Smart SpendingSmart Spending

10 tips for saving money online

If you're not using the Internet to save money these days, you're wasting dollars -- possibly thousands of them.

By Karen Datko Apr 12, 2011 7:11AM

See the end of this post for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

 

Back in the day, before Groupon and Facebook and price comparison sites, how did we shop? (Hard to remember, I know.) We drove to a store or two, looking for a sale. We bought insurance from our neighbor's brother-in-law and purchased a car after kicking a few tires and taking it out for a spin.

 

All along, we were hoping -- fingers tightly crossed -- that we were getting the best deals.

 

Now shopping works like this: We sign up for airfare alerts from Kayak for an upcoming trip and do a quick search to make sure the hotel doesn't have hidden fees or bedbugs. We easily compare insurance rates to make sure our current premiums are competitive, and then we glance through the coupons in our email. Post continues after video.

And all along we're saving serious bucks. The Internet Innovation Alliance said a typical family can save $7,707 a year by using resources found on the Web before making everyday purchases such as gasoline ($95 saved), entertainment ($2,747), travel ($1,532) and food ($965).  

 

How many ways can the Internet save us money? Here are 10 tips, plus some suggested sites -- by no means a comprehensive list but enough to steer you in the right direction.

 

Travel

Find travel deals. Use sites such as Bing Travel, Kayak and FareCompare to find and track the lowest airfares. With the airlines charging so many different fees, we all need some help. See also our partner blog Wise Bread's "40 most useful travel websites that can save you a fortune."

 

Compare gas prices.Costco doesn't always have the lowest prices. Before a fill-up, check MSN Autos, GasBuddy, MotorTrend and MapQuest to find the best deal near you.

 

Major purchases

Compare insurance rates. Whether you're a first-time buyer or looking for lower premiums, numerous sites provide one-stop comparison shopping for homeowners, auto, renters, health and life insurance rates. Suggested sites: Insure.com and Insurance.com.

Find the best mortgage rates. Our pal Stacy Johnson has explained how to save many thousands of dollars when you buy a house with a three-step process. Step 2 is comparing mortgage rates online, then calling lenders to inquire about fees. Suggestions: MSN Money, Bankrate.com, MoneyRates and HSH.com.

Use online calculators. Getting the best mortgage rate is a terrific goal, but you also need to know if you can really afford the monthly payments. Online calculators aren't foolproof -- they're only as good as the information you provide -- but they can offer guidance on all sorts of personal-finance questions: Are you saving enough for college or for your golden years?

 

Buy a car. You can compare prices of pickups, hybrids or sedans -- new or used -- or you can handle the entire shopping experience online. SmartMoney explains why the online deals are so good:

Most sites will forward your request for a free quote to a dealership's Internet sales department. These people make their commissions based on volume rather than price. They understand the importance of offering a fair price to move the sales process along quickly.

Some suggested sites: Edmunds.com, CarsDirect, AutoTrader and MyRide. But go to a dealership first to test drive your preferred cars.

 

Shopping

Uncover coupons and deals. Wise Bread lists about 65 different sites to find deals, coupons, rebates, promo codes and other discounts in its comprehensive "190 resources for saving money." There are so many ways to save money, it's difficult to track them all. You need to find your own favorite price comparison and discount sites, based on your personal shopping preferences. Suggestions: dealnews.com, PriceGrabber, FatWallet, RetailMeNot, CouponMom, CouponMountain, Ebates, FreeShipping.org.

 

Participate in online communities.Groupon, LivingSocial and similar sites allow members to sign up for limited-time discounts. Likewise, "liking" your favorite brand on Facebook will entitle you to special deals.

 

Super savings

Do it yourself. Whether it's 10 dog toys you can make yourself for mere pennies or figuring out how to install a low-flow shower head, you will find the information with a very quick online search.

 

Find free stuff. Craigslist and Freecycle are great for giving new life to stuff other people no longer want. When we're looking for free product samples and restaurant giveaways, we often check out sites such as Bargain Babe, Hey, It's Free! and Cities on the Cheap.

 

Using the Internet to shop and save can backfire unless you keep several rules in mind:

  • Avoid impulse buys. Buying something because it's on sale isn't saving money; it's spending money you could otherwise squirrel away for retirement or use to reduce debt.
  • Buy only from established and secure sites. "To avoid getting scammed, patronize merchants that have good reputations according to ratings sites such as Yelp, Angie's List and Bizrate. Check whether the merchants offer money-back protections and guarantees," an article at MSN Money says.
  • Be careful whose advice you take. The Web is full of false claims and bad information. Make sure the websites you visit are fair and reputable by researching what the experts think.

How do you use the Internet to save you money? We want to hear from you on Twitter!

 

Share your money-saving tip with us on Twitter on Tuesday, April 12, to enter for a chance to win a $100 American Express gift card in our MSN Money "Money Tips" Twitter Sweepstakes. To participate, you must follow us on Twitter (sign in or sign up, then click here), @reply us with your tip on how to save money online, and include the #MSNMoneyTips hashtag in your tweet.

 

One winner for this question will be randomly selected and announced on the MSN Money Twitter page during the week of April 18. We'll collect the best tips and may include them in an upcoming Money feature. Good luck!

 

For more information about the weeklong sweepstakes, please go here.

