Technology

Employ Your Own Virtual Butler

Buy an assistant's help for two or three months to help you tackle your tasks. Plus, save time by avoiding traffic backups with GPS navigators.

Swamped by errands? Consider foisting your chores onto a valet in India or Ireland. Concierge services based overseas do nearly all the tasks that can be done online or by phone, and it takes only a grand to buy an assistant's help for two or three months.

David Sowsy of Dracut, Mass., hired GetFriday, in Bangalore, India, to help him catch up on his to-do list last fall. GetFriday assigned Sowsy an assistant, who revised his reacute;sumeacute;, researched stock investments and comparison-shopped for wireless routers at online stores. Had Sowsy asked, the assistant would have bought the router using Sowsy's credit-card number. Overall, the cost for a month of requests was about $300.

Concierge firms charge from $560 to $1,000 for 80 hours of work, depending on the firm and the complexity of your tasks. GetFriday charges $15 an hour, plus $10 a month. Irish outfit Corporate Services Group provides similar services at $12 an hour, using Irish and Indian workers to handle requests.

Both firms offer volume discounts. If you subscribe to OnStar service for your car (www.onstar.com; $200 per year), an extra $600 a year can get you valet service to handle travel arrangements and doctor appointments.

-- Sean O'Neill

Beat the backup

GPS navigation systems are invaluable to male and map-phobic drivers, both of whom tend to wander off the beaten path. But how about a little help for the harried commuter caught in the daily Cone Zone? Enter the Garmin Nuuml;vi 350 ($857) and the Magellan RoadMate 3000T ($600). These GPS navigators can receive real-time traffic reports via FM radio.

By retrieving frequent traffic updates from subscription services, such as Clear Channel TMC and Navteq Traffic RDS (which cost $60 to $80 per year after a 15-month free trial), you'll be alerted to upcoming road snarls. And if you enter your destination, they'll check traffic reports and suggest alternate routes.

Each GPS device has a color touch screen that's easy to read in sunlight, comes preloaded with maps and includes a so-so MP3 player. The Nuuml;vi even announces street names.

-- Jeff Bertolucci

Most Popular

The Wrong Way to Achieve Wealth
personal finance

The Wrong Way to Achieve Wealth

For some down-to-earth, basic advice on money and life, I have a book to recommend: “Your Total Wealth: The Heart and Soul of Financial Literacy.”
April 17, 2021
Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs
Coronavirus and Your Money

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs

People have lots of questions about the new $3,000 or $3,600 child tax credit and the advance payments that the IRS will send to most families in 2021…
April 14, 2021
2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator
Tax Breaks

2021 Child Tax Credit Calculator

See how much money you'll get in advance under the new child tax credit rules for 2021.
April 14, 2021

Recommended

36 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2021
Smart Buying

36 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2021

At $119 for Amazon Prime, get your money's worth by taking full advantage of your membership. Here's a list of the best Prime perks.
March 17, 2021
What to Do When One Spouse Spends Too Much in Retirement
spending

What to Do When One Spouse Spends Too Much in Retirement

If one partner takes a less conservative approach to money, it can wreak havoc on a marriage. But the problem can be addressed by agreeing on bigger f…
February 10, 2021
A Golf Course Community’s Big Variable for Retirees
Smart Buying

A Golf Course Community’s Big Variable for Retirees

Golf club memberships can often be a separate, and hefty, annual fee at golf communities. Here's some guidance before you tee up your retirement move …
December 14, 2020
Don’t Buy This: Top 20 List of Things That Aren't Worth the Money
spending

Don’t Buy This: Top 20 List of Things That Aren't Worth the Money

Buyer’s remorse is real, and if you purchase any of these 20 items, chances are you’ll get to experience it firsthand.
December 9, 2020