Archive for the ‘random’ Category

Money-Saving Tips Galore in WiseBread's New Book

May 18, 2009

Congratulations to our friends at WiseBread on the launch of their new book, “10,001 Ways To Live Large On a Small Budget.”  The book is authored by a talented group of WiseBread writers (including Wesabe advisors JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly and Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar) who believe: “the key to financial wellness isn’t a ramen-eating, vacation-skipping, fun-depriving life. Far from it. The best way to ensure that readers will stick to a budget, especially in tough economic times, is to help them create a lifestyle that is as much fun as it is practical.”

Wesabe gets a nice shout-out in the book as one of the best money tools (thanks, WiseBread!).  Read more about the book here or head on over to Amazon to place an order.

Three Questions: Insights From Wesabe Advisors Ramit, JD and Trent

April 8, 2009

Wesabe’s advisory board includes three of the biggest names in personal finance.  To help you get to know them better and to tap into their considerable smarts, we posed three questions to each of them:

1.    A family member is graduating from college and you’ve decided to give him a book on money management as a gift.  What would that book be?
2.    Has the economic downturn changed your relationship with money?
3.    What is the single best piece of financial advice you have ever been given?

A big thanks to our advisors:
–   JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly;
–   Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich; and
–   Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar
for taking the time to send over such insightful answers.

A family member is graduating from college and you’ve decided to give a book on money management as a gift.  What would that book be?

JD:  When I speak to college students, I hand out a one-page guide to personal finance on which I recommend four books:

– The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke by Suze Orman
– Debt is Slavery by Michael Mihalik
– Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk
– The Random Walk Guide to Investing by Burton Malkiel

Each of these books serves a different purpose, but contains great information. Many people have told me that Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin helped them after college, and I know that it helped me later in life. Finally, my colleague Ramit Sethi just published a new book called I Will Teach You to Be Rich, and it’s perfect for young adults.

Trent:  There are several good choices here depending on the person’s situation.

My default choice for a female college graduate would probably be “You’re So Money” by Farnoosh Torabi (my review).  It’s written with the strong voice of a young female professional and deals with the social pressures that many young professional women face in terms of spending money on material goods.  Along the way, it dishes out a lot of useful and relevant personal finance advice.

My default choice for a male college graduate would be Automatic Wealth for Grads by Michael Masterson (my review).  This book does a great job of painting personal finance in a positive and exciting light by making it clear to the graduate that life really is full of possibilities as long as you put the foundation pieces in place.

However, there is one book that trumps either of these choices.  If you know the student well and he/she strikes you as a person that’s particularly thoughtful and introspective, the best choice for that student is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (my review).  This is the single most powerful personal finance book I’ve ever read, but it requires a lot of introspection to really get a lot of value out of it.  Instead of focusing on typical personal finance issues, the book is more of a guide to reflecting on money’s role in the larger life choices you make.  A thoughtful college graduate can get a ton of valuable ideas from this book.

Wesabe for Ramit
:  Rather than let Ramit answer this question, we wanted to take the opportunity to mention his awesome new book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Targeting 20-to-35-year-olds, this New York Times bestseller (congrats, Ramit!) would make a great gift for a college grad.

Has the economic downturn changed your relationship with money?

Trent:  I tend to behave like we’re constantly in an economic downturn, so the current economy really hasn’t affected me too much.  I always strive to spend less than I earn, regardless of whether or not the economy is roaring or it’s tanking.

One thing I have done differently, however, is that I’ve been buying more stocks (in the form of index funds) than usual.  That’s right, in an environment where the Dow is dropping below 7,000, I’m buying stocks.  I look at it this way: I can buy the exact same stocks that I could buy a year and a half ago, except now they’re 55% off.  Many people might shout about how we don’t know where the bottom of the market is, but I argue that you’re better off buying most of the way down and right through the bottom of the market until a recovery is clearly and strongly in place.  That way, you’re sure to hit the bottom as well as a lot of “near bottoms” both before and after the real bottom.

: First of all, I’ve been saddened at how many friends are instinctively pulling their money out of the market without thinking twice — they’re reacting out of fear, not logic. The other thing I’ve noticed is a manic sense to “cut costs anywhere,” which is driving people crazy. You can’t save money on 50 things at once! It just makes people nuts. I’ve re-doubled my efforts to save money on two problem areas (eating out and going out). If I can save 20% on those over a period of six months by setting smaller goals, that saves me hundreds of dollars each month.

