If you’re anything like me, you’re on Facebook just about every day and use online or mobile services to handle financial tasks like paying your loans or printing out coupons. But have you been taking advantage of the crossover between these two areas: using social media for money matters? Whether it’s through discounts, money-saving ideas or sound financial advice, social media can help you save money this summer. Discounts & Special Offers At this point, just about every business, big and small, has a social media presence. Be sure to follow the brands you love on sites like Twitter and Facebook as many companies will post about giveaways, contests and exclusive deals on a regular basis. Want a new hairstyle for summer? A friend of mine recently snagged a substantial discount on her cut and color when her favorite salon posted on Facebook to fill a last-minute appointment cancellation. Looking to sign up your son or daughter for summer camp? I’ve seen multiple tweets in the past few weeks about discounted rates to local summer camp programs and even a Facebook post from Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine (@CAWLM) about a contest to win a free week of YMCA camp. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of posts to read when you follow a lot of companies, try following a discount aggregator page on Twitter or Facebook instead. You can find out about a huge variety of discounts by following pages like Coupon Cabin (@CouponCabin) on Twitter, or follow discount aggregators that post deals specific to your needs, such as grocery savings or deals on baby gear. For example, if you’re planning a summer trip, you’ll want to follow an aggregator page like Cheapflights (@Cheapflights) to easily keep an eye on travel deals. Money-Saving Ideas Social media can provide an endless supply of frugal tips and detailed instructions for every type of project imaginable. Pinterest is a popular and easy way to organize free travel tips, DIY home repair and decorating guides, recipes, workout ideas and just about anything else you’re planning to take on this summer. Whether you’re looking for craft ideas to entertain your kids while they’re on break or you’re hoping to revamp your garden, you’ll find free and inexpensive tips and tricks to help you accomplish your goals. Another way to use social media to save money is to take advantage of the best word-of-mouth savings around: the tips provided by your trusted friends and family. Maybe it’s your sister bragging on Facebook about a ridiculous deal she found on a swimsuit at J.Crew or your coworker raving about the great service he received from a local mechanic —you’re sure to find recommendations from the people closest to you about deals and services that will save you money and time. You can also utilize social media to crowdsource and get the input of your friends and family. If you’re hoping to find a great deal on something like admission to a water park this summer, pose the question to your Facebook friends or Twitter followers to see who’s got the inside scoop on the best discounts. Financial Management A major component of saving money is knowing how to handle your finances. Social media allows you to work financial literacy into your everyday life, right alongside the things that matter to you most. By making finances a part of your life on a regular basis, you’ll be prepared and confident when it comes time to make financial decisions, and you’ll receive some great savings ideas in the process. Does your financial institution have a presence on any of your favorite social media sites? If so, follow them for updates about everything from financial seminars to free events to financial tips. Experts like Jean Chatzky (@JeanChatzky) and blogs like Wise Bread (@wisebread) offer up tons of free, useful financial advice on Twitter and Facebook as well. With a wide variety of financial experts available to follow, you can really hone in on specialists who cover what’s most useful to you. My final advice: be sure to take advantage of the money-saving tips and offers available through social media this summer, but don’t forget to take some time away from your laptop or iPhone and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!
April Clobes is Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for MSU Federal Credit Union in East Lansing. She can be contacted by e-mail or by calling (517) 333-2254.