I just spent over an hour working with spreadsheets on Google Drive for our PTA, and that got me thinking about how amazing it is to be able to do so much for FREE these days. The other members of the PTA committee and I use Google Drive to share spreadsheets, so that we can all view the same document, make changes, and see what everyone else is up to. As room parent for my older son’s class, I just created a free classroom web site on Shutterfly, and both my sons are on sports teams that have their own Shutterfly sites. So I thought it would be fun to share some FREE resources that can save you time, money and stress:
Google Drive – Google, of course, has other great free programs like Maps and Gmail, but in this instance I’m really focused on Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) because there aren’t many free programs like it. You can create spreadsheets, word processing documents, PDFs, and more. I particularly like the capability to create different formats all in one place. There’s also an easy sharing mechanism so multiple people can have access to the same document, and free templates.
Shutterfly Share Sites – Shutterfly makes it really easy to create a private web site for a sports team, classroom, family and more. Having a my own web site, I found it a little frustrating that the template was more customizable, but it’s very easy to work with and has some great options. For sports teams, you can post the team’s record and a snack schedule; classrooms can have a roster and volunteer list. Not surprisingly, all templates encourage posting pictures, and I discovered that I can download another parent’s pictures of my child to my own computer. I was so grateful, because I ended up with some amazing shots of my older son playing soccer that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Volunteer Spot – If you coordinate events that require volunteers to sign up, you might want to give Volunteer Spot a try. I haven’t created anything there myself, but I’ve used it to sign up for volunteer slots at events coordinated by others, and it was really easy.
Random.org – This is a great web site for generating random numbers, which is perfect for blog giveaways but also for any kind of raffle. (We just used it for a PTA raffle, in fact.) It’s also a fun site to let kids play around with.
Rafflecopter – If you host giveaways, Rafflecopter makes it really easy. You might have noticed I use them for all of my giveaways now. I know there are paid services that might be better, but I love that I can use Rafflecopter for free. 🙂
Firefox Extensions – I always blog in Firefox because there are some great extensions that I use all the time when drafting posts, most notably Clippings, which makes it easy to paste frequently-used text. There are many other useful extensions, like ad blockers, screen capturers, and more. Google Chrome also has extensions, if you prefer Chrome.
What are your favorite free programs to use?
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