JD:  All around me, my friends and family members are struggling during this economic crisis. They’re having to cut back on their way of life. My wife and I are fortunate that we haven’t had to make any sacrifices yet. Why not? Because we’ve spent the last three years trimming our budget; we’ve already cut back. One benefit of routinely practicing smart financial habits — in good times and in bad — is that when things get rough, you’re prepared. You have a buffer to protect yourself from economic storms. I haven’t always been this prepared, but I’m glad to feel safe in 2009.

What is the single best piece of financial advice you have ever been given?

Ramit: You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room — you just have to get started. Even in this economy, if you get started saving and investing, that makes far more of a difference in your overall returns than having a PhD in finance or being a fancy investment banker. Consistent, long-term saving and investing is the key, not reacting to news of the day.

JD: The best piece of financial advice I ever received is simply this: “Nobody cares more about your finances than you do. If you don’t take care of them, nobody’s going to take care of them for you.” It was only when I realized this that I was able to turn things around, get out of debt, and begin building wealth. I wish I could remember where I first heard this — Dave Ramsey? Warren Buffett? — because this principle helped me to take control of my finances.

Trent: Spend less than you earn.  I first picked up on the idea from “Your Money or Your Life,” but it was most succinctly stated in the excellent unheralded personal finance book “Debt is Slavery” by Michael Mihalik (my review).

It seems so simple, but it’s actually much more complicated than it sounds.  Each month, I make it a goal to spend less than I earn that month.  I usually make it more specific than that – for example, I intend to spend only 70% of what I earn most months – but even an 80% or a 90% goal is fine.

This serves dual purposes.  First, it pushes me to actually spend less.  If I find a clever way to save money, then it becomes easier for me to reach that 70% goal – or even beat it.  Second, it pushes me to earn more.  If I can put more cash in my pocket by working harder or more effectively, then I have more money to save (in that 30% bucket) and more to spend (in that 70% bucket).

Over time, actually, I’ve been lowering my monthly target.  Lately, I’ve been shooting to spend only 55% of what I bring in per month.  Doing that over the long haul will put me in GREAT financial shape.

Scheduled Maintenance

January 23, 2009

Due to some necessary maintenance at the datacenter where our servers live, we’re unfortunately going to have a bit of downtime tonight. The Wesabe website will be offline starting around 10pm (Pacific), and should be back by about 2:30am Sunday. As always, you can follow our progress on the Wesabe Twitter feed — and I’ll also update this post when things are back to normal.

Sorry about the inconvenience!

Update: due to a hardware failure, the downtime was longer than expected, but the site and all services are now up again. Thanks again for your patience and apologies for the trouble.

Why I hate Comcast and love Boxee and Roku

January 23, 2009

I now have over three complete years’ worth of data in Wesabe, which allows me to discover all sorts of TOTALLY RIDICULOUS CRAP like this:

Comcast Sucks

That’s a Wesabe graph that shows how much I spent on Comcast cable over a three year period. Here’s the punchline: I never once changed my services in those three years. The amount went from an average of $27.88 per month for my 2006 service to an average of $70.97 per month for my 2008 service. Same channels, same house, same everything.

Basically, they’re slowing turning up the heat on the frog. (Yeah, the metaphor is inaccurate. But you know what I mean.) As long as you don’t read the fine print and notice your bill going up, they get more and more out of you every year.

What’s the solution? I love the new online video aggregators that are coming out — Boxee has the buzz (disclosure: Wesabe and Boxee are funded by the same venture capital firm, Union Square Ventures), and Roku seems to be following suit. These companies do for video what Wesabe does for bank data: free it from a bunch of sites and give to you in the form you want.

We’re canceling Comcast. Buh-bye. We’ll set up Boxee and Roku and the total cost (using hardware we already own, anyways) will be less than two months of service at my “new” Comcast rate. And then we’re set.

Forget the Cabbage Soup – 2009 Is Time For The Skinny Debt Diet

January 6, 2009

Each year, after the festive red and green envelopes in the mail have been replaced by thick white ones with the foreboding “Your Statement Enclosed” on the outside, and the last of the frosting-laden cookies have been polished off, Americans collectively resolve to better manage their finances and to get in shape.

