Tag Archive for 'mashup'

Yahoo’s new Personal Finance portal

Last Friday Yahoo! launched a new web portal dedicated to personal finance. I was skeptical at first (their shopping portal hasn’t impressed me a bit) and it took me a few days of convincing myself before I set aside some time to browse through the pages. Man, was I wrong! The web site is very well built and is loaded with an array of useful resources.

The Calculators section is overwhelming. I have never seen before so many online financial calculators in one place. The Rates page pulls in data from BankRate into a neat table for comparing rates on Mortgage, Home Equity, CD’s, and Auto loans, and is in fact less messy than BankRate itself. The Glossary was also fun to read. I learned that “amortization” actually has come from “amortize” which means “to bring to death” (referring to a loan).

The portal aggregates news from such sources as CNN Money, The Walls Street Journal, and USA Today in addition to the Yahoo’s own crew of experts. An interesting side note, each article is conveniently featuring “Digg This”, and “Bookmark to” links at the bottom. At last Yahoo! is learning something from bloggers. ;-)

Yahoo Finance Rates

The most interesting section for me was the collection of How To guides categorized by different aspects of personal life — from Getting out of debt (something I hopefully will never have to deal with) to Buying a car (which I hope to do a lot ;-)).

Overall I was impressed by this effort from the Yahoo! team to regain the status of the ultimate destination for everything on the Net. It is certainly worth your time to check it out.

Amazon shopping tips and hacks

Update: If you don’t feel like messing with the URL’s on your own then use these Amazon discount codes to browse the items by department & discount percentage

Have you ever found yourself checking out the clearance corner of the store that you happen to visit? I do it all the time. Would you like to take a peek at the Amazon clearance items? This link will list everything from Computers and Hardware department that sells at 80% discount or more:

You can easily customize the link by changing the department (which is the number after “node=”) and/or discount percentage. Try these links for example:

You can specify a range for the discount like this: “&pct-off=50-70″. To sort the results by price add “&sort=price” at the end. If you want to list just the Amazon products (these would qualify for free shipping with Amazon Prime membership) then add “&emi=ATVPDKIKX0DER” at the end.

Here are a few more useful links from Amazon

There is a huge number of web sites built on top of Amazon that can improve your shopping or make it more fun. Here are just a few that I like the most:

If the price on a product you buy from Amazon drops within 30 days you can often request a price match. These websites will track the price on your items daily and will notify you by email if a price drop is detected.

The next list is Amazon Filler tools — use them when you are just a couple bucks short of $25 total that Amazon requires to qualify for free shipping.

Do you know more Amazon related tips or hacks? Add them in your comments.

Update 11/30: If you are too lazy to build your own Amazon links you can use this little script by Ryan Stewart to do it for you. As the price for convenience he gets a small comission on the stuff you buy ;-)

Update 12/15: Added price tracking websites

Frucall – a useful shopping tool or a toy?

FruCallI learned about Frucall a while ago but have never really taken time to look at it until today. This is one of those things that you put into your back burner and never have time to go back to again. I guess one of the reasons is that I am just not doing much shopping in the stores these days. Except my groceries and maybe some stuff for home (think Target and Home Depot) I seem to buy everything else online. Why is it important? Read on.

Frucall is about assisting you in making the decision should you buy the thing you are looking at in the store or order it online -- and you do it all from your phone. How does it exactly work? If you just want to check the price you dial 1-888-DO-FRUCALL from your cell phone, wait for the short commercial to play (this is how Frucall makes money), and enter the UPC or ISBN number of the item you want to check. If the item is found on-line then you will hear the price range and the list of stores selling it.

I have tested UPC's off of several boxes from my recent purchases (those that I could find around the house) and the results are pretty satisfactory. Most of the items were found with the exception of stuff I bought from Sams Club and Costco. As for the prices, the popular items such as printer or tape recorder would return 2-3 alternatives while less popular items would only have one or none at all.

In addition you can do such generally useful things like bookmark the item you are checking the price for or leave yourself a voice message tagged to that item. This might work for some however I prefer to use my PDA for things like that. First, it is visual (I can see it on the screen in front of me), second it is accessible (turn on PDA and go to your notes), third it is processable (I can copy, email, edit, or delete my notes).

If you sign up with Frucall for a free account you can then buy things on the spot via Frucall if you like the on-line price you hear. Keep in mind though that Frucall works off of a network of affiliated stores and this alone already indicates that there is a good chance you will not get the best price (think cash back).

In general I see one big problem with using this tool. Making a call and checking the price takes time and you are not going to do it for small items like tooth paste or a magazine. So it really works for big ticket items (priced $50 and up). The advanced shoppers (the most likely users of this service) will do their research before going shopping for anything this expensive. The mainstream shoppers do not know about Frucall or do not care.

So is Frucall a useful shopping tool or a toy? I think it is for each of you to decide for yourself. Everything depends on your personal shopping habits. As for my advice to Frucall team, get additional funding, do more mainstream media ads, and... support blogs like this (my big evil grin goes here). Educating shoppers works to your benefit.

Are you getting a good home rental deal?

Have you ever wondered if you pay too much for your rent? Wonder no more. Folks at iiProperty have the answer for your. Rentometer is a new mashup that tells you if the rent you are paying is too much, too little, or just the right amount.

RentometerThe web site uses “data from publicly available sources on the internet and in print” to get the pricing. You enter your property type, the address and it will show where you are compared to similar rental listings in your area and will even mark them on a mini map using Google Maps API.

The interface is very clean and straightforward. The only suggestion I have for them is to clarify their sources. For some reason I am having hard time buying the pitch if I don’t see what the original source is.

MyNewPlaceAlso take a look at MyNewPlace. It uses a similar idea for mashup except they give you much more details and more options for refining your search (plus you can rent that “similar” property via them and they will give you a $100 cash back!). MyNewPlace will not average out the prices for you so you will have to make some of your own research however with so many other factors affecting the rent (besides number of bedrooms) the estimate Rentometer gives can only be used as a rough starting point. Compared to MyNewPlace Rentometer looks more like a toy or… maybe it is just a way for iiProperty to promote its brand?

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