Weave yourself a money-saving web
The web has changed the world in countless ways. It has also made it easier to save money. Here are 10 of the best sites to help you cut costs
Okay, so, we know that this streaming music website will cost rather than save you money, but it is a whole lot cheaper than buying music in an old-school way and if you are the type who would routinely buy CDs or MP3 then, this is the way to go.
It has around 20 million songs in its catalogue – which should be enough for most ears and is very good value for money. There is a discovery mode which is free but a little limited. The monthly fees range from €4.99 for premium access, which gives you unlimited, ad-free streaming on your PC or Mac, to premium plus which allows access through mobile apps and other devices too at a monthly cost of just €8.99. You can also store music for offline use, which is handy if you are on the move and aren’t too sure what will happen to your data access.
On one level, we absolutely hate DoneDeal and everything it stands for. This hatred is born entirely out of jealously. The Wexford-based husband and wife team who set it up 10 years ago did something Pricewatch has always wanted to do. They found a niche in the online market space, filled it and made a packet.
They had the idea for their classified site when looking for second-hand furniture for their house. They couldn’t find what they wanted online so set up a site where ads had photos and proper descriptions.
You can place up to 10 photographs and video with your ad for a fee of €3. Nearly 100,000 new things are advertised on the site each month, and everything from second-hand tractors to barely worn wedding dresses can be found here. It has new and second-hand clothes, animals, furniture, holidays, concert tickets electrical appliances and cars – lots and lots of cars
Last year, this price-comparison website became the first switching service to be awarded accreditation from the Commission for Energy Regulation for its energy price-comparison section, for which it deserves to be commended. Since launching in April 2010, it has provided energy comparisons to more than 150,000 Irish households, and helped 170,000 people compare personal financial products. Another 100,000 people have used it to research broadband and phone packages. It is hard to say how many of them have actually saved money, but knowledge is power especially when you’re pricing power.
Back in the good old days of the 1980s, when Charvet shirts were in and religious icons moved, there was just one health insurance provider in the market and six different policy options which went from A to E – but most of us just went with B. Today there are four providers who change the names of their policies more often than Charlie Haughey changed his shirts. We now have more than 200 policies to choose from, some of which have the most ridiculous and misleading names.
This choice could be good. Or it could be hideously confusing. Taking out the wrong policy could end up costing a family of four over €1,000 a year. Every year. The health insurance authority website hia.ie helps you make comparisons on your health insurance.
This is a rival to bonkers and came into the Irish market last year. It is one of the main UK price-comparison and switching services and promises to offer you free, independent and impartial price advice. It estimates that Irish consumers could save as much as €254 a year just by switching energy suppliers. At the outset, it is focusing on energy, home broadband and digital television suppliers.
The online daily deals market continues to grow in popularity among Irish consumers and we now spend around €5 million every month on discounted offers available through sites such as Living Social and Groupon. Health and beauty offers make up the biggest share of total market, while food and drink discount coupons finished in second place ahead of travel and accommodation offers.
There are about 40 sites offering deals to Irish consumers now, but rather than have your mail box cluttered with offers of liposuction and teeth whitening every morning, you can sign up to this deal aggregators which will condense all the daily offers into a single mail. It allows you to filter the deals to in order to cut out offers you know will be of no interest, either because of their content or their location.
This site incentivises people to spend money by promising them money back. The way it works is simple. You shop at any one of hundreds of online retailers via its portal and you can get up to 30 per cent or a fixed amount of cash back. If you order Sky Television via fatcheese you can get up to €135 back, while if you order UPC through the site you can get up to €115 back, as well as four months at half price – which could come in at another €120 quid.
If you book a holiday with Sunway, you can get €39 back, while airlines such as Ethiad, Virgin and several others will offer you 2 per cent cash back.
We’re always told to shop around, but let’s face it, it’s time-consuming, it’s often complicated and you often end up back at the place you started. The internet, of course, has opened up a whole new world for bargain hunters. This site will help you figure out how to trim some fat from home phone, mobile and broadband bills.
This site provides last-minute hotel deals to consumers and has rooms available in more than 2,000 cities worldwide at any given time. It does deals with some of the world’s leading hotels, which allows the hotels to sell unsold rooms at reduced rates without advertising the discounts on their websites or other public forums, a move which many hotels fear would damage their brands and anger guests who booked at higher prices. On most nights, about a third of all hotel rooms are empty. The site is owned by online travel giant expedia.com and claims to offers an average discount of 35 per cent.
It won’t help you to save money directly, but it will point you in the direction of people who might be able to save you some. It is possible the single greatest personal finance resource catering for an Irish market on the web, and there are more than half-a-million separate posts on the site covering topics as diverse as the new mortgage arrears proposals to where to get the best-value telly packages. There are more than 100,000 postings in the letting off steam section of the website and while at least some of them will be saying how useless this article is, how lazy this writer is and how dead the newspaper industry is, we like it just the same.