During my time working from home, I’ve gathered a list of the best virtual assistant tools from trial and error. These tools have helped me, and I hope they will allow you to save time and stress less.
These tools and software allow virtual assistants to be more productive and focus on the tasks that allow you to make money – instead of messing around on the tasks that really don’t help your business grow.
I personally use all of these tools. And the best part is they are all free or fairly inexpensive tools that I wish I had found or upgraded to sooner in my work-at-home mom and online business journey.
This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure click here.
1. FreshBooks Online for Invoicing and Bookkeeping
I stumbled upon FreshBooks when they were running a deal where all payment fees via PayPal were only 50¢! Since the standard charge is around 3%, I did the math and figured out with all the invoicing I was doing as a freelance editor, writer, and virtual assistant, I would actually save money in fees by using FreshBooks. Little did I know how much time FreshBooks would save me too.
FreshBooks allows virtual assistants and freelancers to:
send quick and professional invoices to clients for one-time projects
automatically send recurring invoices and templates for repeat clients
organize expenses with little effort
see monthly business expenses vs income at a glance
easily see any outstanding balances from clients
If you are looking for an easy way to send professional invoices, track time for projects, and organize expenses then try FreshBooks. They have a free 30-day trial with no credit card required so you can see if you like it as much as I do.
Freshbooks is the best accounting software for freelancers and sole proprietors, which fits many virtual assistants, on this PC Mag review.
2. Calendly for Scheduling Meetings
Calendly is a huge time-saving tool for virtual assistants. The back-and-forth emails to try and find a mutual time is maddening. Enter Calendly…
Calendly works like this:
Set your availability
Share your link in email, on your business Facebook page, or on your website
Clients schedule a time
Meeting is added to your calendar
Integrates with your calendar so you never double book
I also like that you can set an advance notice requirement to prevent last minute meetings and buffers between meeting times. The free version worked fine for my virtual assistant needs but there are advanced features for the paid plans.
Zapier’s blog lists Calendly as the “best meeting scheduler app for letting others schedule meetings with you.”
3. Trello for Project Management, Pitch Tracking, and Weekly To Dos
Trello is another free virtual assistant tool I love. There are a lot of things to keep track of as a virtual assistant or freelancer, and Trello has been a lifesaver for my own projects and the projects I manage for clients.
I have Trello boards that are shared for working together with clients and I have boards that are for my own work. Ok, I admit…I even have Trello boards for myself that have nothing to do with work! My life would not be organized without Trello.
LastPass is another one of the best tools for freelancers and virtual assistants because it allows you to securely and easily share passwords. Often times a business owner is leery about giving out their passwords, but as a virtual assistant, you need access to their accounts to do work for them. This is were LastPass saves the day.
LastPass allows you to:
store passwords so you don’t have to remember them
customize access those sites (without actually sharing the password)
change your password in one location (but everyone with access to that passwords automatically gets the new password)
So as a virtual assistant, you might need access to a client’s blog, email provider, Canva account, and many others. With LastPass, a client can grant you access to those accounts without actually sharing the password. It’s a very slick way for virtual assistants and business owners to securely share accounts and passwords.
Slack is a great tool for virtual assistants to keep in touch with clients and team members. With different channels, tagging of individuals, and private messages, Slack can virtually eliminate email communication for a team.
Without a ton of lost emails, Slack can:
be a means for quick communication 1:1 or for a whole group
share updates, ask questions, and make decisions
store files, links, and information in a searchable database
have different channels for different teams, professional development groups,
Slack is one of the best tools for freelancers and virtual assistants who want to stay in touch with clients without the frustration of emails.
6. Canva for Branding, Social Media and Graphic Design
Canva is my favorite virtual assistant tool for creating designs. The templates and layouts are a huge time saver for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a ton of time on designs or doesn’t have a lot of design skills.
Canva is perfect for your own business and client work, including:
website headers and blog banners
social media posts and headers for each platform
and so much more
I started with the free version but once I started using Canva for more and wanted to keep track of branding for several websites, I was thrilled with what the paid Canva for Work had to offer.
CloudApp is amazing. I searched long and hard before I found a free screen recording tool that wasn’t ridiculously limited. I didn’t think I was asking for much in a free screen recorder, but apparently I was.
I’m thrilled that CloudApp allows me to:
record my screen
record my voice (optional)
record my webcam (optional)
share recordings with others online.
store recordings in the cloud
CloudApp has been the answer to my screen recording prayers, and I am so happy someone else recommended it to me.
Toggl is simple tool for tracking your time. The information with collect with a time tracker like Toggl can help you be more effecient, earn more money per hour, and make smart decisions about which services you offer.
Toggl is a great freelancer tool for:
tracking your hourly time for each client or project
figuring out how long each type of work takes you
better estimate how long future projects will take you
Knowing how long projects take you will be key if you move from charging an hourly rate to a project fee. Doing a project rate is one way to scale because as you get more efficient, you’re earning more money for your time.
