Money: it’s a big part of life that affects us all.
Sometimes it feels like there’s never enough of it, especially if you’re a student, parent or living on a pension (or a mix of the three!). There’s no denying there are times when money can get tight for everyone.
Penny pinching is no fun, but sometimes to make ends meet, you have to shop smart and be thrifty.
If you work hard, you still deserve to give yourself a treat every now and then – while 2 minute noodles are great, no one wants to have them for every meal.
That’s why we’ve put together a few tips on how to live thriftily with a little help from the Internet.
Coupons, Groupons and Scoupons
A friend introduced me to online coupons at a board games and pizza night. After taking the group order, I went to place it online. My friend suddenly stopped me, horrified, “Aren’t you going to look for a coupon first?”. I guess the blank look on my face answered her question because she promptly scooted her seat up to the computer to take over.
I knew she took money seriously because in instances where I would just put up with a bad transaction, she would always insist she would get my money back. She was also the first to explain to me that if a supermarket charged you wrong for an item, you could get them to give you a full refund for the item while still keeping it.
So it wasn’t surprising when she pulled up 2 or 3 “coupon” sites to look for the best deal she could get on pizza from all the nearby stores. After scrolling through RetailMeNot and OzDiscount, she proudly managed to get our pizzas cheaper than my initial order.
Seeing that I was impressed with her cost saving prowess, she also instructed me to sign up to Groupon, which sends out vouchers for all kinds of things to do in your local area from massages, to hotel stays, to restaurants. She and her partner used the coupons for date nights, with a different activity to try each time.
Subscribe, Like and Follow
Just like Groupon, most companies these days, including iiNet, will inform people of their latest offers and deals via email and on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. By giving the social pages of your favourite organisations a “Like” or “Follow” you will see their posts on your profile’s feed and hear about the latest deals first. You can also usually subscribe to a company’s mailing list from their website for them to email details to you.
Some may worry about subscribing to emails because they’re afraid of being spammed. However, email inboxes are pretty good at automatically filtering and ordering things these days. I use Gmail, which automatically sifts all my “promotions” emails into one nifty folder. This means if I just want to sign in and check the “important” stuff, I can just check the “Primary” email folder, ignoring all promotions, and if I want to check out all the latest deals then vice versa.
Stream and Download
Some of us just like the feeling of owning the physical CD when we want to play music. Having a tangible thing at the end of a purchase can just seem more natural, but considering digital downloads allow retailers to ditch the brick and mortar costs for a shopfront, it can be cheaper to go down the online route.
Sadly, some download sites do not seem to price appropriately considering the cut in production and manufacturing costs: some album downloads cost just as much as the physical album these days. However, with the ability to purchase specific songs, you can save money on music by only buying the songs you like on an album, rather than purchasing the full physical album in a store. Plus, downloads and music streaming services are becoming very close to CD quality and can’t get scratched, so they will probably last longer than a CD for similar quality.
TV streaming services are also becoming more and more popular, and when you compare the cost to traditional pay TV services, it’s not surprising why! Most services offer a one month free trial and even after the trial they’re usually quite affordable; Netflix Premium is listed on their website at just $14.99 a month. When I was a kid, renting movies from the store was the way to go, but now you can get hundreds of movies at the click of a button for a small monthly cost. Instead of spending big bucks on box sets, get tonnes of TV shows to watch on a streaming service like Netflix or Stan.
Share Ideas and D-I-Y
Despite all the recipes on the internet, I sometimes still buy cook books simply because there are such a vast number of recipes online that I don’t even know where to begin, so small cookbooks with 20-30 recipes can be a little less daunting. However, these days there’s really no need to spend money like this.
I get a lot of free and amazing recipe ideas sent straight to my newsfeed from Facebook page Tasty, who also have a sister page Nifty full of clever and thrifty D-I-Y ideas to save money in your home. These are only just the beginning – there is a world of apps, websites and social media pages dedicated to giving you free, cost-cutting ideas for all kinds of daily life activities.
Sites like Pintrest are designed to give people a platform to share ideas from recycling old junk into beautiful home décor, to showing you where you can cut corners in your grocery shop. YouTube is another valuable cost-saving resource, full of instructional videos to do things yourself rather than pay for someone else to do it.
My mum impressed all our relatives when she showed up with a pretty, twirly, hairdresser-quality hairstyle at my brother’s wedding and told everyone she had done it herself from a YouTube tutorial. There seems to be a tutorial for everything these days. A quick search in YouTube for “Learn how to” yields all kinds of results: learn how to twerk, learn how to flirt, learn how to hypnotise and even learn how to handstand (in case you’ve never tried it before).
Do you have any tips on how to save money online? Let us know in the comments below.