I have become a huge fan of video chat. If you have never done it before, you should give it a try. My best friend just came back from a mission in Argentina (she was gone 1.5 years!) and even though we are on different US coasts, she met my baby via video chat.
There are many great uses for video chat in regards to saving money:
- Hold a business meeting via video chat rather than traveling to their office, or taking them out to lunch
- Video chat someone for Father's day or Mother's day, rather than buying an expensive gift. It will mean just as much, I promise.
- Use video chat to eliminate long distance phone call costs!!
- Use video chat to check something out before you buy it (especially something used, from the classifieds)
- Use video chat to initially check out a house you are interested in renting or buying. This works great when you are moving to a new city. It eliminates the need for both you and your spouse to travel out to initially see a house (and if you can find a real estate agent with a laptop and willingness, you could have her tour the house for you while you watch via web cam!) and helps you narrow them down faster - saving you time and money.
- Use video chat to check in on things: projects, your kids or pets, etc. Examples: There are web cams at many dog daycare and child daycare places now, my parents are remodeling their house and could check in while on vacation, etc. This ensures safety, accuracy, and peace of mind - saving you time and money.
- If you have video chat on your phone, use it to preview things before they are purchased. Ex: Send your husband to the hardware store or furniture store while you stay home with the kids (or vice versa). This way you don't have to pay for a babysitter, and you can still have a say on what is purchased for your home!
All you need is a web camera (you can buy them cheap if you search online or in the classifieds, OR check your computer because it may have one built in already) and a chat program.
There are a number of programs out there that you can subscribe to or buy, but there is NO NEED to pay any money to video chat!
My three favorite programs are:
If you have Gmail, they have a free video chat feature.
My husband and I have had a hard time getting it to install easily sometimes. But the nice part about it is that whenever you are logged into your Gmail account, you can see instantly
A) who else has the video chat feature downloaded and ready to use, and
B) you can see who is online at any time, which is great for quick/impromptu video chatting.
The downside? The person you want to chat with has to have Gmail in order for it to work.
I tried Skype for the first time this week. I was SO IMPRESSED by how easy it was! It only took about 4-5 minutes to set up. This is free, and is a great tool to talk to people all over the world.
The downside? I haven't found one yet...anyone have problems with Skype ever?
iChat for Mac
If you have a Mac computer, ichat is great! You can share screens, chat with multiple people at once, and it's really quick and easy to use; especially since Mac's typically have a great camera built right in.
The downside? The person you want to chat with must have a mac desktop or laptop.
So, the savings tip of the day? Use video chat as creatively as possible and save, save, save!
Happy savings to you :)