Cyber Monday is just around the corner. For those of you who missed out on Black Friday, or strategically avoided it, this is a chance to get some discounts from the comfort of your own home. But there are more ways to use the internet to help you save than just online sales.
Here are some tips to improve your finances from the comfort of your couch.
When it comes to sales, be prepared
Whether it's Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any bank holiday, the best way to save money is to plan ahead. Making a budget and sticking to it will help you make sure those sale items are really saving you money, and keeping you from making costly impulse buys.
Do research ahead of time; retailers will generally put their sales online so you can determine whether you're getting the best deal and whether it meets your budget. There are seven sites that aggregate information on sales so you can comparison shop. Make sure you understand all return policies and shipping costs before you pull the trigger.
Utilize online educational resources for your finances
There are a number of resources available for those interested in learning more about saving and investing. Investopedia has very well organized information on a host of topics, as well as lengthy definitions of financial terms and concepts.
If you are looking to do some cursory planning and budgeting, or simply want an idea of where your finances stand relative to your financial goals, an online calculator is a good tool. There are all sorts of calculators out there, from college cost calculators on college websites to retirement planning calculators, such as the one offered by Bankrate.
Track your Social Security and contributions
You can't meet with an advisor every day, but you can log in whenever you want. SSA.gov has a plethora of resources about Social Security, including a retirement estimator and information on cost of living adjustments. Your company's HR portal will give you a snapshot of your employee contributions and help you ensure you are maxing out your contributions.
Stay up to date with financial publications
Obviously, we like to think our column provides useful information to keep you in tune with your finances. But outlets like Forbes and Kiplinger offer great insight into complicated topics. Issues like tax reform and the SECURE Act are explained in detail, and often placed in the context of world events.
Remember, you aren't investing in response to the latest headlines. This is about having informed discussions with your advisor about your financial future.
When researching online, be sure to take everything you learn with a grain of salt. Some sites have outdated information, especially if they deal with topics such as taxes. Others are unverified, or are more interested in selling you something than giving you the straight scoop. Always contact an experienced financial advisor before making decisions with your investments.
This article originally appeared in the Pioneer Press. You may view the article here.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Peg Chromy Webb has specialized in financial consulting for more than 30 years and is a popular co-host of the “Your Money” Radio Show. She is passionate about financial education and shares her expertise on career-building and financial literacy through various charitable endeavors.