Money & Finances

How we use Microsoft 365

My family and I are generally very frugal. We keep our basic expenses as low as possible, to make room for the things that matter most to us, and one of the things that is important for all of us is technology. We use a mix of desktops, Surface tablets, and smartphones to stay in touch and organize our lives – Microsoft 365 is the glue that holds it all together.

A few months ago an opportunity came up and we had a video call with Microsoft, where we got to speak to them about how we use their products to increase our productivity. They appreciated the unique systems that we have put into place using their services, and asked if we would be interested in sharing our story. They sent a team of amazingly talented photographers to our home in Nova Scotia, and we spent the day playing in the house, visiting a nearby park and having fun while being photographed. It was an amazing day, and such a fun opportunity for all of us. The kids felt like movie stars for the day and loved every minute.

Read more about that story here: The Kenneys: Organizing Household Tasks with Tech – Microsoft 365

So what does Microsoft have to do with my financial journey? Quite a lot actually. We use their software and services to help manage our finances, our hectic schedules, and so much more. That said, I want to elaborate a bit on how we use their various products in our household.

My Surface

I use my Surface as my only computer, because it runs a full version of Windows in a small form factor that is great for portability. It is lightweight and easy to bring with me anywhere to get a bit of work done. I use it mainly with the keyboard attached, but I can easily remove it to put it on the counter while I’m cooking or cleaning, or flip it sideways for more of a tablet style with the accompanying Surface Pen. There is no limit to it’s usefulness, and I got a really good deal on it because it was the previous years floor model.

Microsoft 365

Excel

I’ve talked about Excel before – I’ve shared images of spreadsheets in some of my articles, and I use it constantly for so so many other things. One of the most important spreadsheets I have ever developed was a pre-closing cash flow in which I tracked every penny coming in and going out during the period before I closed on our house. After submitting our offer, I pulled out my computer and charted every cheque I would receive, every expense, the debt I needed to pay and the closing expenses to make sure I would be able to make it happen. It was very tight, and only by constantly updating this spreadsheet did I manage to pull it together in the end.

Word

Word is also my favourite word processing software, in part because I have an in depth knowledge of it’s features. I use a lot of tables for making product labels at work, I write all my blog posts with it before publishing them; it really is a staple in my life.

Outlook

Outlook is what we both use for email. In fact, I’ve been using the same Hotmail account for close to 2 decades, and loved the additional organization that came when it was updated to Outlook.com. I have a system of keeping actionable items in my inbox so they don’t get forgotten, including bills I need to pay, and we use Outlook for our family calendar too. It contains my work schedule along with any other appointments or commitments, so my partner and I both know where to be and when. It is critical for us that we can both view and edit it from any of our devices, and the sharing features in Microsoft 365 make that super simple.

OneDrive

OneDrive is one of the best parts of the entire product suite. We each have 1 TB of cloud storage where we keep all of our files, pulling only what we need down to the computers we are working on which saves a lot of space locally. It makes it so easy to get things done no matter where we are, I can log in to any computer and just pick up where I left off. All of the photos from my phone are automatically synced so I can make space for new memories without losing the old. The convenience is a game changer for sure. We have also set up a shared folder between the two of us that is full of family pictures and files so we never have to send things back and forth by email.

To Do

More recently we’ve adopted the To Do app in a pretty big way. This is where so much of our families organization and collaboration happens. We’ve set up a series of shared lists to organize tasks around the house, grocery and shopping lists etc., that we can both add to and check off. If I stop for groceries after work, he can check the kitchen and add items we are low on and it updates automatically, so I always know exactly what we need.

OneNote

I like OneNote for jotting things down quickly in a place I can easily access later. I also use it when I help my daughter with her homework to show her how words are spelled, or draw out ideas. Both of the kids like colouring with the pen in OneNote and making fun designs.

From family life to finances to this blog, there is no way I would be able to keep it all organized without this product suite. If you want to learn how we set it up so you can try our systems out for yourself, I will link to a post on that topic in the near future. Follow Loving Life with Less on Facebook to see it first.

With Love,

Melissa

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