Online tools to help you save money

Q: I’m pinching pennies-how can I use the Internet to save money and justify the cost of the service?

A:

Tough economic times mean cutbacks, and many families may be feeling the weight of Internet service costs, which average about a month. Before you pull the plug, consider how these Internet sites and programs can help you manage your budget, save money and rationalize your Internet bill.

Best budget tools

Thrive and Mint.com allow you to pool all your accounts in one place to get a full financial picture and offer budgeting and saving tools, along with reminders and alerts when you are charged fees or have low banking balances. Want to create a budget? PearBudget offers a simple Web-based budgeting tool that takes just 10 minutes to set up and offers a free 30-day trial-after that, it’s a budget-friendly a month.

Discounts and coupons

FatWallet.com and RetailMeNot.com both offer updates on best deals and coupon codes for purchases. CheapTweet finds thousands of deals being talked about on Twitter, and you don’t have to have a Twitter account to use it. CouponPrintster.com allows you to choose from dozens of daily coupons and print them at home for groceries and more. Also, check out group-buying sites (Groupon, LivingSocial and Plum District), which e-mail daily deals offered at a pre-pay discount.

Other savings

  • Paying bills online can save you up to in stamps a month and setting up automatic payments through your bank or credit card online can help you avoid late charges.
  • Use e-mail or video chat services like Skype to communicate long distance and save on your local phone service.
  • Consider getting rid of your cable TV subscription and watch free TV and movies on Hulu or network websites.
  • Buying tickets, making travel plans or comparing costs using online resources can save you gas money and time.

If you do have to pull the plug on your home Internet access to save money, you can find free access on computers at most public libraries across the country. Laptop owners can also take advantage of free Internet Wi-Fi access at Barnes& Noble, Borders, Panera Bread, Starbucks and McDonald’s, to name just a few. Find more free hotspots at Wi-Fi Free Spot.

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