The economic downturn has touched everyone. Many are facing unemployment and dwindling home values and stock portfolios. But you still need to buy things and care for your family.
Thanks to technology and the Internet, you can save money practically wherever you shop. There are websites that collect coupons. Other sites help you find the best price. You can even use your cellphone to get instant discounts. Visit www.komando.com/news for links to sites mentioned.
TECH TIPS: Ask Kim
Tap into coupon sites
It's no surprise that couponing is enjoying a resurgence. The Internet is a great place to find coupons.
Start by visiting ValPack's site. It lists coupons for local stores. Just print them out. WOW-Coupons and CoolSavings are two other sites to visit. And don't forget to check manufacturers' and retailers' sites.
Of course, you can't use paper coupons at online retailers. But you can use coupon or promo codes. Enter a code when you check out for an instant discount. It may be 10% or more.
Join your favorite merchants' e-mail lists. These are a great source for coupons and coupon codes. CurrentCodes, CouponCabin and RetailMeNot also list coupon codes.
Saving with your phone
Cellfire delivers local coupons directly to your cellphone. It works with virtually any Internet-connected phone.
You can browse and save coupons. Then, show your phone at checkout to claim your discount. Some coupons can be redeemed online or via phone.
Cellfire recently signed a deal with Kroger's grocery store. Coupons can be linked to your loyalty card. Discounts are applied automatically when you check out.
Other grocery stores offer similar programs. Check their sites for more details.
Speaking of phones, you can put an end to directory assistance charges. Call 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) for Google's 411 service powered by voice-recognition software. Or call 1-800-411-SAVE (1-800-411-7283) if you prefer speaking to a person. Both services are free.
Look for discounts
You may qualify for certain discounts and not realize it.
Students get hefty discounts on software and computers. For example, students can save up to $800 on Adobe Photoshop. Some manufacturers offer deals directly or offer discounts through the school bookstore. In addition, sites such as JourneyEd, Academic Superstore or Gradware offer students discounts.
Military personnel also get discounts. You can purchase discounted products through Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Navy Exchange.
Some companies offer discounts directly, often through employee discount partnership programs. You can learn more at Military.com.
Incidentally, many employers have employee discount partnership programs. Check with your company's HR department for more information.
If you don't qualify for these discounts, save by buying refurbished electronics. Manufacturers' stores often list refurbished products. Or, try Buy.com. Just make sure you get a full warranty.
Find the best price
Price comparison sites NexTag, PriceGrabber and Shopping.com help you find low prices online. The sites check an item's price on various sites. It's fast and easy. Remember to research merchants with which you're unfamiliar to avoid scams.
If an item's prices don't suit you, don't despair. You can sign up for price drop notifications from Price!pinx or ZingSale. These sites are also handy for low-price guarantees.
Finally, visit WishRadar to be notified of price drops on Amazon. You'll be notified when items hit the prices you specify.
Get some freebies
Of course, there are plenty of freebies to be had online. You'll find free samples on some stores' and manufacturers' sites. Or, search Google for "free samples." Just make sure shipping is free. DealTaker's site also lists free items.
FreeShippingOn offers free shipping coupons for more than 500 stores. Or, search for items with free shipping on eBay or Amazon.
You'll also find free software online. But, you need to be careful. Many free programs include malware. Avoid those dangers by downloading through my site. All programs are tested for malware.
You'll find programs and tools to help you save money. For example, save on printing costs by using a special font, the Ecofont. Or, print select parts of Web pages with HP Smart Web Printing.
Finally, a reminder to always watch out for scams. Watch out for sites and clubs that charge you money so that you can save money. And remember that offers that seem too good to be true usually are. www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/kimkomando
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