9. Zoom or Skype for Discovery Calls and Client Meetings
As a virtual assistant, you will need a tool for making calls and talking with current and potential clients. I’ve used both Skype and Zoom for these calls and both can get the job done. The ability for group calls, screen sharing, and chat messages are features I used most as a freelancer.
10. Google Voice for a Business Phone Number
You can get a free phone number through Google Voice, which you can use as your business phone number. The number can forward to your cell phone so you will still get the calls but you don’t have to give your personal phone number out to the everyone on the internet.
11. Google Drive for Collaboration and Cloud Storage
Google Drive is a key collaboration tool for virtual assistants and freelancers. It’s another free tool where you can store, share, and work on 15 GB of files for yourself or with a team. Google Docs (similar to Word), Google Sheets (like Excel), Google Slides (like Presentation) and Google Forms (surveys) are common ones virtual assistants use.
12. Dropbox for Sharing Large Files
Sometimes as a virtual assistant you will need to share or receive files that are too large for email. Dropbox is perfect for this and it’s a common tool that others are familiar with. The basic version is free and gives you 2 GB of space, allows you to sync files across devices, and share folders and links.
13. PayPal for Collecting Payments
PayPal is the tool I’ve used to collect payments from clients since I started freelancing. It’s been easy and I’ve had no complications receiving payments from clients.
14. SiteGround for Website Hosting
SiteGround is the website hosting I use for this site and it’s an affordable option for virtual assistants or freelancers who want their own website. While you can get by without a website, I personally think it sets you apart and adds a layer of professionalism when you have a website others can check out before considering hiring you.
Summary of Best Virtual Assistant Tools to Grow Your Business
When you maximize your time as a virtual assistant with tools that allow you to focus your time on the tasks that actually make you money, not only will you make more money but you’ll be happier too. When you find the tools that help you get the job done right and faster, you’ll have more time for things in life you love most.
Recap of the best tools for freelancers and virtual assistants:
Wondering if the Living Well Planner is worth it? Is it the best life planner for you? This Living Well Planner review will answer all your questions about the planner that was designed by Ruth Soukup of Living Well Spending Less.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase a product through my link. Sometimes, you actually get a better deal by using my link. Enjoy this completely honest Living Well Planner review!
Living Well Planner Coupon
Before we dive into the full planner review, I know you love a great deal and are wondering if there are any coupons for the Living Well Planner.
Good news! There are two special Living Well Planner discounts!
Get FREE SHIPPING on any purchase of $50 or more
Get the Living Well Planner Limited Edition for just $25 (that’s a 50% discount!)
The best part? No coupon code is needed to receive these special deals. Just use the button below to add it to your cart.
The Living Well Planner is a lively, high-quality comprehensive organizer and planner that helps you plan and achieve a life you love.
In addition to long-term goals for the year, motto statements and a focus word of the year, there are pages for important dates, important information (like emergency numbers, bank contact info, medical policy numbers, etc), and motivational quotes throughout.
Each month includes pages for:
Month at a Glance
Thoughts and Thanks
Notes and Ideas
The weekly plans include a vertical column for each day, broken up into hours from 6am – 10 pm. This is perfect for time block scheduling. There is also space to write your top 3 must do tasks for each day and daily meal planning space. The weekly page includes an extra space to make a list or write notes and jot any big days coming up.
Living Well Planner Flip Through
Watch the video below to see inside my Living Well Planner. I cover my top pros and cons about the planner now that I’ve used it for several months.
Living Well Planner Pros
It’s Pretty, Lively, & Fun!
When I received my Living Well Planner in the mail, my first thought was how gorgeous it is!
If you’ve been frugal shopper and tried to use your own printables or cheap planners from discount stores, you will be shocked at how fancy a planner can be. If you get giddy about using pretty stationary and supplies, you’ll be excited to use the Living Well Planner.
Living Well Planner Stickers!!
I have not used stickers before, but the sticks that come with the Living Well Life Planner are so fun! They include but are not limited to:
Need to do today
and much, much more!
There are even extra stickers you can add to your planner. The stickers are a great way to make your planner more fun and visually appealing so you want to stick with using it and can keep everything organized.
It’s High Quality
The paper, divider pages, tabs, and cover are all sturdy and high-quality material. With the quality spiral binding, it is easy to keep open so you can see your planner and notes.
Goal Planning & Free Crushing It Course
The Living Well Planner is perfect for anyone who loves or needs help with goal setting. Everything is covered when you buy this planner, including areas to plan out all of your goals:
Big 3 goals
Breaking down goals into bite-sized steps
Personal growth goals
Fun & recreational goals
Health & fitness goals
Home improvement goals
Personal relationship & connection goals
Plus, you get a free email course called the Crushing It Bootcamp that will inspire and show you how to plan and achieve a life you love. This is what I work to do and inspire you to do every day.
You also get exclusive access to the Crushing It Facebook Group for extra goal planning and accountability support.
Monthly Budget Pages
One of the main reasons I decided to try the Living Well planner to organize my family (besides the fact that it’s gorgeous) is that it included budgeting pages right inside for each month.
