Technology has a lot more to offer than many realize. Although it’s mainly used for entertainment, did you know that it can also save or make you money? Shopping online is one example of how you can save some bucks.
There’s not much overhead cost for online retailers compared to your local store. This sometimes enables them to offer larger discounts. Another way shopping online can be helpful when it comes to savings is the ability to easily and quickly compare prices across several different websites. The days when you have to rely on paper fliers or visiting multiple stores to check prices are gone.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find a great bargain; a simple Google search is all it takes. To help you out a bit more, here are five ways to save money using technology.
1. Earn Cash Back On Your Purchases
If you happen to be an online shopper or plan on becoming one, Ebates is a great website to keep in mind. You can join for free, and they actually pay you for signing up. New members receive $10 when they make a qualifying purchase of at least $25.
What Ebates does is give you cashback for any purchases that are made at specific websites, all of which are popular, well-known sites. The percentages of cashback vary and also change over time. For example, they are currently offering 6.0% cashback on Overstock.com purchases, whereas it used to be only 3.0%.
Ebates also has a variety of coupons that can help you save even more on your purchases. If you’re looking to earn some cash, you can do so by taking part in Ebates’ referral program. After you’ve made over $5, you’ll be eligible to receive your payment in the form of either a check or through PayPal.
A particularly appealing feature of Ebates is that you don’t have to remember to visit their website each time you want to purchase something online. You can install the Ebates Cash Back Button, and it will automatically let you know if the website you are viewing is eligible, as well as allow you to activate cash back without having to visit their site in a separate tab or window.
I would recommend that you also take a look at FatWallet, as they are very similar to Ebates and sometimes offer a higher percentage of cashback when you shop on certain websites.
2. Invest In Energy Efficient Gadgets
Using modern gizmos can save you money because many of them are energy efficient. Look for the Energy Star label when you’re picking up your next electronic.
Energy Star certified products typically use around 30 percent less energy than required by government standards.
Whether you’re buying a brand new TV, appliance, or even light bulb, most gadgets are now Energy Star certified and can save you money compared to your old ones.
Newer electronics are a worthwhile investment; it won’t take long for you to save the amount you spent on the product just by having a lower electric bill.
3. Save Money With Software
Surprisingly, some programs can help you save some money. One of the most important and widely recognized programs for your computer is the good old anti-virus (McAfee or Norton sound familiar?). Not everyone knows it, but paying for anti-virus software is completely unnecessary.
Did you know that you can get your anti-virus program for free? Well, you can, and not just for your computer. You can also get free anti-virus apps for your smartphone and tablet, all of which will provide the same quality of protection as a paid service.
Of course, paid services sometimes offer some additional features that can be useful, but those are usually a matter of preference rather than necessity. The free anti-virus programs will keep you protected just as well and without the cost.
Virtual Private Networks
Another program that can save you money is a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
The VPN adds extra protection that your anti-virus program does not, such as encrypting your entire connection to the internet. Encryption is a sort of code that hackers don’t typically attempt to crack unless there is a serious incentive that would make the effort involved worthwhile.
That makes the average person with an encrypted connection very unappealing to them. It takes far too long to crack the code. Plus it can cost them money because a powerful computer is required to successfully hack into a secure connection (keeping their equipment running over 24 hours can start racking up their electric bill).
A VPN can save you money in three ways. it will prevent hackers from obtaining your personal information (identity theft isn’t cheap), prevent you from spending additional money if one of the websites you subscribe to happens to be blocked wherever you travel (such as Netflix or Hulu), and by allowing you to call long distance for free or a reduced rate over programs such as Skype.
A VPN can do all of this because it is a remote server that you connect to, so websites will “read” your location as being the actual location of the VPN, rather than your own. This makes it easy to seem as if you are located in Canada when you are actually in the United States.
A VPN typically costs somewhere between $5 and $15 per month, but you can find one for free. In my opinion, the best free VPN available right now is CyberGhost.
The internet has brought us lots of things, including tons of coupons that weren’t commonly found before. You no longer have to sort through flyers to find savings on your favorite products. Now, you can just look online.
The easiest way to find coupons is to either check Coupons.com or the website of the specific product you’re interested in. Manufacturers will sometimes send you coupons if you take the time to email them as well.
5. Use Apps To Your Advantage
There are several apps available on your smartphone that can save you money.
Skype is one of them, as you can make free calls (voice or video) to other Skype users. Another one is Textfree, which lets you both text and call others free of charge.
Lastly, there are also a handful of coupon apps (Ibotta being one) that can help you keep some money in your pocket. Check your phone’s app store; you’ll be surprised at what you can find!
Technology can bring not only savings but also ways to earn money as well. When finances are tight, take a look at what your computer or smartphone has to offer. You might find that there are more savings to be had than you would have ever imagined.