Everyone has those things in life that just work for them and are totally worth it. Across the site, I share recommendations for the things in my life that make a huge difference- so much so that I often asked myself, “why didn’t I start using this earlier??” for almost every single one. Here’s the place where you can see all the main ones easily 🙂 I have a feeling you may feel the same way about them!
Important: Many of these products are linked as affiliate products. This means I may receive a small commission or account credit, at no additional cost to you! This policy and more can be found here. I use all of these products on a regular (if not daily) basis and would not recommend anything I don’t love. Thank you as always for your support!
- You Need a Budget
- Amazon Prime & Amazon Smile
- Amazon Prime Rewards Card
- Ally Bank Interest Savings & Checking Accounts
- Capital One Quicksilver Card
- Rakuten (formerly Ebates)
2. Helpful Apps & Habits
This financial software, You Need A Budget, took me a while to give into. I think I felt a little prideful toward the name – like, “I have a budget, thank-you-very-much.” To be honest, I felt like the software only benefited people who had never had a budget, couldn’t stick to one, or didn’t understand how money “worked”.
Well, it turns out that even though I don’t consider myself in those 3 categories, this software is very helpful*! We’d been using free software for years, supplemented by crazy spreadsheets (because I am a control freak and numbers maniac) but it was too complicated and too easy to mess up. We did the free trial of YNAB, and its simple, intuitive, and powerful tracking made the monthly fee totally worth it.
You can try it here FREE* – if nothing else, it’ll give you a great snapshot of where your money is going and the “job description” of any dollars you have saved up!
While we rarely pay for subscriptions, Amazon Prime* has always been a cornerstone in our budget because it pays for itself every year! From 2-day free shipping on SO many things, cheaper prices than many of its competitors, and perks like free music, photo storage, and global registries, we have never considered dropping it. It also makes Christmas shopping and last-minute gifts 100x easier each year!
You can get a free 30-day trial through this link* and get access to all these features:
- Prime Video – Similar to Netflix, Amazon has a ton of great TV shows, movies and documentaries all ready to watch for free. They also produce their own content – some of which are my favorites!
- Prime Music* – Like Spotify or other music streaming services, Prime Music has a great selection of music to listen to ad-free. There is a higher-tier subscription that unlocks all the music, but the included selection is pretty extensive.
- Prime Reading* – You can “borrow” one Kindle book from the Prime library per month.
- Prime Photo Storage*- You can store an UNLIMITED amount of photos in high res at no cost, with some great organizational / filtering tools!
- Prime Delivery* – Any prime items ships in 1-2 business days OR you can select an “Amazon Prime Delivery Day” to get all of your items on one day of the week.
- Prime Warddrobe* – Fill a “box” with clothing items, try them on before you buy, return what you don’t like, then pay for the items you keep. 🙂
PLUS, two more tips:
- Did you know you can use Amazon Smile to donate a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choice? It only takes a second to set up. Learn more here!*
- We absolutely love getting 5% back on all our Amazon purchases (which is a lot!) through our Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card. Check it out here!*
Ally Interest Checking & Savings Accounts
Switching to Ally for our checking & saving accounts has been a gamechanger. We earn over 200% more interest each month on our savings account than with our previous major bank, plus we now get some interest on our checking, too. The best part is that it is FREE and there’s no minimum balance – so you could literally switch today!!
They are an online bank, which allows them to pass along better rates to customers since they don’t have all the overhead of a normal bank. However, it has a few limitations, so you can always keep an account open with a brick-and-mortar bank in conjunction with your Ally accounts if that makes you feel more comfortable!
Before you start wondering why I recommend so many credit cards – let me explain. Our family uses just 2 cards – the Amazon Rewards mentioned above and the Capital One Quicksilver Card – to pay for almost all of our expenses every month. We do this to earn points and/or cash back, but we always have the funds set aside in our checking account to pay off our balance every single month (seriously, please don’t make yourself pay upwards of 15% interest by carrying a balance on a card!) We simply sync our credit card accounts with YNAB and consider that money spent from our budget already.
NOW back to the recommendation – while we use our Amazon card for all purchases through, well, Amazon – we use our Capital One card for almost everything else and earn 1.5% cash back! We pay for groceries, monthly bills, even charitable donations with this card, and it really adds up! Plus, you can earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Go check it out today!*
While I’m not going to tell you I make hundreds of dollars through Ebates, we do get small “rebate” checks here-and-there of items we would be purchasing anyway. Ebates is a FREE add-on to your internet browser that detects if a purchase you are able to make is eligible for a percentage cash-back. If so, it is credited to your Ebates account, and you get a check in the mail once you reach a certain amount!