As you turn the pages for your planner, you will be reminded to budget each month by using this planner. This is great for anyone new to budgeting.
Monthly Divider Tabs
The pretty colored tabs are sturdy and they come without words. You can add stickers to them for each month. So no matter which month of the year you get your Living Well planner, you can have the monthly divider tabs in the order you need them.
These tabs have been convenient for quickly finding the month I need, like March to see when spring break is.
Ability to See Month, Week, Day and Hour at a Glance
Depending on the page you have open, I like that with this planner you can get an overview of an entire month, week, day or hour. The month pages are great for seeing what’s ahead while the weekly and daily sections are great for scheduling appointments, prioritizing your tasks, to do list, and reminders.
Meal Planning Space
The bottom of each day has a dedicated space for meal planning. It includes 6 lines, so there’s more than enough space to plan your meals, snacks, and other notes about food you want to remember.
When I started using my Living Well Planner, the hardest part for me is the biggest pro for others, so I’ll put this in both. The fact that it’s undated is a pro because you can start whenever you like.
This is also great if you tend to hop on and off the planner train for weeks at a time and hate wasting pages that you don’t use.
Living Well Planner Cons
Although you will probably find a lot of things you love, there are some downsides that I found in my Living Well Planner review. Admittedly, I’m being a bit picky here, but this is my honest opinion.
Pro and Con: It’s Undated
If you like to plan ahead, like I do, you will need to spend some time filling in all the pages because the Living Well Planner is undated (as noted above).
I’m a total nerd about planning and organizing. So filling in months worth of dates was a small pain.
It’s Pretty Big
The Living Well Planner is pretty big. There’s a lot of space to write all the things you’re keeping track of, but that comes with a sacrifice.
This planner is not easy to toss in your purse and take with you. It’s better for sitting on your desk or in your command center by the kitchen.
Family Planner and Organizer Hack
I’ve had a wire book stand similar to this that I’ve shuffled around but never really found a use for before that works perfectly for displaying my Living Well Planner by our family command center.
This keeps it upright and insight for the whole family to see.
Switching to this budgeting sheet has been a bit of a stretch for me. I like that my Google spreadsheet adds up my expenses automatically and I can easily customize the budget categories.
If you’re not already in the habit of budgeting and want a budget right inside your planner, however, these budget sheets could be a positive for you.
If you don’t get the Living Well Planner during a sale, it’s $55. At first, I had sticker shock at this price. But when my planner arrived in the mail, I was not disappointed.
Ruth created a high quality product that’s more like a life organizer than just a weekly calendar.
Living Well Planner vs Erin Condren LifePlanner
Erin Condren LifePlanners are also gorgeous, inspirational, focused on goal setting, and made with incredibly high quality. The price is right around $50-$60 too. Compared to the Living Well Planner, Erin Condren planners are simply more customizable.
You can personalize the planner:
front and back cover
weekly layout (vertical, horizontal, or hourly)
color theme (colorful or neutral)
There are several different Erin Condren planners to choose from, including:
Coiled LifePlanner (most similar style to Living Well Planner)
Deluxe Monthly Planner
If you’re ready to find a planner that’s customized to fit your unique needs, then you’ll find what you need in an Erin Condren planner.
The Happy Planner is another pretty, everyday planner. There are a wide variety of designs and colors to choose from. It’s also spiral bound and a bit heavier, like the Living Well Planner.
The biggest difference I could find between the Living Well Planner vs Happy Planner is there are no additional pages and resources for goal setting, life reflecting, and practicing gratitude.
The Living Well Planner is likely the better planner for you if you are focusing on goal setting, being more productive, and accomplishing your long-term and short-term goals.
Also, the Happy Planner is dated, so you either have to get this planner with the January or July start. The Living Well Planner, however, can start any day of the year.
While the Living Well Planner is only available in Ruth’s shop, and it has a larger price tag, the Happy Planner is widely available on Amazon for half the price. It’s versatile too. You can add The Happy Planner to your Amazon cart by clicking the button below.
In addition to buying the Living Well Planner, I added a couple extras from the Living Well Shop.
Do It Scared Mug
Do you hate paying for shipping? Me too. Instead of paying for shipping, I’d rather pay $12 and get something I actually can use.
That’s when I spotted the black and gold mug and t-shits. I instantly fell in love. Not only are they my colors for The Common Cents Club, but I’ve used the motto “do it scared” to face ALL my fears since putting myself out there on this blog, in my book, on podcasts, and speaking gigs.
Now when I wake early in the morning, I experience pure joy sipping coffee from my “do it scared” mug, using my stickers, planner pens, and life planner to organize my day and week as a busy mom.
Since I was going all out to write this Living Well Planner review, I decided to load up on the stickers. There was a sale when I ordered and I had a feeling I would be extra inspired to note my meetings, doctor appointments, kids’ activities and reminders if I had stickers for them.
