Parenting is neither cheap nor easy. And both challenges grow proportionately with your children. Fortunately, there are a number of apps, technologies and gadgets that can help save time and money — and they won't break the bank.
There are a number of tools and technologies to help you reduce your day-to-day spending, teach your children fiscal responsibility and keep track of everything from your family members to your apt-to-roam car keys. Here are a few to consider:
Tile ($25) — Whether from "Baby Brain," too many things going on at once or the general disorder that accompanies children, parents often lose things — and always at inopportune times. Tile is a small Bluetooth tracking device that will let you easily locate those items that go missing (like your keys or wallet), letting you get out the door and on the way to wherever you need to be. Can't find something? Just call up the app on your phone and the Tile will either alert you to its location on a map or sound a loud ring, letting you find where it has been hidden. And that can mean less wasted money on things like missed ballet lessons.
Nest Cam ($199) — It's hard to be everywhere at once, but the Nest Cam gives you a second set of eyes that help you prioritize. Which of your kids "accidentally" pushed the goldfish bowl off the counter? Is the baby napping or in the midst of a quiet escape attempt from their crib? Is the sitter watching your kids closely or spending the night head-down in her phone? This high-resolution camera can act as a monitor or security system, sending alerts to your phone and even letting you vocally interact with people in the room when you're away.
iiamo Go (up to $50) — Make no mistake, iiamo's self-heating bottle won't do anything to help you save money. In fact, with its disposable heating cartridges, it carries a high premium. But that might be less of a concern during a 3 a.m. feeding, when your exhaustion levels make firing up the stove to heat your baby's milk a questionable action. The bottles can warm formula or breast milk to 99 degrees Fahrenheit in just four minutes — and all you have to do is shake the bottle; that same convenience could be appreciated when you're traveling or out and about with your baby.
Baby Brezza Baby Food Maker ($100) — When your child makes the transition from milk or formula to real foods, you want them to eat healthy. But preparing those meals can be an arduous task. Baby Brezza's device steams and blends fruits and vegetables and meats and fish in one step, giving them a consistency that young mouths will appreciate. In as little as 15 minutes, you can prepare a fresh, healthy meal for your little one. And, just as with adult foods, making your own meals can be considerably less expensive than buying prepackaged goods.
2houses — Separation and/or divorce is an ugly fact of life for some families. Strained communications between the parents can make it hard to track things like the activities, parent/teacher conferences, doctors appointments and more for kids. 2houses looks to act as a bridge, offering a shared calendar along with a financial management system that can help separated parents track what bills need to be paid and by whom. It also keeps track of the children's medical information and other critical information in case of an emergency.
Life360 — As kids get older and begin to go about their own activities, it's harder for everyone to stay in touch. Life360 lets you communicate with a private circle and see where everyone is, saving you the text or call. Kids can check in once they arrive at some after school activity to let parents know they're safe. And it makes it easier for busy families to coordinate their schedules and ensure they still spend time together.
Cartwheel — This app from Target gives you the option to bypass coupon clipping, saving money via your phone instead. From your home PC or smart phone, you can select from hundreds of discount offers in a variety of categories (ranging from food to apparel to household goods). Once you're at the store, show the app to the cashier and the savings are applied. (And if you did happen to clip coupons or use the store's REDcard, those discounts are stacked on top of the app's.) To date, Target says, users have saved more than $517 million.
Chore Monster — Allowances are a great way to teach kids fiscal responsibility, but once the money is in their hands, children often can't resist the urge to spend it on something frivolous. Chore Monster offers another option. Parents set up a list of chores for kids, who sign in once they've completed the job. That earns them points, which can eventually be exchanged for rewards determined by the parents. For instance, 10 points might be worth a trip to the ice cream shop, while 25 can be redeemed for a trip to the movies or a certain amount of cash. Higher goals can be set for luxury items worth saving for, such as a trip or expensive item they've been wanting for a while.