If you use this link to sign up*, you’ll get an automatic $10 back if you make a qualifying purchase of $25 or more in the next 2 months. If you shop at places like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Ulta, Macy’s, Walmart, Etsy, etc., it’ll be easy-peasy!
An amazing FREE app I couldn’t live without is Pepperplate. As I mention in my Make Your Own Meal Plan series, this is where we store all of our recipes! You can import directly from a website with photos, instructions & ingredients, so all your recipes are in one place and formatted similarly. While Pinterest can be great for storing ideas, I hate scrolling through different sites (with ads or tons of photos) to get to a recipe. Plus, storing it in the app means that your spouse, roommate, or kids can access the same recipes from your account!
You can also use it to generate shopping lists, but I tend to stick to my “auto-pilot” meal plans 🙂
Walmart Grocery Pickup*
Another FREE service I couldn’t live without is Walmart Grocery Pick-Up. As a new mom, being able to order items online – without traipsing through the store for an hour – and pick up my groceries without getting out of my car has been a lifesaver. Sometimes, the staff has to substitute items if they aren’t in stock, but you often get a better-value replacement or you can deny it if it’s not a good fit. I highly recommend trying it, and you can get $10 off a $50 minimum order by clicking here!*
I originally came across Asana in the workplace, but shortly after my transition to staying home full-time, I realized its potential in organizing our home tasks, personal projects, and family calendar all in one place. The free version is incredibly robust – with recurring tasks, list or board views, assignees for tasks, and more! Also, and most importantly, family members can be a part of the same team and view all tasks in the app 🙂
One day, I’ll share a more detailed overview of my personal system, but for now, check out this tutorial for getting started!
Sworkit & Simple Habit
If you’re super active & love to work out – this may not be for you (and also, tell me how you got that way! 😉 ) However, if you’re kind of cheap AND kind of intimidated working out around other people, this is such a simple solution. Sworkit is an app with both free and premium versions. While the free app is limited, there are still lots of strength, stretching, yoga, and cardio exercises you can do right in your home! I simply set my phone on a stand, use my $10 yoga mat from Aldi, and customize the length and type of workout. While I’m still a long way from where I’d like to be, this has been a really neat tool in helping me be more active!
Similarly, I’ve been dabbling in meditation in an effort to clear my mind and sleep better. I think it has helped me a lot, and the easiest (and of course, FREE) way I’ve found to do this is through Simple Habit. It is also an app that has a free version and a premium version – with the premium offering a lot of additional content and customizable options. However, the meditations that are included in the free version are still pretty extensive – as well as a great way to learn the basics.
For both apps, the free version only works if you download it on your phone (not through their website) so you can search it in your provider’s app store or click here for Sworkit* and here for Simple Habit* in the iOS apps tore.
Household Items & Gift Guides
Lastly, outside of apps, accounts, and software – be sure to check out my recommendations for the handiest products around the home as well as some of my favorite gift ideas:
- The Really Good, Really Cheap Mattress You Need In Your Life
- 5 Small Things That Have Changed My Kitchen Game
- Best Gifts on Amazon (Holiday Shopping without Leaving the House)
- 10 Practical & Meaningful Gift Ideas for Grandparents/Elderly
- Promoting Postpartum Self-Care: 25+ Gift Ideas for New Moms
- 8 Mix-&-Match Engagement Gift Ideas (that Aren’t Bridal Magazines!)
Just as a PS for all my blogging friends, or those of you who may be considering starting your own, I can 100% recommend the following:
- Hosting through Siteground* – I’ve been using Siteground from the beginning, and while they may not be the absolute cheapest, my site is hardly ever down; I use their chat support at all hours to resolve issues or questions; and they have wonderful protections to keep my website & personal information safe!
- Tailwind for Pinterest* – Tailwind is the only official Pinterest partner when it comes to scheduling. While you may not need this right when you start, it makes Pinterest promotion reasonable and less time-consuming. I highly recommend it, and you can get a free month through this link!*
- Any resource from Suzi at Start a Mom Blog* – Suzi is one of the reasons I’ve stuck with blogging and makes so many topics easy to understand!