These stickers did not disappoint and I don’t know that I’ll be able to stick fill out future planners without fun stickers like these.
I almost bought these FriXion Erasable Gel Pens I saw recommended by someone else because I’d love to be able to erase changes or mistakes, but then I read the reviews (like I always do) and heard your writing will erase on its own if it gets too warm.
I don’t want to have to worry about my appointments and reminders randomly disappearing if I take my planner to work outside or in the car, so for that reason I’m sticking with the PaperMate Flair Pens.
Sign Up for New Free Organizing Tools in My Freebie Library
Looking for more tools for organizing your life, like a meal planner, budgeting template, and way to organize gift ideas all year long?
Just let me know by tapping the button below and I’ll give you the super secret password to access ALL my favorite freebies for organizing your life and shopping smarter in The Common Cents Club Library.
Is meal planning one of those things you know you should be doing, but you haven’t found the right meal planning template yet?
Have you ever swore you were going do this whole meal planner thing…only to fail after two days?
We hear how amazing meal planning is for saving money, eating healthier, and feeling less overwhelmed by the dreaded 5:00 PM “What’s for dinner? I’m hungry now!” I even swear by it in my 100 easy ways to save money and paying off debt tips.
But it is hard to stick with IF you don’t have the right meal planning template. And let me tell you: I’ve tried it all.
After getting on and off the meal planning wagon many times, I finally found a meal planning template and system that works for me as a busy mom. And I even created a free version of it, which you can access at the end of the post.
Why Other Meal Planner Templates Failed
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more information.
But first, why is it so hard to stick with meal planning and why did the other meal planner systems fail?
At first, I felt a little ridiculous even considering buying it. But when I looked closely at what was actually on this weekly meal planner, I started imagining myself as The Meal Planning Queen I had tried to be several times before.
Since I knew how much money I could save if I could stick with meal planning, and it was only $8 for an entire year’s worth of weekly meal planning templates, I gave it a shot.
And I’m SO glad I did.
Why the ‘WHAT TO EAT’ Meal Planner Works
It’s magnetic – It sticks to my fridge…where all the food is to cook and where I look when making a grocery list.
It makes sense. The main space is for planning dinners. We eat the same few things for breakfasts and lunches, so I really don’t need to plan those every day. However, I do plan dinner each day and this meal planner has it laid out perfectly.
It also has a space for planning SNACKS. My 3- and 1-year-old eat ALL DAY LONG, so I need to make sure I have a never-ending grab bag of snacks for them. This was something all my other meal planner templates were missing.
One notepad will last ALL YEAR because there are 60 weekly meal planning worksheets.
It’s cheap. For $8-$9, if it saves you from ordering out even one night you will already get your money’s worth.
I reuse old meal ideas. I run out of ideas after a week or two. So instead of throwing away old meal planner sheets, keep them somewhere so you can pull them out and easily plan out a new week of ideas from those meals you made 3 or 4 weeks ago. This is a huge timesaver!
If you’ve tried meal planning before or have any of the following goals, here are five reasons why you need to try it again.
1. Save Money with Meal Planning
The amount of money you save by planning your meals and only buying the food you need to carry out that meal plan is in the hundreds for most families. You’ll stop throwing away food you don’t use because you didn’t have a plan for what to use it for.
You’ll avoid impulse buys and buying a bunch of stuff “just in case you want to make that one dish this week.”
By finding the right meal planner template for your family, investing a few bucks and 10 minutes each week can easily save you $2,000 or more this year. You will save even more if you usually go out to eat a lot.
2. Save Time with Meal Planning
I know fast food sounds fast, but when you consider the time it takes for a family to decide, order, wait for the food, and eat, it’s really not faster than what you can whip up at home.
And when you create a system of knowing what food needs to be taken out to unthaw, knowing you have everything you need on hand, and only making one trip to the grocery store per week, you’ll end up saving yourself time by planning your meals ahead of time.
3. Lose Weight and Be Healthier with Meal Planning
Eating healthy and losing weight are goals many of us have. But it is hard!
I struggle with it too.
Eating healthy may never be straight-up easy. But when you create a weekly meal plan and buy the foods on your list, then sticking with a diet can be much easier.
4. Meal Planning for Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Feeding a family can be hectic enough without adding food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances to the mix.
I have several food allergies in my family, and when you add my extended family, there are even more. Meal planning has become a way for us to more easily make meals, snacks, and treats that work for each family member’s needs.
5. Less Overwhelm and More Joy Around Meals
I know I can’t be the only one who dreads the hangry 5PM: “What’s for dinner? I’m huuuungry.”
Followed by ferociously hoping something yummy, easy and healthy-ish will magically appear in the fridge or cupboards.
The peace that comes with knowing what you’re going to eat and when allows families to experience less overwhelm in the kitchen and more joy around the dinner table.
