Money Saving Monday: the Internets
Every once in a while, I take a minute to sit back and think about life before some of the technology that we have today. I mean, I am not that old, but I can remember writing papers for college courses with an electric typewriter – some teachers were still accepting handwritten assignments. Our dormitory that housed seventy-five people had one pay phone for the entire building. I called home about once every two weeks. Then it was car phones, cell phones, mobile phones, texting . . .
I remember when email first showed up on our campus – there were only four computers to serve the student body of about 600 and I got about one email a week. I remember seeing the first computer that had internet access. It was at least a year before I figured out why anyone would want to get online. There was only one computer with internet on the whole campus and the entire library could hear when the dial-up modem connected to the web. Now you can stand in the middle of the football field and log on to the wireless network at my alma mater.
Yep, we have come a long way since Al Gore invented the internet. When my wife and I first considered getting internet in our home, we looked at it as an expense that we might not be able to afford. However, over the past seven or eight years, we are more dependent on the internet as a way to save money. Our internet connection pays for itself every month – not just because I am a blogger – but because we use the internet to hold the line on spending.
This is the number one money saver, in my opinion. We can comparison shop without leaving home – saving money on gasoline and food costs. If time is money, then comparison shopping on the internet is the way to go. The internet allows us to compare prices on the little things like food and gasoline as well as the big things like airline tickets, automobiles and electronics. Insurance is a great thing to comparison shop on the internet, especially life insurance.
I do research on insurance, electronics, cars and vacuum cleaners online. I read restaurant and hotel reviews. We do not go to the movies often, but when we do, I make sure that the flick is worth our time and money by reading what others have said about the movie before spending my money on it.
Cash Back Shopping
When you make a purchase online, be sure to shop through a cash back website. Mrs. Stew and I always use Ebates, but there are plenty of other good ones out there. The internet allows us to comparison shop, do consumer research and then sometimes get cash back on items that are priced the same as in the brick and mortar store. Shipping and handling fees can make online shopping more expensive, but do the math and make sure. Cash back plus time plus gas sometimes add up to more than shipping charges.
The internet is a great source of information. We no longer get a newspaper, even coupons can be printed online. I, in particular, like to follow politics and really enjoy reading history online. Obviously, the internet can be a source of MISinformation, you have to use common sense. And it is not like the New York Times always gets it right . . .
Our culture communicates more than any other time in history and the internet makes much of it possible. In the last month, I have communicated with people from Maine to California to China to England to Germany without licking a single stamp. Email, phone calls over the internet, online chatting and, of course, Facebook have revolutionized communication. My mother actually expects me to touch base somehow every day and she lives three states away!
I enjoy that the internet allows me to check my bank balance, spending habits and transaction records at a moment’s notice. I can pay bills online and research financing options without every driving to my bank.
Where would we be without advice? Gather Little by Little and other personal finance blogs offer all kinds of financial tips and tricks. Mrs. Stew has a cooking blog. You can find out how to do all kinds of stuff on the internet. Just the other day, I was having trouble with my mobile phone and I was going to take it to a service shop. Before I left, I decided to search for the answer online. One hour later, I had fixed my phone without spending a dime or even starting the car. The particular repair that I performed thanks to the internet had cost other people $50 to $100. That event alone justified our internet expense for that month.
I might be more likely to carry water in a bucket and live without heat in my home than to quit paying for internet.
Article by Stew
Photo by James Cridland