You probably remember that problem from high school math class: If you saved $5 a day and invested it at a nominal interest rate, you’d make $147,000 after 35 years. The point your math teacher was trying to make was that little amounts add up.
But you don’t have to stick a $5 bill in a jar. The virtual universe is full of deals, and shrewd internet habits could lead to big savings over time. You don’t even have to sacrifice simple pleasures like music and video games; you can just obtain them in a smarter and more economical way.
By the way, if you’ve avoided budgeting and managing your money because it’s too cumbersome, depressing or difficult, new apps and programs make it manageable and maybe even, dare I say, fun. Click here for the best budgeting and finance software.
So how do you cut corners? Here are seven simple ways to save money on the internet.
1. Use online coupons
Most people hear the word “coupon” and roll their eyes. It’s tedious, snipping out little squares from the Sunday newspaper and then handing them over to a cashier. But online, this process is much easier. Visit sites like RetailMeNot or CouponCodes, and you’ll have access to discounts on everyday products. Codes work for a diverse selection of retailers, including Walmart, Target, Sears and Macy’s. When you check out, you’ll see the words “promo code.” Just copy and paste your code into the field, and that’s it. You’ll be astounded by the rewards you can reap.
Meanwhile, Amazon has an entire section of its website dedicated to coupons. Here, you can find discounts in specific categories, such as groceries, electronics and office supplies. The coupons get even more enticing for Prime Members. Click here to get coupons on Amazon while you shop.
2. Get free music (or even rent it)
Twenty years ago, it was hard to imagine CDs vanishing from shelves, but today it’s hard to even find a physical music store. Now, we may be entering a new phase. Music fans may not have to buy music at all.
Music subscription services like Spotify and Pandora have huge libraries containing millions and millions of songs. They’re basically an all-you-can-eat buffet of artists and albums. For a limited selection and quality, you can sign up for free, and many listeners will be satisfied with this robust offering. But for the full experience, a subscription to either service will give you access to all the latest hits.
It gets better if you’re already an Amazon Prime member. Many people enjoy their first year of Prime without ever knowing they can download music for free. Yes, you can stream songs, but you can also choose from more than a million MP3s to keep on your phone or computer.
3. Avoid in-game purchases
For years, the routine was the same: Gamers went to a store, bought a game, and took it home. When new consoles came out, gamers upgraded. Some rented games from the video store (remember those?) but the console game prices were pretty consistent.
That’s why the “in-game purchase” is such an alarming trend. You can play to a certain point, and then you have to wait or pay to proceed. It’s a splash of the cold water in an otherwise exciting experience. Apps are notorious for this practice.
Instead of paying to skip a level, get more points, or gain additional lives in a game, Google searches the game’s title and the level you are attempting to master. There are sites that list exactly what you need to do to avoid paying the game developer. Best of all, the steps are free.