More Weekly Meal Planner Templates
If you want to find a new weekly meal planner template but for some reason or another don’t think the Knock Knock WHAT TO EAT pad is the right for you, check out these other meal planners:
Free Weekly Meal Planner Template with Snacks
My Weekly Meal Plan Printable – FREE in my Resource Library
The weekly templates are the same as the WHAT TO EAT pad but in a printable version instead of the magnetic notepad. Sign up to get into the Freebie Library, which includes a bunch of meal planners.
My Monthly Meal Planning Template – FREE in my Resource Library.
The monthly calendar meal planner is also available in the Library. Sign up for access and you can get instant access to of my free meal planners.
Meal Planner with Grocery List Template
I love the Wunderlist app for keeping track of my shopping list, but if you want a meal planner template with a grocery list included check out this one or this one.
If you want meals already included in your meal plan with a shopping list, then $5 meal plan is your easy and affordable answer. Try the Risk-Free 14-Day Trial with her delicious and easy recipes. The grocery list is a convenient addition and can save you a lot of time.
Editable Meal Planner Template
My Editable Weekly and Monthly Meal Planner – FREE in my Library
You can find two editable meal planners in the Freebie Library too: one weekly and one monthly. With these you can fill in your meal plans for the week then save it on your computer or print it out. You can download them by signing up to get the secret code instantly.
Printable Meal Planner Templates
My Printable Meal Planner Templates – FREE resource library include the following options to best suit your personal preferences:
If you haven’t signed up to check out all the goodies in the free resource library yet, what are you waiting for?
Special Diet Meal Planning Templates
Meal planning makes sticking with individual diet needs and goals easier. Check out these options if you’re looking for meal plans for your individual diet goals:
Gluten Free Meal Plans – $5 Meal Plan program has a library of delicious yet easy recipes. You’ll get recipes, directions and a shopping list with your plan. Try it FREE for 2 weeks. Continue for $5 per month or cancel if it doesn’t fit your needs.
Whole 30 Meal Planning Templates – Some worthwhile Whole30 meal planners can be found here or here.
21 Day Fix Meal Plans – Grab a printable spreadsheet meal plan over here.
Paleo Meal Planner (with Whole 30 modifications) – Check out this Word meal planning template on this page.
Vegetarian Meal Planning – Get four week’s worth of recipes and meal plans to fit a vegetarian diet either in Word or PDF.
Meal Planning Template in Excel
Looking for meal planning template for your spreadsheet-loving self? Check out this one and this one.
Finally, if you’re a bullet journal lover, you can create weekly meal plan in your journal too.
Here’s a how-to guide to show you how to create meal plans, shopping lists, and food budget goals with your bullet journal.
Start Meal Planning Today
When you create a habit of meal planning, you will:
stop throwing unused food away
have less overwhelm about “what’s for dinner”
enjoy family meals more
avoid restaurant and fast food because you don’t know what to eat
have a plan prepared ahead of time for your meals each day
know what groceries you need for the week (and what you don’t)
stick to your diet goals, eat healthier, and lose weight
The Easiest Weekly Meal Planner
For me, I’m so glad I found the WHAT TO EAT pad on Amazon. It’s been the key for me to stick with meal planning as a busy mom.
An entire weekly meal plan can be created in less than 10 minutes and if it saves you from going out to eat just one time, you’ll already get your money’s worth.
It’s a no brainer.
The Cheapest Weekly, Monthly, and Editable Meal Planning Templates
But if you cannot get yourself to spend a few bucks on the notepad, at least grab one of the free meal planning templates in my resource library. Print four copies for the upcoming month and sticking them on your fridge.
Sign up below if you don’t have the Library password yet (hint: If you’re already part of The Common Cents Club newsletter, the password is included at the bottom on any recent email).
Use your common “cents” and grab your own weekly meal planner template below so you can start meal planning now.
Whether you have a getting healthier board, a meal planning board, or a saving money board save these meal planning templates to Pinterest so you always have them when you need them. Plus, your friends can start using them too!
Looking for Black Friday deals on things that will help you save time and make money?
These are some of the best investments for helping you manage all your important jobs as a mom, including keeping your home clean, feeding your kids healthy meals, and supplementing your income by making money from home.
Deals on Things That Save You Time and Stress
These are some of my favorite items I bought last year while on sale or wish I had bought when they were on sale because I paid $100+ more a few months later. Definitely check out the prices on these things on Black Friday if you’re looking for a way to save time and stress less.
1. Vitamix Blender **Save $100!**
works better than any blender I’ve ever used before
makes green smoothies with handfuls of kale and spinach that are actually smooth
easiest way to get my kids to eat veggies without throwing a fit
use it almost daily and would buy again in a heartbeat
What can you make in the instant pot?
I’ve barely scratched the surface, but I love using it for chicken and rice, mashed cauliflower, spaghetti squash, quinoa, lentils, oatmeal, Italian chicken sauce, and more.
Why do you need an Ergonomic carrier?
You can read all about why a Bjorn was a waste of money but a GOOD carrier was an awesome investment. It is #1 on my list of things that help when you’re working from home with a baby.
