Tech Tools to Help You Master Your Budget

If you’d rather pull your toenails out one by one than work on your budget, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are people out there who actually love budgets (hard to believe, we know), and they’ve built some pretty amazing tools to make it easier for the rest of us.

Check out some of our favorite tech tools below and take your financial game to the next level.

Tech Tools for the Budget Beginner

Getting better at managing money doesn’t mean you have to track every penny on a color-coded spreadsheet. In fact, the best way to set yourself up for success is to start with small, attainable goals. And there are apps for that!

First, check out Trim, which scans your bank account, alerts you to subscriptions you forgot you were paying or maybe no longer want, and texts you with an offer to cancel them for you. Saving money doesn’t get any easier than that!

You can also make sure you’re paying your bills on time with Prism, and download PocketGuard to see at a glance how much money you have left to spend for the day, week, or month after paying your bills and contributing to your savings goal.

Tech Tools for Next-Level Budgeting

Once you start making some progress and feel ready to kick your budgeting up a notch, there’s Mint, a very popular (and free) app for building and tracking a budget. Mint links to your bank accounts to give you a real-time look at your spending habits, complete with budget alerts to keep you on track.

We also love Albert, a financial service that uses tech to automate your budgeting and alert you to simple, actionable steps you can take to improve your financial health. Plus, with Albert Genius, you can text actual human experts for more personalized advice and support as you navigate big purchases and chase your financial goals.

Tech Tools for Building Wealth

With your budgeting under control, it’s time to start looking for opportunities to move from simply saving money to building wealth you can enjoy in the years to come. Start small with Acorns, which rounds up your transactions and puts your “spare change” in an investment portfolio.

For a more advanced (and high-tech) approach to investing, there’s Personal Capital. This tool helps you see a full picture of your financial situation, plan for retirement, and analyze how your investments are performing.

Managing money might be causing you stress now, but these tech tools will make it easier to reach your goals. And with fast, reliable internet from Race, you can trust they’ll run smoothly for stress-free budgeting sessions that keep you on track and headed for success.

7 Creative Ways to Connect Long-Distance Family During the Holidays

Special time with loved ones is often what makes the holidays so memorable. But what do you do when those loved ones are too far away to pop over for a big meal and a heartwarming gift exchange? Well, with a strong internet connection from Race, there are lots of ways to stay connected.

If you have an iPhone and you are contacting someone who also has one, then FaceTime is the obvious choice. However, if one or more parties don’t have iPhones, there are plenty of other options. Read on to discover seven creative ways to video call, swap photos, send gifts and simply stay connected with long-distance family this holiday season.

#1: Skype

Let’s start with the obvious choice. With its long-time history of quality audio and video calls, Skype has long been the go-to choice for connecting with loved ones all over the world. But did you know its features also include low-cost texts and calls to mobiles and landlines, easy group video calling and file sharing and messaging between devices? It’s also easily accessible on a wide range of devices, including your smartphone, computer, smart TV, Playstation and more.

#2: Google Hangouts

If you’re hoping to have a video call with your cousin Jason, Aunt Lisa, niece Jenna and family friend Marc at the same time during your upcoming family gathering, Google Hangouts is the platform for you. You can talk to up to 10 people at a time, do live-streaming video, file share, text message and, of course, make audio and video calls. You can even take photos during your hangout to easily capture the special memories you’ll be making together-yet-apart.

#3: Facebook Messenger

If your family members are skeptical about downloading a new service just to video call you on Christmas, check to see if they’re already on Facebook. The Facebook Messenger app works for text communication, sure, but it also has a voice and video call feature. Simply tap the person in your Messenger contact list, then tap the video icon to begin a video call. It’s easy and free, and no new apps or accounts are needed!

#4: Cluster 

Looking to share photos and videos with loved ones without posting them for the entire world to see? No need to start an annoying group text. Instead, meet Cluster. This app features an Instagram-like feed, but only for the people you invite into the group. Create a group for all the family members that want to see baby’s first Christmas or all the friends attending your Friendsgiving feast. And everyone can share their photos in one simple place. Plus, the ability to “like” and comment on photos will keep the spirit of community alive no matter how far apart you may be!

