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Comparison Shopping: The Ultimate Resource To Save Time and Money (Pre-Holiday Tip!)

Comparison Shopping: The Ultimate Resource To Save Time and Money (Pre-Holiday Tip!)

Saving money is often the foremost thing on most of our minds (especially when it comes to holiday shopping!) When we get down to the business of indulging in a new toy, household item or other product, saving ourselves time ranks a not-so-distant second.

Besides, with huge range of products available today, finding the balance between the best price versus the best quality may take you hours of research and driving from mall to mall.

But, with the nearly endless responsibilities that life puts on our plates each day, who has time to spare?

If you answered that question with a resounding “not me,” then check out these four fantastic comparison shopping tools that allow you to save both time and money:

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1. ShipGooder

ShipGooder

    Sometimes the biggest expense with an online purchase is shipping, a terrible problem that many market analysts see as the last big hurdle to getting people to switch en masse to online shopping over more traditional brick and mortar stores. Whether you shop via a third-party connection marketplace like Amazon or direct from the official website of your favorite retailer, the deals offered often seem very nice, until you reach the shipping page and find that what little money you hoped to save would be negated when you add in the cost of delivery.

    When you’re dealing with prohibitive shipping costs, the new ShipGooder server is an excellent tool that helps you to flesh out your options. Simply enter two zip codes and the package weight and ShipGooder will instantly return the available options for you to scan, saving you both time and money when it comes to shipping and receiving online purchases.

    2. Nextag

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    Nextag

      General price comparison websites are a dime a dozen, but Nextag stands out for its sheer size as well as its ease-of-use. The website’s simplistic design makes searching for a particular product a breeze, and their wide range of merchant partnerships means that millions of products are available through their service.

      With more than 10 years of experience and 30 million users per month taking advantage of it, there is no doubt that Nextag is a leader where price comparison is concerned, and you’ll definitely find it useful, assuming they partner with the merchants you need to find the product you’re looking for.

      3. PriceGrabber

      PriceGrabber

        One of the most popular price comparison websites in the world, PriceGrabber is well-known for its thorough product listings. The website provides both a search function and handy highlights on popular products, helping you to find the best deal on the hottest items with only a click or two, saving you time even while it promises to save you money.

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        Unlike Nextag, PriceGrabber provides comparisons in price and reviews from retailers across the internet, not requiring them to sign into any type of partnership. This means that you’re getting a full overview of what the web has to offer in the way of products, prices, delivery times and costs, and more.

        4. RedLaser

        RedLaser

          With mobile access now representing the way that many of us use the web, having a price comparison tool that can travel in your pocket is a valuable thing. This is one of a few ways that the RedLaser smartphone app sets itself apart from the competition. This app installs on your Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphone, making itself available to you when you’re shopping in order to give you the scoop on what other retailers, both online and offline, are charging for the same products.

          Products can be searched by UPC code or even via QR data if your phone’s camera is of a high enough quality to take a clear shot of a product’s barcode. This instantly presents you with a wealth of data, including comparative prices, GPS-enabled directions to competitors, and access to prices at online giants like eBay and Amazon, all coming together to ensure that you don’t spend a single dollar more than necessary to get the product that you want.

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          5. Collaborative Saving

          Happier

            This is a bit different in concept from the above tools but one that has some incredible potential: It offers you the ability to let your friends suggest deals to you. It makes perfect sense, people who you trust and who you probably share common interests with can suggest to you most relevant and reliable deals (as well as where to buy things).

            Happier (currently in beta) is so far the best example of this concept being implemented.

            Free Tool Most Useful Feature
            ShipGooder Compare shipping prices
            Nextag Powerful “Compare user reviews” feature
            PriceGrabber Local results (to quickly find best products nearby)
            RedLaser Powerful mobile support
            Happier Collaborative shopping and saving

            Luckily, we have online shopping tools to help us save time and money. Are there any other comparison shopping tips you use? Please share them in the comments!

            Your thoughts: Do you have any comparison shopping resource in your mind?

            Featured photo credit:  A couple selecting paint samples via Shutterstock

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            Last Updated on August 20, 2019

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

            In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

            5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

            Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

            1. Be Clear About the Objectives

            Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

            It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

            Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

            2. Keep Them Realistic

            It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

            It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

            3. Account for Inflation

            Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

            Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

            For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

            4. Short Term vs Long Term

            Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

            As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

            More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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            5. To Each to His Own

            The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

            It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

            By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

            11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

            Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

            • Ensuring healthy savings
            • Making smart investments

            You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

            Ensuring Healthy Savings

            Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

            This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

            1. Track Expenses

            The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

            Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

            2. Pay Yourself First

            Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

            Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

            The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

            Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

            3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

            Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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            Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

            At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

            Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

            You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

            4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

            Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

            If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

            Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

            All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

            5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

            In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

            Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

            Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

            If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

            If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

            So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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            6. Talk About It

            Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

            Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

            7. Maintain a Journal

            For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

            So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

            Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

            When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

            At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

            Making Smart Investments

            Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

            8. Consult a Financial Advisor

            Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

            Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

            9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

            Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

            Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

            Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

            It is here where that classification will help.

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            So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

            10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

            Einstein once remarked about compounding,

            Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

            So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

            Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

            11. Measure, Measure, Measure

            All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

            If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

            If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

            Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

            The Bottom Line

            This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

            As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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