5. Pay Your Student Loans Fast **Just $0.99!**
quick, easy read crash course in handling the stress of student loans
the 5-step process anyone can use to wipe away debt of any kind
strategies to find more money every month even when you think there’s nothing left
get the Kindle edition for just $0.99 through Cyber Monday
Deals on Courses That Show You How to Make Money at Home
9. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course
This course is on sale from Black Friday, November 23 until Cyber Monday, November 26 at 11:59 p.m. PT.
I bought this course with a promo code just like the one below. This course teaches you how to make money from a blog, website, or social media through affiliate marketing. As the budgeting, spreadsheet nerd that I am, I’ve tracked my affiliate income each month.
I earned my money back on this investment in 60 days and my earnings have increased 3,780% in 5 months.
If you already have a blog, website, or social media following, Michelle’s course will show you exactly how to make money from it through affiliate marketing.
10. Proofread Anywhere – General Proofreading Course
The sale starts Friday, November 23rd at 12:01 am EST and goes through Monday, November 25th at midnight EST.
I did not take this course before I became a proofreader and editor simply because it didn’t exist yet! Now that Caitlin created it, I reviewed it and fully recommend it.
Trust me, if you have great word skills, you just need to know how to find people to pay you!
If you want to learn how to make money as a proofreader, Caitlin’s course will show you the way. This sale has NEVER happened before and I doubt it ever will again. So if you’ve been on the fence about this course, NOW is the best time to buy.
The 50% off sale is good through Cyber Monday. I have not taken any of her courses yet because I didn’t know they existed until now… But I love and trust anything she does over at Money Saving Mom and these are all less than $10!
The courses that caught my attention and are perfect for achieving your most important goals are:
So while that spoils the secret, I absolutely think it was worth it, there are definitely some people who it would NOT be good for.
So in this iRobot Roomba review, you will learn:
Who robot vacuums are good for — and who they are not
What you need to know before you buy a Roomba
Where to find the best deals on Robot Vacuums
This post contains affiliate links. That does not sway my opinion nor does it affect your purchase in any way. It simply adds a small amount of money to my coffee fund, so I can keep writing about ways to help you and your family save money, make money, and save time.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my full disclosure for more info.
iRobot Roomba Pros
Cleans hardwood, vinyl, and carpet floors
Transitions seamlessly from one flooring type to the next
You can push the button and it will clean your floors while you go do something more fun or more important.
Newer models are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
You can clean and schedule it from anywhere with the iRobot Home App
It’s much cheaper in the long run than hiring a cleaning service
Little kids can be amused for hours watching it and chasing it (while not important to cleaning, this has been useful as a busy work-at-home mom)
iRobot Roomba Cons
You have to have the floor space picked up or the vacuum will get tangled in stuff like clothes
It doesn’t work on long, shaggy carpet
It is loud enough that you can’t watch tv if it’s running near you
My docking station can be glitchy and I sometimes need to prop the station at a different angle for it to charge correctly
You can see my iRobot Roomba in action in the video below. I show the docking station, the virtual wall, and how it cleans the hardwood floors in my kitchen.
The Robot Vacuum I Bought – iRobot Roomba 650
After moving to a bigger house with double the floor space to enjoy–and clean–I heard a friend who said she loved her Roomba. At first, I thought really?! I thought those were kind of ridiculous, but alas, after 6 months in our new house, I was tired of sweeping and vacuuming the floors.
So I did my Google research thing, read lots of robot vacuum reviews, and ultimately purchased the iRobot Roomba 650. It’s an older model without a remote or wi-fi capability. Most of the models for sale now include both. You can see how the Roomba did in my kitchen at the end of the second video below.
Since the 650 is no longer widely available, you’re probably wondering which is the best Roomba to buy now.
Roomba With Wi-Fi and Great Reviews – iRobot Roomba 690
iRobot Roomba 690 – If you want Wi-Fi so your Roomba can be compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant, then the Roomba 690 is the way to go.
With personal recommendations from my friends and readers, plus over 2,000 reviews with an average of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon, the 690 will be a great fit in your home.
The Roomba 690 has wi-fi, a virtual wall, and at the time of this writing is 20% off on Amazon.
Roomba Without Wi-Fi and Great Reviews – iRobot Roomba 640
iRobot Roomba 640 – If you do not care about Wi-Fi capability or connecting your vacuum to Alexa or Google Assistant, then the Roomba 640 is the way to go.
This robot vacuum has over 1,000 reviews and an average 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. You get 1 Virtual Wall with this Roomba as well.
See The iRobot Roomba In Action
One year after buying the iRobot Roomba, my first robot vacuum, hear what I’ve learned, what I wish I knew, and if the rug in my kitchen actually got clean.
Who is an iRobot Roomba Good For
An iRobot Roomba is good for you if:
You are ok with your floors being good, not perfect
You have other things you’d rather do than clean the floors
You have bigger open floor areas
You have hard floors and normal-medium length carpets
So far, I’ve only heard great things from those who end up buying a Roomba. However, they are not for everyone.
