Featured Image I jumped on the voice assistant device craze pretty quickly not really knowing the capabilities. I bought Amazon Echo with Alexa voice assistance this year and while I don’t tend to ride the wave of new techy gadgets, this one I adopted pretty early on. Purchasing Alexa for our home was a bit of an impulse buy. I wanted a way to play music and the hands-free part of it intrigued me because with two toddlers, my hands are perpetually full. Buying Alexa was a splurge. I don’t usually allot much of my budget to technology but my husband and I both wanted it around Valentine’s Day and agreed it would be our present to each other. There are many things I use it for below, but none of these are life changing; just a few small things that helps make my busy life a little easier. The weather. While I’m getting myself and the kids ready in the morning. It’s nice to ask Alexa what the weather will be that day, that way I know whether I need to grab our heavy winter coats or a light jacket on the way out the door. Kitchen timer. I’m forever burning something in my oven. The biggest lie I ever tell is, “Oh, I’ll remember to check back in a few minutes.” But every time I rely on my memory, it’s the smell of burning that reminds me there’s something in the oven. Yes, I realize there is a timer on my stove but that involves pressing buttons... and thinking. Math. If anyone knows me, they know my distain for math. I’m not very good at it and with a calculator on my phone, I pretty much avoid doing any math in my head. That brain power is reserved for other things like useless pop culture knowledge. I keep Alexa in the kitchen where it can convert units. It’s helpful when I’m cooking with messy hands and can’t use my phone. Music. My kitchen was made for dancing. It’s really the main reason I bought Alexa (and a house with a kitchen). I’ve enjoyed having it for holiday parties and small gatherings. Playlists that I don’t have to manage AND I still have access to my phone is a win-win for me. A grocery list. As I’m throwing away the empty box of crackers, I ask Alexa to add it to my grocery list. If I don’t do it then and there, I just won’t remember. If I don’t, when I’m at the store later, I’ll remember I needed something but can never remember what that something is. Overall, I’m pleased with the purchase but I know Alexa has way more potential I haven’t even tapped into and literally everything I just listed I can do from my phone, granted it does take a little more time and effort, like pressing buttons. Who has time for that? Buying in on new technology can be a gamble. There’s always the latest and greatest, and it can be tempting to want to buy the next best gadget. But when technology is changing so rapidly, you may overpay or even worse, buy something you won’t even use. I’ve been eyeing the Ring doorbell and hear so many great things about it. So far I’ve held off but I want to know, are there techy items you couldn’t live without? Are there some you wished you had skipped? Alexa, I could live without but it does make life just a little bit easier and my sanity is worth something. Audra F. Hi, I’m Audra! I’m a marketing specialist here at VACU. I joined VACU right out of college at VCU 5 years ago. In that time, I got engaged, married my college sweetheart and had two babies; a girl and a boy. I’ve learned a lot about finances working at the credit union, but even more from navigating these life changes. So I’m excited to share my personal financial journey with you and what I’m learning along the way. Other stories by Audra F.