NEWS

Wrestling with computers: Seven ways to save money using your computer

W. Wrestling Brewster

In today’s uncertain economic times we’re all looking for ways to save money.

With the many helpful money-saving Web sites on the Internet, your computer can be a gateway to a bucketful of savings. But before you even start your cyber search for savings, you need to be sure that you and your private information are safe.

First, make sure your computer is protected from viruses and spyware with updated virus and spyware protection. Remember you’re only as safe as your last update.

Once you find a Web site that can save you money, make sure it’s legitimate before you enter any personal financial information. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you will find a lock symbol on the lower right-hand side. This will tell you that this site is a secure site and any personal information you give is safe. If you are not comfortable with the site, don’t enter any financial information. Call the phone number on the site. If no phone number is listed, that’s a warning sign the site may not be legitimate.

Now that you are surfing safely, you’ll be amazed at how much savings you can find on the Internet. Here are seven of my favorites:

As gas prices continue to rise, finding the best prices is now a priority. Instead of spending time and wasting gas by driving around looking for the cheapest gas, go to www.gasbuddy.com. Enter your zip code and it will let you know the cheapest prices in the area.

We all hate car shopping. The salesman seems to hold all the cards. But with a little computer research you can walk in with all the knowledge. First, go to www.kbb.com and find out what your old car is worth. Click on trade-in value and put in the information on your car.

To research a new or used car value, go to www.edmunds.com. On this site you can also search a database of cars in your area and find one you like. To research how vehicles compare to other makes and models, go to www.consumerreports.org and find the car you want to buy.

If you are purchasing a used car go to www.carfax.com. Once you enter the VIN number, this site will give you the vehicle’s history. You can find if the vehicle has been in an accident, as well as its repair history. Once you have all this information in hand, you can walk into the dealership and confidently negotiate from a position of strength. You may save a lot of money off the original purchase price or get a better value for your trade-in.

When purchasing things like TVs, DVD players, furniture, computers and other electronics, go to www.pricegrabber.com or www.bizrate.com to find the best prices online. Put in exactly what you are looking to buy and it will find prices online. If you want it now or are not comfortable buying online, go directly to your local store’s Web site for the online prices. Oftentimes these are much less than the in-store prices. Most stores will honor the online prices in the store.

Many sites will let you pay online and have it ready at the store when you arrive. But remember, before you buy your next computer contact your favorite computer consultant for information on new computers.

When making travel plans, you can always find great deals online. Go to www.orbitz.com or www.Travelocity.com. You’ll discover the lowest prices on airfare, car rentals and hotels. You can even book online. At the very least, you are able to compare airlines, locations and rental companies. Enter the dates of your intended travel and you’ll get a list of available flights, hotels in the departure and arrival locations, and car rentals. If you book through Orbitz, they will call your cell with updates on your flights.

Tired of buying an entire CD just to hear one song? Now you can download just the songs you want from www.napster.com or www.amazon.com/MP3-Music-Download. You can find your favorite artists and download your favorite songs for a small fee. You can then put them on an MP3 player or burn them to a CD with only the songs you want.

To find the best deals on anything, go to www.ebay.com. Whatever you want or need you’ll probably find it on eBay. And with the sour economy you can find a lot of great things cheap.

To find tickets to your favorite show or even sell tickets you cannot use, go to www.stubhub.com. You can find tickets to nearly anything you want to see. You can also sell tickets to shows you are unable to attend and usually make a profit.

W. Wrestling Brewster is a computer consultant/trainer and the owner of Brewster PC Solutions. If you have questions or need computer help, call Brewster PC Solutions at 508-746-6423 or e-mail wbrewster@brewsterpcsolutions.com.