Tools to launch college graduates into adulthood
|| BY Penny Catterall ON June 29, 2016
You may be one of the fortunate people that has a recent college graduate. If so, congratulations to both of you – this is a great achievement! However, going from dorm living with all of your meals provided and most of your schedule worked out for you, to navigating the expectations and demands of the real world can be a daunting transition. Your new graduate now needs to think about bills, leases, insurance, grocery shopping and all the other “grownup” things that you (or more recently, their college) had taken care of for them. And they might find that they’re not prepared for it.
I decided to consult my 23 year-old son who graduated from college in 2015 and now lives and works in New York City, to find out what he uses and recommends in terms of apps and tech tools that have helped make his transition from college to full blown adulthood easier. Here’s what he recommends:
Hands down, the best app for managing your budget and finances all in one easy location is Mint. Intuit, the company that makes Quicken and TurboTax, now owns Mint, and you know that money management is their thing. My son uses Mint to aggregate all his bank, credit card and investment records in one place so that he knows his financial situation at a glance, and can see, for example, whether he can afford that weekend getaway in the Catskills.
Mint lets you set up budgets to track where you spend your money and at the end of each week, sends you a transaction analysis by email. In case you’re worried about security, Mint stores “read only” information on its site. This means they don’t store any passwords or usernames, just the information that is transmitted from the financial institutions. The IOS and Android apps are easy to use – and best of all, it’s free!
Like me, my son uses a combination of Evernote and Dropbox to store all of his digital files, documents and notes. Keeping your financial documents, bank statements and bills on Dropbox can be a real life saver if you need to pull them all together quickly for, say, an on-the-spot rental application (which happens a lot in New York and other big cities where the competition for apartments is fierce). My son keeps all of his notes, recipes, and other bits of information that he needs at his fingertips in Evernote. The basic versions of both Dropbox and Evernote are free.
My son suggests putting everything on auto pay, such as utilities, rent, and credit card bills, especially in the beginning of your post college life when you are trying to build your credit rating. Racking up credit card debt so you can buy the next cool device that comes out simply is not worth it – just remember that late payments, interest charges and other fees do not look good on your credit report! Better to use Mint to make sure you have enough money in your bank account to pay the bills each month, so you can live within your means when you’re just starting out.
Again, just as I do, my son uses Wunderlist to stay on top of tasks, shopping lists, and other projects. Wunderlist, which is cloud-based, can be used with both IOS and Android devices, and has a desktop and web version as well. You can create as many lists as you wish, add subtasks, set due dates and receive reminders for upcoming tasks and events. The pro version allows you to collaborate with others and attach files as well.
These apps and techniques have greatly helped my son navigate his first year out in the real world. If you have a recent college graduate, I’d love to know what tech tools they have found useful in this area!
Introducing a new way to scan with ScanSnap Cloud
|| BY Penny Catterall ON June 7, 2016
My regular readers know how enthusiastic I am about using Fujitsu’s amazing ScanSnap series of scanners. I have pretty much used every scanner they make, and I often take my iX100 mobile scanner with me when I have tech organizing appointments. Naturally I was very excited to hear that I would get a chance to test drive Fujitsu’s latest offering, ScanSnap Cloud. This great new app enables you to scan documents, receipts, business cards and photos using one of Fujitsu’s two wireless scanners, the iX100 or the iX500, without the scanner being connected to (or anywhere near!) a computer. Here’s how it works:
After downloading the ScanSnap Cloud software to your computer – I put it on both my MacBook Air and my (ancient) iMac – you can go to the app’s Preferences tab, choose Settings and indicate where you want each type of output file to be saved “automagically.” You can use ScanSnap’s own cloud-based service to store your files, or you can send them to another cloud-based account that you already have. ScanSnap has teamed up with several major cloud-based storage apps including Dropbox, Evernote, Google Photos, Google Drive, Expensify and One Drive, so you’ll have plenty of options. If you use one of the other storage services, you’ll need to give the ScanSnap app permission to access your account. But you’ll only have to do that once; after it’s been set up, ScanSnap will be able to store files using your other accounts without any further action on your part.
Scanned files are classified into four categories: documents, receipts, business cards and photos. You can choose where images should be saved depending upon their category. For example, I decided I wanted my business cards in Evernote, my documents (MS Word and PDF files) in Dropbox and my photos in Google Photos.
You’ll know when ScanSnap Cloud is working since the normally blue light on the scanner will turn a lovely purplish color. All you have to do is press the purple button, and the scanning starts and finishes on its own. You can easily go back and forth between scanning to the cloud and scanning directly to your computer using your existing ScanSnap Manager settings. On my computer, documents go directly into a Dropbox folder called ScanSnap, so that I can manipulate them later.
