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Archive for the 'Money Saving Tools' Category

Microsoft launches yet another rewards program

Microsoft just announced from their blog the launch of a new loyalty program, Bing Rewards. It is nothing like Bing Cashback which the company shut down back in June and reminds me more of SearchPerks, the very first rewards program from Microsoft.

To participate you must install Bing toolbar and have a Windows Live ID. You get 250 credits at sign up and then one credit for every five Bing searches, and up to eight credits per day (according to Search Engine Land). You can exchange the credits for swag and other goodies. E.g $5 Amazon gift card is 541 credits (roughly 2 months of using Bing every day) and one Fandago movie ticket is 1506 credits (or 6 months of Bing punishment).
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RetailMeNot dominance over? Or not…

RetailMeNot took the coupons market by the storm when they launched in 2006 and ever since have been dominating the online coupons landscape beating the closest competitor by a wide margin (according to Alexa). How did that happen?

The site relies on a number of dedicated toolbars users who feed the RetailMeNot database with enormous quantity of coupon codes that they stumble upon. This creates volume which in turn creates buzz and links. Links help RetailMeNot rank for coupon related terms on Google which in turn brings people to the website and drives the Alexa chart up, not to mention all the revenue that comes alone.

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Record keeping, what papers to toss and when?

pile-of-papersOne could say I am very meticulous as far as record keeping goes. I try to keep every more or less important paper document (receipts including) and over the past years several boxes have stocked up my basement storage space, all filled with records. I have a feeling however that I am overdoing it and the time has come to revise my record keeping strategy.

It is good to have a systematic approach and moderation is the key. If you try to keep all papers then finding the right one will be increasingly difficult, on the other hand you don’t want to be missing some important document either since it could end up costing you time and money. So what is this minimum that you need to maintain?

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Is your 401K any good? Find out with BrightScope

San Diego based startup BrightScope just launched a tool that allows to compare 401K plans offered by different companies. Type in the employer name and you will get a visual analysis based on 6 factors: Total Plan Cost, Company Generosity, Investment Menu Quality, Participation Rate, Salary Deferrals and Account Balances. Here is how my former employer was graded for example:

Motorola-401K-1

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Groupon – harnessing web for group discounts

groupon-logoOne year old Chicago based startup is making headlines today. Groupon, a website that delivers sweet random deals to your email box each day has just raised $30 mil from Accel Partners, the venture capital firm behind Facebook and many other successful online businesses.

The idea is very simple - the Groupon team finds businesses willing to offer a deal if a certain number of people sign up and then features these deals one at a time on their website. If enough members buy in - everyone gets the deal, if not - no one gets it. The deals are mostly local service oriented discounts, e.g restaurants, museums, etc. The company started in Chicago but now offers similar service in 45 more cities around the US.

Groupon was founded by Andrew Mason of ThePoint. If you are familiar with the group action site you can quickly see the similarity between the two. ThePoint harnesses the powers of masses for social cause, Groupon does it to please the consumer in us. The difference? Groupon is now a profitable business and growing fast, ThePoint on the other hand… you can see it for yourself. This month monthly stats are 1.3 mil and 50K for the two domains (according to Compete).

The notion of using the buying power of masses is not new. A couple US companies have attempted to deliver, MobShop and Mercata (co-foundered by Paul Allen). Both shut the doors back in 2001. Later, in 2006, The Christian Monitor wrote about the trend picking up again, now in China. I wonder what is different this time.

The overall concept of “one deal a day” is somewhat similar to what Woot is doing with consumer products except that Woot doesn’t have any “must buy minimum” conditions - they themselves deal with the risk of underselling an unpopular product. What would it take for them to spin off another sub-domain to their Woot empire and start offering conditional group discounts on consumer products? My guess is that the limit doesn’t only add a safe cushion to the business, it also creates a certain appeal - “it is so hot, you can only get it if…”! I am giving the Woot folks a month. :-)

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