3 of the best ways online information can be a lifesaver

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There’s so much online content out there, sometimes we can be overwhelmed. We can forget that the internet has so much more use than providing us with cat videos or viral dances.

Here are three of the best ways online information can save you or help enrich your life:

  1. Before you buy, use it to know if a product or service is good

    Nobody wants to waste their time or money! One of the best ways to be a smart consumer is to find out from others what they think about a product or service, before deciding to buy.

    The internet is full of reviews, testimonials, and recommendations that can help you make an informed decision. Here’s how to use online info to make wise choices:

    • Read reviews: When considering a product or service, look for reviews from people who have already tried it. Websites like Amazon, Yelp, and TripAdvisor have reviews on everything from gadgets to restaurants. Pay attention to both positive and negative reviews to get a balanced view.
    • Check expert opinions: Some websites and blogs are dedicated to expert reviews. These professionals put products through extensive tests and then offer insights. For example, if you’re buying a new smartphone, tech review sites like CNET and Digital Trends.com can have valuable information.
    • Compare prices: Compare prices across different retailers quickly online. This can help you find the best deal for your budget. Websites like Shopbot Canada and Google Shopping.ca make price comparison a breeze.
    • Ask on social media: Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be great places to ask for recommendations. Join consumer groups (like Save Money in Winnipeg on Facebook), or ask your friends and followers directly for advice.

    Knowing more about a product or service can stop you from wasting money. In some cases, even prevent health or safety risks.

  2. Use it to verify if information is real or a scam

    Scams and frauds are getting sophisticated. Before you apply to a job, or entertain requests for help (especially if it involves money), protect yourself by checking online first:

    • Fact-check: If you come across a piece of information that seems too good to be true or just doesn’t feel right, fact-check it. Websites like Snopes and FactCheck.org can help you separate fact from fiction.
    • Ask online – You can use Google (“Is name of company legit?) or Glassdoor.ca to research on the company, or forums like Quora and Reddit. If you have doubts about a job posting, for example, you can ask on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
    • Read online reviews and ratings– When dealing with online sellers or businesses, research their reputation. Check if they have a physical address and phone number, and read customer reviews to gauge their trustworthiness.
  3. Learn how to do something or gain a skill

    I have lost count of the times YouTube tutorials have saved me time and effort. Whether it’s how to change a flat tire or cook lasagna, there’s probably a tutorial for it. Just search for your topic, and you’ll find step-by-step videos to guide you. Aside from YouTube, you can also check out:

    • Online Courses – Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy offer a wide range of online courses, often with video lectures and interactive assignments. You can learn anything from coding to languages to graphic design.
    • Educational blogs and forums– Many experts and enthusiasts share their knowledge through blogs and online forums. These can be excellent resources for gaining insights into niche topics and getting advice from experienced individuals.
    • Ebooks and guides – There are countless ebooks and guides available for download on various subjects. Some are free, while others are reasonably priced. They can provide in-depth knowledge on specific areas of interest.

Sources: How to find information online, WikiHow Tech; How to avoid a scam, FTC Consumer Advice; and 11 best price comparison sites in Canada for 2023, Savvy New Canadians. Accessed September 1, 2023.

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