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If you’ve ever used BizRate, NexTag, Shopping.com, and similar price comarison sites, you might be under the impression that these sites scour the Web for prices from a wide variety of online retailers. That’s a false impression; instead, these sites build their price/product databases from product links submitted and paid for by participating retailers. That’s right, most price comparison sites charge retailers to be included in their listings.

Google Product Search isn’t like all the other price comparison sites. Google is completely objective, it doesn’t take money for its listings, instead sending its spider software to independently scour the Web for merchants and products. So Google Product Search is a pure search engine.

Not only are Google’s results untainted by product placement, it also typically returns more results for any given item you’re shopping for.

Google Product Search (formerly called Froogle) helps you locate products instantly on the web and comparison-shop according to price, features, customer ratings, and more. It isn’t a store in itself but rather a searchable database of millions of products sold on the web. So if you’ve got a product in mind but aren’t wedded to a particular merchant, the Google Product Search search engine will collect a wide array of options for you and then give you the tools to zero in on the best buy.

How to Use Google Product Search?

The best way to use Google Product Search is by putting in the keyword like product name, model number, brand name or the combination of the same. Google Product Search will present you with a page of products that match with your keyword.

There are five ways in which you can rank the products displayed in your Google Product Search search results:
  1. By relevance: Ranks the products according to what Google Product Search considers most relevant to your keywords. Unless you change the “sort by” setting, Google Product Search automatically organizes by relevance.
  2. By price, low to high: Ranks the least expensive products higher.
  3. By price, high to low: Ranks the most expensive products higher. Though few consumers are looking to pay the highest price, this ranking will help give you a sense of the full range of prices.
  4. Product rating: Ranks according to product reviews.
  5. Seller rating: Ranks according to the merchants’ credibility and consumer ratings

Product Search Shopping and Wish Lists

Just because you’re not ready to enter your credit card number this instant doesn’t mean you have to lose track of the products you’ve discovered on Google Product Search.

Shopping List

The shopping list helps you keep track of products that you’re considering purchasing.
  1. Click on the “My Shopping List” link on the Google Product Search homepage.
  2. Sign up for a free Google account if you don’t already have one.
  3. When you find an item of interest to you on Google Product Search, click on “Add to Shopping List.”
  4. Check back into “My Shopping List” to view your shopping cart of goodies and to arrange them comparatively.

Wish List

The wish list lets you highlight products that you definitely want to buy—or want someone else to buy for you.
  1. Weed through the items in your Shopping List to pinpoint your favorites.
  2. Check the In Wish List box below the items you want.
  3. Wait for Santa Claus to look up your Wish List on Google Product Search. You can look for anyone’s Wish List by entering his or her email address into the Find a Wish List field on the Shopping List page

Enjoy the Google Product Search to get the bargains,

Jay Author

 

Swine Flu: It’s impact on the Market

James of Texas asked this question and wanted to know if he should hold the stocks or sell off to minimize his losses if the market is impacted further due to Swine Flu situation. First of all thank you James for this question and like every one else, I am watching the situation closely if this can be avoided as a pandemic. Unfortunately I don’t have the crystall ball but I want to share my perspective with you.

The most important impact of swine flu is when people die. When more and more people are impacted due to this, there will be less number of people traveling. If this is going to be mild epidemic, then the impact will be limited but if it spreads to larger area, then the impact could be very significant.

If the outbreak does get worse, economists point to a range of possible effects including schools and public transportation systems closing; restrictions on travel and trade; severe strains on healthcare systems; and a drop in shopping.  If the current swine flu epidemic ends up infecting millions of people, then global GDP could be adversely affected at a time when the global economy is already in its worst recession in decades.

If I recall the impact of the SARS in 2003, it had impacted Asian countries but the impact was temporary due to overall economic boom. This time the overal situation is different due to economic recession and the impact on the economy is already huge due to job losses.

There are many reputed newspapers presenting detailed analysis on this and I am sharing some of these links here for your reference:

As in any crisis, there will be some companies benefitting from this situation. So some of the pharmaceutical companies will benefit from this crisis a lot. But some of the stocks in the airlines sector, food sector, travel industry, mexican stocks, amusement parks, and many other similar sectors should be on your watch-out list now.

