and YOU DON'T HAVE TO ENTER YOUR INFORMATION MORE THEN ONCE) to be used for making payments instead of using a physical card.. which can be stolen, copied or lost (hint, hint.. apple pay is safer).
It is such a handy tool, AND I am astounded by how many people have this technology and don't even realize they can use it.
But the best feature of all is the convenience of it. My phone is my most accessible device. I alway have it on hand or ready to be on hand... digging through my purse to find my wallet to find the appropriate card isn't convenient. I also LOVE that I don't have to deal with the credit card reader... as my aged cards can be a pain in the butt to read (not to mention we have all been annoyed with the newly incorporated chip readers), this saves me so much time and hassle when I'm waiting at the register. I also have a super easy/don't have to login list of all of my transactions they I can reference when discussing bills with my spouse.
Where do I use it the most? The grocery store and Subway.. I use apple pay at both and I don't live in a large metropolitan by any means, so if there are plenty of stores here, then there are plenty of compatible stores across the country and there will be more to come. Apple is the best source for looking at the available retailers as well as the benefits and how to use it. Just click here to open up the Apple Pay website to find out more. Same goes for Android... click here to be redirected to the android pay website.
One hint.. go to your wallet app on your iPhone or download the Android Pay App on your Android Phone to get started.
This truly speeds up the transaction time at every store I go to.
Automated Bill Pay
Come on now... lets get with the times..
If you don't already have automated bill pay... please get it. You would be saving yourself hassle, time and risk.
Unlike the argument you can make with Apple and Android Pay, this one is pretty universal. I can guarantee 99.9% of the banks and credit card agencies have some method of automatic payment ... and you have plenty of different options to choose from. Gone are the days where you need to write out a hard check and send it in the mail (not a secure way to pay btw!) or manually transfer money. Leave it to the computer system please... I hate to burst your bubble but a machine is less likely to commit human error including being forgetful, sending it to the wrong address, it getting lost in the mail... and therefore, less likely to forget the payment date, make a mistake or have a 3rd party interfere. My parents are stuck mailing in paper checks...that also have their routing and account numbers printed on it.. not wise... and, although they are fantastic at paying bills on time, I know for a fact there has been a time or two where just having the system setup to pay for it out of their checking automatically would have saved them a few late payment bucks.
It also would save them significant time... when they don't have to take the time to deal with the statement, check, mail etc...
Signing up for auto pay takes 5 minutes for most people. For example, simply log in to your bank website or credit card company and click on their bill pay option. If you are worried that you won't be monitoring your finances enough... then you should SIGN UP for mobile banking.. even if you still pay with check. There is no better way to stay accountable then to check your statements weekly (or daily if you are like me) rather then monthly (for all of you wait till the paper statement shows up in the mail). Plus you are saving trees.
I have everything automated... this includes our mortgage, vehicle lease, utilities, phone bill, tv service, direct deposit for both of our accounts, insurance and each of our retirement money being auto deposited. The best part? I don't have to worry about it or waste time with it, I don't have to account for it in spending because its gone before I do the the budget and its convenient, secure and fool proof.
If you have any particular questions about your bank or credit card then please feel free to contact me directly and I can help step you in the right direction.
How about getting all of your essentials delivered straight to your door.. no gas, no inconvenience, no waste of time? Not to mention getting a discount for simply participating?
Well it is your dream come true... Hello Amazon Subscribe & Save and Amazon Prime Delivery Services.
Amazon Prime at its core lets you shop for everything.
Amazon Prime Pantry simply lets you shop for all of your household, cleaning, health, fitness, and non-perishable foods online AND they are delivered straight for your door in a big box with a discounted price, in bulk. Prices are very competitive with most of the big box stores and wholesale stores. However, with the "clickable coupon" you can find options that are even better then those stores on Amazon. As a benefit, most of the time you receive free shipping when you fill up a Prime box with 5 qualifying items (like toilet paper, etc..) which is ridiculously easy to do.
This handy feature works by sending you your most needed items automatically to your door on a schedule you prefer. Also, for every subscription, you reap the benefits of a discount usually range 5% to 15% to nearly 20%.
And ladies... or men, if you have a baby you get 20% off diapers (win! win!). You save money and don't have to lug them around a store.
