Tag Archives: apps

Betting on Yourself

Lately I have taken to gambling.  No…it’s not craps or cards or slot machines or even lottery tickets (which I believe are a tax on people who are bad at math, but that’s a story for another time).  I’ve been betting on myself.  My latest favorite smart phone app is called “StepBet.”  And I’ve been using it to bet on whether I can keep myself moving.

I sometimes have trouble keeping myself motivated to exercise (despite my desire to do a half-marathon in September).  But money is a great motivator for me.  And if I can get someone to pay me for doing something that is good for me, I’m all over that.  So I signed up for my first StepBet last November.  The app connects with my fitness tracker to make sure I’m taking all of the steps I need to.  Based on my average performance, StepBet calculated that I needed to complete about 8,300 steps four days a week (my “active” goal) and 10,500 steps two days a week (my “stretch” goal).  One day a week I get to slack off.  And as long as I was able to keep it up for six weeks, I would win.  I paid in $40 to participate in the bet.  I was one of 125 participants.  Only 87 of us succeeded in getting all of our required steps for the full six weeks.  So after StepBet took their cut from the money of those who lost, I was paid out $50 for winning.  Not a great hourly rate, but a 25% return for doing something I should be doing anyway is not a bad deal.

Now I’m in my second StepBet.  It started on Christmas Day and I just finished week 4.  My required number of steps are a little higher this time around because the first bet bumped up my averages.  And I’m still going strong.  So far 20 of the initial 159 players have been eliminated.  And I know I can do this to get back my money plus some from those who fail.  I won’t allow myself to fail because I don’t want to lose my $40.  And it’s not always easy to pull off.  There have been many days when I’ve found myself marching in place in my living room to get to my necessary step number (steps are steps, whether they are moving forward or moving in place or dancing to 80’s music, right?—it’s all exercise!).

So, I guess this isn’t really gambling, since it’s not a game of chance.  It’s more a game of resolution.  If you have a fitness tracker and are confident that you can move on a regular basis, it’s kind of a fun way to make a little extra money without a lot of effort.  And if it helps to keep you healthy, you win twice!

An Easy App to Save You Money

I like cheap stuff.  This means I shop at big box stores.  This includes the controversial grand-daddy of them all, Walmart.  I know a lot of people choose not to shop there for a variety of reasons.  But I do shop there.  And one of the reasons I shop there is a part of their smart phone app.  Inside the Wal-Mart app is a little feature called “savings catcher.”

Every time I shop at the store often referred to as Walley World, I open the savings catcher and take a picture of my receipt.  Then Walmart compares the prices on the items I purchased against other stores in the area.  A couple of days later, I’ll get an email from Walmart telling me that either I paid the lowest price, or that they found a lower price elsewhere on a few items.  If they found a lower price, they refund the difference in price to me by way of “Walmart Pay.”  This basically amounts to a virtual gift card that I can use from my smart phone.

The effort on my end is minimal.  I shop as I normally would.  I take a picture of my receipt.  I wait a couple of days. Then I usually get a small refund via Walmart Pay.  It’s price comparison without the work!

I appreciate that not everyone shops at the big box stores.  But if you do shop at Walmart, it only makes sense to use the app’s savings catcher!



Software and Apps…All for Free!

I remember a time long ago when every new piece of software required an outlay of cash.  It’s been a very long time since that was the case.  Certain software and smartphone or tablet apps still require purchase.  But it never ceases to amaze me what wonderful things you can get for free!


When the hard drive on my home PC died recently, I had to start over from scratch.  All of my files were backed up to an external hard drive (thank goodness!) so after I got a new copy of the operating system (which I actually DID have to purchase) installed on the new hard drive, the rest was pretty easy.  All of the software that I had been using at home was free.  While I use MS Office at work, at home LibreOffice works just fine for my needs.  At work I use MS Publisher, but my home needs are met nicely by Scribus.  Music management is handled nicely by MusicBee (because I really don’t like the way iTunes is a giant resource hog).

And the world of free apps is even more amazing than free computer software.  My gaming fix is handled nicely by the free versions of Words with Friends and Trivia Crack.  Sure…I have to put up with some ads.  But free apps are worth some ads.

My productivity needs are nicely met by a calculator, a timer, a list manager called Color Note, and my true favorite, Evernote.  Evernote is particularly helpful to me because it syncs my notes with an online service, so I can access all of my notes from any device…my phone, my tablet, or any internet connected computer.  So I can add to a note from one device and see those changes on any other device.  And I can also organize my notes into various notebooks to make them easier to find.  It’s a very useful place to store lists, recipes, articles I want to read at a later time, random thoughts I don’t want to forget, or just anything.  There is a fancier paid version of this app, but the free one serves my needs quite nicely.

Lately I’ve been running quite a bit.  I used a free Couch to 5K app to get started.  And recently I’ve been trying out a bunch of different free running apps to track my distance and speed.  I’ve tested Map My Run and Runkeeper, but I think my favorite is Nike+ Running.  All of these have fancier paid versions as well.  And so far I don’t feel the need for that. (Though I am still tempted to shell out the $4 to try Zombies Run.  There’s no free way to run from zombies that I’ve found.)

Whenever I think “I wish my phone could…” I make a quick trip to the app store to find out if such a thing exists.  Most of the time there’s a free app that meets my needs.  Sometimes there are several options, so I have to spend some time reading reviews to find out which suits my needs best.  But the availability of free software will never stop being amazing to me.