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(ARA) – Cutting costs, pinching pennies, shopping smarter — more and more people are reacting to the current economic crisis by changing how and where they spend money. For some people, it may mean fewer restaurant dinners and more home cooking. Others are making bigger changes to save a few dollars and gain control of their finances.

Not every adjustment has to be dramatic, however. There are ways to save significant amounts of money without leaving the house — or even getting out of bed. With more than 84 million people having broadband Internet access at home, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a few mouse clicks can easily benefit your wallet.

The Internet has changed the way people communicate, discover and engage with others. It has also changed the way people manage their money. People regularly bank, trade, do business and shop online. Today, 40 percent of U.S. households bank online — one-third more than in 2003 — according to financial consulting firm TowerGroup. According to the Nielsen Global Online Survey, in 2008, more than 85 percent of the world’s online population has used the Internet to make a purchase — up 40 percent from 2005.
“The price you pay for the things you need is not set in stone,” says Paul Ford, CEO of NetQuote.com. “Insurance, for example, is one of the biggest non-discretionary expenses for any family. What most people don’t realize is that you can — and should — shop around for insurance just like you shop around for a car or a house. With the technology available today, it’s easier than you might think.”

Here are just a few ways that consumers can use the Internet to take some pressure off their pocketbooks.

Check online for coupons and promotional codes.
In lieu of eating out frequently, many people are doing more grocery shopping and cooking at home. Many major grocery stores post coupons, offers and other promotions online that can easily lead to increased savings in a fraction of the time it takes to clip coupons in the traditional sense. Likewise, many online retailers circulate "promo codes" that can be redeemed at checkout for additional savings. Before completing an online purchase checkout, do a quick Internet search. Visit sites like www.RetailMeNot.com or www.CouponCabin.com to save.

Shop around for insurance quotes.
Insurance, whether for your car, home, health or business is something most people cannot go without. However, many people never think to shop around for a better insurance quote because they see insurance as an expense that isn’t negotiable, or they think they’re stuck in their current policy until it runs out. This is simply not the case. People can switch at any point in their policy, without penalty, and can often find a better deal by shopping around. Better yet, people can use quote-shopping sites, such as www.NetQuote.com, and receive insurance quotes from multiple interested agents without the hassle of filling out multiple requests. It can be a simple way to greatly reduce the amount people pay for insurance. After all, if you have to pay for it anyway, you may as well get the best deal you can.

Save on gas by mapping out travel routes.
Instead of taking the same route to work, friends’ houses or places of interest, consider mapping out a more cost-effective route by using online mapping services. The less time you spend driving from point A to point B, the less you’ll have to spend on gas. Web sites such as www.Mapquest.com or GoogleMaps can change the way you travel and how much it costs to get there. You might find a time-saving shortcut that you never knew existed.

Don’t waste money on the wrong products — read reviews first.
Almost every online retailer features customer reviews and ratings for each of their products. If you must make a large purchase, there can be immense benefit in taking the time to read what other people are saying about that product before you buy. Consider checking out www.Epinions.com or www.ConsumerSearch.com. If the buzz indicates that a particular product is not worth the money — or that a similar product does the same thing for less — reconsider the purchase and look into other options. And if you happen to find what you’re looking for, check out the sites listed above for promotional codes.

People can get very creative when it comes to shaving a few pennies off their expenses. Before resorting to dramatic, cumbersome methods of saving money, explore the options above and other innovative ways the Web can be a tool for reducing your financial burden.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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