The next time someone asks what you’re doing spend so much time online, tell them that you’re saving money, and having fun doing it. The new internet, or web 2.0, is all about merging merging business and pleasure, and helping you to keep more of your dollars and cents in the process. Here are seven innovative and easy ways to let the web work for you and your pocketbook, while enjoying yourself along the way:
Group discount programs
Programs like Groupon have taken off all over the world. Promoted via Facebook, Twitter and email, a daily discount promotion is offered, but is available only if a minimum number of participants take part in the offer. Consumers parse the deal, and pass it on via a social media share or retweet if they like it. It’s exciting waiting to find out if your discount will go through and a fantastic deal can generate a huge amount of online buzz. Though the initial wow these group coupon sites aroused has quieted down, they can still be a fun and social way to save money online.
Direct from manufacturer
As most people who’ve shopped online know, most businesses offer discounts on their products when they’re purchased via the web. By cutting out all the costs loaded into the retail marketplace, many vendors are passing the savings straight to their online consumers. It’s common practice these days to check out merchandise, especially clothes and shoes, from specific manufacturers at retail outlets then buy them online for much lower prices straight from the source. Though a lot of people would say that the rush and enjoyment of actual shopping could never be replaced by just clicking through a web site, the fun of knowing your savings is undeniable.
Social sites are the perfect venue for helping friends and acquaintances find out where and how to save money. Facebook, for example, is rife with groups and pages that basically act like online yard sales. People are able to post photos with descriptions and prices of the things they’d like to get rid of and field questions about them in real time. Pinterest is used in the same way with its boards, the appeal in both cases being that the audience is controlled and more community-like, and not so totally public as some of the online marketplace giants like eBay and Craig’s List.
Swap sites are a fun and addictive way to interact with like-minded people, i.e. those who believe there’s something to the age-old barter system that’s worth taking advantage of. From coupon swapping communities to electronic parts exchange networks, there’s something homegrown and at the same time rebellious about bypassing the corporate consumer culture to deal with other humans “one-on-one,” e-style. The whole idea of perusing a swap site for something you want or need, then figuring out if there’s something you have that the other party wants or needs in return can get you hooked for hours on end, and save you loads of money when you find a match.
Social check-in services
Foursquare is the big name in the social check-in game. Conceived as a way to take advantage of location tracking technology built into smart phones, the check-in allows users to share where they are at a given time. Since a huge number of check-ins are to retailers and restaurants, many vendors now offer discounts or vouchers to customers who share where they are with their social network. Users can leave product and service reviews and let others know about great promotional discounts, making the check-in service an example of crowd-sourced marketing, and saving money, at its finest.
Price comparison sites
The smart thing to do when making a major purchase, signing up for a service, or buying anything electronic, is to let a price comparison website help you make your decision. Though a lot of retailers have built-in comparison features on their web sites, with detailed breakdowns of product features listed side-by-side, there are also independent consumer awareness services that help the average buyer decide, for example, which kind of digital camera they should invest in or the best insurance to buy. A little research can help keep your money in the bank.
Online voucher services
Weekly Sunday newspaper advertising circulars, with their clip-and-save vouchers, coupons and promotional codes are still finding their way into homes in paper form, but are now available online as well. New websites offer a convenient way to discover discounts at a glance by discovering and highlighting great deals and allowing consumers to click through to the companies and websites offering them. The sites have vouchers and discounts pre-categorized, making it very convenient to find just the deal you need. The best voucher services are, like everything on this list, free to use – making them another excellent way to save your money.
This is a guest pots by Gatlin Neuman, Gatlin is a part time blogger and full time penny pincher. Nothing puts a bigger smile on Gatlin’s face than finding that great deal, you gotta’ love coupons!