#5: Nixplay

If you’re looking for an easy way to share photos with your not-so-internet-savvy family members, look no further than a Wi-Fi cloud frame from Nixplay. This digital photo frame creates a slideshow of the photos you add, and you can easily use your phone to add more at any time — even if the photo frame is on the other side of the world. This makes this frame a gift that keeps on giving for family members near and far.

#6: Giftster

Picking just the right present for that distant (and possibly picky!) family member can be tricky, so let Giftster do the thinking for you. This free app allows you to create a wish list and add any items you’d love to receive. Then you can invite family and friends to create lists of their own. Shop from each other’s lists to bypass that anxiety over gifting just the right thing. (Plus, your family members will love how easy it is to find the perfect gift to send you, too!)

#7: Artifact Uprising

We all know how much Grandma loves getting updated pictures of the grandchildren, but creating a photo album can be time-consuming. Help her feel remembered and included this holiday season by using Artifact Uprising to quickly create quality prints, photo books, calendars, gallery frames and so much more. Simply upload photos straight from your Instagram or camera roll, and click to buy. You can even use the gift option to send the photos straight to Grandma!

Each of these tools and apps makes it easy to stay connected with family all over the world throughout the holiday season and beyond. Contact Race today to make sure you have the high-speed internet connection you need to power each and every one!

 

5 Kid-friendly Streaming Platforms You’ll Want for Holiday Break

Will the long, cold, and sometimes boring days over holiday break have your kids reaching for their screens? A bit of screen time here and there doesn’t have to be a bad thing. And with family-friendly streaming platforms, you can rest assured that your kids are watching videos safe for little eyes—even without your constant oversight.

Plan ahead for those much-needed moments of peace, quiet, and screen time now by downloading these family-friendly streaming platforms today.

  1. PBS KIDS Video

With the award-winning, educational PBS KIDS Video app, you don’t have to feel guilty about letting your kids indulge in some screen-time this holiday break.

Little ones love how easy it is to watch live TV in the app or play their favorite shows on-demand, including Curious George, Daniel Tiger, and Sesame Street. And parents love how the “Weekly Pick” feature suggests a fresh set of videos geared toward keeping young brains mentally engaged even while out of school. Best of all, this app is totally free!

  1. DisneyNOW

With all the talk lately about the new Disney Plus streaming platform, don’t overlook the kid-friendly DisneyNOW! This app provides access to the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Radio Disney, and Disney Junior in a few taps.

Simple thumbnails of favorite characters make it easy for kids to quickly find the shows and games that feature that character… which makes it easy for you to savor a few more moments with a steaming cup of coffee. You’ll need a TV-provider login for total access, but some content is available for free.

  1. YouTube Kids

You probably haven’t thought of YouTube as a very safe option for unmonitored screen time. And you were mostly right… until now.

YouTube Kids has been designed with kids in mind (think big images and eye-catching bright colors). More importantly, robust parental control settings make it much more kid-friendly than the original site. It even comes complete with a timer option, so parents can limit screen time in just a few taps.

  1. Amazon FreeTime

Can’t decide if you want your kids to have access to Disney, PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, music, games, Audible books or something else more on the educational side? With Amazon FreeTime, you don’t have to decide. This platform offers all of the above and more.

Parental controls make it easy to set a certain age range, allow only parent-approved purchases, and lock games and videos until educational goals are reached. Your kids will love the easy access to popular Amazon originals, such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Tumble Leaf. And you’ll love that you can add this to your Prime membership for just $2.99 a month!

  1. Nickelodeon

With Nickelodeon, you can choose between not one, not two, but three different apps. Nick, Nick Jr., and Noggin each have their own platform.

Kids’ favorites like Peppa Pig, Blues Clues, and Dora the Explorer can be accessed for free (with a TV log-in) on the Nick and Nick Jr. apps. For just $7.99 a month, Noggin offers a plethora of interactive games, popular shows, and videos that promote learning with a wide variety of topics such as shapes, numbers, letters, art, music, manners, and more.

It’s no secret that screen time can help you keep the peace on long winter days—but that peace will be gone faster than you can say “Bah-humbug” if a game or video stops to buffer! (Why is it always during the most inconvenient moment possible?!)

Save yourself that headache and call Race today to ensure that you have internet service that will work when you need it most!