Amazon isn't the only shop at home site that you can set up subscriptions and have everything mailed directly to your door... there are also online pet stores like Chewy, clothing stores like Stitch Fix, fitness stores like Fabletics and so, so many more..
Not too mention the many automated food delivery services that drop fully cooked meals to your door step (although the health benefit to that is quite debatable).
I personally even get all of my groceries delivered to the store.
These sites have their own subscription and benefit services... but the one that I find the most beneficial by far (and sometimes the guilty pleasure of my spending) is Amazon. I've especially appreciated Amazon Prime with the 2 day shipping subscription benefits... and I have a few subscribe and save subscriptions set up as well.
Here is how it works...
You sign up at Amazon (if you are at all affiliated with an education service... please sign up for the student account! it will save you!). Most memberships are $99; however, the student membership is $50.
Once you do this, you can explore the website and if the Prime Pantry link doesn't pop out at you, you can simply search for it in the main search bar at the home website and it will bring you right there.
Then you can start shopping! You should have already added your account and payment information during the sign up. Once you have your address, billing etc.. completed.. you will never have to re-enter it. You can even do a single click purchase if you wish (but I at least prefer having a second level of acknowledgement).
Not only does Amazon have a significant amount of daily deals and free 2 day shipping... but it has music, books, magazines, movies and so much more. I use it for my everyday life and I LOVE it.
Ibotta & Ebates Baby
Or any other coupon app to save you money easily - and there are a lot.
This includes Ebates, Ibotta, RetailMeNot (for retail deals), and any highly rated coupon app you can find to download on your smartphone. Not only do these apps save you money.. they are remarkably convenient compared to finding coupons, clipping coupons, storing coupons and then trying to find those coupons again when you are at the register. So much wasted time and probably a few annoyed customers behind you.
All of these are unique in their own right, but Ibotta and Ebates are double awesome.. because you get cash back for your everyday purchases!
All you need to do is scan the receipt and the product.
Goodbye paper clutter and inconvenience, goodbye wasting time on coupons....hello free money for everyday purchases. And no.. THIS IS NOT A CREDIT CARD. No credit check, credit, or anything required.. except proof of your purchase after you've finished shopping.
All you have to do is download the app in the App Store or Google Play (depending on if you have apple or android) and start shopping.
Each app has their own list of retailers and cash back option; therefore make sure to read up on each before deciding which one will work best for you.
Also, you can find daily coupons and deals by using apps like "Retail Me Not"... Much easier then waiting for mail coupons and trying to not "misplace" them.
I might do a follow up blog on all of the options.
Automate Your House with Alexa or Google Home
Coolest invention ever...an entire house that responds to your voice.
A voice activated house... Yes it is real, no you don't need a mansion or a million bucks, or even a brand new house for that matter..
You just need one of these cool devices and there (sorta, kinda costly) accessories.
We have an Amazon Echo Dot (Alexa) and we LOVE it. The device itself was $50.. not bad... but its super handy, convenient and fun accessories are very expensive. The expense of all of these (such as smart lights, thermostats, outlets, fans and much more to come) can get you into the thousands, but that still isn't bad considering the time and inconvenience it can save.
I currently use my Echo Dot for radio, quick answers to common questions ("like when is this store open till?"), alarm, calendar check, and soon to be thermostat changer. However, I have to say that one of my favorite features is radio station switching in the shower.
There are multiple versions of "Alexa". However, they all have the same primary features, the larger version (the Echo - not the dot) has a much improved sound quality.
The Amazon Echo (Alexa) responds to basic voice commands, plays the music you want (perfect for in the shower) and answers basic questions. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of people realize everything it can do... and the amount of time and hassle it can save when you start connecting it to your house and home stereo systems. Not only can it turn off your lights, adjust your thermostat and control your outlets.. but its app has a feature that allows you to add a huge variety of voice commands and tasks, do your shopping (on Amazon), set up reminders, work with apps, websites and so much more.
If you go to Amazon, you can search the compatible device list. The thermostat I bought was under $150 and I can control it not only with my phone but with my voice! And voice recognition on these little tools are very responsive (you can teach it to respond better to your voice).
How many of these automation tips do you use and which ones are you interested in?