While talking with top fit-blogger Stephanie at Back in Skinny Jeans about the similarities between money and fitness resolutions, we tossed around the idea of teaming up in 2009 to help our respective members make progress on these fronts.

In her typical gettin’-it-done style, Stephanie has kicked off The Skinny Debt Diet to “get women to start thinking about a different set of numbers: accounts versus scales.” She continues, “I think it will be not only good, but very healthy for us to start focusing some of that energy away from our looks and jeans size, and onto growing our bank account size and reducing our debt. If we’re gonna focus on skinny, why not make our debt skinny. Who doesn’t want skinny debt? In fact, I’d love to have a size 0 debt, and think that this is one size 0 that is worth working towards.”

During the entire month of January, Stephanie will be tracking her financial fitness journey, and will continue after that with weekly update posts. We’ve created a Skinny Debt Dieters group on Wesabe, where later this week Stephanie will begin focusing on the four key areas of the debt diet – feelings, finances, fitness and food. If you’re looking for a way to kick-start your debt reduction in 2009 and would also like some great advice for healthy living, this is the group for you!

Tomorrow, Stephanie will be featuring a video interview with Wesabe VP of Marketing Gabe Griego on her site, and we’ll be providing updates on her progress and advice throughout the month.

Introducing the WesabeUpdates Twitter account

December 12, 2008

We’ve had a number of requests from the Wesabe community for more detailed information about what the Wesabe development team is working on. We’re going to address these requests in a few separate steps, and today we’re introducing the first of those steps.

Wesabe’s Twitter account has been a very popular way to get Wesabe news and money-related links. (We were even featured recently in O’Reilly’s Twitter for Business report as a great example of a business using Twitter.) We’ve also had a very enthusiastic response to our Twitter integration, which lets you add transactions to your Wesabe accounts. We’ve decided to keep going with our Twitter successes by introducing a new Twitter account for people interested in more frequent, detailed updates from our development team.

The new account is called WesabeUpdates. Following this new Twitter account will get you updates every time we deploy a new version of the site, and detailed messages about what’s going into those updates. Basically, this is to Wesabe’s blog the same thing Twitter usually is to blogs: a quicker, more frequently updated account that gives you what you want in very short messages.

To ensure we’re getting the detail people have asked for, we’ve set up a direct connection between our development chat room and this Twitter account, so any developer can easily add an update to the account. (By the way, we also just open-sourced our Campfire bot framework, Wesabot, written by the unstoppable Brad Greenlee, with small contributions from most of the Wesabe team. The framework has a bunch of plugins, including the Twitter update plugin.)

Check it out and let us know what you think. Of course, we’ll continue to provide updates to the main Wesabe Twitter account, and we’ll work to prevent too much overlap between the two.

Update: For those of you who don’t use Twitter or don’t want to use it for this purpose, we’ve added the three most recent WesabeUpdates posts to our Accounts index page (the page you see when you first log into Wesabe). Take a look in the left column, below your account links. Also, the idea for showing the number of developers contributing to a deploy of the site was shamelessly stolen from the good people at Flickr. I first saw the idea on their Flickr Code site. Thanks, Flickreenos!

Lessons In Frugality

December 10, 2008

What can you gain by taking control of your money? A lot more than a fatter wallet! Wesabean CymbidiumKelly, or Kelly, shared that by not spending for a month, she and her family learned “A lot about ourselves, our habits, and the psychology behind our spending.” Read on for their top five lessons…

1. Competition breeds success.
It was fun to try to spend less than my husband on unnecessary expenses. It made the challenge exciting. If you don’t have a spouse or partner get a friend or family member involved. And for the record he won.

2. We usually spend when we are unsatisfied or unhappy.
Normally we spend on take-out, coffee, and snacks/treats for the family when we are feeling like we need time off or a break. By forcing ourselves to deal with any situation head-on we are happily exhausted by the end of the day, and the desire to spend is usually gone. When we did need a break we found ways to get that time, and we did spend some money on our  time off, but knowing it was our only time off made it so much more memorable.

3. Not spending gives us freedom.
By not focusing on going out to run errands or pick up this, that or the other thing; we found ourselves with a lot more time on our hands. We used it to keep the house cleaner, play more with our kids, and fix up the house.

