It’s so easy to be drawn into buying the latest and greatest tech. One of my goals is to give you ways to get more out of the tech you already own. Take Amazon Prime.
If you signed up to shop for this year’s Prime Day sales, don’t miss out on all the perks that come with your membership. Tap or click for my favorite hidden Prime benefits, including free, unlimited full-resolution photo storage and 5 GB video storage.
Of course, freebies are always great. We regularly round up all the tech upgrades you can get without paying a dime. Tap or click for 15 freebies you’ll use anything from free office software to free audiobooks.
Tech time and money savers tend to slip under the radar. Here are five I think you will love:
1. Keep your phone number forever
Most of us have a few different cellphone numbers throughout our lives. If you need to switch to a new number, don’t let your old one go. Why?
Think about everything tied to your number. You have likely signed up for many services over the years using it. Your cellphone number is connected to your bills, and it gets two-factor authentication codes to let you log in to various accounts.
The easiest way to keep an old number is to port it to Google Voice for a $20 fee. Just be sure to do this before you switch numbers with your carrier.
Not every provider or phone number is eligible, but it’s worth checking. You will need your account number and PIN, so have your billing account information handy.
2. Easy shortcuts to sound smarter
If you spend a lot of time writing, you already know about Grammarly, the tool that helps you fix grammar, spelling, punctuation and clarity issues. The free version of the browser extension is worth the download. The paid version, Grammarly Premium, gives you even more pointers. To save some cash, go with the annual payment option.
If you have commas and spelling down pat and need help with readability, check out Hemingway. This free online editor analyzes your writing to help you make it clearer and more understandable.
Paste a few paragraphs into the Hemingway website, and you’ll see what I mean. It highlights hard-to-read sentences, passive voice, and other mistakes that make your writing difficult to understand. The web version is free to use, but you can’t save your work. The desktop app has a one-time cost of $19.99.
Do you often struggle to find the right words? Wordtune is excellent in a pinch. Type in a sentence, and you will see several options for how you could get your message across in a different way. Try this one out next time you’re writing a difficult email or find yourself at a loss for words.
3. Know your packages are safe and sound
If you’re concerned about packages getting stolen, Amazon can give you a little extra peace of mind. One of the most popular is Amazon Key, which allows delivery drivers to drop off packages inside your gate, garage, or home.
It works through smart locks and smart garage door openers that you install. Amazon gives your delivery person access via a wireless key. In-home delivery is still paused right now due to the pandemic. To use in-garage delivery, you’ll need two things: A garage-door opener compatible with the myQ app and Prime membership.
The myQ Chamberlain Smart Garage Door Opener is affordable and reliable. Being able to open or close your garage from anywhere makes it worth the money.
Tap or click here for a guide to setting up in-garage delivery. It’s easy once you have the right gear.
Don’t like the idea of someone coming into your home or garage? Set special instructions on your orders. I ask for any nonbreakable items to be tossed over the side gate.
Your Amazon account needs a few tweaks to be as secure as can be. Tap or click for three essential settings to change now before you have problems.
4. Get the highest Zestimate for your home
The real estate market is on fire throughout most of the country. Even if your home is not for sale, your home likely has a basic listing on Zillow.com. The most important part of that listing is your home’s estimated value or Zestimate.
Zillow’s algorithms compare your homes to similar sales in your area. A home’s Zestimate has always been a point of contention. It’s seemingly either on the mark or too low.
Obviously, you want that Zestimate to be as high as possible. To get started, register with Zillow and claim your home. Zillow gets many home facts from public records such as lot size, square footage, and the number of bedrooms, but these numbers are not always correct.
To raise your Zestimate, make sure the listing is complete and accurate. Pay particular attention to upgrades that influence the home’s value such as a remodel, view, and extras like a pool or gated property. You can add a full description of your home along with photos and videos. Make sure you complete the section marked, “What I love about this home.”
But do be careful. Divulging pertinent details can give wannabe thieves easy access. Don’t upload a floor plan or post photos that include expensive items or security system locations.
5. Share your home movies without Facebook
I hear from callers on my national show all the time who want to share home movies without using Facebook. Uploading and sending via email is a major hassle. The solution? Set up a private YouTube channel.
It’s fast, easy, and free. When you’re ready to share, all you need to do is shoot links to your friends and family.
On YouTube, you will see two options for sharing: Private and unlisted. Private videos can only be viewed by those with whom you share a link. Unlisted means anyone could technically watch the video, but it won’t come up in search results or on your channel page.
ProPublica obtained IRS information showing how billionaires like Bezos, Musk and Buffett pay little in income tax when compared to their massive wealth – sometimes, even nothing. I sat down with an experienced tax accountant who works with wealthy clients to get the scoop. Plus, we talked about special tax credits to lower your taxes.
Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.