This Is How The Internet Can Help You Sort Your Finances

When people think of the internet, they think about cat videos, social media, and shopping. But the internet is more like a general-purpose tool, and you can use it for pretty much anything you like. One of the best ways to use the internet is to help with your personal finances, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to spend. Here are some of the many ways in which the internet can help you save, borrow, invest and manage your money better.

The Internet Helps You Find Great Credit Card Deals

Let’s face it, credit cards are usually a drain on our finances. In theory, credit cards are supposed to only be used by people with great incomes and a real need for extra cash in certain months. But thanks to the financial industry, that world is long gone. Practically everybody now owns a credit card, and they can sometimes get themselves into trouble. Credit card debt for the average person now exceeds £13,000 with many people owing a lot more than that.

The great thing about the web, however, is that it allows you to search around for the best deals. There are literally hundreds of credit card providers offering different rates of interest and rewards on their credit cards. Sifting through all of them manually would be a time-consuming process, but with price-comparison websites, it doesn’t take as long. Price comparison sites allow you to compare different credit cards based on fees, interest rates, loan rates, cash advances and other financial features which would be difficult to do separately. They also allow you to compare the rewards you get for spending money on your credit card, like free air miles or travel gifts.

Of course, the Internet won’t save you from unwise spending patterns on your credit card. But it can certainly help you make yourself better off. The combination of lower fees and interest rates with better rewards certainly isn’t something you want to turn your nose up to.

The Internet Helps You Find Better Travel Deals

If you travel a lot, it can be a real drain on your finances, especially if you’re constantly paying the full price. What’s worse, sometimes you don’t get good value for money, making things even worse. The internet, however, rides to the rescue yet again. First off, it helps you avoid disasters, thanks to all the photographs of resorts and reviews online. If a place is not up to scratch, you’ll soon find out on the internet and can change your booking to a new destination. There are many travel site with trustworthy ratings and reviews, including Priceline, Orbitz, and Expedia.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, the internet allows you to compare the price of visiting one resort or another. Resorts and hotels are very clever when it comes to pricing: they will often price their accommodation differently, depending on whom they’re advertising too. If you’re a member of a group that they think will pay more, you’ll be charged a higher price. Holiday price comparison sites, however, go a long way to alleviating this kind of problem, helping you to feel more comfortable with your booking.

The Internet Helps You Track Your Spending

If you’re anything like most people, keeping track of what you’re spending your money on can be a challenge. But with the rise of apps and budget planning sites, that’s all changed. There are dozens of services out there, including things like EveryDollar, Quicken, and Mint. All of these services can be linked to your bank account and set up to automatically track your spending. They also come with features that all you to keep abreast of where all your money is going. You’ll soon see whether you’re spending on bills, entertainment, your vehicle or food shopping. This allows you to adjust your spending habits so that you can get a handle on your expenses and plan a strategy for changing your spending patterns.

Another great thing about these apps is the fact that they make goal-setting much easier too. It can be hard to motivate yourself to change your financial habits if you can’t see the impact on your bank account. But many of these apps provide tools to show you just how much you’re saving.

It’s worth noting that not all these services are free: some you have to pay for. But many have things like 90 day free trials, providing you with plenty of time to see whether they are worthwhile or not.

Save On Entertainment

Before the internet came along, companies like Blockbuster video and HMV made a fortune. But then when people realised that they could get their favorite music and movies over the internet, their business models collapsed. Blockbuster didn’t survive.

For consumers, though, it was good news. Rather than having to go to the store to buy entertainment, it was all available on their personal computers. What’s more, the choice was far better, usually only limited by the ability of online distributors to get the sale rights for particular IP.

Today, though, there are even more ways to cut the costs of entertainment - something which can quickly eat up a large chunk of your finances. Services like Amazon Video, Hulu and Netflix, are taking the market by storm and changing the way that people consume media. What’s more, compared to buying shelves of DVDs, they’re dirt cheap. Monthly subscription prices are usually under $10.

There’s also a lot of entertainment online that is totally free. This includes services like YouTube and Vimeo, where the community often uploads documentaries and dramas, albeit in lower quality.

The Internet Reduces The Cost Of Borrowing

Borrowing online is becoming more and more common with each passing year. As it gets harder to get money from high street banks, many savvy shoppers are turning to the internet to provide the credit they need. Borrowing can be for all sorts of things, but most commonly it’s for funding a home business or paying an emergency bill.

As with travel and credit cards, there are also facilities on the internet that help you find the best deals on loans. The interest rate on a loan can make a big difference to the total amount that you end up paying back.

The Internet Has Deals For Savers

For nearly nine years now, central banks all over the West have held interest rates down at incredibly low levels. The Federal Reserve, for instance, is still only just getting back to the 1 percent level. For savers, this has been very bad news: they’ve seen practically no return on their current account balances, and practically none on their savings either. However, rates of return on the internet are typically a lot higher, thanks to the increased level of transparency and competition. A typical interest rate on a current account is around 0.1 percent, but rates on savings accounts online are often ten times that amount, providing a sizeable return close to the rate of inflation.

The other good thing about these online savings accounts is that they can easily be linked to your checking account, no matter which bank you choose to go with.

The Internet Helps You Save On Education

If you want to break out of a career rut, increase your human capital, or just learn something new for fun, the internet is your friend. The internet is, first and foremost, an information superhighway, lending itself perfectly to people who want to learn new topics. Combined, the internet has more information on more subjects than all of the encyclopedias written throughout history. And what’s more, many of the educational materials are easy to access.

Take Khan Academy, for instance. Rather than having to go out and buy a load of books, Khan Academy provides video lessons with worked examples for free. Many people report that they find it easier to learn using the video format than they do reading out of a textbook.

Or what about sites like Udemy? Here, instructors upload courses on practically every subject you can imagine. The site is great for people wanting to learn new, business-focused skills, like SEO or web design. Classes run daily and are usually tailored to suit your timetable.

Find Coupons And Deals

Companies like to price-discriminate. And although that might sound like a bad thing, it can actually be beneficial for many people who love searching for the best deals. Companies know that different people will pay different prices for the same stuff. And they know that even though some people will only pay a lower price, they can still make money out of them. This is why companies traditionally offered coupons in magazines and newspapers.

With the move to online business, the coupons have moved too. Rather than being things you cut out of a magazine, they’re now codes you enter at the checkout. The great thing about the internet is that there are now hundreds of sites which aggregate all these codes, allowing you to quickly find ways of getting money off your online shopping.

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