Today’s questions is from Jen:
My “not-smart” phone that I’ve had for 6 years just bit the dust and my husband bought me an iPhone. I’m wondering how people use these for meal plans, grocery lists, scheduling their days, etc.?
Not just apps to download, but using alarms, or other features, too. I really want this phone to be an effective tool that makes my life better and more efficient, not just another thing to distract me.
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Sharla @ Slacker Saver says
Download an e-reader app (from Amazon or such) and see if your local library has a way to check out ebooks.
I set up a Dropbox account to automatically upload all my photos so I can access them from my laptop. Many places that print photos have apps so you can upload the pics straight there.
To keep my phone use in check, I sometimes ask myself, “Do my kids know they’re more important to me than my phone?” Sometimes, I need to set it aside and NOT try to get stuff done during every slow moment.
Also, you can get an app to remind you to do your kegels. Just sayin’.
I use the notes app for keeping track of grocery lists, to-do lists, prayer lists, Christmas gift ideas, and anything I would ordinarily have jotted down on paper. I use reminders only when I’m afraid I’ll forget something–morning duty at school, running by an office to pay a bill, something really off my radar. I connect to PowerSchool for my daughter’s school and my work email through apps. Overdrive connects me to my local library and the state library to check out ebooks that I load on Kindle. The local library walked me through setting it up, and have “fixed” the couple of problems I had. I love the Pinterest app–it’s handy for recipes and when I need to find an idea I pinned. I use the Bible, Swagbucks, and Twitter apps, too. Maps has come in handy, but it’s hard to use, especially when it’s spotty internet. Is there a better one to download? I take pics of my kids’ old artwork before I toss it, of projects my students make with legos/puzzles/Lincoln Logs so they can destroy it without feeling they’ve lost it, and listen to music from the cloud. I’ll email myself documents that I might need to refer to when I’m out and about.
I have several free apps on my iphone that have made it worthwhile and have aided me in some way since I got mine a little over two years ago:
CreditKarma: Updates once per week, gives you an estimated credit score, alerts you when a change has happened to any of your accounts (eg. collection, raised limit, etc.)
Timer+: Allows you to set several timers and save them with labels. I have one labeled laundry, one labeled cleaning, one reading, etc.
MyFitnessPal: I’ve lost over 20 pounds using this app. Enter your height and weight and it gives you a calorie goal to shoot for.
SimpliciTEA: Cute animated tea timer. Just click on the type of tea you’re making and it automatically starts the timer for you.
P Tracker Lite: Period tracker. Tells you your average cycle length and predicts when you are ovulating and when your next period will start.
Beep Me: Allows you to set alarms and notifications for yourself. Can be recurring or for a specific date and time. Very helpful.
Scanner Pro: Works like a scanner. Takes a picture of a document and turns it into a scanned copy. You can then email it to someone.
Wunderlist: This is probably my favorite of all of the apps. You can create shopping lists and share them with your husband. It automatically syncs, so the list will always be updated. Wonderful!!!
30/30: Really cool timer app that lets you set several timers meant to go off after one another in sequence. I use it for FlyLady’s weekly home blessing hour.
Ink Cards: Turn any photo into a card you can send. Great for those days you really don’t feel like going to the store for a birthday card!
There you go. Hope you enjoy your new phone and all the productivity and organization it brings!
Kim from Philadelphia says
I still use my paper planner. Can’t get me away from that!!
I take screen shots of recipes I need/ find interesting.
I take more pictures of my son because it’s handy. I take short video clips of him and send them to family and friends who live across the country.
Love the timer; especially when I block out 20 minutes to purge or organize.
I love to stream music through Pandora. I only do this at home because the WiFi is free.
To get better sound when you are streaming music, put your iPhone in a drinking tumbler; instant speakers!!
Totally going to try the tumbler idea, awesome!
Oops, forgot to say in my last comment – I use the camera to take pictures of the backs of my sewing pattern envelopes, and store those in an album. Then when I’m at the fabric store I can look up on my phone how much I need for a particular pattern if I’m suddenly struck with inspiration.
