Surf and save: Using technology to cut costs

Surf and save: Using technology to cut costs
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Published August 16th, 2015 - 05:30 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Go online to find service providers, useful reviews and forums. (Shutterstock)
Go online to find service providers, useful reviews and forums. (Shutterstock)
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Rania Oteify

Here is a confession: I am not a millennial. But I do share many attributes with this highly efficient generation, especially when it comes to the use of technology to manage money and reduce costs.

Millennials are seen to be tech-savvy, taking nothing for guaranteed without doing their own research. From financial advice to making online purchases, they do their due diligence and research before they commit. All of these attributes — for those who practice what they preach — are conducive to sound financial planning. In fact, some of them can even save you money.

And now with many service providers trying to appeal to this generation’s interest and needs, there are many services that are moving online in complete consumer-guided processes. Whether you’re a millennial or not, taking advantage of these services can help you save time and money, or at least make more informed money decisions.

Here are a few ways that you can take advantage of the rise in online services.

Shop before your commit

With the ease of looking up service providers, reviews and ratings, it is also easier to know what you’re getting yourself into before you commit. Whether you’re shopping for a contractor to paint your house, for a new phone, or a tutor for your children, online reviews continue to make a good resource.

Watch out for biased reviews, however. Aware of their online reviews, many service providers may be making a counter effort in enlisting consumers to add positive reviews that balance any negative ones out there. You should be able to spot these from the tone and the similarity in their message.

Do it yourself

Many of the services that you would require a specialist to help with are now available in a do-it-yourself approach. Examples from the United States include tax preparation and filing, home renovations all the way to loan and mortgage applications. Although some of these features may not be applicable to the United Arab Emirates, the same approach is noticeable in how banking has largely moved online and so are many bill payments and many government services.

Again as people get more comfortable with doing business online, it is a matter of time until more services will be available for you to do yourself, cutting out the cost of using a CPA, a financial adviser, etc. Until then, enjoy all the do-it-yourself help that you can get to fix things around the house, spend low-cost quality time with your children, or recycle to save money. Remember, all of these savings could add up to a good sum every month.

Be carefully proactive

That is not only to pay it forward, but to get the exact information that you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for how to get a credit card with low interest rate, and you come across a forum with a similar discussion, participate. Sometime you may get all the information that you need by observing, but if you don’t see your exact questions and concerns answered, don’t shy away from jumping into the discussion.

Be careful, however, when you do so that you are not divulging too much personal or financial information. Ask questions tactfully and avoid anyone who asks extensively about details. In short, if you go online, be protective of your privacy and your financial information.

See opportunities

Once you’re comfortable with reading instructions, manuals, policies, terms of use, etc, consider how to use this information in getting more business done without the costs involved in hiring specialists, driving or accommodating service providers’ schedules — and profit margins.

In addition, learning how to do your online research and conduct some services online can build your knowledge of online transactions, common pitfalls that you should watch for, etc. All of this could help you make better decisions not only about the specific products and services that you purchase, but about your overall money management.

Get online

Shop for better rates and services

Find what you can do yourself

Ask specific questions

Use saving opportunities

By Rania Oteify

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2016. All rights reserved.

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