Friday, May 02, 2008


14 Ways to Save Money With Your Home Computer

Patricia Robison
Computing Independence

Your computer and its Internet connection don't have to cost you a cent -- in fact, they can save money and even make money for you. Here are practical ways to do it...

1. Find the best gasoline prices in your area. Go to ( and (

2. Slash your phone bill. Get unlimited long-distance phone calls, paying only a flat rate of around $25 per month for all your calls, by using a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. These services usually include extras, such as caller-ID and voice-mail messages that can be forwarded as E-mail. You need a high-speed Internet connection. Standard phone equipment can be used -- the VoIP provider will give you an adaptor to hook up with the service free or for a small charge. Calls are made just as you would with a standard land line, and the person you are calling does not need to have VoIP.
VoIP is available from specialty providers, such as Vonage ( from major phone companies, such as AT&T ( and from cable providers, such as Road Runner (
More information: Federal Communications Commission (

3. Get bargain airline fares. The airlines' best bargain fares often are available only on their own Web sites. Many airlines send out E-mail "alerts" or newsletters about them to people who subscribe for free through the airlines' Web site. Check the Web site of any airline that you are considering flying on.

4. Save on mortgage costs. If you are considering taking out a primary mortgage, second mortgage or home-equity loan, find the best deals at HSH Associates ( and (

5. Earn more interest on savings. Internet banks pay higher rates on savings because they don't have to cover the cost of paying for prime "bricks and mortar" banking locations.
Top Internet banks include VirtualBank ( and Juniper Bank ( To find more Internet banks, go to Google ( or Yahoo ( and enter "Internet banks" in the search box.
More information: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (

6. Stay in touch with family and friends free. Start a private blog at This is a personal Web page on which you (and people you select) can post messages, pictures and even voice recordings for free. You save postage on letters and also the cost of printing and shipping photographs, etc., as well as keep everyone in touch no matter how far apart they may be.

7. Have a yard sale on-line. You'll probably reap better prices through an on-line auction at eBay than through a yard sale.
Why: Instead of getting bids only from the few people who pass your yard in a few hours, you'll be able to hold items up for sale for days before a market of millions of people nationwide.
More information: To learn how to be an eBay seller, visit and click on "Getting Started" under "Sell."

8. Get books cheap -- or free. Opportunities...
Get new books at prices lower than in retail stores from,, eBay or the Web site of the publisher.
Used books, many in nearly new condition, are available at up to 70% or more off of list price at Click on the "used and new" option when making your purchase.
Classic books that are in the public domain because copyright has expired or has not been enforced are downloadable to print -- or can be viewed on-line -- for free. ( has thousands of texts dating from ancient Greece until today, plus many leading reference works, on-line free.
Also, if you're looking for a particular "classic" book or play, enter its name in the Google search box, and you may find it downloadable free on a university Web site.

9. Read newspapers free. Most newspapers now have on-line editions -- and most of these are free (though you may need to register by providing an E-mail address, etc.). You'll save the cost of your daily newspaper, and also be able to read newspapers from around the world. If you are planning a trip to a distant city or foreign country, reading its newspapers can be a great way to learn about it in advance. ( has a searchable directory of more than 10,000 newspapers worldwide.

10. Download music. Music can be cheaper than paying $16 for a CD when you download single songs for only $1 or so, and you can play them through your computer, portable digital music device or on your home stereo (using the appropriate audio cables from an electronics store).
Sources: Apple's iTunes store ( is most well-known, but there are many other sources, including the Smithsonian's Global Sound collection of music from around the world ( For other sources, enter "music downloads" in your search engine.

11. Get digital radio free. While satellite radio stations charge a monthly subscription service fee, there are thousands of radio stations around the world that "Webcast" their programming so it can be heard on any computer for free, and many more new stations are "Internet only." ( is a searchable directory of thousands of Webcasting radio stations worldwide.
Example: You can even get music from Antarctica on (

12. Get free maps and trip planning. Before you take a road trip, get all the maps you need for free from Mapquest ( or Google Maps ( These sites also give detailed directions to your destination, so you'll get there as quickly, and use as little gas, as possible.

13. Find local help, goods and services. Craigslist ( offers classified listings for many local areas. If you need household help, you can find it here. Or if you want to buy (or sell) an item locally, this is a fine site to help you do it.
Example: I recently needed a replacement power adapter for a laptop computer. The lowest price I could find from the manufacturer or in an electronics store was $85. But through Craigslist, I was able to pick one up locally for $22 from an individual seller.

14. Continue your education. More and more colleges and universities are putting their courses on-line for easy access.
To obtain college credits, there's usually a fee, usually much less than the cost of going back on campus to get credits in person.
On-line learning, whether for credit or not, can boost your career, help you move to a second career and enrich your life.
More information: Visit (, which has a directory of colleges and universities that offer degree and nondegree programs, and the Web sites of colleges and community colleges of interest to you.

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