My husband and I use the OneNote app for shared items like shopping lists. In OneNote you can share a notebook with other users (so he and I can have separate accounts). We have a shared notebook for shopping lists, with different tabs for each store.
He stays home with our son and does most of the shopping, so it’s great for when I’m at work and remember that I need something from a particular store. I just go into my phone and add it to the store list. He checks the list from his phone when he’s at the store and sees my additions. It keeps us from spending precious at-home evening time talking about shopping lists!
There are probably other apps you can use to do this, but OneNote is what we use.
Michele R. says
Does anyone have any favorite calorie counting apps that they use? I would like to download one but am not sure which is the best?
I like MyFitnessPal. The app includes a barcode scanner for looking up purchased foods or ingredients. It takes a little work to set up the recipes for things you cook for yourself (but often I just find someone else’s “homemade whatever” entry in the main database and use that, figuring it’s close enough for my purposes).
Christy C. says
I like MyFitnessPal.
Sharla @ Slacker Saver says
I like Noom. It doesn’t exactly count calories, but I think it’s much easier to use than most calorie counters and actually gives me ideas on how to eat better.
I am new to an iphone and not up on apps but I use the camera to photo signs, items, info, etc… to have for later use.
I use Pepperplate for meal planning. With a little applet on my computer, I can instantly add recipes from a bunch of sites, including Skinny Taste, Taste of Home, All Recipes, Eating Well, Food Network, The Pioneer Woman, and a bunch of others. It syncs to my computer, phone & ipad. You can add recipes, add them to a meal planner, and open the specific recipes for the day so you can cook. You can also create a grocery list from it, but I prefer to use Google Tasks for my grocery lists, and other lists.
Speaking of Google Tasks, there are certain mobile web pages that you can add to your home page. Google Tasks is one. I like this, because I can add items to lists on my computer, where it’s much faster for me to type, but then I can check them off on my phone as I go.
I also use Gas Buddy, which tells me the best price on local gas stations. If I’m heading out anyway, I know whether I should stop at the closer one, or skip that one, and hit one a little further along the way.
I rarely get Starbucks, but I occasionally get Groupons for gift cards, and so of course, the Starbucks App is a must if you like Starbucks.
I use Mailbox for my gmail related mail. I have different email addresses based on what type of content, and my gmail is used more for signing up on lists. I tend to discard more of those emails, so I have a separate email app for it. It is really easy to get rid of those mails without having to actually open them, and it keeps more of my important stuff in my regular mail app.
Flixter, imdb, netflix, redbox, and the local theater apps. My kids are getting older, so I have a little more me time, or time with my hubby. Whether it’s finding what’s playing, looking up the actors in a preview of an upcoming movie, rearranging my queue in netflix, or seeing what’s coming to DVD, I have all these apps in a folder, which keeps my screen a little more organized, and I can look up the info in no time.
Feedly. When Google Reader went away, I signed up for Feedly. I have all my blog posts in this reader app. It keeps me up to date with new posts without having to go into umpteen different blogs, and it’s so easy to just swipe through ones I’m not interested in, or keep ones I want to go back and read at a different time. This app has saved me countless hours of internet wasteland, because I can go through things so much more quickly. It’s how I came across this post. 🙂
I love the swagbucks tv app and cozi!
The shopping apps and points apps and income earning apps save so much money it makes it worth it to have the smart phone. I have paid for my phone and the extra cost of having the smart phone plan already this year and keep bringing in more each month. I had to start recording it for my husband and giving him the total every month as he did not “see” the money coming in. The dollar amount seems so small, but when you add it all up it really makes a big difference.
I also use the google cal. Started out with cozi and then the kiddos got older and needed to keep their own calendars. I always use my calendar app.
Contacting people is the basic use of the phone. The ease of having all my contacts on my phone and my computer is very important. Whenever the new church or homeschool or activity phone/address list comes out I update everyone and make sure to add addresses too! So many times I’ve been out needed this information. The iphone has made this so easy. When I had a non smart phone it seemed too much work to enter this info and I would never have it!