A Roomba is NOT for You if:
You have long, shaggy carpet
You are a control freak or need your floors cleaned perfectly
You have lots of furniture, toys, or clothes covering your floors
You regularly have things like messy food, kid slime, or animal poop on the floor (a robot vacuum will just make a bigger mess out of these…no fun)
So if you’ve determined a Roomba might be a good fit for you based on the above criteria, here are a few more things you need to know before you buy a Roomba:
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Robot Vacuum
Here are the top 3 things you need to know before you buy your Roomba:
You need to pick up the area for the robot vacuum to clean without getting stuck (ex. clothes and cords)
You need to put something in front of stairways (ex. if you have an opening to stairs that go down, the robot vacuum can fall down the stairs). A vacuum that comes with a “wall” works great, as can a tote or box.
You will use it and love it so much, it will be like a pet in your family and you will name it
In Summary, Are iRobot Roombas Worth It?
Personally, I love my iRobot Roomba. I bought the iRobot Roomba 650 last year on Amazon during Black Friday and it is a purchase I would make again in a heartbeat.
My favorite features of the Roomba vacuum are:
I get to push a button, walk away, and do something much more enjoyable (usually it’s going for a walk with my kids or doing some virtual assistant work)
It cleans all my hardwood, carpet, and vinyl floors really well (everything except long, shaggy carpet)
It doesn’t involve hard labor or messing with cords
The virtual wall gives you more control for what vacuuming will work best in your home layout
Bonus: Kids get a kick out of it
If you’re not a complete control freak, you have hardwood, vinyl, and average (not shaggy) carpet, and you want to save time doing housework, a Roomba vacuum would be worth it for you too.
Working from home with a baby is a win-win…you get time with your precious little one and make money at the same time. Ideally, your baby will take long naps plus sleep through the night at just a few weeks old, so you have plenty of time to do #AllTheThings.
Except, it doesn’t always work that way.
In fact, juggling your work from home job with kids can be tough, exhausting, and even maddening at times.
From my experience working from home with a baby, a toddler, and now one of each, I’ve learned a lot. So to help you avoid those days when you want to pull your hair out because you can’t seem to get anything done, here are the products and tips that have helped figure out how to work from home effectively with babies.
Products For Working From Home With A Baby Easier
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my full disclosure for more info.
1. Baby Carrier
A good baby carrier is a key tool for working from home with a baby. Babies need to be held. Baby carriers allow us to give baby the physical comfort and touch she needs while our hands can be free to do other things, like work on the computer, make a phone call, do laundry, cook, or take care of older kids.
When I say a “good” carrier I mean an ergonomic baby carrier that correctly supports baby’s spine, pelvis, and hips. I used to have the Baby Bjorn but it killed my back after a short time. After some research and talking with experienced moms, I discovered “ergonomic carriers” are better for both mom and baby.
After I invested in a better baby carrier, I could wear baby for hours without pain and my baby was content for much longer too. This allowed a lot less time soothing and a lot more time to be productive. With a good carrier, you keep baby close, supported, sneak all the sweet new baby smells you want, and still have your hands free to do other things.
The One I Use
I use the Standard Tula Baby Carrier. It’s comfortable, has a pocket for your phone and keys, and comes in adorable prints. Right now it sells for $139 directly from the Tula website, but you can find a lot of them on Amazon for $100. This carrier is for babies and toddlers who weigh between 15-45 pounds. You can wear babies on your front or back. My daughter is now 3 and still easily fits in this carrier.
For my second child, I got the Baby Tula Infant Insertso I could wear my baby in my carrier right away. Babies weighing between 7-15 lbs need an extra infant insert to properly support them in the Tula Carrier. So if you’ll be working from home with a newborn, the right baby carrier can help you give snuggles while keeping your hands free.
Other Good Baby Carriers
Tula Free-to-Grow Carrier, the new style Tula create that grows with your child from newborn to toddler (no infant insert needed)
A good laptop has been another key ingredient for figuring out how to work home with a toddler and baby. While a desktop computer is good for working in a home office, it’s not feasible when you have an on-the-go lifestyle when you’re trying to work from home with kids. A laptop, on the other hand, can go with you anywhere: the recliner, couch, outside, in the car or even in bed when needed.
The One I Use
I have an Apple MacBook Pro and absolutely love it for working from home effectively. I’m a big fan of Apple products and this one has not disappointed. Of course, Apple is top-of-the-line when it comes to computers, so you’re going to pay top dollar for these premium laptops.
If you are a breastfeeding mom, you will spend many hours nursing your baby. While you might be able to get some work done while nursing, another way to maximize your time is to pump with an electric breast pump. You can maximize your time by pumping one side while nursing on the other or pumping both sides to get double the milk. You can let someone else feed baby so you can get a longer time to work.
The One I Use
I use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump. This pump has gotten many, many hours of use from my days of working outside the home. You can use it at home or even in the car with the right attachments. Having a reliable breast pump can help you give baby the best nutrition while maximizing your limited time.