4. The time spent on buying and maintaining more stuff can be spent getting rid of stuff, and you can earn money!
When I had to go to the store I was in with a list in my hand and out with only everything on it, and in record time!  The time I saved I used to purge things we weren’t using, giving some away on Freecycle and others to friends and family members. I sold a few items (mostly toys) and netted about $45 for the month.

5. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.
If your No Spend Month doesn’t work out, or even if it does, do it again! We have plans to do another No Spend Month in February, with hope that we’ll spend even less!

Inspired by the success of the No Spend Month, Kelly has launched The Centsible Life, a personal finance blog. We have no doubt it will be a grand success!

7 Tips To A Successful No Spend Month… from the experts

December 8, 2008


Those who joined Novembers ‘No Spend Month’ not only reported plumper bank accounts but a deeper understanding between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ and radically better spending habits. They also found themselves with a chunk of free time which they put towards more meaningful activities, like developing much loved hobbies and spending quality time with friends and family.

Here are 7 tips and tricks for a successful No Spend Month, from those who have done it before. A special thanks to GirlNextDoor and CymbidiumKelly for their interviews, where all of the following content came from. For more great advice, check out their new blogs, Girl Next Door Finance and The Centsible Life.

1.    Examine your spending habits for the past few months. Weed out all your non-essential expenditures and entertainment costs, such as movies, eating out and shopping. Settle on figure that covers all of your essential costs for the month.
Creator of the No Spend Month, Kelly, advises that after you come up with a figure, “scale it up by 25%… this is more manageable without being too constrictive.”

2.    Analyze your motives for ‘non-essential’ purchases. Think about why you swing by Peets everyday at 3 p.m., swift through the Sale rack at Old Navy or head to the movies. Since these are the purchases you’ll be cutting, it’s helpful to identify why you make them (you’re tired, you want to find a great deal, you want to get out of the house).

3.    Begin developing counter-habits. This way you’re prepared to battle impulse habits. Get a can of Maxwell’s for the office kitchen, plan to work on a new hobby each time your hit with the shopping bug, and have a stack of library books (or movies from the library) waiting each time a “night out at the movies” occurs to you.

4.    Choose a realistic time period to launch your No Spend Month. If you know the next month is filled unusual activities (or lots of extra spending), like out-of-town guests or a whirl of birthdays, start it next month. Then again, if you’re feeling tough, a month like December may be the ideal time to buck up on your discipline.

5.    Use a money management tool, like Wesabe or PearBudget, to track your spending. Set up budgets in each of your spending categories and check in daily to stay on top of your spending.

6.    Figure out the things you enjoy and how you can do them for free. Love buying books, stock up at your local library. Love to eat out? Invite friends over for a Potluck.

7.    Focus less on changing numbers and more on changing habits. GirlNextdoor wrote that she found this more beneficial than constantly working to keep spending to a bare minimum. She wrote:

“Instead of just trying not to spend money, evaluate what you want to spend money on and its relative importance to you. Focus on why you want to spend money on an item, rather than its cost…”

Instead of fixating on “but it’s only $3.50” or “but it’s 70% off! I will never get a deal like this again!” think about why you really want the item, what value will it add to your life, and evaluate if you really need it. One of the most powerful lessons reported by those who completed their own No Spend Month was a much deeper understanding of their “wants” and “needs”, and how easy it is to mix them up. Proactively thinking about this will help ingrain better spending habits for the future.

8.   Find a support network to check in with and post your progress. CymbidiumKelly shared that she started her No Spend Month in the Wesabe Community because she knew it would keep her honest with herself about her family’s spending. She shared that “It was great to know I could go to Wesabe when I was feeling frustrated or discouraged about financial matters. I always felt that everyone participating in the discussion was really supportive and encouraging. It kept me motivated when I would have otherwise wanted to give up.”

Wesabe's First No Spend Month Pulls Smashing Finish!

December 5, 2008

December has arrived and Wesabe’s first “No Spend Month” has finished with a bang.  As we told you earlier this week, the brains behind the Month, CymbidiumKelly, was featured in USA Today and on the Today Show and CNBC to talk about how her family is shaping up their finances.

