You can use technology not just to enhance comfort and convenience, but in these inflationary times, to save money as well. Harpreet Singh lists ways in which minor alterations in habits and habitat can help reduce your daily expenses.
NET GAINS: Pay bills, buy stocks, submit tax... online
Forget the wheel, the Internet has to be the most utilitarian invention. Among its wide-ranging applications, it has helped make paperless billing a buzzword among companies. This not only reduces the company's costs, but also saves you time, money and, needless to say, the hassle of traffic and queues. A popular mode for paying utility bills abroad, the concept is catching on here with options like ECS (electronic clearing service), credit/debit cards and Visa/Mastercard payment services. ECS is best suited to regular payments, such as electricity bills, municipal taxes, insurance premiums and credit card bills. You can even use the Net to shop, pay income tax, buy stocks and mutual funds, submit forms and for Web conferencing and e-tuition. Being in a line is clearly out, online is in.
M-COMMERCE:Business on the move
After e-commerce, m-commerce is fast becoming the new business fad. Despite rushed, frenetic schedules, you can now conduct business transactions on the move through your mobile phone. It not only helps avoid the rush of lastminute bill payment but also saves you time and money. Besides, in case of any discrepancy in processing, it helps do away with the need to be physically present to sort it out. Chances are that most of your problems will be resolved through a phone call as virtually every organisation has a toll-free customer service number. Mobile applications, which enable you to pay bills, shop, even book movie tickets, have already been developed. It's time you took a call on this.
THE DIY ROUTE: Rely on self, reduce expenses
There isn't a more nifty, thrifty way to save money-do it yourself. You neither have to be a technician, nor hire a professional to accomplish certain tasks, such as refilling printer cartridges, dealing with computer problems or developing a basic Website. Cartridge refilling kits are easily available in the market, as are sites on the Internet that offer free help to solve most problems related to your computer and its peripherals. You can also fix a range of household items without any professional training by resorting to self-help sites.
INNOVATE:Ideas that can increase your savings
Water: Slash your water bills with products specifically designed to save water. These include top-loading washing machines, water sprinklers, and the more recent, waterless urinals.
Fax: If you want the fax facility without having to buy the machine, log on to the Internet. You can send or receive fax documents through sites such as superfax.in, eFax.com and scanR.com.
Paint: Use reflective paint for the outer walls of your house to reduce room temperature and bring down electricity consumption.
YOU HAVE THE POWER: be smart, switch on your saving mode
Soaring summer temperatures translate to inflated electricity bills. since you can't tame the sun, do the next best thing-cut down on your bills. you can start by turning off the ac, tv and other appliances, instead of putting them on standby mode. you can switch to electrical appliances with higher bee (bureau of energy efficiency) rating label. a good option is to install an electric powersaver, which can save up to 30% on your bill. it doesn't involve tampering with the meter and can be plugged into any outlet. another device that can increase energy savings by 20% is the light dimmer switch. it not only regulates the power used by a light bulb but also enhances the bulb's life.
RIDE THE GREEN WAVE: E-scooters
The market for green energy is growing exponentially as it helps save the environment-and your money. The best part? The gadgets pay for themselves within a few months. While cookers and water heaters have been in the market for some time, solar generators and inverters have started filtering in. Another welcome addition is the e-scooters, bikes and cars. Offering speeds of up to 60 km/hr, e-scooters can travel 50 km on a single charge. The running cost is a meagre 35 paise/km and they are practically maintenance-free. You also save on other costs as you don't need a licence or registration.