Holiday shopping is chaotic -- but you can make it a little less chaotic with the help of automation service IFTTT.
IFTTT, which stands for "If This, Then That" is a service that uses the Web to connect apps, devices and social networks together so you can automate actions. IFTTT lets you set up "recipes" -- when something happens on one connected device, it triggers another action on a different connected device. With IFTTT you can make shared holiday shopping lists, track items you want to buy on eBay, and keep a log of your cash spending just by sending a text message.
Make a list
You do a lot of shopping around the holidays: gifts, food for dinner parties and items you've needed all year that are now on sale. If you're like me, it's hard to remember everything, which is why you need a list (and not a physical list, because you're definitely going to lose that). IFTTT can help!
Are you more of a picture person? This recipe lets you create a visual shopping list of items you need to buy. Snap a photo with the IFTTT Do Camera app (iOS, Android) to add something to the list, and you'll end up with an album of things you need to pick up in Evernote.
Do your family members or roommates a favor and pick up some of their things when you hit the store. This recipe creates a shared shopping list that anyone it's shared with can access and add stuff to in Dropbox.
Track items on Craigslist and eBay
Craigslist and eBay are great places to get gifts on the cheap -- if you're on the ball about checking both sites to see if there are any new listings for the specific items you want.
This recipe sends you an email whenever a new Craigslist post meets your search parameters. To use it, run a search on Craigslist (be as specific as possible, or you'll end up getting 900 emails a day if you live in a big city like Los Angeles), copy the URL of the search results, paste them into the recipe and click Add.
This recipe sends you an email when a new listing for an item you're tracking on eBay pops up. To use this recipe, type in your search terms and maximum price (optional), and IFTTT will send you an email with all the relevant details (image, price, bid count, time left and so on).
Keep your spending in check
It's easy to accidentally blow your budget during the holidays -- though there are plenty of apps to help you recover from a shopping binge. Budgeting apps can help you track your credit card spending and protect you from fraudulent charges, but what if you like to use cash?
This recipe uses the IFTTT Do Note app to help you track your cash spending throughout the week. Log your cash purchases in the Do Note app, and IFTTT will send you a digest email each week with info on where your cash went.
If you'd rather not use the Do Note app, you can also track your cash purchases by text. Send a text message to IFTTT (415-524-0315) with the hashtag #spent, and IFTTT will log the message and the time it was received in a Google spreadsheet.