Tips and Tricks – Money Savers, Free Software & Real News

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Posted on / by Alex Berger

Mixing it up a little bit with todays post. Instead of the usual, this post is dedicated to sharing a bit of my web-based gray matter with you.

Money is always a good thing, especially when you get a chance to save a little extra. It’s no secret that in many instances (electronics & books especially) you can usually find a much better price online. The catch is, of course, knowing where to look. Since things are virtual, it also tends to be a bit more difficult to find a sale It’s not quite like strolling into your local department store and stumbling on some great clearance gadget.

The good news is the web is all about information exchange. One of the best things about information exchange is its ability to save you boatloads of cash. From domain names to digital prints the following resources are ‘must use’.

Slickdeals.net – This website runs off of a hybrid wiki/forum system which allows users to post, vote on, comment and share deals and specials they have found. The front page is somewhat useful for a quick glance (it lists the 4-7 top deals for that day). The bulk of the site’s benefit though is in it’s forums. My personal favorite is the “Hot Deals” forum but you can find great stuff all across the board. It’s a shop a-holic’s worst nightmare. In addition to looking for random items at incredible prices that you may/may not need, you can also run a search. Once on the forums you will find the search option in the upper right hand corner. Use it to search the lists for a great deal. Be sure to pay special attention to the date when the “thread” was started and updates.

My personal favorite involves sorting the forum topics by most recently posted. This means I get a look at new deals before the masses have looked them over, voted and snapped up all of the best stuff. Using the site I just picked up 4 $60 dress shirts for $10 each through a link to an Amazon.com clearance special. In the 8 months I’ve been using the site, it’s probably saved me well over $300-400 dollars. I’ve also picked up some great free items as well – the latest examples are the two 8×10 glossy digital prints of photos from my Europe trip purchased [for free] through Albertsons. Key terminology: YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), B&M (Brick & Mortar).

Coupon/Promo Code Sites – When making an online purchase you have probably noticed the spot on a lot of major sites for a promo code or discount coupon. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably muttered to yourself and wondered who the lucky few were that actually got their hands on those codes. Once again Google knows all. Above I’ve linked to a recent search I did before purchasing a new domain from GoDaddy. I don’t have a set promo code site because I never know what I’m going to be buying. I just open up Google, type in the type of code I need and then review the results. Try the codes until you get one that works. I’ve used this trick to knock as much as $20 off of purchases. NOTE: Be careful about protecting your security. A lot of the coupon sites have a lot of ads. Never download anything off these sites and always close the Explorer window you used for the search – do NOT make your purchase in the same browser.

The Open Disc (Free Legal Software) – In recent years the open source movement has picked up a lot of momentum. While that’s bad news for some of the big software development houses, it’s great for you and me. The Open Disc is a website with links to several of the top open source applications. From the link provided above navigate to programs and see what tickles your fancy. Audacity (Sound Studio) and Firefox (Web Browser) are awesome, but also pick up Pidgin (MSN/AIM etc. all in one), PDFCreator (screw you Adobe) and ClamWin (Virus Scan). Need an alternative to Windows Office and don’t feel like paying $350+? Try Open Office.

UnPlug (Firefox Plugin)- I’m a video junky. I LOVE media and have been known to dig through the national archives. Recently with the widespread adoption of Flash video players (YouTube etc.) it’s become a lot more difficult to save a copy of those videos. If you use Firefox UnPlug is an awesome tool. Once installed it lets you extract and download a video regardless of the format it’s in. You can also pull .mp3s being linked to for background music.

On the subject of Un-Plugging (get it? hah!) you should also be aware of social media sites. If you’re a web veteran you’ve probably been addicted to these for a while. Sites like Digg.com, Reddit.com and del.icio.us. Basically populated by folks eager to share information and fed up with the mainstream media’s coverage of things, these sites have become immensely popular while simultaneously offering a great alternative/supplement to the continuous feed of the day’s 3 stories looped by the major news outlets.

How they work: Registered users find/write articles/video/pictures that they want to share and think other people will appreciate. They login, submit a basic profile for the link – usually a topic and a brief description. They then select a category and if the link is unique it’s added to the feed. Once submitted other users view the item and if they like it they effectively vote for it or choose to bury it. When you flag your like/approval of a link most of the services add that link to a list associated with your profile. The most popular topics get pushed to the top of an ever evolving news feed.

Have a favorite? Something I missed? Share it in a comment.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

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