The other cool feature that ScanSnap Cloud provides is the ability to automatically name each output file, using whatever information it can find in the image or document and adding a date. This can be very helpful, but you’ll need to check to make sure the app is selecting the right information for naming the file. For instance, when I scanned a credit card statement, rather than pulling the name of the credit card, the app selected the words with the largest font, in this case “Less Waste” – i.e., the vendor’s recommendation that I go paperless. However, even if the software gets the name wrong, it’s very easy to rename files from within the ScanSnap Cloud app and then put them exactly where you want them to go.
There are a lot of useful applications for ScanSnap Cloud. For example, I have many clients with enormous amounts of paper who just want to scan it all quickly, but don’t have time for making immediate decisions about how the output should be filed. With ScanSnap Cloud, they can scan a whole pile of mixed documents and then go back into the app later (when they have the time) to rename the files and put them in the right folders. Also, if you need to scan when you are away from your home or office and don’t have your computer nearby, you can use the extremely portable iX100 scanner to send your output files to the cloud, knowing that they’ll go right where you want them to be.
Overall, I find that the new ScanSnap Cloud has the ability to make scanning even easier and more accessible to people who want to make going paperless a part of their lives.
Visit ScanSnapCloud.com to download ScanSnap Cloud.
Where to donate your clutter before moving
|| BY Penny Catterall ON June 1, 2016
If you’re getting ready to move, chances are you have a lot of stuff that you shouldn’t take with you. Clutter accumulates over time, and moving is often the perfect opportunity to get rid of all those things that have piled up in your home. However, many people are reluctant to just give or throw away their possessions, whether they think they are clutter or not. I find that clients want to make sure that their belongings find good new homes, or at least don’t end up in a landfill. Following are some suggestions of great places for your unwanted possessions to find renewed purpose.
Clothing and Fabric
- Everyday clothing – There are many charities that will happily accept donations of clothing in good shape. You can set up a free account with GoGreenDrop, which coordinates home pick-ups with Purple Heart, National Foundation of the Blind, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
- Business clothing – To donate men’s professional clothing including belts, ties, suits, shirts and shoes in the DC area, contact Strive DC. For women, go to Dress for Success to see a list of affiliates around the country that accept donations
- Designer or couture clothing – Try one of the many easy online services available now to sell your lightly used designer clothes and accessories. These include ThredUp, The Real Real, and Poshmark, among many others.
- Other fabric – For those items that are torn, stained or otherwise unwearable, please consider recycling them responsibly. Local transfer stations often have a section to recycle fabric, which can become anything from cleaning rags and carpet padding to rubberized playgrounds and insulation. In addition, companies like Northface, Patagonia, and H&M have fabric and shoe recycling and reuse initiatives that aim to limit the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills.
- Old linens, towels, and pillows – Think about donating these to your local animal shelter. They can be used to line pet cages, dry off wet animals, provide bedding, and cover kennel doors for animals that need some alone time. Check with your shelter first as not all of them accept these items.
Household Goods and Furniture
- For items that are in good condition and may have some monetary value, try selling these on a local neighborhood listserv (many neighborhoods now have Yahoo Groups to communicate among themselves) or through a new app called Close5 that allows you to buy and sell items locally with transactions taking place in safe public spaces.
- If it’s more trouble than it’s worth to sell your items, there are many places to donate used furniture and household goods. Check your local thrift store or church, or donate to Goodwill or a similar organization. Freecycle is also a great option for easy local reuse and recycle.
- For out of date or non-working electronics or computers and peripherals, Best Buy is your best bet. All U.S. Best Buy stores offer in-store recycling of old, unused or unwanted consumer electronics, regardless of where they were purchased. See here for a full list of what they accept.
- If you have a working computer, there are often local places that will rehab and upgrade them for people with limited incomes. In the DC area, Project Reboot which recycles PCs for the poor and disabled, the Apple Store recycles used Macs and other iOS devices in return for an Apple gift card.
- For books in decent condition (no mold, mildew, yellowed or torn pages), consider donating them to your local Friends of the Library or thrift store. Goodwill and most other charities will take book donations as well. In the DC area, try Books for America, which does home pickups if you have more than 50 books to donate.
- If you are disposing of a significant number of items and would rather have someone come in and just take care of everything for you, your best bet might be an estate sale. Estate and downsizing sales often sell just about anything and everything, including everyday items like tools and appliances. You can also take advantage of technology and use an online downsizing and estate sale auction company like MaxSold.
The process of packing up a house or apartment and then paying to have it moved can make you take a hard look at what you have, why you have it and if you really need it. I hope these resources help you find good second homes for those items you no longer have use for!