Writing online can be a wildly lucrative business. This has been proven by people from Mark Zuckerburg to John Chow, and many more in between. We all know how rewarding a business it can be, but what I want to share with you are some ideas about how to write online to actually save money. The way I see it, writing has the opportunity to both make AND save you money. And in the end, it’s more cash in your pocket either way. While my tips and suggestions may not save you five or six figures a year, they do have the potential to add up to a pretty penny over your lifetime. I speak from experience with my advice, and am here to sing the praises of my encounters and to spread the wealth.
1. Write Up a Money Saving Plan
I was in for a rude awakening when I took a glimpse at the results of my financial breakdown the first month that I started keeping track (then using a simple Excel spreadsheet designed to tally my monthly spending.) To start, the amount that I was spending on Starbucks each month was seriously appalling. I also realized that my Entertainment/Miscellaneous spending was far higher than I’d predicted. Bottom line, I highly recommend tracking your monthly expenditure to see where your money goes each month. It will give you insight as to where you can trim spending (I bought a coffee machine and now brew my own joe,) and how much you can realistically be putting into your savings each month. These days, I use a free online personal finance tool is linked to my checking and savings accounts, so that every transaction is automatically streamlined and shows up in one place. I recommend Mint.com and Clearcheckbook.com’s free versions.
2. Write to Customer Service
Just this past week, I had an unfortunate experience where I was unable to redeem a gift certificate that I had purchased from a particular company. Instead of chalking it up to a monetary loss or trying to pawn it off on ebay for less than I paid for it, I went to the company’s website and wrote an email to their customer service. I was happily awarded a full refund and an apology. This is not the first time I’ve reached out to customer service to alert them to an unhappy experience with their company or product. I have found that more often than not, companies with good customer service are willing to provide some sort of compensation. Don’t be afraid to voice complaints (in a nice way), disappointments, and bad experiences to customer service. Best-case scenario, you are refunded, offered an exchange, or given a coupon or gift certificate. One restaurant manager I wrote to didn’t refund the cost of my meal, but did send me a gift certificate for a future visit. Worst-case scenario, you’re no worse off than before you wrote the email.
3. Write to Your Bank
There are a couple of issues I’ve contacted my bank about, that combined have saved me hundreds of dollars. Number one, disputing a monthly checking account fee. I had been with the same bank for years and never paid a monthly fee, when I was alerted that they were going to start tacking one on. I went online and researched dozens of other banks that had no monthly checking fees, and brought this up to my bank. Sure enough, the banker I spoke with waived my monthly fee and that was the end of that. The other thing you can do is to write to your bank to request that they reverse ATM fees. I took a trip to South America in the spring and incurred a hefty dollar amount in foreign ATM fees from withdrawing cash internationally. Again, my bank was spot on and reversed every single fee that I’d incurred. I recommend bearing in mind that the banker does not have to reverse an ATM fee, or waive any other sort of charge, so writing in a polite and respectful manner can really go a long way.
4. Write to the Credit Bureau
I have learned that improving your credit score can save anywhere from tens to thousands of dollars in everything from car loans and credit cards, to buying a house. When I first started actively trying to improve my credit score, I realized that there was an error on my report. I did not hesitate to write and send a credit report dispute to the credit bureau to describe the inaccuracy. This one took awhile, but the disputed item was removed from my credit report and subsequently played a role in boosting my score. Score!
Have you ever posted an ad on Craigslist, either selling something or looking to buy or hire, and not received any bites? The lingo, grammar, and description you are using could make all the difference. I advertised a bed for sale last year on Craigslist and received a slew of emails within a day of posting. It sold for exactly what I asked for, within 48 hours. When friends of mine were looking to upgrade their bed, I gave them my template for the bed I’d sold months earlier. They revised it to fit their mattress, and had the same results. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve also posted ads that I doubt even got looked at! I figured that it’s as much in the writing of the ad as it is in your product or service itself, if not more-so. Here are a few tips that I recommend for writing a killer Craigslist ad:
- Use a catchy title, but keep it short and sweet.
- Be concise but detailed. Ask yourself, if you were searching for this item or service, what things would you want to know?
- Spelling and punctuation count! Don’t get sloppy.
- Read up on some more tips for some extra advice.
It’s been my experience that if you get the ad right the first time, you can save both time and money.
Dk is an avid finance blogger. You can find him at financeadventure.com