Twitter is more than just a website you’ve heard of but haven’t used. It’s also a great way to save money. In the past few years, a host of new businesses have sprung up around the micro-blogging service that promise to help you do everything from budgeting to investing to shopping. Here are five ways you can use Twitter to start saving today.
1. Finding coupons and free stuff
Once you start using Twitter, you’ll quickly become familiar with something called a “hash tag.” It’s like a keyword that someone can add to their tweet to tag it as part of a topic. Any word following the “#” symbol is considered a hash tag. Some examples: #deals, #coupons, #freebies. If you search Twitter for those hash tags, you’ll find a never-ending stream of bargains, deals, and free stuff that you can get with a click. And the best part? You don’t even have to sign up for Twitter to take advantage. Anyone can search Twitter at http://search.twitter.com.
2. Finding the best price
When I started researching this story, I heard about a Twitter account that you could tweet the name of any product to, and it would tell you where to buy it online at the lowest price. Unfortunately, that account has been inactive for several months. Still, it was a good idea, and a good idea worth doing is worth doing twice. So, I programmed my own.
Now you can tweet the name of any product to @BuyWhere, and it’ll try to find the best place to buy it, sending you the price and a link. So for example, you could tweet: “@BuyWhere 16GB iPad 2” and it would tweet back “@danls Found ’16GB iPad 2′ at Apple Store for $499 – http://b.ai/ogo“. It’s fun to play with, and a great first step when bargain hunting.
3. Saving on gas
Twitter accounts from sites like FuelFrog and My Mile Marker let you easily track your mileage by sending them a tweet every time you fill up. Just tell them your current mileage, the price per gallon, and how much you put in, and they’ll tell you all about your fuel economy. If you notice you’re not getting the mileage you used to, it might be time to check your car for common problems like low tire pressure, or take it in for a tune-up. You can also try adjusting your driving habits to see if you can squeeze a few more MPG out of your car: Check out Stacy’s story 28 Tips to Save on Gas.
4. Getting tips and advice
The nation’s best personal finance experts are almost certain to have accounts on Twitter. By following an expert, not only will you know when they write something new, you may also find them personally accessible and willing to respond to questions. A simple tweet to your favorite one might provide more insight than hours of Googling.
Our Twitter account, @MoneyTalksNews, tweets every story we publish, but we’ll also answer questions addressed to us, and send out tips and links we don’t normally include on our website. Other popular accounts: @SmartSpending, @mint, @wisebread, @dealseekingmom, and @consumerist.
5. Better investing
StockTwits lets you connect with like-minded investors, find and share trading ideas, and even follow specific stocks through Twitter. When you sign up, you’ll tell it what kind of investor you are: how much experience you have, how long you hold positions, what assets you like to trade, etc. StockTwits will then match you up with other investors who have similar strategies. The hope is that you will then communicate with them on Twitter, sharing tips and advice that will help everyone improve.
To tweet about a particular stock, or see what others have said about it, you put a “$” sign in front of the stock symbol. Example: for Microsoft, $MSFT. Searching for stocks on Twitter can be just as powerful as searching for deals and coupons, giving you the same real-time stream of information that just might give you the edge you need.