The price of computers has fallen, year by year. Still, for many they are a major expense.
We want to use our computer as much as possible to get our money out of them. Here are some ideas to make the most of your computer.
HOME and OFFICE
Finances - Use a program like Quicken to take control of your finances. Keeping your finances on your computer saves time, and can also save money. Using search features, you can easily track expenses, as well as payments, which comes in very handy when there is a dispute over whether you have made a payment. I keep over 5 years of transactions in mine. I had one occasion when I had to go back 2 years to find record of a payment, which would have been very difficult if my records were only on paper.
Online Banking - Pay your bills online if it is free with your bank. If it isn't, I would consider changing banks. Save time, save the cost of stamps, and send money securely.
Investing and Money - If you invest money, either on your own or with an employer, use your computer to monitor what is happening to it and make appropriate changes. Become an informed investor.
Spreadsheets - Keep your family budget on a spreadsheet. Print out your budget, and track your expenses monthly.
Organization - Keep all vital information, password protected, in an organizer, like Lotus. Back it up with regularity. This includes all Internet passwords, Bank Account Numbers as well as addresses and phone numbers.
Word Processing - Use your word processor program for all correspondence, journals, research notes, menu planning, and have the advantage of being able to keep a copy if desired.
E-mail - Keep in touch with family and friends with e-mail. Again, this saves time as well as money, and is much faster than smail mail. Invest in a scanner and send pictures to family and friends.
HOBBIES AND CRAFTS
Greeting Cards - Make your own personalized greeting cards.
Hobby Information - Find instructions and free patterns on the Internet.
Calendars - Make your own calendars. Input information once, and it will come up year after year. Never forget birthdays or ages again. Keep track of all household events -everything from recycle day to payday.
Mailing Labels - Make your own return address mailing labels, as well as labels for items you send on a regular basis. Use graphics to make them special.
Gifts - Use your computer and printer to make gifts. Make calendars for family members with birthdays and other family information. Make personalized mailing labels for others, as well as greeting cards, stationary, birthday charts, and coloring books. Print up articles, patterns, etc. in subjects you know others are interested in, and put them in a binder. Pictures - Scan all your personal pictures, and put them on a CD. Make copies for everyone in your family, and they will be saved for generations.
ENTERTAINMENT AND EDUCATION
Education - Help your children with their homework, view tutorials, and research papers and projects. Learn a language, learn to type, or earn a degree.
Games - Play a favorite computer game. There are computer games for everyone. My favorite is to play Backgammon against my computer.
Genealogy - Research your family tree on your computer. One of the biggest resources in the LDS Family History site at: http://www.familysearch.org/. There are also many research sites, such as ancestry.com. Use forums to find other family members and share information and pictures.
Recipes - Keep your favorite recipes on computer, and easily share them with others. Subscribe to newsgroups and have new recipes delivered to your email daily. Use search engines to find recipes with ingredients on-hand to save money.
The Internet - Read the news on your computer. Follow the weather and television programming. Look up phone numbers. Collect clipart. Shop. Bid on auctions. Sell at auctions. Invest. Learn how to save money. Whatever your interest, you will find sites on the Internet that you will enjoy.
Graphics - Collect graphics and use them in letters, mailing labels, greeting cards, newsletters, etc.
YOUR COMPUTER IS A VALUABLE RESOURCE FOR YOUR FAMILY. USE IT WELL!
About The Author: Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at www.frugalhappyfamilies.com - where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money! Article first published at www.allthingsfrugal.com
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