4 Common Budgeting Mistakes
- No specific motivation
- Unrealistic spending estimates
- Overlooked expenses
- Too many restrictions
Likes. Comments. Hashtags. Sometimes it can feel like social media is taking over the world—and your free time. The average digital consumer now spends more than two hours per day on social networks and messaging, according to a 2017 report from GlobalWebIndex, a data company that tracks media audiences. That’s like spending a full length feature film scrolling through news feeds, liking pictures and watching cat videos.
Social media doesn’t have to be a total time suck, though. Using social media to help you save money is a great way to make that screen time more productive. Yep, social media could have a positive impact on your money management and financial goals.
Skeptical? Here are seven ways to use social media to save money so all of that screen time can pay off, literally:
Social media can be an efficient way to find deals on used goods. One option to consider is your local Facebook Marketplace, which offers a way to buy and sell items in your community and can be accessed by clicking on the storefront icon within your Facebook account. There you’ll find all sorts of deals available on used items (and sometimes new ones) from strollers to sofas to sweaters. If opening up Facebook is already part of your daily routine, leveraging the Marketplace could be an easy way to use social media to save money. It’s also an avenue to earn some extra cash if you have unwanted items you’re looking to sell.
Since sellers on the platform are required to have their names and photos attached to their items, it could be easier to vet sellers and avoid potential scammers.
“There’s more accountability [on Facebook], since it’s more public and everyone from your community is watching,” says Trae Bodge, a lifestyle journalist who specializes in smart shopping. She blogs on her website True Trae.
Pro tip: If you’re leveraging social media to sell used items, take well-lit photos, and check out similar listings to make sure you’re pricing your goods appropriately. If you enjoy being on the selling side of the equation, selling unwanted items through social media could turn into a side hustle you can do while working full time.
Follow your favorite stores and brands on your social media network of choice to uncover sales and exclusive coupons that may not be posted elsewhere. That’s one of the easiest ways using social media can save you money. Because you might not see every available offer of interest in your feed, it’s a good idea to check store or brand pages before you make a purchase.
“Following brands on social media is a good alternative to signing up for the email newsletters,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer money and savings expert. “That way your inbox isn’t drowning in promotions.”
You could also follow specific coupon bloggers on social media—Woroch likes The Krazy Coupon Lady, who posts tips on living a frugal life, and Bargain Briana, who posts her favorite coupons and deals.
Pro tip: On Twitter you can create a list, or a curated group of accounts, of your favorite retailers. This list will make it easier to find promotional offers when you’re using social media to help you save money and keep the promos from taking over your feed when you’re just looking for the news or updates from friends.
The average digital consumer now spends more than two hours per day on social networks and messaging.
If you’re looking for ways using social media can save you money, know that retailers aren’t the only businesses that post deals on social media networks. You can also score discounts by following restaurants, museums and hotels in your area or where you plan to travel for your next vacation.
In addition to using social media to help you save money, you can use the social media sites to plan your next social engagement or trip. Maybe you’ve spent months eyeing a new restaurant that’s all the rage and you finally see a promo posted on one of its social media accounts… time to book. Or you and the family have been in desperate need of a vacation and spot a social media post with a discount from your favorite hotel chain… it’s reservation time.
Pro tip: If you’re planning an upcoming trip and trying to travel on a budget, you might follow restaurants and points of interest in your destination to see if you can get deals while you’re there.
Crowdfunding is another of the ways using social media can save you money that you might otherwise have to spend out of pocket.
Whether you’re using Kickstarter to launch a new creative project or GoFundMe to raise money for education expenses, a volunteer trip or a family member’s medical bills, spreading the word on social media networks is key to gaining momentum. Sharing your campaign on social media can be an efficient way to reach large numbers of friends and family members, including those with whom you’re not often in touch.
“Social media is good for amplification and sharing of any kind,” says Bodge, the lifestyle journalist and shopping expert, “which can be helpful if you’re raising money or looking for people to pitch in for something.”
Pro tip: When sharing a crowdfunding campaign on social media networks, make sure to set your post to “public” if you want your friends and family to be able to share the post with their network, expanding your reach.
DIY tasks are a fun way to use social media to save money and feel rewarded for completing a project on your own. Plus, designing your own Halloween costume or dining room centerpiece ensures that no one else will have the exact same one. However, if creativity and homemade projects are not your thing, it can sometimes be tough to figure out how to start. Spend some time on Pinterest, and you’ll find a wealth of ideas for do-it-yourself projects, from home decor to holiday gifts.
Pro tip: If you need a tutorial for more involved projects, YouTube likely has a video with step-by-step instructions. You may even learn some new skills while you’re using social media to help you save money.
“If you use social media strategically, you can definitely save money.”
Considering a big purchase or need to hire a contractor? Asking your social media network for referrals or reviews can serve as the first step in making sure that you’re spending your money wisely. Feedback from friends and family can help you avoid shoddy product purchases or scam artists, making it a way to use social media to save money.
Pro tip: If your personal network can’t help, post the query in a Facebook group composed of people from your community or users with similar interests, or check out sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor for crowdsourced reviews.
Social media has become one of the quickest ways to reach customer service departments. Many companies now have customer service reps who monitor their Twitter handles or Facebook pages to respond to customer comments and concerns. Contacting customer service if you have a problem with a product is one of the ways to use social media to save money if it results in a replacement or refund. You can also request a refund if you find that a recently purchased item has gone on sale, or ask a customer service rep whether they’ll match a lower price from a competitor.
Pro tip: In addition to resolving problems with a service or merchandise, customer service agents on social media might also have access to secret coupon codes or other discounts. “You can find out about those deals by just messaging the social media accounts or tweeting at them to ask if anything is available,” says Woroch, the consumer money and savings expert. A company’s main account or the customer service handle should work.
If you’re smart about it, browsing on social media networks can be a surprisingly productive past time, especially when it comes to all of the ways using social media can save you money. From finding deals on shopping or travel to tutorials for DIY projects, your time spent online—significant as it may be—can actually be a boon to your savings account.
“If you use social media strategically, you can definitely save money,” Woroch says.
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1 “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015,” Revised March 2017, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, United States Department of Agriculture.
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