Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankfulness 2013, Day 1: My Phone

*dust dust dust*

*sweep vacuum sweep*

*cough cough*

Excuse all the dust as I brush off the blog and attempt to bring it back to life!

Welcome to November! Last year I tried to post everyday about something I was thankful for in preparation for Thanksgiving. It was hit or miss, but I think that I ended up having something to be thankful for, even if I didn't post every day. I'm attempting to meet that goal again this year, and hopefully I'll get back into the habit of posting more often.

To start off the month, I am thankful for my smartphone.

Okay, it tends to be more stupid than smart, but seriously, I can see why people love having one!

We've had the phones (Samsung Galaxy SIII minis) for just under two months, and they're wonderful. Pete's cell phone screen had broken a few months ago, leaving him unable to text for awhile. He then started using my ancient cell phone which worked, but was very slow. My phone had just started to die (the microphone wouldn't work, leaving me unable to make phone calls), so it was time. Thankfully our contract was up for renewing, and we were able to get great deals on the phones (hello 99 cent phones!).

The downside is that our bill is triple what it had been, but I think although it's affecting our budget a little, it's worth it.

My favorite apps so far (random thought: it's weird seeing our last name everywhere!):

Mint: Mint can be used on a computer or mobile device (including our tablet), and it's a free budgeting system. It links up with all your bank/credit card/mortgage/investment/utility accounts, so you can see what bills are coming due, how much money you have left in a certain budget category, or how much money you have in your checking account at a glance. We use it on the laptop to set up the monthly budget, but have it on our phones so when we're shopping, we can see how much money we have left to spend on food, gas, etc. that month while we're out and about. No more guessing about what's left, we have no excuse anymore. We've only been using the app about three weeks, and I really think that it helped our spending, and we had more money left over at the month than we were expecting (we were $100 over budget when we planned the month, but ended up about $150 under budget. Not bad!) Even if you don't have a smartphone, I highly recommend this for anyone to use on their computer!

Google Keep: Pete put this on my phone, and at first I was all confused by it. I didn't know what it was or what to do with it, but now I don't know what I'd do without it! It's basically a place for me to keep lists and reminders, and I know I don't use all of it's features, but I still love it. I have a note for all the individual stores we go to (Aldi, Wegmans, JoAnn fabrics, etc) , so when I notice we're running low on something (Cheerios or thread), I add it to that specific note. If I'm afraid I'm going to forget to get something off my list, it will pick up on my GPS and remind me (kinda freaks me out how that works, but it's come in handy more times than I'd like to admit....). I can also send lists to Pete, so if I know he's going to get gas after work, he can swing over to Aldi or Wegmans which is just down the road and pick up our items. Pretty snazzy!

Google Calendar: So this one isn't something super new to us, but I'm actually using it routinely for the first time ever. Pete's always using it to keep track of his work schedule, meetings and when he's teaching what unit or giving a test, but I never got into it as I would never think to check it. However, I'm also not very good at checking his calendar for his schedule or the wall calendar in our dining room or my planner that I'm supposed to be taking with me everywhere, or even syncing them up. Having this calendar on my phone, which is always with me, and having it synced with Pete's calendar has been amazing. All of a sudden we know who's doing what when and where, and there's no more arguments about lack of communication regarding scheduling. It also can be used on a computer if you have a Google account, but if you don't think to check it often, it's not super handy.

Minion Rush: Hey, everyone needs a super fun game to play once in awhile...or be addicted to. You get to be a Minion from Despicable Me and run through various locations, like Gru's neighborhood, his lab, El Macho's Lair, and Minion Beach. And you get to ride a Fluffy Unicorn. It doesn't get much better than that! We downloaded it onto our tablet awhile ago, and it was one of the first things I added to my phone. My kids love playing it, and it was a great way to distract them at the doctor's when they were getting shots.

Okay, I need to go make up November's budget on Mint while kids are napping! Happy November, everyone!

What are you thankful for today?

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