Part of me believes technology will save the world. Already it solves so many problems. A smarter car produces fewer pollutants, recycling technology preserves landfill space, and the Internet lets people everywhere find work that otherwise would not be available without ever turning the key of a gas-burning vehicle. Writing for the web, I sometimes feel as though I am making something from nothing — turning the ether into cash in my bank account simply by working hard and applying myself.
Technology doesn’t just help people like me make money. It helps us save money too. Blogs alone provide a wealth of information and advice that teach us things we never would have thought of on our own. However, saving money online means more than just taking in all the additional information we can find on the web. There’s also been an exponential explosion in web applications that make excellent tools for money-savers.
Here’s how to save a boatload of money on the web and with other things you can easily access:
Printing coupons before I make my grocery list is a big money-saver for me. No longer must you buy the Sunday newspaper to benefit from these goodies. After printing coupons, I go through the store fliers online to see where I can match coupons to sales. This weekly ritual saves me roughly $60 each week or $3,000 per year. My favorite coupon sites are:
You can also sign up for coupons through Box Tops for Education, General Mills, and other brand favorites. Just Google the brand name and the word “coupons.” Then scan for a URL that looks like it comes from the manufacturer.
Netflix, Hulu and a host of other sites make it easy to get entertainment cheaply. Eventually, Google TV might be a hit. Get one on after-Christmas clearance and you may have an easy way to watch all your favorite shows. The downside of Internet-based television is that you must wait anywhere from a few hours to a week from the time they air on TV to see new episodes of your favorite shows.
The landline really is a thing of the past. These phone plans cost a minimum of $28 a month, not including long distance. With the ubiquitous availability of broadband Internet, why-oh-why do you still have a land-based phone? Cell phones are great, but some people are nervous about the inability to reach local 911 without talking to a State Police operator first.
These days, most broadband phone services can connect directly to your local 911 based on your IP address. Vonage costs only $10 a month for the cheap plan, with 200 anywhere, anytime minutes. If you talk a lot, then you can go for $18 a month. Either way, you’re saving a ton.
This can cut your Web bill in half, but should be done with caution. While Websites with strong encryption will protect your personal information, others on your network can access your private PC files.
Password protect any files with personal information or better yet keep any file with personal information on a separate removable drive with password protection and only plug it in when you need it. Then you can share an Internet connection in a reasonably safe way.
To do it, pick up a wireless router with a really long range! Just watch for data transfer limits that carriers are beginning to install.
Whether you go LED or CFL, replace your old light bulbs PDQ. Even though LEDs are expected to eventually replace all traditional home lighting, the price is still a little high. If you can find good deals on CFLS, you can probably get by until the price of LED lights falls to a manageable level.
Whether technology can solve all of humanities problems remains to be seen, but it sure makes saving money easier.
What tech tools do you use to save money? Let us know in the comments!