Hope the above helps you in understanding the impact of the swine flu on the market,

Jay Author

Better Budget Management for Students, Part 3

Don’t forget to read the first two posts on this topic:

1. Tip#1 for Students for Budget Management during Recession

2. Tip#2 for Students for Budget Management during Recession

Well I have already covered two main areas i.e. housing and car buying cost reduction tips. Today I am going to share with you another important area i.e. how to optimize on grocery purchase. So here is the third tip my dad shared with me.

Tip#3:  Save on Grocery & Food Bills

Do you go to restaurant daily? Well you can save money by buying pre-cooked or packaged food from your local grocery store and prepare in the microwave during your lunch break. You can also find out some good places in your town where you can get home-cooked meals which normally are more healthy and good for your stomach. When you go to restaurant, you not only buy food but extra items too which adds up your expenses.

If you have habit of picking coffee daily from your favorite shop, try preparing coffee at home. You will save at least $3 every day. You must be saying it’s just $3. Imagine if you follow this routine, you will save $90 every month which becomes $1,080 per annum. Small steps lead to big savings!

You can also buy ‘no-name’ products in place of branded ones. You should also use saving coupons whenever you can. You should also look for special promotions when you can save more money.

There are some internet saving coupons websites available where you can print the saving coupons before you go for your shopping.

 

You can get more about this topic at Use Coupons for Grocery Shopping.

Hope these tips will help you in managing your budget,

Jay Author

Better Budget Management for Students-Part 2

If you have not read the first post, then you can read about the better budget management, Part-1 before reading this post. The next big cost after housing for students as well as for others normally is buying a car. If you can avoid buying a car and manage with the public transportation, then that is ideal. But if you have to buy a car, then please don’t rush and buy a car just like that. You need to do your homework very carefully and put all the options on a piece of a paper. Why I am asking you to write down? Because this will take away all the emotions from your buying decision process. If you can discuss with your buddy your decision criteria, that’s ideal. Here is the watch out for you, don’t put up the decision criteria after you like a car because of goodies or toys. Challenge yourself with ‘why you need those goodies’ question.

Tip#2: Be a Smart Car Buyer

Here are the detailed steps for you:

1. Put up your decision criteria on a piece of paper and then stick to it.

2. Check out for car newspapers, magazines, websites and community news bulletins for deals. Don’t forget to check out at your community and grocery shop bulletin boards.

3. Check out the potential car for thorough inspection. If you have a friend who is more knowledgeable about cars than you, ask for his or her help. If you know a mechanic, ask for his help. You can also check about cars using websites like if the car had any accidents, maintenance history etc. You just need car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) which is the unique 17-character number and you can find it on the car dashboard. All of this information can be very useful in negotiating a better price for the car.

4. Never pay the sticker or asking price. It doesn’t matter if you are buying from a private seller or from a dealer. Do your homework and work out your buying price and then negotiate with the seller for the best possible deal.

5. While shopping for the car, you should remember that you have to pay car insurance too. Car insurance premium varies from brand to brand and make to make. Insurance companies do their research and check out what cars are more prone to be stolen and accordingly they fix the premiums. This information is easily available on the internet for various states. You should check out this before finalizing your deal.

6. You should also shop around for the car insurance. You should also take benefit of car alarms, anti-theft devices, discount for insurance class and many other such options which can reduce your insurance premium.

7. When you put up your car buying budget, you should add at least 15-20% on top of that to be more realistic. As you start looking for cars, you sometime find very good deal which may be little beyond your budget but you really love that car. Even though I have been saying that you should stick to your budget but if you get your dream car with little extra, it’s worth it. You need to love your car so that you can take care of it properly.

You can check out for some valuable Auto Loan resources here: 

You can also check out for some valuable Auto Insurance resources here: 

 Bettter Budget Management for Students – Part-1

I received three questions in the last 2 weeks from Jim, Jones & Mark of US asking almost the same question of how we students should manage our budget during the current economic climate. Since this question is so important, I decided to answer this in a series of three posts. Please make sure that you read all three posts in series to get the full picture.

When I was a student, I always tried to get maximum for my bucks as it’s not easy to make a living and study at the same time. Most of the students do work for limited time only so that they can balance between their classes and job. I had the same situation and I was earning only minimum wages initially for all the jobs. I had good fun doing all these jobs but I always struggled to meet my expenses. One day my dad came to see me and he watched my schedule for couple of days and then asked me to join him for a dinner at a good restaurant. After dinner we went out for a walk and there he shared with me few cost cutting tips. I benefitted a lot and I am sure you too can.

