Our lives are busy and constantly on-the-go. There are a lot of moving parts to keeping life in order, from managing the home, pets and kids to paying the bills on time. When things feel overwhelming, I usually turn to technology — ever ready to assist with life management problems. In other words, there's an app (or a gadget) for that, and I've found a bunch that help me stay on top of things while I'm at the office, running errands, or taking a little "me" time.
All the ones that deal with sensitive information (a view into your bank accounts, doctor's visits, or living room) have bank-level security so you don't have to trade safety for convenience. Here are a few tech tools that will help you keep an eye on what's important in your life.
"Who fed the dog?" is a refrain often heard in my house. Between the babysitter, the kids, my husband and myself, we're usually unclear as to whether she's been fed four times, or not at all. Clever wireless sensors from Green Goose take all the guesswork out of the care and feeding of your pet. Place one on the food scoop and one on the dog's leash, and now each feeding and walking registers on Petagonia, the iPhone app. It's fun, and makes it easy to delegate pet care to your kids without wondering whether the dog is starving (cue barks of gratitude!). Petagonia Starter Kit, $49.
My dog never leaves the couch. But some dogs are runners— give them an inch and an opportunity, and they take off down the street. The next time they do, bring them home safely with the Tagg Pet Tracker. Put the tracking device on your dog's collar (works for cats too), and then set the boundary radius around your residence. Now, if the dog gets out, you're alerted immediately. Fire up the web or smartphone app and you can see exactly where he's gone to and even get turn-by-turn directions that lead you straight to him. It's like your runaway pet is texting you his whereabouts, even without opposable thumbs. $99 plus $7.95/mo for tracking service.
Whether you're working in an office, or just on the go a lot, chances are you’re out of your house for a chunk of the day. Wouldn’t it be great if you could check in our your baby while your out (especially if it’s first steps season), monitor who came to the front door, or look in on your pet? You can with Dropcam HD, a wireless camera that lets you keep an eye on what's important to you at home. Set up is simple, and it can be placed anywhere in your house, no computer necessary. Then, you can get a live feed online or on your smartphone (iPhone or Android). Plus you can even communicate through the audio feed, so you could actually help with homework, or give instructions to a babysitter, all while sitting at your office desk. They say moms have eyes in the back of their heads… consider it confirmed. $149
It's a moms conundrum— I want to let my kids ride the bus, or walk home from school alone when he's old enough, but I'd also like the peace of mind that comes from knowing he's arrived safe and sound. Life 360 is a mom's dream, and is helpful for anyone wanting to locate a family member. Install Life360 on any family members phone (iPhone or Android), and now you'll get an alert when they arrive at their pre-determined destination. Other helpful features include locating the nearest hospitals and fire stations in case of emergency, as well as an always-open group chat for all members of your family, where you can send messages to one another in the event of a natural disaster (or just to say "hey").
Managing bank statements, utility bills, magazine subscriptions, frequent flyer accounts ... it can all be pretty overwhelming. Either you’re flitting from one website to another and having to remember countless logins, or you’ve got a ton of paper statements flooding your mailbox every month. Manilla puts an end to all of that— it’s a dashboard that gives you a bird’s eye view of all you’re statements, bills and accounts in one place. With over 1,300 companies in their database, chances are they know who your cell phone, cable, and credit card company are. Just link them all up and Manilla will remind you when bills are due, and you can even click through right from the dashboard to pay them. No more late fees, and no more paper clutter.
If you need to submit a claim from the stress of just looking at your health insurance statements, you’re not alone. They’re incredibly confusing, and seem to give you exactly none of the information you need. CakeHealth wants to make it all easier. Just add your health insurance provider information, and you get a beautifully uncomplicated readout of which claims are being processed, which ones have been paid, and how each family member is doing against their deductible. And it’s all in plain english and uncluttered. Piece of cake.
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Carley Knobloch is a personal tech expert and founder at Digitwirl.com, the go-to source for busy women who are too busy to read manuals and want technology to “just work". Digitwirl brings together Knobloch’s obsession with all things tech, her passion for problem-solving, and her knack for curating the best resources for her audience. When she’s not scouring the virtual globe for next revolutionary gadget or life-changing website or app, she can be found doing the running man while playing Just Dance 3. Her husband and two children are often allowed to play too.