Other communications apps I use are Facebook Messenger and Email.
I have some apps for convenience like the Bible reading app with my year reading plan, period app, Evernote, Toodledo, WordPress, Kindle etc.
I teach music so my phone is also the metronome and tuner! Now I do not have to carry these items with me.
Traveling has also become easier with the maps program as well as getting cheaper gas with gas buddy and downloading the University app when I have to get my daughter places on campus!
Work travel is so much easier too. I have my apps for recording tracking my mileage and connected to dropbox for files and jotnot for scanning documents as well as the app for keeping other records.
Smartphones are small computers. When I first upgraded to a smart phone I would remind myself of this. I had to ask myself – what would I prefer to use my phone for over the computer? My smart phone has taken over some things I used to use my computer to accomplish. I have tried meal planning with my phone, but this does not work for me. Meal planning at our house is a family affair and it does not work if I hold all the plans in my pocket! We have to use paper and pen and hang it on the fridge so whoever is in charge of that meal can see the plan.
Different apps will work well for different people. Don’t be afraid to load on an app and then if you find it does not work just delete it off. I have rarely paid for apps and even if you use the free version for a while you can still try it out before buying.
So helpful, thanks!
Christy C. says
I have used Cozi for my shared family calendar and shopping list for two or three years now. We all love it. I am also a big fan of Evernote. I keep notes, journals, songs, recipes, etc. in it.
For health and fitness, I use the Argus app to keep track of steps, etc.
I have the Olive Tree and Blue Letter Bible apps on my phone as recommended by Renee Swope I believe.
For frugal living, I have Gas Buddy, Kroger, Cartwheel, Ibotta, Favado, SavingStar, Cellfire, RetailMeNot, Checkout 51 and Shopkick.
For music, I have Pandora, Spotify and Shazam (Shazam is wonderful if you hear a song on the radio and don’t know the song or the artist. You just let the app listen and it comes up with the song and artist.)
For photos, I have Aviary and PhotoCollage.
WeatherBug is my weather app.
I may have more than I need, but I do use all of these apps on a regular basis. Have fun with your new phone!
I love the “period log” app to track my periods.
Also not sure if anyone said how to take a screenshot/photo on your iPhone but you hold down the “home” button & the “power” button @ the same time.
Thank you, Ruthie! Was wondering how to do the screen shot. Thought I was just ignorant & it must be quite basic. Not so!
Thanks, was going to have to look this up!
Also, LOVE using the read the Bible in a year app – it has kept me on track…and can read it when I am waiting for the kids 🙂
EVERNOTE!! Sorry for the shouting, but this is by far the app I use most often on my iPhone. It has all my stuff at my fingertips and makes the easiest way for me make notes on whatever’s going on and know I can still find it again. No more random slips of paper that I struggle to find in the bottom of my purse. I have my daily routine, grocery list, pantry list, and meal plan all in Evernote.
I also use it to keep track of details for almost everything. It was such a lifesaver last month when I was in a car accident. I put all of the details into one notebook in Evernote. From the details of the accident to the claim number, notes about conversations I had, etc. It made it so much easier when I had to talk to various insurance companies or different people about the claim. It was all in one spot and easy for me to access where ever I was. I’ve also used it when we were looking at purchasing big-ticket items, so I could make sure we knew what we had and what we needed.
The best part is that Evernote is a freemium. The free version is fine for about 90% of people, but if you find you upload more than 60 mb/month (if you do a lot of graphic heavy stuff, this can be an issue) or you need some of the premium features, it’s only $5/month or $45/year. I have the premium version and I love some of the extra features like being able to create a notebook and share it with my sister/mom so we can make plans together. It’s how we’re planning our upcoming trip.
Thanks I will check this out!
I have the swagbucks app and Swagbucks TV, you can run the videos in the background to gain points. I also have the free version of MapMyWalk and My FitnessPal to help me keep track of my workouts and food intake. I also downloaded the Kindle app, which gives me the ability to read wherever I am.
