Saving Money Tip #181 - Have a Go To List of Websites for Reference. In our information overloaded world, it is sometimes hard to zoom in on the best places to get information. Yes, Google is our friend, but there are other websites that can be crucial to someone who is trying to save money, reduces costs, and make informed decisions on buying – not necessarily financial websites or blogs, but websites that are useful tools to someone who wants to take charge of his financial matters and save a little money. Each person will have different needs and wants in this regard, but I thought I’d share some websites that are invaluable to me on a regular basis for useful information. These are the ones that are bookmarked on my computer.
City-Data – I discovered this site a couple of months ago. If you have a job transfer on the horizon or are contemplating starting over in a new city with better employment opportunities, go over to this site and check it out. There are forums for every state in the union, most major cities, and a few other countries. You can ask questions to residents of the area where you wish to live. You can get the lowdown on neighborhoods, schools, housing, and everything else about an area. If you’ve ever done house searching long-distance, you know how hard it is to zero in on the right place to move. This site can help tremendously in that regard.
Realtor.com – This is a great general site that lists all homes on the MLS (multiple listing service). There are some sites that are better for local areas that give more information, but this is a great place to start.
Trip-Advisor – If you are going on vacation and want to pick an appropriate hotel, this is the site that will give you nitty-gritty information about the hotel, motel, cottage, or bed and breakfast. You must take review with a grain of salt because people are more likely to write up a report on trip advisor if they are unhappy, rather than happy. However, that applies to all hotels, so it is still a fairly accurate comparison. If you read ten complaints that the pool is too small at a certain hotel, and pool size is important to you, then you’ll know to steer away from that particular hotel. This is the type of information you will not get from reading a glossy hotel brochure.
Cruise Critic – A great site to read opinions if you are planning a cruise vacation in the next year or two.
Pick Your Own – If you like fresh fruits and veggies in your diet, then check out farms local to you that have pick your own crops. Many times they are cheaper than farmers markets since you are doing some of the work. If you buy large quantities for the freezer each year, this is the way to do it. This site lists pick your own farms for every state in the union. It is pretty comprehensive.
Money Saving Mom – This site regularly updates good deals at many grocery stores, and list other good deals and coupons that come out. Similar to this site and more comprehensive with regard to grocery stores is Coupon Mom. Membership at this site is free and matches up coupons and store sales prices. It doesn’t list every grocery store, but may have at least a few in your area. Use these sites in conjunction with each grocery store’s website, like Safeway before going food shopping.
All Recipes – You can have access to thousands of recipes on this site or others like it (although this is my favorite). No need to buy a cookbook. If you have random ingredients in your house and don’t know what to make, then plug them in to this site, and you will get some ideas. No need to waste money on takeout. The reviews of the recipe are honest and accurate. I have never been disappointed in recipes I’ve made with 4 stars or higher.
Epinions – Before you buy, look up which product has gotten good reviews from the buying public, compare prices at different retailers, and learn more about what features you need and want. This is a great place to start for buying many products.
Craigslist – If you are in the need or want of purchasing something, check here first! After you’ve done your research and decided you really want to buy a certain brand-name popcorn popper, look on Craigslist before you buy new. You may be surprised how many gently-used popcorn poppers you will find for a fraction of the price of new. If you are not in a hurry for said purchase, then check Craigslist on a regular basis. It’s likely the item will come up if you are patient enough.
Public Library – Library websites are almost as good as being at the library itself. At least one of any reasonable size is. If I want to check out a book from our system, I can check the “card catalog” from the comfort of my own home. If a book isn’t available, I can put it on hold without wasting gas to drive there. This is cheaper and just as easy as buying from a brick and mortar store or online.
Other sites that pertain you – If you have a hobby or other interest, find other like-minded individuals online. You will become more informed and maybe learn how to participate in your hobby at a discount or how to turn your hobby into a money-making career.
Retail Me Not – If you are getting ready to make a purchase online, this is the site to check out to see if there are any discount codes available before you put in your order. There are many sites out there that do this. But this one seems to be the most comprehensive. And you can use this site in addition to a Google search that you might do.
CNNMoney – This site is one I like to read periodically to learn about new financial products or to see what is going on in the financial world. It keeps me up-to-date on news and products in clear, easy-to-understand terms. It also has on its site comparisons of mutual funds, CD rates, mortgage rates, and the like. I also like the Kiplinger’s site that does virtually the same thing.
Swagbucks – While you can always Google sites that you need, sometimes it pays to Swagbuck it instead. If you do Google searches on a regular basis, then check out Swagbucks instead. For every few searches you do, you earn some Swag points that can be accumulated and then cashed in for giftcards or other products. In several months’ time I’ve accumulated about $20 worth of gift cards to Amazon – not bad for searches I’d be doing anyway.
In Real Life (IRL) – All of the sites listed above are ones I use regularly or when the time is appropriate. They are not all money-saving sites, necessarily but tools that I use to help me make wise spending choices and be more informed on items I am purchasing. Of course there are many other good sites out there, and not everyone will use the same ones that I do. But each one has helped me tremendously in keeping costs down or being informed on a product, whether it is a mutual fund, a new home, or a toaster.
I’d love to learn about more great websites out there that are useful for saving money or becoming informed before buying something. If anyone has any to share, please put them in the comments. Thanks!