Kelly launched her “No Spend Month” last month in Wesabe Groups as a way to get a hold on her family’s spending and pay off debt. She was inspired to start her project because she’d “have the support of other Wesabeans. I knew it would keep me honest.” She felt that tracking her spending in the Wesabe community was great way to hold herself accountable.

Within a day of Kelly’s first post, a flood of other Wesabeans followed suit, discussing ways to cut their spending to bare necessities.  They also began posting their progress in the “No Spend Month” discussion. Between the faltering economy and upcoming holiday season, many agreed that November was an ideal thirty-day stretch to buck up on discipline and get serious about curbing spending.

Member Ilovetea decided to join after seeing her 401(k) value plummet 48% and Wesabean AmilcarKabral began his month after losing his job. He wrote that though the month of November was already going to be tight, not spending “is more fun when you do it intentionally and not as a reaction.”

Member Maribeth said,“I think this is a great idea…however, I am frightened at the idea of holding myself accountable. I’m going to start on Sunday, November 26. I think eating/drinking out will be my main challenge. I’m sure most of you can relate. Football Sundays at the bar are a fall tradition. However, when I think of which goals I can accomplish within this month (saving $500 for an emergency fund, saving for a down payment on a house, cash for Christmas presents), I think it will be extremely rewarding in the end. This is one of the many great things about Wesabe. I continue to learn and never feel like I am going at it alone.”

Lit added, “We have been trying to drop our debt load by $1,200 a month for the last four months. Have not succeeded yet but this… might help. November 2008 here we go!”. And, QwnofCash wrote, “Wow!! What a great idea! I think it’s a good opportunity for all of us to discipline ourselves and to prepare our families to endure this dark period…”

While many of those who followed the No Spend Month reported plumper bank accounts, their results far exceeded an extra wad of cash. Bullshalo13 wrote that the month helped her “realize how much money I spend on things I don’t need.”

GirlNextDoor shared that the participating in the No Spend Month drastically changed her thought process around spending money: “Instead of asking ‘can I afford this right now?’ (to which the answer was usually ‘yes’ as my wants tend to be relatively inexpensive), I ask myself  ‘Do I really need this? Do I have a use for this? Is this going to add value to my life?’ – the answer is not so clearly ‘yes’ for these questions!”

Though GirlNextDoor has always tracked her money, the No Spend Month helped her curb impulse spending. Instead of tracking where her money was going (after the fact), she’s consciously thinking about where it will be going ahead of time.

Similarly, KristenR1010 reported that she “didn’t realize how much my little snacks have added up. It seems like nothing to run to the corner and get a cup of coffee or a bagel, but I’ve saved so much money this week by not going! As for clothes shopping, it’s been hard to resist the holiday sales that are starting, but I’ve managed not to spend a dime. I’m taking my ‘no-spend zone’ all the way until I have to buy a few (inexpensive) Christmas presents. The best Christmas present for myself will be when I save enough money to pay off the next credit card!”

And after the month, creator Kelly shared that her biggest realization was how much money you can save from all of those little purchases you make without thinking. “I learned that I am fairly dishonest with myself about money, thinking a want is a need or thinking we will make up for (indulgences by saving more) next month,” she said.

Participants also found themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Not spending money means forgoing activities like happy hours, nights at the movie theater, dinners out, and shopping with friends. GirlNextDoor commented, “Since I was actively trying not to spend money, I avoided situations where I would spend money as much as possible- which left me with more time at home. I finally took the leap and started a personal finance blog, which is something I’ve been contemplating for 6 months!”

Desertrat wrote that she and her significant other “both now have library cards, and we’ve taken to going on walks and playing board games, something we’ve also gotten our friends to do.”

Jessie88 shared that she and her fiancée are “curling up with hot coco and a good book or magazine, even a nice movie”. Like Desertrat, Jessie88 and her fiancée started becoming more acquainted with their neighborhood and parks. “Heck, we go swing…and I like to walk barefoot through the sand. It’s free, we also go there to look at the stars,” she said.

All seemed to agree that spending money can be a great distraction from more meaningful activities. Kelly wrote that her family often used to find themselves “going somewhere we can spend money when we need to get out of the house. The biggest thing I learned from the No Spend Month was to stay at home! We have so much to do and that needs to be done there, and, we spend the largest percentage of money on our home, so it makes sense to enjoy it as much as possible. I also realized that if we’re paying for something we should enjoy it! We have Internet access at home, a Wii, DVDs, etc. We were able to entertain ourselves and the kids with what was on hand.”