How Smart Technology Can Cut Your Medical Bills

If your family’s health care expenses keep growing every year, we have good news. Emerging smart health technologies like telemedicine and Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices can lower your out-of-pocket medical costs.

Essentially a virtual doctor’s visit, telemedicine uses video conference technology, such as FaceTime or Skype, to communicate with a healthcare provider. There are many quality on-demand medical services available, most of which cost under $50 to remotely connect with a doctor to receive a diagnosis and a prescription if necessary. Nowadays, health care plans will often include a remote doctor’s service. The embedded technology within IoMT devices capture and share specific health data with your doctor over the internet or during a telemedicine visit.

Here’s our guide to IoMT devices your family can use to cut medical costs.

Spare yourself a Doctor’s visit with a Smart Speaker

Millions of Americans visit the ER every year as a result of accidents at home.  Amazon Echo with Alexa offers the Mayo Clinic First Aid skill, which provides instructions that may prevent an unnecessary ER visit. (Call 911 for life-threatening injuries.) Using Alexa, the voice-controlled personal assistant, you can ask questions about dozens of common issues, including fever, cuts, burns, and spider bites. For emergencies, Alexa can advise you on how to care for the injured or sick person until help arrives.

Manage your asthma with an app

Asthma affects more than 26 million Americans, including 6 million children. Propeller attaches to most asthma inhalers and Bluetooth spirometers. The built-in sensors track medicine dosing frequency. Upload the data to a free, downloadable app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to better manage asthma symptoms and triggers. You can share treatment reports over the internet with your doctor or during a telemedicine visit.

Share reports with your Pediatrician

Ear infections are a very common childhood illness. Cellscope Oto has built-in technology to assess if your little one’s ears are healthy or infected. The portable otoscope records video of the eardrum using your iPhone and a downloadable companion app called Seymour. It can then send the video to an on-call doctor through the app and receive a reply in less than two hours. You can also email the video to your pediatrician or share during your child’s virtual doctor visit.

Track your cold & flu symptoms

When cold and flu season comes around, the Kinsa Smart Digital Thermometer is a must for your family. Just plug the thermometer into a smartphone with the free app installed, and it will provide a temperature reading in eight seconds or less. The app tracks symptoms, diagnoses, and medications to share with your doctor. You can also set up a telemedicine visit directly through the app.

Talk to your doctor today about these smart health technology options and how you can use them to lower your family’s health care costs. Make sure you have blazing fast Race internet to ensure that your smart medical devices work correctly and that you have a good remote connection with your doctor.

 

What Exactly are Internet of Things (IoT) Devices?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of physical devices, such as laptops, vehicles, and security systems, that communicate with humans or other connected devices.

These devices can do everything from monitoring your health and diet to securing your property, or even reminding you to buy more paper towels. But they all have one thing in common…they require a fast, reliable internet connection from a company like Race.

Wearable Devices

A smartwatch or step tracker can track your calories, heart rate, or the number of steps you take in a single day. These IoT devices can share this information with your doctor. This gives you and your health team the opportunity to discuss ways to improve your health. As you make changes, the device can monitor your progress and encourage you to continue living a healthier lifestyle.

Home Security

Internet-connected cameras, peepholes, doorbells, locks, and other security features enable you to monitor your home 24/7. These devices are fully accessible from a smartphone or tablet, providing you with real-time information. Should a breach occur, the IoT device can alert law enforcement for you.

Smart Appliances & Gadgets

Even if you don’t want your showerhead communicating with your toaster, many smart household appliances now anticipate your needs by assessing the data they collect. Today’s coffee maker can have your coffee perked and ready to your specifications. Are you almost out of milk or eggs? A text from your refrigerator tells you what you need at the grocery store. Don’t walk into a cold, dark house when you get home from work; control your home lighting to come on at specific times or by voice activation when you enter a room. Plus, you can program your thermostat to monitor the house and adjust interior comfort as needed to save money on your utility bill.

Shopping

Always listening and ever-attentive, voice assistants such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod make it simple to purchase items. Just tell Alexa to buy it via your enabled Amazon account and wait for the delivery. Not ready to shop this minute? Just ask Alexa to add eggs and cream to your shopping list.

As IoT’s relevance grows, let Race make sure you’re ready for the next innovation – order Race’s fastest and most reliable internet service today!