5 things that make my holidays easier

I have been reading all kinds of lists lately – lists on how to relieve stress over the holidays, list of things I didn’t know about my cats, lists of what gifts to buy for my favorite Geeks, even lists about lists. And don’t forget lists of things I’ve committed to do before 2012 – and the lists of blog posts I keep trying to write.

Well, here’s my list. Things that honest to goodness make my life easier. These are tools I’m using the crap out of this holiday season. I’m hoping at least one of these things will make your life easier too.

#1. Giftboxhome.com

Interface of GiftBoxHome.comThanks to a recommendation from the Christmas Fairy (aka Brandi), I have been using Gift Box to track all of my Christmas gifts in 2009. Add people and gifts for said people – including links, price, and status.

It also calculates how much I’m spending on each person, and how much I’m spending overall. Great for keeping the budget tight.

#2. Mint.com

Mint not only tracks spending and monthly budgets, it allows you to create specific budgets for any of their dozens of categories (and you can create your own category if they haven’t thought of it). Transactions are automatically sorted, but you can edit any that fall through cracks and create rules for recurring expenses (like that car payment check that’s the same amount each month).

The iPhone app has the basic features, including how you are tracking for the month. Also security permissions like a locking feature keep your information safe should your phone get lost or stolen.

#3. words with friendsWords With Friends

Words with Friends is the latest iPhone app to emulate my favorite board game (Scrabble). Challenge your friends to a game if you know their username (Mine is qcait! Challenge me!). This addicting game has a great interface and is FREE if you don’t mind ads popping up after every move. The paid/no ad version is $2. Maybe it doesn’t make my life easier, but it’s a great way to relax (unless of course you have terrible letters).

#4. The Dollar Store

I went to my neighborhood Dollar Tree after work last week and was astounded at how PACKED the place was. Christmas is the Dollar Store’s time to SHINE. If your local franchise is doing it right, the entire front will be lined with Christmas swag – wrapping paper, gift bags and boxes, tins to hold homemade cookies (an economical gift everyone loves), etc. etc. Not to mention stocking stuffers like candy and doggie toys – and socks and nail files for your grandma (yes, I bought those too).

They also have faux Bump Its (called Hair-dos) and faux Sham Wows. Score!

#5. Amazon.com

Maybe this one is obvious, but it has really helped me out in this season of giving. I have bought games, books, DVDs, etc. etc. Spend more than $25 (or upgrade to Amazon Prime) and shipping is free. I’ve been buying used to save even more in this time of budget crunching. And then tracking my packages using text alerts. Amazon thinks of everything.

amazon-suggest

What’s getting you through this holiday season? What tips and tools should I not be ignoring? Happy Holidays!

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