Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Bargains Online

Since it's nearly Christmas and I've become some kind of hermit, I've taken up online shopping. Nothing like benefiting slightly from currency conversions and saving petrol while at the same time avoiding the crowds!

Some of the best deals I've found lately are on Ebay. I have recently discovered a quick and convenient way to go straight to the cheapest items by checking out Ebay Deals where you'll find the auctions ending soon, some of which haven't been bid on yet (I had to struggle with myself not to start bidding on a Nintendo Wii console with Wii Fit and great games packages just now!).

Overstock: I haven't bought anything there because the shipping charges from the U.S. to Ireland were too high but try it out if you are in the U.S. They have a wide selection of refurbished items (these are just like new and have been quality checked so you might end up with even better quality than a brand new shop-bought item). Sign up to their newsletter and they will send you regular emails with even greater discounts.

Having 2 young children a lot of my Christmas budget will be spent on toys (Ok, chocolate too!) so my usual shops are Argos, Smyths and Toycity(which seems to be still under construction; pretty disappointing at this time of year). I used Argos' and Smyths' websites to compare prices and used last week's promotions to fill the bottom of my wardrobe with well hidden Christmas presents (just don't go and tell my girls as they still believe in Santa!).

If you don't like the idea of shopping online or are afraid not to have your purchases delivered on time for Christmas, you can always use your local shops' websites to compare prices and then head to the stores offering the best deals. On top of the delivery cost that you won't have to pay, you'll also save yourself a lot of time and the stress of physically visiting each store.

Another idea that I haven't tried myself but could be worth its penny is to ask a store to match a cheaper price from another store (you could take along a printout of your desired item from the cheapest website with you). If you compare stores within the same country, a retailer might lower an item's price for you so you won't take your business elsewhere (probably a good thing to try especially if you plan to buy several gifts in that store).

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Freebie Hunt Is On!

We may well be in a recession but there are ways you can still try and get free stuff without having to spend a fortune.

If you feel lucky (or even if you don't), you can try and win prizes. Find out about promotions locally or even online. The best example I can give you is the promotion that was held for 3 days at my local Renault garage and which I participated for free on Monday: all I had to do was test-drive a brand new Renault Megane (without being obliged to buy anything) for my name to be entered in a draw with a chance to win one. I must say I got a little kick out of making the salesman feel very nervous sitting in a car being driven for the very first time by a reckless French woman driver; at least that's the feeling I got judging by the sweat on the guy's forehead!

Another thing I did is join the online newsletter from a national radio (Today FM; I just love listening to the Ray D'Arcy show!) and it turns out that the newsletter they send me once a month has great free competitions: this morning I entered one to be in a chance to win a case of 12 bottles of French wine and another for tickets to a kids' show in Dublin with 2 nights in a hotel.

These are great competions because they are free to join but before you go and join all online competitions, make sure you read all the fine print and don't join a site like this: I came across it a few weeks ago and thought at first that this was a great opportunity but it's only after reading the full terms and conditions that I found out it was actually a mobile phone subscription service: the first text is free but after that and until you unsubscribe, they will send you a text that will cost you €2 every 4 days; a great way to be left without phone credit when you need it the most.

Read the local papers, listen to radio ads and sign up to any newsletters you may be interested in; the more competitions you enter, the more chances you get to actually win something!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Squidoo Still in my Good Books

It has been a while since I have talked about my lenses and since the September earnings have just been paid to lensmasters, I thought that now is a good time to update you on how I am doing with Squidoo at the moment.

I am not running to buy a new car yet (although I could really do with one) but yesterday Squidoo credited my Paypal account with a whooping $30.77, my highest payout yet from Squidoo!

Granted, there were $9.58 included in that figure which I had been accumulating from previous months because Squidoo only pays lensmasters who have earned $10 or more, but even considering that fact, November has brought me my record revenue from Squidoo so far of over $20.

My best lens for the month of September (shared advertising revenue is being paid 2 months after the actual month in which it has been earned) was my Squidoo Lensrank Experiment which was a real success for me as it stayed in the top 2000 lenses for most of the month, earning me a handsome $11.52! I also had 4 lenses that didn't rank too bad and earned me $1.92 each and 3 lenses that made $0.08.

In case you are wondering about the total not adding up, my November payment also includes Amazon affiliate revenue (I am not an Amazon affiliate but can still get a small portion of this through Squidoo) earned in October from my Halloween lens; this was a lens that I created at the end of September and ranked pretty well throughout the month of October so I should see more royalties for October that will be paid in December.

Here's for you if you'd like to see what I am up to on Squidoo:
All my lenses so far.

P.S. Christmas is coming soon so why not experiment on creating a Christmas wishlist lens like I did here? Join Squidoo today, it's free! A word of warning though: you could actually enjoy this a lot (I know I do!).

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Haggle, Haggle and Haggle Some More!

The time has come again for my car insurance renewal. Once again I went online and compared prices and since I took my ex-partner off my policy, my insurer was quoting me a premium with a huge increase this year.

I got several quotes ranging from under €200 to over €500; of course when you decide on an insurance cover you must also look at what's included in the policy: for example I could have gone with a company that was charging me €177.70 but only covered me for damages done to other people and properties with a €500 excess and did not cover me for fire and theft.

I found a quote for a reasonable insurance cover that was over €150 cheaper than my current insurance but I didn't really like the hassle of switching companies since I am at the moment with a reputable insurance company with an office in my town so I phoned them and asked them if they could match that other quote. The person who answered the phone put me on hold for about 2 minutes and came back and told me they could give me the same cover that I already had with them for about €100 less, which I thought was reasonable since they do have a few extras included in the policy such as breakdown assistance and free car rental for up to 35 days.

What about you? Does your insurance company overcharge you? If you don't shop around and compare prices, you will never find out. Insurance companies are used to people haggling so don't be shy! I am sure that a lot of companies (and not only insurance companies) bank on the fact that their customers don't bother questionning what they are being charged.

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