5 Ways the Internet Is Saving You Money (and 3 Ways It's Costing You More!)

The Internet is a valuable resource for college students, but it can also be a cash sink if you're not careful. In this article, read about the best and worst ways the Internet impacts your finances.

money

Saving And Spending Online

Oh the wonders of the Internet! It's a wealth of information and savings. Or is it actually just a drain on your finances? Or can it even somehow be both?

We live in the technology age, and the Internet plays a huge part in that. It's a means of communication, commerce, information and even diversion. As students, the Internet is one of your main sources of research, but also one of the easiest places to blow all your money when you're bored. So what can you do to enjoy the money-saving benefits of the Web and avoid the expensive habits it's so easy to get into?

The Pros:

Comparison Shopping

Before the Web, comparison shopping involved driving from store to store, window shopping, asking around and a multitude of other techniques. By the end, you still rarely found the best deal. Now with the Internet, we can check online auctions, online stores and search engines to compare prices. You're bound to find a better price than you would in stores if you went out looking, and you'll end up with more money in your pocket.

eTextbooks

Students don't exactly have a bunch of extra cash to spend, and textbooks are a pretty big reason for that. They can cost over $100 per book in some cases, leaving students scrambling to find money for food! But now the Internet has come along and we have a little thing called eBooks. These can cost much less than paper books and are sometimes even available for free! You may not be able to sell them back at the end of the year, but a free textbook is hard to turn down.

RetailMeNot.com

This little site is the student's best friend. Here you can find discounts on everything from printer paper to pizza. Some offers are discount codes for online shops, and some are coupons you can print out to use in person. Groceries, school supplies and everything you can imagine has a coupon on this site. There are even a few free offers, and every student loves free.

Communicating Long Distance

Once upon a time, people had to send things called letters and make phone calls to their parents from college to stay in touch. This is no longer the case. Now we have Skype, Facebook and email - no more long distance phone bills or stamps to buy. A further plus is that Skype allows you to talk face to face via video chat, something never possible before for any price.

No Gas Money!

The above options also all save you money in one other way: you don't have to drive anywhere. You don't have to drive around to different stores to comparison shop, you don't have to drive to the book store or library to get books, you don't have to drive to stores to get discounts or sales, and you never have to drive to the post office to mail letters or buy stamps. All of that adds up to a fuller gas tank and a fuller wallet.

The Cons:

Easy to Spend

While some people use eBay to sell things, the majority use it to buy. The Internet has made it easier than ever to buy things we have absolutely no use for. Surely you've had a friend tell you all about some frivolous thing they saw 'for a great price' online and bought on a whim. It may have been a great price, but it still cost money! Without seeing actual cash changing hands, it doesn't hit as hard how much we're spending, and how often. We're likely to spend more than we should, or are even able, without knowing it.

Electricity!

Your gas tank may be fuller, but you're still spending money on power. We use electricity more than we realize by spending so much time on the Internet. We're also staying in, with our lights on, rather than going out, which raises our electric bills even more. If you're still living in the dorms, you're probably not seeing that electric bill. However, if you're in an apartment, you're going to notice a high cost for electricity, and you can bet that the Internet is at least partially the culprit.

Online Gaming

Let's face it, the Internet is fun. There are games galore, some free. But many popular games, like World of Warcraft, cost a fee every month to play. Even online sites like Neopets or GaiaOnline ask for money for the best items to customize your pet or avatar. Online gambling sites may give you virtual fun, but they cost you actual money. It's easy to pay just a few dollars here and there on gaming once in a while and end up spending a whole bunch of money each month.

Not sure the internet is helping you as a student? Learn a little more about technology in the classroom!

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