The world is absolutely brim full of fabulous things to do. It’s also chockfull of things that must be done. Add in a kid or five, a couple jobs, a house, a car, any of the myriad trappings of the developed world and suddenly, it’s easy to feel like you are drowning beneath a sea of plenty; trapped, gasping, overwhelmed.
These are first world problems to be sure. But, for better or worse, they are the only problems most of us are familiar with, and a girl could use a little help.
So here are a few of my favorite online resources designed to make your complicated first-world life easier. God bless the Internet.
You know this one, right? It’s a free internet service that allows you to enter all of your financial information from numerous banks, properties, investments, and debts and see the big picture all in one place. Most importantly, it allows you to set up budgets for just about anything you can think of, and as you spend money, it magically categorizes it for you (no, you don’t manually enter anything) so you can see how you’re doing throughout the month. It will even send you alerts when you have a bill coming due or a low balance in one of your accounts. I set it up in about an hour a couple years ago, and ever since it has been regularly alerting to me to the fact that I’m remarkably over budget and underfunded. It’s nice to know someone else notices.
Your kid wants to watch what/play what/read what? What is that show/game/book? Is it appropriate? Is it any good? What determines good and appropriate anyway? Enter this fabulous website that gives you the down low on just about any media you can imagine. It not only provides a suggested age, but it clues you in to how much violence, bad language, commercialism, and sexy stuff to expect. There are also reviews by regular people as well as “things to discuss”. Never again waste time wondering if Crocodile Dundee just kisses the girl or really gets it on.
Along the same lines, here’s a resource that I imagine is in use in every home. Internet Movie Data Base is the modern answer to the perpetual question, “Who is that actor? I know I’ve seen him before… was he in Fargo?” If you aren’t already using this, I’ve just saved you untold aggravating hours of brain racking. Just look up the movie or show you are watching, click on the character, and BAM! Everything that actor has appeared in since childhood is instantly revealed. Ahhhh. The sweet sensation of relief.
So, you think my menus suck, but you still need help getting dinner on the table? No problem. EMeals will send you meal plans for seven dinners – including recipes and a shopping list – for around $5 a month. There are many menus to choose from including budget, low fat, Weight Watchers (called portion controlled), Paleo, Vegetarian… the list goes on. We’ve used it in the past and were actually quite delighted with the recipes and the preparation time. A caveat – a weeks worth of dinners for four can set you back at least $80 in the grocery store, but if you’ve got it to spend, it sure does make life easier. Even my non-cooking husband was able to whip up some delicious dinners.
This thing is Evite’s classy cousin. What do you do when you want to invite a bunch of people to an event, but some of them don’t use email? Drag those people kicking and screaming into the 21st century? No. Just use Paperless Post, where you can design beautiful digital invitations (including digital envelopes) and ALSO get printed copies for the grandparents. Many designs are free, though some require you to purchase “paperless postage.” It’s even great for kid’s birthday parties, especially for those parents (the ones who make the rest of us look bad) who like to have a physical copy of invitations for the family scrapbook.
Ok. I haven’t used this. It’s not in Nashville yet, though I pray it’s coming soon. I’ve been stalking the website for months now. Task Rabbit is like a background-checked Craigslist handyman service where you can find people to do all the things you really need to get done, but just can’t manage on your own. Clean out the garage? Check. Build Ikea furniture? Check. Hand out a hundred fliers? Check. Think Uber for odd jobs.
I used to be a musician, people. I say this because it sheds a little light on how absolutely pathetic it is that I am completely unaware of the plethora of new music out there today. Mostly, I’m stuck listening to whatever my eleven year old daughter likes, or classical music, because it keeps my three-year-olds from screaming in the car. But I know what I used to like, and not only are some of those artists still touring (though who has time to look at tour calendars?) but there are new artists who’ve emerged with some of those same influences. Last.fm is like Pandora on crack. You enter artists you like and it suggests artists, some new, some old, that it thinks have something in common with your tastes. Additionally, it searches for tour dates for your favorite artists as well as looking for any available free downloads. You can listen to a station based only on your selected music, or Last.fm’s recommendations, or a mix of both. And the database not only carries superstars, but also lesser known artists. Beautiful! Behold, you are now hip.
There are a million great websites out there. These are just a few of my go-tos.
What are your favorite keep-you-up-to-date, or save-you-time sites?