It's well-known that Google services work really well. They are simple, minimal, and extremely effective. This doesn't just apply to the world of technology, you can use some of Google's tricks in your own home to save money. Read on to find out more.
What You Need
Computer with high-speed internet access
Gmail is simple the most streamlined and best email system available. I've been using it for years, ever since it came out, and it just keeps getting better. Instead of having to check multiple email accounts, I only check my Gmail account. It's configured to fetch the emails from all my other accounts and to copy them into my main Gmail account. If you're wondering on how to do this, just go into the settings tab and follow the easy instructions listed under POP3 email account.
Depending on how many emails you get, this might seem overwhelming. However, using labels and the magical Archive button, you can easily deal with tens to hundreds of emails a day without a problem. The big idea is to keep your inbox almost empty. I never have more than 20 messages in my inbox. As soon as I've replied or addressed an issue, the email is archived. If you use your labels right, you can easily find your emails again. If you didn't know, labels are like tags or folders for Gmail. It all boils down to the same thing. The other reason I do this is that I use the remaining emails as a simple to-do list. Once something has been addressed, I archive it.
The main thing that you'll save using Gmail is time. Logging on is easy. Once you've streamlined the way you address your emails, you can check you email only a few times a day, instead of immediately needing to be notified when you get any. I check email only 2-5 times a day, no more. I don't use Google Notifier or Alerts or Google Chat while my Gmail window isn't open. Why? You save a lot of time by doing so and most of the time, emails aren't that urgent.
Also, you'll never have to delete an email again. Think about it. Never. Right now, Gmail users get 7.4GB of free storage for their emails and attachments. This number keeps growing. This also means that you can store quite a number of files in your Gmail account. From music files, to larger documents and presentations, it's a cinch.
2. Google Voice
If you haven't managed to get a Google Voice invitation or account, you should. What Google did so well for email with Gmail, they are doing it again to phone calls. A few years ago, it seemed ludicrous to go without a phone. Nowadays, it's something quite easy and straightforward. What really helps out here is the full integration you get by using Google Voice with Gmail. You've probably used Skype before. Google Voice just streamlines this and makes it easy to replace all voice-based communications using your computer. If you replace your landline with Google Voice, all that's left is to make sure that you have a pay-as-you-go cell phone around for emergencies. Other than that, you'll be ready to go to save $30 to $100 a month using Google Voice. You can even voicemail many different people now with one single message now.
3. Google Picasa
Not too long ago, Google announced cheap plans to store data in the cloud. By using Google Picasa as a way to archive your family's photos, you'll be able to save almost everything in the cloud. Google offers different online storage plans that will go great for many users. Most users will be happy with the smaller or free plans.
This archives your photos online and effectively protects them from loss. It's a perfect way to back them up. The added perk of having all of your photos in the cloud is that you can access them and share them from anywhere. You don't need to have that big USB external drive with you to share photos, or a flash drive. You just need access to the internet.
4. Google Docs
Google Docs might seem like an redundant service, what with most computers having MS Office, but that's not the beauty of Google Docs. The great thing about Google Docs is that once again, you can keep most of your documents online, meaning that they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. But that's not all: you can share docs with other people. This means that you can share documents with other people in your home, family or roommates.
I use Google Docs for many things. When I had roommates, we tracked all of our household expenses using Google Docs. It was simple and we could easily update it. We even tracked shared groceries this way. It's a simple system, but extremely effective, way better than leaving notes on a fridge or asking people to pay the utilities. Simply posting them into a Google spreadsheet does the job, no fuss no muss.
The other thing that you can do is schedule chores easily. You know that all of your kids are connected and that they probably can use Google better than you can. Scheduling chores for the whole family makes things easier and you simply get things done a lot quicker. There's just something cathartic to being able to cross something off a list. Kids enjoy it, and adults do so too. This works well for families and roommates, as it simply cuts down the time wasted on discussions and arguments.
And don't forget. All of these services can be taken mobile thanks to Google Mobile!
Click to see all of this month's Home Hacks tutorials.