For photos, I linked to Google+ which allows me to reduce photo storage space.
Question about the Swagbucks app for iPhone…have you figured out how to get the alerts/notifications when there is a code? It worked on my Android, but now I have an iPhone (which I love!) & I am not getting the alerts!
Go to settings, notifications, then look for Swagbucks and choose the option you like best.
I use google calendar at my desl so it was easy to use that on my phone too.
I use grocery IQ for our grocery lists. The regular one, and the store specific ones so I remember the things I meant to get when I get to the less frequently visited ones (inc home depot and Ikea). The favourites list makes list maing faster
my to do lists are in swipe list or evernote.
I love taking pictures of things I need to remember, today it was a dance flyer
Becki @Running with Team Hogan says
I have a Samsung Galaxy and would love to hear this same question for apps that work on my phone. 🙂
Evie Kumar says
I have a samsung Galaxy. I have many of the same apps that Iphone has. I love my Just4u app (safeway in my area). I get so many free items from this app, and can add coupons when I see a clearance Item I need.
I have many shopping apps (Walmart, Macy’s, etc) I have Swagbucks on it. I recently upgraded to a S5 and I need to get to know the calendar function better.
I love my YouVersion Bible App.
I have a gas app that I use when I am traveling so I know where the cheapest gas is for the area.
I use my Kindle app
I use (used.. need to get back on board with it) My Fitness Pal and coach to 5k trainer.
I use my starbucks a lot as people have given us many gift cards. My husband hates starbucks so any time he gets a card I add it to my phone app and I am good for a little treat from time to time.
basically everything the Iphone can do Galaxy can do..
I love Cozi…the whole family is on it and we can have a “family calendar” that will remind all or only one of us for each event. I have teenagers so I tell them, add it to the grocery list on Cozi, or it probably won’t get purchased..no more…”mom you didn’t get…” It has made it easier for all of us to keep track of eachother…
Also, my favorite place to find free iPhone apps of all types is appadvice.com. They have a daily feature called Apps Gone Free where they list paid apps that are temporarily free that day, or sometimes free for several days. They also have their own “Apps Gone Free” app that lists the day’s offerings if you don’t want to visit the site.
Oh, and I completely second the Evernote comment above. Such a useful tool, and not just for the iPhone. I use it at my desk, my iPad, my iPhone, Android devices, etc. It syncs beautifully across them all. There are a several really good user guides available to help you focus on how you want to use Evernote. That’s especially helpful because Evernote is SO versatile that it’s often overwhelming.
We use Evernote for organizing everything from meal plans to homeschooling to home/vehicle maintenance. We even use it to scan our receipts, and save web pages. The other wonderful organizational tools are Google Calendar and Google Tasks. With these three apps, we have everything we need to stay organized. Amazon has ebooks on how to go paperless with Evernote 🙂
I second this! Evernote is WONDERFUL for organizing your life. 🙂
I tried Evernote with my iPod Touch & then immediately got rid of it – you can only access your notes if you have an internet connection (unless they’ve changed that by now)? Not for me – I want to be able to download my notes to my device.
I love find my phone. We had to use it when my son lost his phone outside raking. I love cartwheel and Target mobile coupons. For those worried about security, I have my iPhone set to fingers swipe only.
There are a number of calendar apps that I find much more useful than the basic calendar that comes with the iPhone. Depending on what you need, and the amount of information you’re willing to enter, you can get a calendar that will not only keep track of your meetings, but will also integrate your to do lists, calculate directions and driving time to your upcoming appointments, and send you an automatic alert when it’s time to leave. Calendar by Magneto is one such app. It may still be in beta, though, and you’ll have to ask for an invitation.
If you don’t need that kind of schedule micromanagement, there are also calendars, like Sunrise Calendar, with an interface that is much easier to use than the standard iPhone offering. Sunrise can still do a lot of the micromanagement types of things if you want it to, but I don’t find those are its strengths. Instead, the clean interface and easy input methods are the stellar features of this app.
