Our tech guy Colin Moors explains how technology can save you money.
Of all the uses we put the internet to these days, there can be very little more daunting than to part with our hard-earned cash, sending it careering off into the void with nary a trace of what might happen to it. OfTechonol course, it’s the same thing as paying by cheque (remember those?) except it has an electronic and less tangible aspect to it. The money you are paying with doesn’t exist, not even when it reaches its destination, which it doesn’t, because it never really went anywhere. With me so far? Good.
We all use the internet to spend cash – it may be online shopping, online gaming or just everyday online banking. Luckily, we can also use the internet to save us money, if we have the right information about technology. I am obliged by common sense to mention that anything in this article does not constitute financial advice and to warn you to research sites thoroughly before giving away your money.
In these pre-Brexit times, dealing with UK pounds versus euros can be a technology minefield. The rate is, at time of writing, variable in the extreme and picking the right time to move money to or from the UK could save you a lot of cash. One of the most up-to-date sites for currency exchange is xe.com, a site brimming with financial reports, money stories, rate movement graphs and a host of other things to keep the consumer of internet money information happy. Its primary use for the lay person is as a currency exchange monitor, however. Pick your currency, enter the amount and you can convert it into any currency in the world at a click.
Holiday tip: when it comes to withdrawing money at an ATM, never accept the ATM conversion rate. Always opt for your bank doing the conversion. The ATM conversion rate is heavily doctored to favour the company who installed it. Your bank will doubtless charge you for conversion but the rate will always be better.
Speaking of banks, a lot of companies offer what they call “wealth management”. This is a poor choice of name for some of us, sadly. Keytrade Bank (keytradebank.be) here in Brussels could save you money straight away, however; aside from its range of financial products, it offers a completely free bank account. There’s no catch with this, it really is free to use – there’s no annual fees and transactions and debit cards cost nothing. Of course, the free bank account may be a way of getting you interested in their other services, such as pensions, mutual fund investing, crowdfunding and currency trading. There’s no such thing as a free lunch but at least in this case, the carrot they dangle could end up saving you a good deal of money.