Using technology to help manage the household can add up to a good amount of time and money saved—not to mention a significant reduction in things (paper calendars and planners) and clutter (all those papers!). Here are the top four apps I'd hate to live without.
Perfect Your Budget with YNAB
YNAB stands for "you need a budget." And let me just say: You do. You can read more of my thoughts in Basics of a Household Budget that Works. It was actually through your comments on this article that I finally decided to give YNAB a whirl. It is AWESOME. Everything I wished my previous program would do, YNAB does — and then some. It is seriously life-changing and I really really wouldn't want to be without this program. (The app is a way to enter items on the go, which will sync with the full-feature software on your computer.) The software is a $60 one-time fee, with optional paid upgrades when they are available. Worth every single penny and will pay for itself in the first month. (Tip: It's free for college students.)
Conquer To-Dos with 2Do
Though I tried many others that might be more popular (like Wunderlist), 2Do has worked best for me. There were certain features, like being able to attach hand-written notes created with the stylus of my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, that made 2Do a good fit. I've also found that when it comes to deciding what goes on a to-do list versus on the calendar, this works: time-dependent items like appointments and due dates go on the calendar while non-time-dependent items like booking an appointment or mopping the floor work best on a to-do. Weekly cleaning tasks for The House that Cleans Itself are indeed stored in 2Do. Unfortunately, it looks like the developers are tapering off support on the Android version, though a brand new iOS update has been released. Looks like I'm in the market for Android to-do app suggestions...
Meal Plan and Make Grocery Lists with Plan to Eat
Speaking of saving money and time — I want to shout from the rooftops about Plan to Eat. (If you've been around me at all in the month since I got it, you've been subjected to my spiel about how great it is.) Plan to Eat does it all when it comes to every aspect of with meal planning: recipe storage and sharing, putting meals on the calendar, and generating a shopping list. There's even a "freezer" feature that enables you to keep track of freezer meals. You can change quantities of every recipe, you can save entire menus to use again, you can even keep track of how much various meals cost! Adding recipes from online is as simple as the click of a button. Plan to Eat is $40 per year and unquestionably worth it.
Conquer Paper Clutter with Evernote
Evernote can be used in so many inventive ways, but I mostly use it to store informational stuff rather than keeping it physically. My daughter's kindergarten daily schedule, flyers about summer camps, even coupons are "filed" in Evernote, and only take up virtual space. The best thing about it is that I can find the information when I want it! Tagging makes searching on Evernote powerful. Built-in OCR (optical character recognition) capabilities even let you search text within an image. This is technology making our lives easier at its finest. So even if I threw an image of a Best Buy receipt into Evernote and I forgot to title or label it, a search for "best buy" will yield what I'm looking for because the name of the store is on the receipt. Regular Evernote is free; premium is $5 a month.
What apps can't you live without?