Both of the above were free when I last checked, too.
I have hundreds of apps on my iphone…(had to delete many due to space limitations. ) Only ever paid for one app. That is CouponKeeper2. It was worth it for me because I try to only go coupon grocery shopping twice a month with other fill in trips as needed. It keep track of my coupons (by scanning in) and I am able to not only tell when a coupon is about to expire but also if I have a coupon for an item that I am about to purchase (often used when I see something that I decide to purchase in store–not on my original list). You can try this app for free and then decide whether or not it is worth purchasing.
I also used to do my shopping lists on the iphone (Grocery IQ is my fave) but found that I liked making a paper list still better so I can easily/quickly make little notations with symbols etc… Can do almost all that with the app just found it took me a bit longer.
And as others have already said, I use my phone (other than entertainment, email, and my blog reader) primarily for coupon or deal apps like Ibotta, Krogers, Savingstar, Coupons.com etc…
Use an audio Bible too.
HAve played with a lot of other features and apps but few have stuck the test of time with me.
Hope this is useful info.
I love the fact that I can just say, “set timer for X minutes” and it’s done. This is so handy when I want to remember a load of laundry in the basement and I don’t like to fumble with setting the timer by hand!
Also, I LOVE the fact I can talk it will place to written text. You can also use this to get a head start on other documents. I can always e-mail myself draft files and format later.
In short, I love that I don’t have to use the blasted mini keyboards all the time to communicate using the phone.
This is a great tip, thanks!
I’m really curious to read everyone’s answers to this one. I love my iPhone and can’t imagine how I ever got along without it.
I look for coupons, take screen shots, and then show them to the cashier. While waiting at the auto mechanic, I check their website and grab a coupon. (I’ve done that so often that now the person at the desk just gives me the coupon code and doesn’t make me spend the two minutes looking for it!) I got a Michael’s coupon last week while standing in the checkout line, and it saved me 30% on something that I was going to pay full price for.
My library has an app that I downloaded – I’ve renewed books via my phone and avoided late fees, and reserved titles while browsing at the bookstore (that’s a money-saver, let me tell you). If your library doesn’t have an app, I’m sure you could go to their website and do the same thing.
Bank apps are a must – check your balances, pay bills, whatever.
I’m playing with a variety of budgetting apps also, trying to find the one that’s a good fit for me – there are a million out there, I’m sure you’ll find something.
I have a meal planning app that I really like – it saves recipes and past meal plans. I just find it more fun than using a piece of paper, which makes me infinitely more inclined to use it, and I really like that it keeps past plans and stores meals you eat regularly. And since I have it with me, I can refresh my memory about what’s for dinner from wherever I am.
The other app I’m a big fan of is Evernote – it keeps notes and lists, there are capabilities for different lists, you can add pictures, email content to whomever. I’m still working on figuring out all of the features on this one. I have one notebook that has my yearly goals – they are all laid out on one page, and then I can click on each one to open the individual page to make updates to that specific goal. Since it seems fun to play with, I’ve been pretty good at focusing on and working toward my goals. I’ve got book lists and all sorts of stuff on here, and it syncs to all my devices.
I send emails from everywhere, which makes it easy to keep up with correspondence, and I read many of my must-read websites on my phone or tablet. It lets me use those little 2-3 minute chunks of time for something productive, since the phone is always in my pocket.
What meal planning site do you use?
It’s the MealPlan meal and grocery planner app. I think I paid $2-3 for it, but I think it’s worth it.
Great info, Thanks!
Check out cozi.com. Also the Walmart app. They’ll price check and refund what they find. Checkout 51 gives you cash back on certain foods too. If you like to shop check out shop kick. Yes, I love apps… Anything to make life easier!
sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
The two most frequent ways I save money on my smart phone are via the Just 4 You app from Vons where you can add coupons and discounts to your card even while you’re in the store shopping, and the Target cartwheel app and mobile coupons, which do the same thing and can be scanned through your phone at checkout.
