Image: Don Hankins
Easy money is hard to come by, but the internet is a great tool for finding extra ways to save money and even make money. Weâ€™re not suggesting that you set up a dotcom business alongside your regular job, but by following these simple tips you can aim towards keeping your bank balance in the black, without taking up too much of your time.
1. Auction Sites
Fifteen years ago, auctions were all about Ming vases being sold in draughty halls to posh people. Now everyone is at it, and if you search hard enough, you can find some real bargains out there. There is plenty of old rubbish on sites such as eBay and the like, but there is just as much cool, hardly-used second hand stuff that you canâ€™t buy as cheaply in the shops. Of course, you can also sell your old stuff as well, all from the comfort of your own home. Tip: when buying, check the recommended retail price of goods before you bid, as sellers are sometimes optimistic about their wares.
2. Online Discounts
After spending thousands on a shiny website in an attempt to keep up in the 21st century, many companies are now desperate to attract customers to their sites in order to justify having them at all. Online purchases also save man-hours and money for companies, too. As a result, many smaller companies offer a discount for online purchases as opposed to in-store or phone transactions, so check this before you buy; it might be worth waiting until you get home!
You probably already get loyalty points or coupons from your most-visited shops, like your local supermarket, but coupons for a whole range of stores can be found online. Whereas before you would probably come across coupons once in a while in the local newspaper, you can now simply search the web for them. Some sites, like MyVoucherCodes.com, aggregate all the best e-vouchers in one place, meaning that all you need to do is check the site, copy the code, and purchase your stuff online from the manufacturer or supplier. Easy!
4. Free Delivery
As with online discounts, this is another ploy used by companies to get customers to use their fancy websites. Ordering online often comes with free delivery, especially if you are grocery shopping. Figure out how much the bus, train or petrol would cost you if you were to go and get your groceries yourself every week, and then multiply by 52. Shocked? Order online next time!
5. Online Banking
Banking gets easier every day. Before the joys of online banking facilities graced us, you would get a paper statement every month or quarter, and have to go to the bank to get a statement in between. Now you can bank online 24/7. It might seem superfluous, but give it a try. Checking your bank balance more regularly using online banking means that you are more likely to know how much you have, and so less likely to overspend by accident. It also means that you can keep an eye out for better interest rates, new credit card offers and more benefits from your bank, as these are all posted on your bankâ€™s website.
6. Paid Surveys
Marketing departments in large companies spend millions every year trying to find out exactly what you, the public, think of their products. So, why not get a piece of that? A quick internet search for â€śpaid surveysâ€ť will bring up several results. Registering with one of these companies and doing a quick survey every few days does not pay mega-bucks, but it can bring in a little extra spending money or some nice freebies and tester products, all for simply stating your opinion as a consumer. It couldnâ€™t be easier!
7. Comparison Sites
The web is stuffed with comparison websites like ours (which allows consumers to compare savings accounts, credit cards and different types of personal loans). Others like www.CreditCardCompare.com.au specialise in specific products, in their case credit cards. For free, you can compare the cost of your mortgage, car insurance, credit card, bank account, savings account, pension, utility bills, mobile phone, and just about anything else you pay for, to other rival products on the market. If you have never used a comparison site, give one a try with the bill you hate paying the most; you could be very pleasantly surprised with how much you could save by switching to another product or supplier.
Setting up a blog is like having a big chat with the rest of the world. Things you would normally talk to mates about down the pub have suddenly become appropriate material for the rest of the world to read and take an interest in; bloggers are a â€ścommunityâ€ť now. Regardless of what this means about journalism, blogging can be a great earner. Setting up a blog about your life, interests and (most popularly) love affairs, and then selling advertising space for affiliate marketers can top up your earnings quite considerably, depending on how many people visit your site. You can set up a blog easily using any of the blog hosting services (WordPress, Blogger etc) which is as easy as setting up a social networking profile. You can then buy your domain name, and take steps towards bringing in adsâ€¦ and a bit more cash to spend at the end of the month.