Man holding an iPhone

Some of these tips require you to make a screenshot. iPhone: press the home and power buttons simultaneously. This will also work on an Android, depending on your model. Other Androids: push and hold the power button until the menu comes up, and then select “screenshot,” or hold down the power and volume down button simultaneously. 

1) Save Money

Ever come home from the store, only to find you already have half of what you just bought? Avoid this by opening up your cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, etc. and taking pictures of what’s inside before you leave home. That way, you don’t need to wonder what you have – you’ll see it.

2) Save Gasoline and Prevent Wasted Trips

Take a photo of recipes or project instructions, so you’ll get everything on the first trip to the store. If you are making a recipe or project from the Internet, surf to that page and make a screenshot (you may not have Internet access in the store). This is also helpful when you’re cooking – you won’t need to lug a big cookbook or laptop into the kitchen or waste paper printing it out.

3) Get it Right the First Time and Avoid Relationship Drama

How many times have you’ve bought the wrong item, size, color, model, etc., and had a mini-meltdown (or been chewed out)? Avoid the drama and possible break-up by taking a photo or a screenshot of the item you need. If your significant other had you buy the wrong thing, you can whip out the phone and win the argument.

4) Remember Where You Parked

Ever been driven around by mall security because you can’t remember where you parked your car? Yeah, me too. Avoid this by taking a photo of your location, including the letter and number that lots use to mark their sections. This is especially helpful at airports!

5) Remember Your Hotel Room Number

If you’re old enough to remember room keys with numbers on them – this one’s for you. For safety and recycling’s sake, hotel key cards don’t come with your room number on them. If you’ve been traveling for a while (or – dare I say – if you’ve had a cocktail or two), you may not remember your room number. Take a photo of your door before you leave.  This is also helpful in case you leave something behind and need to remember what room you stayed in.

6) Keep Your Receipts Organized

How many times have you stayed up late at night searching for the receipt that went into a black hole? I’ve been here many times. It’s not fun. Do yourself a big favor. If you must get a receipt, take a photo of it immediately. Gasoline or cash register receipts are BPA-toxic laden and they transfer that junk to you when you touch them. They also fade quickly, especially if you've gotten them wet or left them in the car. Come tax time or when you need to be reimbursed, this is a problem - especially if you paid cash. I make a file on my computer and simply store every deductible or reimbursable receipt, there. Be sure to make weekly backups.

Paramedics look for emergency contacts and this info could save your life.

7) Never Lose a Business Card Again

There are apps for this, but you can still save business cards electronically using photos. If your company (like mine) likes to have an electronic file of business cards from people we encounter at trade shows and other events, take a photo of the card. You’ll save paper and avoid scrambling through your luggage when you get home.

8) Remember Your Prescription Number

Ever call for a prescription refill when you’re at work or away from home and don’t have the number? You can almost hear the pharmacist sigh on the other end of the phone. Avoid frustrating other people and yourself by taking a photo of the prescription as soon as you get it. This also helps you remember the names of the medications you’re currently taking.

9) Document Your Apartment’s Move-In Condition

Before you move in to your next apartment or condo, take pictures of everything you see that is damaged or stained. Make a paper copy, date it, and hand it to the leasing office or landlord, with instructions for it to be put in your file. You can email it, but you can’t guarantee that employee will still be there when you leave. Avoid getting penalized for something you or your pet didn’t do. This works both ways if you’re the landlord! Take photos before they move in.

10) Document Your Rental Car’s Condition

Twenty years later and this one still bugs me. My then-boyfriend and I rented a Citroen in Paris. There was a little, tiny ding on the car, but he didn’t bother to tell the rental company before we left on our trip. Did we get charged for the ding we didn’t do? Oui. Take pictures of all the dings and stains on your rental car. Use the flash if it’s dark. Marking on the little diagram may not help you. Time-stamped photos will.

11) Document That Car Accident

This seems like a no-brainer, but in the shock of the moment, you may forget. If you should get hit, don’t trust the other person to tell the truth. Take a photo of your car and theirs and document the damage and license plate. A friend of mine was in an accident, but didn’t take a picture. The other driver claimed damage on a totally different car than the one in the accident! No police + no photo = no proof.

12) Tell Friends Where You Are

Meeting someone and they can’t find you? Take a photo and text it. This also helps when you’re hiking. Every year, hikers die because no one knew they’d gone out. If you go alone, even for a little while, send a photo to someone and let them know.

13) Take a Photo of Your Car Insurance, Registration, and License Plate

It’s easy to lose that little piece of paper from your car insurance or the DMV, but if you have it on your phone, you’ll always have access. If you’re in an accident, you can email it to the other person’s insurance, if necessary. Ever been somewhere and needed your license plate number - and you can't remember it? Having a photo saves you a trip to the car. If you need to know your family's plates, get photos of those, too.

14) Save that Electronic Boarding Pass

I once lost the signal on my phone while standing in the boarding lane, causing my electronic pass to be inaccessible. Luckily, I got a signal right before it was my turn, so I made a screenshot and used that. As long as they can read the QR code, you're good.

15) Don’t Get Lost

Using a smartphone’s GPS is great – until you lose signal in the middle of nowhere. If you don't have a backup GPS, avoid getting lost by taking screenshots of the turn-by-turn steps. That way you’ll stay on track until the signal comes back.

16) Potentially Save Your Life with ICE – "In Case of Emergency"

No one likes to think about this one – but you should. This tip doesn’t use your camera, but it does use your phone’s contacts. Create a new phone contact called “Emergency,” “ICE” or “In Case of Emergency.” Write the name of the person you want contacted in the street address fields. In the notes field, list anything that you’re allergic to, medical conditions, any medications you’re on, and your blood type. Paramedics look for emergency contacts and this info could save your life.

17) Document Your Passport

In the old days, we made paper copies of our passport and kept them with us when traveling. It's still a good practice to keep a copy in your suitcase, but keep another copy on your phone, just in case.

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