 

More on MSN Money:

26Comments
Apr 20, 2011 11:02AM
avatar
Nothing here either that I haven't seen before - especially in terms of the products they mention people buy inlines these days. The best, best deals always seem to be online not to mention there always seems to be better products and deals on them if you go directly to a company's website. Why waste time actually going to a store anymore when it can really make you mad? I was pissed after I bought my sons each a Tracfone prepaid cell phone from Walmart since it took forever to find a phone they both liked and was under $30. I go to the TF website to load minutes for them and I find the selection includes like 5 phones I didn't even see in the stores and there bundle deals I didn't find either. With two kids and even with a prepaid company like Tracfone, those internet deals make a big difference.
Apr 17, 2013 5:17PM
avatar
OK, here is one that IS new.

Use a shopping list search engine!

I use http://onestopshoppinglist.com/ to save time and money by finding my list at the lowest price seller.  I can save on shipping and handing charges and also find the seller who has the over all lowest price for my whole list.
Apr 12, 2011 12:35PM
avatar

Nice Article but you should also think about trading or bartering goods or services, its so easy! I started trading my bike with my neighbors and now I'm doing it big, online on Barterquest.com, its unbelievable how much money you're able to save...

Apr 12, 2011 5:33PM
avatar
Another "raft of crap" article from MSN.  Just for fun (and I normally buy cars from the internet), I followed their suggestion, went to autotrader.com.  I checked on a car that I am considering.  The first posted price was $300 over the MSRP from the manufacturer (I went and did a "build your own" while I had the autotrader site open).  I know this car can be purchased for thousands below the MSRP, not hundreds above. 
Apr 16, 2014 2:03PM
avatar
There are some tips hear that I've heard a lot, but some of these are completely new to me. I just got married and so I'm all about saving as much money as possible. I think that I can manage doing some of these so hopefully, my husband and I can be great money managers our first year of marriage.
Kat Brennan | http://www.salemrentall.com/rental-equipment.html
Mar 20, 2014 7:25PM
avatar
There are so many ways to save. These were more like ten things you can money on by checking online. The internet just helps you check prices, and now there are websites designed specifically to help you find the best deal. It's so convenient. 
Ron Johnson |  http://www.overheaddoorofeverett.com/everett-wa-garage-door-contractor-service.htm 
Feb 27, 2014 10:28AM
avatar
I made a goal at the start of the new year to do a much better job at saving my money. Quite honestly I've never really been all that good at it, mainly because I just never really knew how to save. But over the past couple of months I have been looking around for anything that can help me save money, and this has some great insights on things that I never even thought about. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Jason |  http://www.nicholaselectric.com/Electrical-Repair-Pittsburgh-PA.html

Feb 6, 2014 10:26AM
avatar
This article on how to save money is awesome! I'm just starting out on my own in life, and I'm looking for ways to help save and budget my money. I really have no clue what I'm doing, but after seeing this I have a much better idea of how I can save money better. Thanks so much for sharing this!

Jason |  http://www.tvsidingandwindows.com/boise-windows

Jan 28, 2014 8:17PM
avatar
That is good to know, I think that it will really help me out. It would be really nice to save more money online.

Jason.
http://www.drmovingcincinnati.com/residential-moving

Jan 21, 2014 8:36PM
avatar
I think that this will really help in our day and age. There is a lot of push for shopping online instead of in person now. It is pretty cool to see where we are going.

Jason.
http://www.marvsqualitytowing.com/services.php

Jan 17, 2014 2:58PM
avatar
Great article, and really, who doesn't want to save some money. Ten ways to save money is a win in my book. Thiago | <a href='http://www.creativecarpetinc.com/services/hardwood-flooring.html' >http://www.creativecarpetinc.com/services/hardwood-flooring.html</a>
Jan 15, 2014 7:41PM
avatar
Thanks for sharing this information. I think it is always a good idea to save money. I'm all about saving money. I think it is really good idea to save money. You never know when you are going to need it.  http://www.tvvideorepairil.com 
Jan 14, 2014 5:28PM
avatar
Thanks for the information. It is always nice to save money. I think these tips are pretty nice. The next time that I buy something online I'm going to see if I can use some of these tips.   http://www.newmanroof.com/about/ 
Jan 8, 2014 9:09PM
avatar
These tips are going to help me so much. After reading this it makes me wish that I would have known this sooner because I have been wasting money by not doing this. http://www.northridgescreen.com/services/window-door-repairs/ 
Jan 6, 2014 10:26PM
avatar
I am always happy to see tips, even if I have seen a few of them before, because in this day and age, everything that you can save helps.

Jason.
https://www.vitale-robinson.com/robinson-products/ready-mix-concrete/

Dec 18, 2013 5:31AM
avatar
Besides PriceGrabber, FatWallet, AnyCodes, that I usually visit, is a best coupon site for almost all my shopping bargains.


Dec 17, 2013 10:22PM
avatar
That is interesting, I think that if my daughter went to <a href="http://www.thephoenixrc.com/our-philosophy/">drug rehab in Utah</a> she wouldnt have to worry as much about funds, she spends so much on her addictions it is hard to watch.
Dec 16, 2013 8:51PM
avatar
I found that I saved a great deal of money when I found a <a href="http://www.a-1tv.com">tv repairman from Portland Or</a>. Very pleased and it saved me a great deal of time.
Dec 11, 2013 4:28AM
avatar
Heres a hint on how to save even more money, "don't spend it" PERIOD....
Feb 13, 2013 8:46AM
avatar
Good article on helping to save money online. Coupon codes is really spreading like wildfire, so many great online discounts these days that it's getting hard to imagine peopel are still paying retail for their online purchases. I am surprised sites like www.hellocoin.com is not on the list, this one is the best for me personally.
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More