*Money-Saving Tip: Check with your health insurance about getting a breast pump for free or discounted price. This was a perk I did not know about as a new mom!
4. Hands-Free Pumping Bra
A hands-free pumping bra is one of those things I wished I had bought sooner! After months of holding the bottles while pumping, it was amazing to finally have my hands free and multitask while pumping.
A baby swing that baby loves was another key for me as I was working from home with a baby. It was awesome to have the swing as an option when baby needed something new to do, and honestly, I used the swing a lot in the younger months for naps. Sometimes this was the only thing that would make baby happy! There are noise and music options, which I used the heartbeat noise the most.
The One I Use
Graco DuetConnect LX Swing and Bouncer– Both of my babies were fans of swings that swayed side-to-side. Neither was a fan of the swing we had that swung front to back. Seems weird, I know. But I was so glad I found this swing that also came with a bouncer as it helped soothe my baby both for playtime or for naps. Some days my son’s only long nap of the day would be in this swing!
A video baby monitor was an awesome tool for me because sometimes baby was making noises in his crib and I thought my work time was over. However, by being able to see baby on the monitor, I sometimes realized he was just making sleep noises or rolling around a bit trying to get back to sleep. Without the video monitor, I would have went in his room to get him and ended the sleep session. This also came in handy when our first became a toddler because I could tell if she needed something or if she was just being silly in her crib.
The One I Use
I have the Summer Infant Baby Secure Video Baby Monitor and it’s helped our family for over 3 years now. My only issue is that we’ve had to replace the battery once, but other than that it has served us well. Since both of our kids were noisy sleepers from day one, the video part has been a key feature on our monitors and has brought us peace of mind many times.
Using a bouncy seat was another thing that helped me when I was working from home with a baby. While tummy time, time on their back, and time being held is preferred over too much time in a baby device, there were many times when the bouncy seat came in incredibly handy, like when I:
needed to take a shower
needed to cook dinner
needed to get work done
The One I Use
I probably would not have bought a bouncy seat because I simply didn’t want another bulky baby item. So I didn’t know how much I’d use it until the swing I bought came with a bouncy seat too. Graco DuetConnect LX Swing and Bouncer. Had I bought one separately, I would have looked for one that had lights, music, or more engaging discovery toys on it. The bouncer disconnected from the swing super easy and could be easily carried anywhere in the house or outside. Once my little one got more mobile and wanted to move more, a Jumper was my go-to thing to put baby in when I needed to get something done.
There is a big difference in my productivity on the days where I have a plan and days where I don’t. While there’s nothing wrong with flying by the seat of your pants and rolling with the punches, if you have work that needs to get done and you’re juggling kids, you must create a plan. That way when you are blessed with a few minutes to work you know exactly what your first priority is–and isn’t. Writing a freelance writing post that you’ll get paid for? Yes. Browsing Facebook or Instagram? Not so much. But without intentionally planning your ideal work from home schedule, your precious time can easily be sucked by a “quick” email check or peek at social media. Trust me…
The One I Use
This year I bought the Passion Plannerfor the first time. I was skeptical at first since I see myself as a natural planner and goal setter but within the first day of reading the front matter and using it, I knew it was the right choice. It helped me break down my big goals for the yearinto manageable steps that I actually scheduled to help keep me on track.
I used the earbuds that came with my iPhone for a long time, but when baby #2 got curious and yanked them out of my ears every time he was nursing or he was in the carrier and I was trying to listen to something, it got old fast. I decided to try wireless Bluetooth earbuds and it helped a lot since the cord was no longer danging near him. So if you can’t get something done because baby is distracted by the noise or cords of whatever you’re tryig to listen to, check out a pair of Bluetooth headphones and see if that helps you figure out how to get things done with a baby around.
The Ones I Use
I have the SENSO Bluetooth Headphones. At $30, they are nothing amazing, but they get the job done. I chose these because I needed a pair that would stay in good while I’m running and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. They easily connect to my laptop or phone so I can listen and have my hands free. Another bonus is these block out noise better than other headphones I used. So when Mr. CommonCents is in charge of our little ones, I can block out their happy (and unhappy) yells.
If you’ve read my post about things I’m glad I splurged on, you’ll know that I love my Robot Vacuum, “Robo.” If you’re a mom who’s trying to figure out how to work from home with a baby, chances are you also wish you had more time or help with house chores.
Enter: Robot Vacuum. I used to think these were kind of a joke until I had to figure out how to work from home with a toddler and a newborn. I’m not the best at ignoring a messy house, so the Roomba was a perfect solution and Christmas gift. By just making sure an area is relatively clear, I can push the button and Robo will clean the floors for me. It works on both carpet and hard surfaces and allows me more time to get my work done and have clean floors too. Or at least semi-clean. 😉
The One I Use
I have the iRobot Roomba 650, which is a little older model that’s harder to find now. You can get a better deal on a newer model that uses Wi-Fi by buying the iRobot Roomba 690 instead. Then get ready for your floors to be cleaned while you are free to do something else!