One of my favorites is the reminders feature. I sync to my iPad and husbands phone as well. I keep an ongoing grocery list, meal plans, long term and short term goals, to do list, etc. along with syncing the calendars we both now have access to the same information and if changes are made all devices are updated. The notes feature can also be synced – I keep my most used recipes, books I want to read, etc. none of the features require an app or personal information, just a data connection or wifi to sync. Have fun, so many ways to organize and tons of apps available.
I don’t like having too many apps but I do use my phone to coupon at stores like target, kohls, Michaels etc.
Angela Brown says
You can take screen shots of digital coupons or groupons and it makes it easier in case your phone can’t pull it up on the internet connection. And they can scan it from your phone without looking for it online.
Yes! I do this for my Kohl’s Rewards! Good tip!
My iPhone can pay for itself with the RetailMeNot app. When I was in Hobby Lobby, I looked it up on this app and there was a scannable 40% off 1 item coupon. I got almost 1/2 off on a gift I was buying someone! Lots of times, at Kohl’s or JCPenney I will find at least 20% off.
Check out articles about handy iphone tips. They can do so many things (I love Siri!), but don’t wait to look into these cool features like I did because it’s amazing how many shortcuts and abilities these phones have.
Also, keep an eye out for free-apps! Free (kid’s) apps Friday are great, but occasionally you will see about a free fitness app on mom sites. Download them that day and then decide if you want to keep them after a few uses. I have a few apps that I didn’t use initially and really love now! (Even though I would never pay $6 for them…)
Excellent idea! I pulled up an email coupon to use. When it was my turn to check out, it had disappeared! I couldn’t even bring up the email anymore. I’ll be using this little tip from now on. 🙂
Exactly!!! And that’s why I made that comment 🙂 esp in Target I have had my signal or connection just drop and everyone is waiting on me and its just easier to take a screen shot and use it. Saves the hassle and it saves MONEY! 🙂
I am going to go against the grain on this one. I have a new Samsung phone. all the bells and whistles. I got it free with my up grade. I have my paper planner on hand to write everything down. I do not like my phone buzzing every five minutes for a reminder that the Redbox is due or something else. I have all notifications shut off but text/call. I find all of this is too distracting. Also, the more apps you download the more you are putting your info all at risk. I don’t think having your Credit card all bank info on your smart phone for anyone to steal . What happens if you lose your phone? for every ani theft system there is always someone one step ahead of the game. I have my bank app I can log in and check in under 15 seconds, Target Cartwheel, and Netflix. That’s all. I know some will agree, but I do not like putting tons and tons of Info on my phone. You will not improve your short term memory but setting an alarm every five minutes. Make yourself write down what’s going on. YOu will remember it better. I do use my alarms cooking or something like that, but other wise no. The more you download your phone with junk the more distracting and the more you don’t pay attention to what’s going on because you are always on your phone. Wanna know the weather? Stick your head out of a door. I do have the HIp2save app, as well. That’s a frugal living site i follow.
I have a lock code on my phone.
I agree with not storing banking info on my mobile devices (we have had our identity stolen twice), but have found having my Bible on my phone, Yelp, Weather Underground and photo editing apps have been very helpful. I also agree that all those reminders and buzzing and notifications are too much; others may love having constant distractions but I don’t. I have my text set to not buzz or make any kind of noise. In my notification center everything is turned off but weather. I took the Facebook app off my phone; it was too much.
The phone is there for me; not me for the phone.
I agree with Stephanie. I don’t even have a smart phone. I have a basic cell phone for emergency use only.
Download your bank and credit card apps. Being able to quickly get balance information is an excellent way to stay on top of spending and saving.
My credit union’s app allows me to snap pictures of both the front and back of a check to be deposited, thereby eliminating a trip to the bank. That saves time and money!
Need A Nap2 says
One thing my husband does is sync the iphone calendar with his Gmail calendar. That way I can check his gmail account and he always has his phone calendar to look at and use alarms. 🙂