Tip#1: Reduce your Housing Cost

Easier said than done! Right, I had the same feeling when my dad told me about this. We all know that housing is the biggest cost for any one including students. So how can you reduce this cost? Well for extraordinary results, you have to take extraordinary steps.

Here are some options for you:

1. Look for a place which is less expensive but well connected with public transportation so that you can attend your college or university with less hassles. In every city you will find some localities where rents go down a lot and check out these places if it suits you.

2. Do you have students from the same city or town in your school? Check out with them if they would like to share a house with you. You can also check with your buddies and classmates if they would like to share a room with you. Be practical but be fussy at the same time in deciding whom you will be sharing your room with.

3. Challenge yourself to downgrade your current living standards with more affordable ones! If you want to buy furniture, look for garage sales and many other places where you can get deals. Be more creative with your decisions and look for multiple use of your belongings.

The above tips helped me in reducing my housing cost a lot as I decided to move with my buddies. This not only saved me money but also provided me a wider social platform.

Some good blogs for your further reading:

 

I am sure you might have tried many other options. So I am looking forward for your ideas. Please share here with every one so that more people can benefit.

Thanks

Jay Author

Use Coupons to Save Money – Free Samples!

I got this question from Peter of Washington, US. Peter, first of all thanks for asking such an important question as many others keep asking for if they should look at the saving coupons seriously or not!

This is really a difficult time and difficult time requires extra ordinary actions on our part to survive. In the past I never used to think about using free samples but I have changed my attitude towards these offers now. In any case most of the marketing companies need test customers where they can supply their products and test the market. So why not take advantage of this to our benefit.

So I was looking for some good offer and it seems that I found one good offer for all of us.

  • CoolSavings is the Internet’s leading FREE coupon/money-saving-offer website, offering real FREE Grocery Coupons, Store Coupons, Online Coupons and mountains of other freebies! It’s highly accepted, with millions of registered shoppers.

So why not we use this offer to save money on our grocery shopping. Here is the coupon for you:

I have also found a GREAT resource on saving coupons and that blog post is presented here:

Over the time I have realized that every single penny counts and we all should look for ways and means to save money every day!

Wishing you saving every day,

Jay Author

This is a question from Peter of Idaho, US who has asked for the simple tips on how to survive in the current recession environment. First of all, thank you for asking such a timely question. This post will be important for every one.

So what should we do in the current environment? Here are some tips for your consideration:

1. Stop living on credit cards. If you don’t have cash in your bank, start changing your lifestyle. But make it a financial discipline that you would not use any credit cards at least for few months. If you do this, you will start reducing your monthly expenses. This works for real!

2. Be honest with yourself and with your family about your financial situation. Sit down with your family and share your financial situation with them. Ask for their help in reducing the expenses. If you can cut the expenses and start saving that money, bingo you should start doing that.

3. Pay off high interest debt. If you have any higher interest debts, start looking for money which you can divert to pay off this debt.

4. Make a plan if you loose your job, what will you do. What other family members will do? Start preparing for contingency plans. When you discuss all of this with your family, they may give you weird look. But it’s OK. Your job is start preparing for the unforeseen and keep your family together. It’s easier to fight out any recession together as a family if all the family member starts working rather than only 1 or 2 family members. Support each other during any tougher time and you will come out as a winner.

5. Preserve your savings if you can. Don’t use your savings for any luxury items. If you have to pay off higher interest debt, it’s ok to use your savings but not for other reasons.

6. Plan for the emergency. If you plan for the emergency before it hits you, you can handle it better. So prepare a plan and keep reviewing it as you go along.

7. Be smart about your house. If your house is becoming a liability for you, then put in on rent and you move out to a smaller place. With so many foreclosures, there is more supply of houses for rent than the demand. Take benefit of it! But don’t move out before you put it on rent.

Even though the above steps may be small steps but these will help you a lot in overcoming the tougher times.

At the end, don’t loose the hope and remain optimistic. All the best!

Jay Author

PS: As I was writing this post, I found a great post on the greatest financial mistakes.