January 10, 2013

The Many Ways That The Internet Saves You Money

Recently DQYDJ asked Do You Do More of Your Shopping Online?  and in that discussion they touched on how the internet can save us money.    That got me thinking about all the various ways that the internet can save you money.

Home buying - Multiple websites help you research home buying.  This abundance of information should help you make a more informed purchase and ought to help save money.   Discount real estate services like Redfin also help cuts costs of  home purchases.
Home Mortgages - You can shop around easily on the internet for loan rates and even use a internet based company to apply for a loan.  I refinanced a mortgage once entirely over the internet.
Auto purchases - When shopping for a car you can find the actual dealer invoice at various websites.  This helps you negotiate a better deal at the dealer.   Sites like Craigslist provide a large market for used cars.
Insurance - You may or may not save money with online insurers but you can at least use the internet to fairly easily comparison shop for insurance rates.

Online Bill payment - Before the internet I paid every bill by writing out a check and mailing it out with a stamp.  Now almost all of my bills are paid automatically and often via websites. This saves you the cost of stamps at least as well as time.
Classifieds - Craigslist provides classified advertisement for free and this was something you used to have to pay newspapers to run an ad.
Gasoline - You can use Gasbuddy to find the cheapest gas station near you.   You can also use online maps to plan the most efficient travel routes which also saves gas and time.
Comparison shopping - Before the internet if I wanted to comparison shop I'd have to drive from store to store or at least sit down and call them on the phone.  This was a pretty time consuming process and so you wouldn't do it much.  But with the internet you can very quickly do comparison shopping via a simple google search.
Online Stores - Amazon.com and similar online merchants are often very competitive on pricing versus brick & mortar stores.  You can save money on a variety of items from books, clothing, electronics, music and even groceries.
Groupon and other Coupon sites  - I don't use Groupon a lot myself but I do use it and similar sites on occasion.  You can quite easily save a few bucks here and there with these services.

Cash Back - On top of all the above you can also often get 1% or more cash back with your online purchases via rebate sites like Ebates   (another blatant plug for Ebates!)
Newspapers - Most people no longer buy newspapers and instead get their news free on the internet. 
Textbooks - College students can now use various online services to buy cheap or used textbooks. 
College Education - Online schools can help you save money versus traditional local schools.  Of course this one depends on the schools in question and where you live.  But at least theoretically online training ought to be less costly than traditional universities.  
General learning - If I need to learn how to do something nowadays I often go straight to google.  I recently figured out how to fix a minor problem with our kitchen stove after a quick google search. 
Coupons and discount codes - You can get coupons and discount promotions online very quickly. 
Travel costs : Airfare, Hotels, and rental cars - There are numerous sites to help you save money on travel costs.  You can comparison shop and book airfare online pretty easily and sites like Priceline or Hotwire help you get discount rates.

I'm sure the list goes on and on with other examples of how you can save money.   In fact its hard to think of any part of my spending that isn't a potential area for the Internet to help save money.    Of course the internet also almost always costs you money.  Most people have to pay for an Internet service and then there is the cost of the computer which we may or may not already own.   There are various other ways people spend money related to their internet use as well.  Its also not a given that everyone will take advantage of the savings opportunities that the Internet gives us.

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

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