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There are probably a lot more ways to save money online than the ones I've found, but at least this is a start.

If you've come across a way to use online services or resources to save money, I want to hear about it.   Please send me an e-mail pronto!

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Online Savings Accounts

Looking for a better interest rate on your savings than the one you're getting at your local bank? Then Emigrant Direct, ING Direct, and similar banks might be the place to look. Their rates tend to be significantly higher than the tradiational bricks-n-mortar institutions.

I've had accounts with both Emigrant and ING for a while now. I've found that their online systems are quite easy to work with, and adaptable to just about any needs. When I've transferred money to or from their savings accounts (and I do it multiple times during any given month), the transaction has never taken longer than two business days. You can't ask for much more than that!

Amazon.com (Books, etc.)

For folks like myself who purchase and read books almost nonstop, and yet who are also frugally-inclined, places like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com can be either godsends or curses − depending, of course, on your discipline and willpower.   One method for working around this:   The next time you're planning to browse your local Barnes & Noble (or whatever bookstore you frequent), make sure to take along a sheet of paper and a pen.   When you find books you like but don't wish to purchase right away, scribble down their ISBN numbers and retail prices.

Once you're home, hit Amazon.com's book section and search for the books by their ISBN numbers.   For most books, you can get great prices by checking Amazon's "Used and New from" feature.   I often find that books from my reading list can be had for discounts of 70% or so − and that includes shipping.

In this way, I've purchased financial-help books in "Very Good" condition for $.01 (yes, that's right ... one penny), plus $3.96 standard shipping.   Those same books, if bought brand new at Barnes & Noble, would've cost me $15.00 or more.   Heck, for that money, I can deal with some worn paper edges.

Note:   It's worth your time to check Overstock.com for books, too. Often they can undercut Amazon by 10 to 15 percent.

More related sites and ideas: Half.com, BookCrossing.com.

Yahoo! BillPay (Bill paying service)

The great thing about paying bills online − and about Yahoo! BillPay in particular − is that once you're set up, it's easier than paying bills by snail-mail.   And since there aren't any envelopes to lick, it also tastes better.

The Yahoo service costs about $7 per month, which was less than I was paying in stamps, envelopes, and paper checks each month.   And I'd much rather punch in some numbers on a keyboard than fill out checks and envelopes over and over again.

Many banks offer a bill-paying service similar to Yahoo's, so if yours does, be sure to check it out.

OneSuite.com (Long distance service)

Someone directed me to OneSuite.com via a message board.   I saw the rate (2.9 cents per minute in the U.S.) and signed up, just to give it a try.   After one month, my long distance bill had dropped 60%.   Suffice to say that I was quickly converted.

As far as call quality, OneSuite.com has been perfectly fine.   And I haven't had any difficulty using the service or handling my account.   There are, however, a few minor snags:

1)   In order to use OneSuite.com, you first dial their 800 number.   Once the service identifies you, you'll enter the number you wish to reach.   Because of this network switchover, whomever it is that you're calling will see only "UNKNOWN" on their Caller ID if they're using it to screen calls.

2)   Until you get used to it, the procedure for using OneSuite.com's service is a bit trying.   Dialing the OneSuite.com 800 number, then waiting a moment, and then dialing your number, then waiting a bit more ... it can be a bit tenuous, particularly if you're the impatient type.   But again − it's darn cheap.

TD Ameritrade (Online bank/brokerage)

The harder it is to get to your money, the easier it is to save. So consider getting yourself an account with an online bank or brokerage like TD Ameritrade as soon as you can. "Why go to the trouble?" you ask. Well, there are several reasons:

1) If you're not already doing so, then someday you're going to have to learn about and undertake the investment of your money. You might as well get Step One out of the way now.   And that means opening at least one brokerage account. Just because you have an account with an online brokerage doesn't mean you have to start buying stocks and mutual funds. It's just a great, harder-to-get-at place to stash your emergency savings while you're building them up.

2) Automatic deposits. Many banks/brokerages offer you the ability to have funds automatically deducted from your current bank accounts each month, and deposited into your brokerage account at no charge. You'll just have to fill out a little more paperwork to get it started.   This is about as close to an automatic savings plan as you're likely to get.

3) Various account types. You have the ability to open standard IRA accounts, Roth IRA accounts, and education IRA accounts, as well as your usual run-of-the-mill brokerage checking account.

I'd recommend talking to your friends, relatives, and coworkers about their experiences with online banks and brokerages. If you hear "bad stuff" about a particular brokerage, then take heed. Personally, I've been with Waterhouse since 1997, and their service has been great since Day One.

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