Cut Costs with These 11 E-Business Methods

From big things such as hardware and insurance to avoiding $1 directory assistance, these websites can help you in an economic downturn.

Maybe you've heard: We're in an economic downturn. For that reason, most of us are tightening our belts and looking for deals.

So to help you keep more of your cash, here's a list of 11 ways you can go online to save money. Some of these sites aren't new, but they bear repeating as a guide in turbulent financial times. We welcome you to add your own suggestions in the "comments" field at the end of this story.


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1. Buy used hardware online

You can find all sorts of computers, computer equipment and other hardware at eBay.

The DMOZ Web site provides links to a number of resellers of used computer equipment (we haven't checked them all out, so we can't guarantee all the links are still active).

Abacus Computing offers secondhand computer equipment.

CCNY offers used and refurbished gear from such vendors as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

2. Free Web development tools

Here are some sites to help you find some free Web development tools.

BittBox offers free graphic design downloads and tutorials. offers users free downloads and tips.

Work Boxers, a blog about professional Web development also offers free downloads.

At Smashing Magazine, you can get information about software, applications and other online tools that you can download for free.

3. Compare gas prices online

These Web sites will help you find the cheapest gas prices in your city or even your neighborhood. Plug in your ZIP code and you'll get the latest on the lowest prices.

GasBuddy is a network of more than 181 gas price information Web sites for the U.S. and Canada that help you find low gasoline prices. To provide the most up-to-date information, GasBuddy asks drivers to enter information about the prices at gas stations they frequent.

MSN Autos receives pricing data from more than 90,000 gas stations in the U.S. each night. However, the site warns that prices may change more frequently than it obtains them.

Motor Trend Gas Prices is updated daily with new data from approximately 100,000 gas stations and convenience stores across the U.S. Like MSN Autos, Motor Trend doesn't guarantee the accuracy of the prices it displays.

Mapquest Gas Prices lets you browse by state and drill down by city. This site updates gas prices seven times a day, and does not display any price that is older than 48 hours.

4. Find the best gas credit card online

Now that you know where to find the best gas prices, here are a couple of Web sites to help you find a credit card that offers cash back on gas (and other purchases).

CardFusion offers a "Gas Cash Back Credit Cards" category that feature cards that give you cash back for buying gas. "With gas prices at its historic highest, these cards will save you a lot," according to the CardFusion.

Card Ratings offers Gas Rebate Credit Cards that offer up to 5 percent rebates on purchases at gas stations as well as on other purchases.

5. Shop for a car online

Use the Internet to save money when you purchase your next car. provides pricing information for new and used cars, side-by-side comparison tools, photo galleries, videos, a large new and used-car inventory and a lot of advice to help you with your buying decision. also provides daily tips on how to save money on gas.

Yahoo Inc.'s auto site provides much of the same information as The Research Center offers pictures, reviews, interior views, quotes from local dealers, and a tool to help find rebates and other incentives by make and model. You can also find everything you wanted to know about environmentally friendly vehicles in the Green Center.

Log onto and you can get pricing, unbiased car reviews, ratings and expert advice for getting a fair price on a vehicle, as well as the latest incentives and the deals of the month. If you're planning to sell or trade in a vehicle, this site can determine how much it's worth.

6. Find the best deals on insurance

Use these and other Web sites to find the best deals on various types of insurance, including auto, life, home, health, disability and long-term care. provides instant up-to-date quotes from more than 200 insurers, including 30 life insurance companies. The site also allows you to purchase insurance from the company you select.

Like, brings insurance companies together in one place to compete for your business. By comparing rates, you can pick the company and buy the policy that's right for you, either online or by talking directly with a licensed agent.

7. Use online directories instead of calling directory assistance

It costs as much a $1 to call directory assistance for a telephone number. Instead, try using free sites, such as, and AT&T Inc.'s online directory assistance Web site. Other sites can be found by doing an online search engine and typing in "free online telephone directories."

8. Online coupons or coupon codes save money on online and offline purchases

Try these Web sites to get started: Printable Coupons, as its name suggests, lets you print out coupons for groceries, restaurants, retail stores and other locations, including coupons you can use in Las Vegas; offers consumers an easy way to find online coupon codes that are entered into the checkout page at the participating merchants for instant savings; and helps you find such things as coupons, sales and special deals, including free shipping. This site offers primarily online coupons but also offers some printable coupons.

9. Read books online

Why pay for books or buy an expensive e-book reader when you can read certain books for free online or download them to a handheld or iPod?

The Web site offers about 1,000 mostly classic texts, including novels, short stories, poems, essays and plays. Many of these books are from such well-known authors as William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen.

Download free books to your handheld or iPod at You can browse through the most popular titles, view recommendations and read recent reviews written by other visitors. There are 21,220 e-books available at this site.

The Literature Network offers users more than 2,700 books and 3,800 short stories.

10. Rent textbooks online

Speaking of books, you can save some money on college textbooks by renting them instead of buying them.

Founded in 2006, lets students at schools across the country rent textbooks. Bookrenter, which says it has millions of titles to choose from, offers rentals for one to four months. There are no late fees and you can opt to extend a rental period or buy a book. The company also offers free return shipping. also offers textbook rentals. Chegg says it offers students over a million titles to choose from and free return shipping. But Chegg goes a step farther than other companies; Chegg says it plants a tree for every textbook rented. Since its inception in August, Chegg says it has planted over 100 acres of trees, equivalent to 100 football fields.

11. Bank online

Most banks offer users the opportunity to conduct their bank business online. Not only is it convenient, but it will also save money because you won't have to drive to your local branch to perform transactions, plus some online banks offer better interest rates than the brick and mortar businesses.

Online banks use a secure Web site set to view your account information and print it out if you want. You can also view and print out copies of canceled checks. In addition, you can transfer money from one account to another, pay bills and order checks. If you opt out of receiving paper statements, you'll even save some trees.

Although most brick and mortar banks offer online services, here are a couple of links to Internet-only banks. ING Direct provides services online, as well as via telephone and mail. ING Direct offers Electric Orange, a paperless checking account that pays interest and the no-fee or minimum balance Orange savings account.

E Trade Financial also offers banking products and services online, including savings and checking accounts and certificates of deposit.

This story, "Cut Costs with These 11 E-Business Methods" was originally published by Computerworld.


Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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