Free tools for saving money online (and off)
|Published:||Sep 13, 2007|
The internet is great for finding new ways to spend money, but it's great for saving money, too. There are a number of web-based tools I use to save money on all sorts of things on a weekly basis. Here you'll find two of my favorites.
Compare prices with Frucall
A few months back I bought an electric shaver on clearance. It was a steal. Fast forward to last week, when I finally broke down and went shopping for a new set of blades for it, only to discover that they cost more than I paid for the shaver itself! So I called Frucall, punched in the UPC number on the package, and found out that they were available from several online stores, including Amazon, at a 30% discount. The whole process took about a minute, most of which was spent entering the UPC.
That's Frucall. And I love it. It works like this: You sign up at Frucall.com with your email address and phone number. Then whenever you're out shopping and want to see if an item is cheaper online, you have three options: You can make a regular voice call to 1-888-DO-FRUCALL, you can send a text message (SMS) to FRU11, or, if you have a web browser on your phone, go to frucall.com/m. Then you just enter the UPC (barcode) number of the item, and Frucall will immediately tell you the lowest prices, including shipping, for the item at various online stores.
On top of that, Frucall touts an ever-growing list of additional features. If you opt to register your credit card number and address with Frucall, you can order the product directly from your phone. You can also get product ratings from the web to help you make a buying decision, you can "bookmark" items for later consideration, and you can set up a wishlist that your friends and family can dial when they're out shopping for your birthday gift. It also has some very handy features unrelated to shopping: Frucall can send you scheduled reminders, you can record voice notes that will be available both on the web and via phone, and you can even access your calendar items from Google Calendar.
If you're like me and like to check out items in the store as well as online before making a buying decision, I recommend registering with Frucall and saving its number(s) to your phonebook.
Find coupon codes with RetailMeNot.com
Coupon codes--codes that can be typed in to get discounts and deals at many online stores--are the bread and butter of the online bargain-hunter. But they can be pretty hard to come by if one is left to one's own devices. Thankfully we have devices like RetailMeNot.com to help us out. RetailMeNot (whose funny name is owed to its excellent older cousin BugMeNot) is a big, free database of coupon codes for thousands of stores selling items from pizza to lingerie.
There are several ways to use RetailMeNot. The simplest is to go to RetailMeNot.com and enter the address of the online store you're using, e.g. target.com. Then it will list all of the coupon codes it knows, along with a description of what they do. Each code is rated by users for its efficacy (not all codes work for all people, and most of them expire eventually), so you usually don't have to waste your time on duds. If you're more of a power-shopper, you can use one of RetailMeNot's quick tools: The Firefox add-on, which will automatically alert you if coupon codes are available for the site you're currently browsing, or the "Quick Access Bookmarklet" (located in the left column of the RetailMeNot home page), which you can drag to your browser's bookmarks tool bar and click on whenever you want to see if the site you're using has coupon codes listed. Finally, if there are no codes listed and you want to hold off on a purchase until there is, you can sign up for an email notification (in the left column) that will alert you when someone posts a coupon code.
While there won't always be a coupon code for the site you're shopping at or the item you want, checking RetailMeNot whenever you make an online purchase will definitely save you a few bucks in the long run. I highly recommend it.
Blogger since 1999, Jordan Running went pro in 2005 and never looked back. Sometimes programmer, occasional photographer, and serial tinkerer, he decided to to switch to Linux in 2001 but just hasn't quite gotten around to it yet.