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Wednesday, April 24, 2024   

Tech-savvy ways to shop smart and save money
by Eric Haubrich
Erich writes for Focus Publications. He comes directly from the mortgage industry where he has more than 6 years experience working in all levels of production working closely with Title, Real Estate and Mortgage professionals and possesses a solid understanding of  their marketing and technology needs. Additionally, Erich has a broad scope of experience in the publishing, web development and IT fields, having produced magazines and commercial websites and managed large-scale IT projects. Email: erich@focuspub.com.
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Eric Haubrich

Regardless of your financial situation, it always makes sense to stretch your hard-earned dollar. Harnessing the technology you have at your fingertips makes saving much easier. There are a lot of ways to get the things you buy on a regular basis as well as major purchases at deep discounts with just a few clicks. Here are some of the best tools you’ll find to shop smart and save money on all kinds of products and services.

Find the cheapest gas
MSN has a free tool that tracks the gas prices at over 90,000 stations across the country. Simply click here, enter your zip code, and find out where to go for the cheapest fill-up. Generally, the best day to fill the tank is Thursday as many gas stations increase weekend prices to take advantage of the higher sales volume.

Get the best deals at the grocery store
MyGroceryDeals.com lists discounts at local grocery stores in your area and allows you to print out coupons as well. This site will help you save time and money when it’s time to go shopping. Many times your local newspaper’s Sunday edition can save you more in coupons than it costs to buy. Another great grocery coupon tip is to save the coupons for 3-4 weeks until the items go on sale then use the coupons in conjunction with the sale to save even more.

Save money on dining out
Restaurant.com offers discount gift certificates for a variety of restaurants in most areas. You can usually get a discount of 50% or more by purchasing gift certificates through their site. Customer cards from restaurants are also a good way to get discounts and freebies and are usually free or relatively cheap to get.

Find the best cell phone plan
Billshrink.com helps you find the best cell phone plan based on your usage, the average amount you spend per month, and your coverage area by comparing the available plans from the four major carriers. You should also inquire with your carrier about corporate or affiliate discounts that may be offered on your existing plan.

Get the best deal on a car
Sites like Automotive.com, Cars.com, Edmunds.com and Yahoo! Autos offer you the ability to get online quotes from local car dealers. The trick to getting a great deal is to play the dealers against each other. In this economy, car sales have slowed. By telling each dealer that his quote is higher than the competition, you can drive the price to rock bottom without having to even visit the lot and go through the tedious process of negotiation.

Find the lowest airfare
Out of all of the various travel sites out there, the one with the most comprehensive airfare search is Kayak.com.  Their search feature checks the prices of 321 websites to bring you the lowest possible price on tickets. It also allows you to sort by mileage alliance to take the most advantage of miles and frequent flyer programs. Yahoo! Farechase is another alternative that offers some advanced features that can come in handy when booking your travel.

Get free publications
All Free Magazines - Offers free subscriptions to a huge variety of magazines
TradePub.com - Free subscriptions to trade publications from almost every industry

Get a better rate on your credit cards
Most credit card companies have some flexibility in what APR they offer you. If you’ve been a good customer, you can call your credit card company and let them know you’re considering switching to another credit card company to take advantage of a lower rate. In most cases, they will offer you a lesser rate to keep your business. Search out 0% balance transfer rates on cards and transfer balances to save money on a temporary basis. Be careful not to jump around too much though as this can have adverse effects on your credit score.

To save even more money, pay off your balance at the end of the month and pay no interest at all. Using online bill pay is a great way to keep your payments on time to avoid late fees and interest rate hikes.

Comparison shop on the go
Frucall offers a service that helps you comparison shop when you’re in a store. By calling their toll-free number and entering the UPC code of an item, you can find out if something is a good deal or is less expensive at another retailer.

Save big on online purchases
There is so much competition in online retail that great deals can be found every day if you know where to look. Here are a few resources to help you find deep discounts and free shipping, compare prices, and make sure that the online retailer is someone you want to do business with.

Coupons and deals
BradsDeals.com - Deals, coupon codes, and coupons for a wide variety of products
CoolSavings.com - Online deal, printable coupons, and price comparison
CouponMountain.com - Coupons and deals for a wide variety of retailers
Coupons.com - Tons of coupons for stores in your area as well as recipes
DealHack.com - Rebates, coupons, deals, and clearance items
FatWallet.com - Coupon codes, freebies, and cash back deals
Woot.com - One really great deal per day

Comparison shop
Google Product Search , Yahoo Shopping, BizRate.com and PriceGrabber.com all offer very comprehensive product search and comparison features. They’re very helpful when you’re making your buying decision. Most include seller ratings and the ability to create shopping lists with products from various retailers.

Research online retailers
Epinions.com - Features unbiased reviews of online retailers by customers like you
Resellerratings.com - Reviews, prices, and store ratings for online resellers
SiteAdvisor.com - Check a website to avoid spyware, spam, viruses, and scams

Get free shipping
FreeShipping.org - A searchable index of free shipping deals at just about every major retailer
FreeShippingOn.com - Free shipping offers from over 500 retailers including eBay

Save money on Amazon.com
DealLoacker.com - Features a secret Amazon discount tool to search out the best discounts
JungleCrazy.com - Lists products on Amazon that are discounted 70% or more
FillerItem.com - Helps you search for the “filler Item” you need to qualify for free shipping
Subscribe and Save - A program to help you save big on routine items

Rebates and refunds
Pricegrabber.com - Has a searchable database of rebates on various items
Mr. Rebates - Searchable and browseable rebates for products from over 1000 stores
Refund Please - Tracks pricing so you can get the difference refunded if a price drops
Ebates - Discount and rebates from hundreds of stores.

Remember, the next time you’re checking out on an online purchase and there’s a spot for a coupon code, you may find one with a quick search on Google. It’s a great way to save money with very little effort.

Be well-informed
Always do the research before making a purchase. Websites such as LifeHacker, Consumer Reports  and the Consumerist can offer great tips on what to do and what not to do when it’s time to spend money. A little research goes a long way toward keeping more of your money in your pocket where it belongs. Keep these links handy for future use. We all spend money; these tips and links will help you spend it wisely.



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