Interested in starting your own No Spend Month? Tune in Monday to read the tips and tricks of those who have successfully completed it!

The Power Of Your Two Cents

December 1, 2008

The web has become the ‘go to’ place for anything and everything. Have a question? Ask Wikipedia. Want to find out what your vacation spot looks like? Search Flickr. Need to find a new restaurant? Head to Yelp. What makes this extraordinary is that this information is amassed you and I and not major corporations, advertising conglomerates or media companies.

By contributing our two cents to web-based communities, be it our opinion of a coffee shop, pictures from a Tahoe vacation, or feelings about a tardy morning bus, we’re adding a thought, opinion or image that can inform and potentially be of great value to others.  Though alone, these data points may seem relatively insignificant, when added to the web, they become part of a collective experience that others can draw on to inform their lives and make better decisions.

Community-based sites are like platforms, but organically so, hosting information about the world as we see and experience it, and freeing it up to be marked by anyone. Consider these examples:

–    When I add pictures of my wedding to a site like Flickr and tag them ‘fall wedding,’ ‘Sonoma,’ or ‘wine country wedding,’ I am contributing to a visual catalog about weddings. My pictures join thousands of other similarly tagged photographs and become almost a new breed of bridal magazine, though much more powerful than Modern Bride or Martha Stewart Weddings. The images on Flickr are not professional photo shoots, images of airbrushed models or advertisers trying to sell the perfect wedding, but real people, celebrating a day they poured their hearts and souls into creating. Further, people can comment on my photographs, contextualizing them even more.  Now blushing brides-to-be have a visual resource that is personal, useful and free, to call upon when planning their wedding.

–    When I spend time on Facebook, Twitter or Digg, I am choosing to actively participate in a larger conversation, rather than flip on the television and passively consume information. When I tweet about my evening walk with my dog, Riley, I am contributing a piece of data about myself, evenings and San Francisco to a larger database of information. This information can be sliced and diced to reveal patterns or social trends that can provide value to others as well as insight about the world around us.

–    When I write a review of my local dry cleaner on Yelp or recommend its services on Wesabe, my opinion joins thousands of other opinions about other dry cleaners in my area. Collectively, this data can be analyzed and presented in way that helps others make the best possible decision for their needs and budget.

In each of these examples trivial tidbits from our everyday lives collectively become quite valuable. By participating in community sites, we are shaping a larger social landscape. This landscape has the power to better illuminate the material world around us and provide us with information that can help us make more informed decisions about our lives.

A couple weeks ago, I read an article called “The Annotated World” over at Chris Brogan’s blog that illuminated the power of community-based sites. Brogan provides a great list of ways you can use social websites to enrich your and others’ lives. Wesabe, spanglish for “together we know,” stems from the concept that collective intelligence has the power to make people far better consumers. Thus, I thought I’d add to Brogan’s list, highlighting a few ways you can use Wesabe to contribute to this growing collective experience.

In my examples of Flickr and Yelp, I talked about the “pointillist” possibilities of the web, where tiny pieces of information come together to make richer, coherent pictures, much like the dots in a Seurat painting. Wesabe’s Community operates similarly. One person asks question about their financial situation and, often within a day, is greeted with a series of answers that collectively point to the best answer for that person. This information can then be leveraged to the entire community. For example, a person looking to start an emergency fund can search that term and find wealth of information, trued, tried and tested by other individuals. Here, tiny pieces of information join each other to make a much larger answer.

However, community sites are opinion based and objective answers can at times be hard to find. This is a common critique of sites like Yelp, where a restaurant can consistently vary between one and five stars.   Wesabe’s Tips feature provides a solution to this problem by pairing qualitative with quantitative information.  By analyzing your shopping patterns against hundreds of thousands of other people’s shopping patterns, Tips examines the average amount spent at various stores, how often people shop at these businesses, and whether they recommend them or not. It then provides you with comparisons between places you often shop at and other places that people in your area often shop at. People might spend less at this business, come back all the time and highly recommend it (you can learn more about Tips here). Thus, you’re given the information to make a better-informed financial decision – another case of the individual benefiting from the power of collective intelligence.