A vast internet archive of valuable financial information is available at your fingertips. With a few strokes on your computer keyboard you can find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood, the best returns on bank certificates of deposit (CD), the asking prices of homes and condos for sale in your city and the lowest mortgage rates offered by lenders.
Here are 12 websites which can help you save money, search for products or gather information to help you with your finances. Check them out to sharpen your financial edge. At the time of writing the author had no affiliation with the websites mentioned. These sites were selected by the writer based on personal opinion.
Save money on almost everything. Coupons are available on this site for savings on books and magazines, entertainment, flowers and gifts, food, health care, office supplies, restaurants, and much more. Check the site regularly because the offers change daily. (Investopedia is part of a larger company which owns a coupon site known as Coupon Mountain it can be found at www.couponmountain.com)
If you're among the two-thirds of Americans who don't know their credit score (According to the National Bureau of Economic Research), this site is where you can get your credit report. Consumers can get a free credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies once a year.
Zillow lists homes and condos for sale and rent along with the prices and values. The site covers the entire U.S. Also posted is information on mortgage rates, property taxes, monthly payment estimates and photographs of the properties offered for sale, often both exteriors and interiors.
Everything you wanted to know about mortgages is explained on this government site. If you want a mortgage, you'll probably have to pay fees, closing costs and points (each point is one percent of the amount borrowed). The site also explains private mortgage insurance (PMI), annual percentage rate (APR), the true percentage cost of the loan, and the minimum down payment required. Potential buyers who intend to take out a mortgage for a residential purchase are urged to first visit this informative site. (For more read How To Outsmart Private Mortgage Insurance.)
Shop and compare mortgage rates and requirements offered by a selection of major lending institutions. Also offered are tips and tools to help you get the most favorable rate.
TUTORIAL: Exploring Real Estate
Looking for cheap gas? A 10 gallon fill-up in early Fall of 2011 can cost, on average, almost $40. Visit this site to search in the U.S. by city, state and zip code for the best gas prices. The site features real-time updates for higher populated areas, and lists the 10 lowest gas prices by state and city.
Although yields on many bank CDs are currently at all-time lows, you don't have to settle for the rock-bottom return. BankRate.com lists banks offering the highest yields on CDs of various durations, including the one-year, two-year, three-year and five-year deposit. Short-term rates and minimum deposit requirements are also listed. Deposits in all banks are covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Find the best prices on this site for dental procedures. Search for the procedure you need - fillings, crown, bridge work, teeth cleaning or other work - and competitive prices will be listed along with the dentists and their locations. You can also schedule appointments on this site. The site also provides a feature called "Make Offer" and "Name Your Price." This allows consumers to negotiate prices with providers. Obviously, price should not be your only concern, you should also consider the experience of the dentist, and the potential quality of the work.
This is the site of the dental sub-section mentioned above. You can find prices for vision procedures, such as eye exams; cosmetic work, such as botox injections, facelifts and liposuction; and for health maintenance procedures, such as a comprehensive medical examination. The same options cited above also pertain here as well. Again, price should not be your only deciding factor, these are services not commodities. This should just be used to help you find your options based on location and price.
Going somewhere? Here's how to fly to your destination arranged by price. Enter your city or airport of departure, city or airport of destination, desired day and time of departure, number of passengers and if you want a one-way or round-trip, and the search engine will post your options.
Before you leave on your trip, check this site for good prices on hotels, rental cars and vacation packages. Cheap flights are also listed on this site, and you can compare prices offered here with the prices offered on cheapair.com.
You never know what's being offered at a major price discount on this popular, national site, with different offers daily. Recent price discounts were offered on restaurants, hang gliding lessons and eye glasses. So, take a look every day.
TUTORIAL: Retirement Planning
The Bottom Line
The internet is ever-changing and ever-expanding. Smart consumers in a quest for bargain prices search the old sites and discover new ones regularly. To maintain your sharp financial edge, become a regular internet explorer - it could save you lots of money.