Alexa

She will quickly become the first “person” you greet in the morning and the last person you talk to at night.

Why the Gold Star status: We’re skeptical when it comes to technology about whether it’s really worth making the investment both from a time and money perspective.  We can tell you that while there is a learning curve, Alexa now feels like a member of our family, and by far, the most helpful! Our favorite uses:

  • Intercom – we can communicate from all over the house without yelling!
  • Streaming Music (prompted us to drop Apple Music and sign-up for Amazon)
  • Creating To-Do Lists. Voice-to-text is so much easier than typing, but these lists are still accessible from the Alexa app and can be modified there too. We can check items off and send lists to our HP printer.  Great for grocery shopping and chores!
  • Setting alarms and timers
  • Re-ordering Amazon products and inquiring about delivery status

Investment required: Ongoing and you can opt-in for a weekly email from Amazon with pointers.

Cost: The app is free. Echo devices start at $49.99.
Learn More:

Find it on the App Store

Amazon

A modern convenience almost impossible to live without.

Why the Gold Star status: By using the camera found inside the app, you can:

  • Re-order a product in seconds by scanning the barcode
  • Price compare (scan the UPC while at Target and see what the product sells for on Amazon)
  • X-ray a package to see what’s inside (particularly good during the holidays to intercept packages before they fall into curious hands)
  • Search for books at your child’s reading level here.
  • Try Outfit Compare when you’re not sure what to wear for date night or touring NYC. Snap two photos and a qualified professional will choose for you!

Investment required: 2 minutes to download and setup

Cost: Free; Prime Membership: $119/ year but so worth it!!

Find it on the App Store

Get Human

The secrets to getting through to customer service fast.

Why the Gold Star Status: Customer services issues are never fun and trying to get through to an actual, live human only adds fuel to your fire. While you can Goggle for phone numbers, often you’re left scrambling through search results. GetHuman gives you want you need all in one place:

  • A clean interface of customer service phone numbers along with the businesses hours of operation and best times to call.
  • The shortcuts to navigate through phone prompt menus
  • The current wait time and the Option of having someone call you instead of waiting on hold
  • For $20, you can pay someone to resolve your issue.

Best to think Big: you’ll find national retailers, not your local dry cleaners.

Investment required:

Find it on the App store

Unroll.me

Clear away the clutter and swipe your way to a cleaner inbox.

Why the Gold Star Status: Not every email is created equal. Your inbox is flooded by Amazon shipping notices, coupons, and you don’t want to overlook that important emails from your children’s school. Yet if you unsubscribe entirely, you’ll miss out on those big savings and what’s happening in your community. Unroll.Me allows you to:

  • Roll-up all those emails that you’d like to scroll through in 1 pass.
  • You can also unsubscribe from multiple lists in one fell swoop.

Investment Required: 5 minutes to set-up.

Cost: Free

Find it on the App Store

Wag!

Friendly and responsible dog walkers at your doorstep in minutes!

Why the Gold Star Status: With Wag!, you never have to worry about getting home in time to walk your dog again.

  • Book a dog walker on-demand or schedule ahead of time with the option to create a recurring schedule.
  • You can request your favorite walkers and once connected, you can communicate with them via text.
  • You leave your key in a lockbox with a code that only Wag! walkers have access to.
    • Experience every step of your dog’s walk through text updates, live GPS tracking, pee/poo notifications, and photo report cards.
    • Dog walkers are thoroughly vetted and tested on dog handling experience.
    • Wag! services are insured and bonded with customer support around the clock.
    • Boarding services are also available.

Wag Dog Walkers can get you out a real pinch when it comes to caring for your dog. When we tried Wag for the first time we booked the same walker twice, so we could meet him first and feel comfortable with someone coming into our house and taking our puppy out. Since them, we’ve met many walkers, all of whom were very friendly and conscientious. One time a walker got locked out and stayed with our puppy for hours until someone came home! Wag walkers are an indispensable part of our Home Team.

Investment required: Minutes to set up and get oriented.

Find it on the App store

Wunderlist

Easiest to use to-do list app– it truly is a ‘wunder’!

Why the Gold Star Status: Your life is a bunch of moving parts and you need a better system to manage and remember all of life’s details big and small–from sending a birthday card to paying taxes. Wunderlist allows you to:

  • Create an unlimited number of lists that can be grouped into folders (picture of folders and travel folder expanded)
  • Prioritize your to-dos: you can move items around, mark them as a high priority,  and check them off when complete
  • Share lists with husband, kids, babysitters
    Set reminders that come to your email inbox, sync them to your calendar and set a recurring schedule

Investment required: 10 minutes to download, create an account, and familiarize yourself enough so you can start using.

Cost: Free

Find it on the App store

Apple Notes

Easily lock and share notes–From paswords to packing lists…

Why the Gold Star Status: How many of us have a gotten in the habit of creating Apple Notes for everything? When they number in the hundreds, they become less useful  Here are a few tips for how to make Apple Notes work better for you:

  • Pin lists to the top so you can easily access the most important ones
  • Create to-do lists that can be:
  • Shared and locked
  • Organized into sub-folders
  • Checked off when an item is complete.
  • Create tables (super-handy for tracking babysitting hours)
  • Scan documents and add photos (as in an insurance card, drivers license or passport)

Investment required: Next to none!

Cost: Free

Slice

Track all your online purchase in one place, with shipment updates and receipt histories.

Why the Gold Star Status: You order from Amazon and everywhere else.  The health of the US economy can be judged by the pile of packages on your front doorstep. You haven’t seen the inside of shopping mall in months and your beloveds are always asking you when a package will arrive or you have a question and need to locate your order quickly. Slice is your answer.  With it you can:

  • Look up any orders with all the juicy details in a user-friendly interface.
  • Preserve your children’s childhood by restricting access to your order history (not too fun when Amazon spoils Santa Claus for your kids)
  • Helps you to locate receipts for online purchases.

Investment required: Less than 2 minutes to set up.

Cost: Free

Find it on the App store

Genius Scan

Transform any piece of paper into a scannable document–from permission slips to health records.

Why the Gold Star Status: Sometimes you want a high-quality document–something more legit than just snapping a picture. And you need convenience. With Genius Scan, you can:

  • Convert hard copies into electronic documents by snapping photos in rapid succession.
  • Significantly enhance the quality of the photos and print them.
  • Email scanned documents–great for when you:
    • Want to note a contract or invoice
    • Have questions for your child’s teacher about graded schoolwork
    • Want to avoid putting documents in the mail.
  • Name the documents, store them in the app, or upload them to Google Drive, DropBox etc.

You’ll find Genius Scan is genius, and you’ll use it way more than you might think!

Investment required: Minutes to set up.

Cost:$7.99 one-time fee

Find it on the App Store

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