Could social media save you money?

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Are you on Facebook and Twitter? If you are, what do you use it for? If you are just using it to update your friends on what you're doing or follow your favourite websites and celebrities, you could be missing out on a trick.

In fact, your social media could actually help you put pounds back into your pocket and get a bargain in the process.

Don't believe us? Here our social media manager, Vik Iyer, tells you how social can actually save you money.

Saving on social – two super simple ways

1. Facebook groups

I'm a relatively new father and the costs are bordering on the intimidating. But one thing that has helped us save money is a local Facebook group set up by mums.

Geeks love to talk about something called 'engagement' – they basically mean how interested people are in social channels or websites. Well this local group's engagement is off the scale.

Parents are only too happy to offer life hacks about all sorts of things that you simply don't know when you start parenthood. I think it has saved us hundreds of pounds.

People also share knowledge about the best-value local plumbers or electricians.

It's not just advice that the group shares. People are often offering baby stuff (and other things) that they don't need – with it being a local group, these exchanges can be arranged very easily.

Slightly bizarrely, people even put of pictures of things like lost teddy bears and leave them on walls for other mums to pick up!

So make sure you're aware of your online (or offline) community groups. If there isn't one you could always create a group on Facebook or start a Google Group.

2. Voucher offers

But that's not the only way you can save with social.

There are loads of voucher websites out there offering constantly updated offers which you sometimes need to see quite quickly to take advantage of.

Now of course some offers are better than others – but what Twitter does give you a way to follow them all very easily.

You could set up a Twitter account and follow the discount sites which you like (their Twitter handles should all be prominently displayed on their websites).

But many people already have Twitter accounts and are already following large numbers of people. In this case you might consider creating a specific Twitter list so you can easily follow these sites

You can easily check whether they put their latest offers on Twitter by having a look at their Twitter page and seeing how often it is updated. Not all websites have the resources to update their social channels.

We've focussed on the larger platforms that most people use in this blog. However it's always worth looking for forums and local websites for good money saving tips – although always be sure to check that any advice is trustworthy.

If you know of other ways that social media has helped save you money then tell us!

And while you're at it, make sure you're following us on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.


Use Social Media to Save

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Could social media save you money?

This website brings travellers together with people offering a huge variety of places to stay in 190 countries. The spaces range from an air bed in someone's lounge, to a luxury holiday home, so you can search for something to suit your needs and price range.

Before you travel, you need to sign up, search the site for accommodation, contact the host, and if they approve you can book their space. It means, for example, you can book a two bedroom flat in London for £80 a night - which is cheaper per person than a hostel - and much more pleasant.

This service connects people looking for a lift with drivers offering them. In the UK it is only operating in London at the moment - but it is expanding.

The service works through a smartphone app. When you're out and about you can use the app to find a driver in your area, hail them at the push of a button, and track their progress in reaching you.

The rates start at £3 plus 32p per minute for travel under 11mph and £1.75 per mile if you're driving faster. The flat fares include Heathrow to West London for £30 - which is significantly cheaper than a traditional taxi. The service was seen as such a dangerous competitor to London's black cabs that they staged a protest in June.

This is a free shopping app, which lets you scan barcodes when you're shopping, and the app will do a price comparison for the same products in local shops and on websites. You can even buy it online through the app.

It will also let you scan products you have at home and find the cheapest local (or online) stockist.

This started life as a flight search website, and has expanded to include car hire and hotels too. It draws together the advertised flight prices from over 1,000 airlines and travel agents and displays them in one place to save you the legwork.

It isn't perfect, because it relies on the information provided by the agents, so if the agent is tweaking the headline rate and then reverts to a higher price when you enquire, you'll waste a bit of time with the agents. It's therefore worth checking reviews on the cheapest agents that come up before you go any further. The prices drawn direct from the airlines, meanwhile, tend to be accurate.

This is a clever site which is designed to help you get a cheap deal on Amazon.co.uk. It has a few features, which you can use together to make sure you always get a good deal from the site.

The first is the price history charts, which show how the price has changed over time, and how the current price compares. If the price is comparatively low you can just buy at that price. Alternatively, if it has risen recently, you can set a price alert, where you input a price you would be happy to pay, and you will receive an alert when the price drops to this level.

If you use a lot of data on your smartphone, onavo extend will help you dramatically cut the data you get through.

It is a compression app, which works in the background on services like sending and receiving emails, checking maps and browsing the web, and ensures it all uses less data (although it doesn't work on things like Skype or streaming video). It works by ensuring that before any data is sent to your device, it goes through the company's servers and is compressed.

It can cut the amount of data you use by up to 50%, which can help you keep within data limits and save you a fortune. It will also monitor how much data you actually use which will help you pick the most cost-effective plan.

When you call 0800 numbers from your mobile it's not free, and it's usually not counted as part of your monthly inclusive minutes, so you'll be charged extra for the call.

If you install the free 0800 Wizard app, you type in the 0800 number, and it will automatically re-route your call to an 01, 02 or 03 number instead. These cost the same as a standard local call, so will be part of your monthly package. If you don't have any minutes left it will be charged as a standard geographic number.

This website is designed to let you shop around without leaving your home. You can use it in whatever way suits you best. For the dedicated bargain-hunter, you can input everything you want to buy, find the supermarket where each item is cheapest, and spend the absolute minimum.

For those who need a bit more convenience, you can fill your trolley as normal through the site (and use the swap and save button to see if you can save by buying a different size or brand). A basket icon on the right hand side of the screen will show you the cost of the same shop at alternative supermarkets, so you can switch the whole lot over at the click of a button. And there's even a vouchers button you can use before you checkout to see if you can save more. The site claims that you'll save an average of £17 every time you shop using the site.

There are lots of voucher apps and websites out there, but one which is worth a look is vouchercloud. Whether you're shopping, eating out, going to the cinema or going for a drink with friends, you can use the location function of this app to find the best deals on offer near to where you are. 
This site has been around for a while, but remains a vital tool. You can search for the cheapest petrol in your area - or the area you are visiting - so you can pay less for your fuel without going out of your way. It's free to sign up and you get 20 free searches a week. There's also a PetrolPrices Pro app, so you can check prices when you're on the road.
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