1. Google Alerts – One of my favorite money-saving apps from Google is their alerts service. You simply enter a term such as “money saving tips” or “$1.00 Off Coupon” and then enter your email address. Google will send you a digest of all the recent blog posts, news articles, and web pages that contain your terms (“as it happens”, “once a day”, or “once a week”. You can also use it to get free stuff by setting up an alert for a term like “freebie”, or you can try to make money by setting up an alert for a term like “gift card giveaway”. TIPS: How to Save Money with Google Alerts
2. Google 411 – Gone are the days of making those expensive calls to information. If I need to contact a business by phone, I simply call 1-800-GOOG-411. Google will automatically connect me to the business. And it’s completely free!
3. Google Search – Whenever I’m making a purchase online and I see a field for a coupon code on the checkout page, I jump over to Google and do a search for the store’s name + coupon code. Nine out of ten times I find a coupon code that saves me money.
4. Google Books – Did you know that you can browse magazines on Google Books? They just added magazines this year and currently have over two dozen different titles — and they’re adding more all the time. I’ve gotten interested in architecture and interior design lately, so I’ve been reading back issues of Dwell magazine on Google Books. This saves me a trip to the library and fills up my free time with a cost-free form of entertainment. Check out a more detailed article I wrote on Google Magazines.
5. Google Maps – I primary save money with Google Maps by mapping out the most fuel efficient routes for errands and trips. I’ve also used their traffic overlay feature to avoid running into a traffic jam and idling in traffic (click “traffic” button near the top right corner of the map).
6. Google Reader – Let the money-saving information come to you! Rather than search dozens of sites each day, I subscribe via Google Reader to the RSS feeds of my favorite sites. My sites are categorized into five different folders: money-saving tips, coupons, deals, freebies, and giveaways. Once a day, I go to my Google Reader account and look through the five folders. It’s a quick and easy way to ensure that I never miss a great tip, coupon, freebie or giveaway! (Shameless plug: We’ve got an RSS feed you can link to via Google Reader. Just go to http://feeds2.feedburner.com/tiphero and add Tip Hero’s RSS feed.) UPDATE: Google reader is no more. Use Freedly RSS instead.
7. Gmail – Another one of my saving strategies is to visit the websites of my favorite brands and sign up for any newsletters and alert services they offer. This is a great way to get exclusive coupons and special offers.
I’m always worried about giving out my email address and getting deluged with spam. One way I get around this risk is to create a disposable email address using Gmail. If your email address firstname.lastname@example.org, you can instantly create special, disposable email addresses just by adding a “+” after your name and before the “@” symbol like email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. You can have any email that comes to this address routed to a specific folder like “coupons” or “giveaways”. If you’re really worried about a particular site, you can create a site specific email address like email@example.com and have it directed to any folder you choose. If your worst fears come true and you start getting a lot of spam from this disposable address, you can have it directed straight to your trash folder.
8. TipJar – Google created its very own database of money-saving tips that users can learn from and contribute to. The database currently features over 5,000 tips from over 7,000 contributors.
9. Google Voice – I haven’t used this service yet but I’m really looking forward to trying it out. You sign up for a master phone number through Google voice. It will then route calls made to the master phone number to all the different phones you want it to — like your cell, home and/or work phones. Google Voice has a whole host of valuable features, such as: call routing, free local and long distance, call recording, and voice mail transcripts. Read my article on how I personally use Google voice.
Did I miss anything? Do you know any ways to use Google to save money?