Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here. Amazon links are affiliate. 

I recently bought an Amazon Echo Dot and I absolutely love it. At first I ordered the device to speed up research for my work.

But THEN I realized I could use it for way, way more.

I’m a big proponent of the belief that organized living is frugal living. Any time I can streamline a task for minimal cost, it’s worth the savings to my sanity and time.

My voice assistant does both!

Technology is the future of living better and saving a few bucks, too. Here’s how I put my voice assistant, Alexa, to good, frugal use.

But first, the tradeoff

Voice assistants weren’t designed just to make our lives easier. For Amazon, Google, Apple, and other companies that design voice assistants, they’re data-gathering tools.

You have to be okay with the tradeoff of your privacy in exchange for the convenience. I’m fine with it, but it’s not an option for many people, and that’s okay!

Buying an Alexa device

Electronics can be expensive. That’s why I try to save on them any time I decide to upgrade.

I bought an Amazon Echo Dot for $40. Here’s the link to the one I got if you’re curious.

I waited until my Honey Chrome extension noted that there was a price decrease on the Alexa. I shaved $10 off just doing this.

You can also buy a manufacturer refurbished device on Amazon, too. These devices are cheaper, although you have to be willing the roll the dice that it won’t have any potential issues.

If you want a voice assistant without the Echo devices, all you need is a smartphone. You can either enable the native voice assistant on your phone (like Siri or Google Assistant) or download the Alexa app.

Adjust your permissions to use the voice assistant on your phone, without the added cost of buying a hands-free device.

The frugality of Amazon Alexa

I believe that the tradeoff is worth having an Alexa in my office. Here’s how I put my Alexa to good, frugal use.

Schedule management

“Alexa, what does my schedule look like tomorrow?”

Upon hearing this command, Alexa can immediately remind me about early-morning meetings on my Google Calendar. I can even have her schedule appointments for me if I’m scrambling from room to room in a frazzled panic.

When you know your schedule, you don’t forget doctor’s appointments and return your library books on time. If a little awareness can save me late fees, it’s worth having a voice assistant.

I can’t access my written calendar when *someone* is sitting on it.

News briefing

It’s important to know the day’s weather and news before you set out the door. When I ask Alexa, “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?” I can do just that.

I listen to the latest news from The Skimm and have Alexa tell me if it’s going to rain. I can stay informed without looking at my phone. I definitely remember to bring an umbrella, which has saved my hair more than once!

Reminders and shopping lists

Oh, y’all. A few weeks ago I forgot to put a client project in my digital to-do list. I felt SO horrible once I realized the project was a day late.

As a Type-A person, this was my personal hell. Sooo embarrassing.

I forgot to input the project because I wasn’t paying attention. I meant to put it in, but got distracted. As a result, I had to make things right with the customer, which meant less income for me. 

Alexa helps me add items to my to-do list hands-free. If I realize we’re low on ketchup, I can add it to my shopping list when it’s fresh on my mind, not when I remember to pick up my planer again.

Alarms and timers

Have you ever been late for work or an appointment because you didn’t hear the alarm? Or forgot you were baking a cake and burnt two dozen muffins?

I’ve done all of these. As a result, I was more frazzled and even wasted money (RIP, burnt cranberry-orange muffins).

I use Alexa to set my daily wake-up, as well as a Pomodoro timer. It’s also great for keeping tabs on dinner.

Zap is very suspicious of Alexa.


This feature is better if you have an Echo Show, or other voice assistant with a display screen. You can use the AllRecipes skill to search for quick dinner recipes.

Alexa uses its data to pull the highest-rated recipe for your search, so you can quickly begin gathering ingredients for lasagna.

Smart home management

I have a Roomba vacuum and a Nest thermostat. These smart devices actually integrate with my Alexa. This enables me to control my other smart devices with just my voice.

I used this feature just last week, actually. I had scheduled an important phone call for 2 pm. Well. I completely forgot that my Roomba automatically starts at 2 pm each day.

I was able to mute my phone during the call, tell Alexa to shut off the Roomba, and glide through the call with zero worries. As a result, I landed a new client and made a good impression. 🙂

roomba docking station

Music streaming

I like streaming ambient noise while I work. But it’s a little annoying searching YouTube for the latest “underwater noises” or “whale cries” or “Celtic wood sounds.”

(Don’t judge)

I can simply ask Alexa to play thunderstorm sounds and she does it. She even plays specific songs by request, search for an artist’s name, and stream playlists tailored to my needs (study music, party music, etc.).

The bottom line

I know voice assistants aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s worked out for me for sure. I’m less distracted, getting more of my time back, and I feel like I have a robot housekeeper to help me when I need extra organization.

I truly believe smart assistants keep us more focused and on task so we can save a little more cash.

We want to know: Do you use a voice assistant? Does it help you save money?

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