As most of us sit down at our computers each day, we might realize that we have begun to take this Information Age for granted. What would we do if we did not have 24/7 Internet connections to keep us connected to the world?
Online Bill Pay
When it is time to pay bills, we logon to the Internet, pull out our debit cards or credit cards, and then we get to work paying our bills online. It is no longer the case where we have to sit down at the dining room table with our checkbook, a stack of bills, and a book of stamps.
Back in those dark days of the pre-Internet existence, we were not yet done with bill paying when we licked that last stamp. Instead, we had to jump in the car and run down to the post office to get the checks in the mail. If we had paid our bills close to their deadlines, then we had to sweat whether our payment would arrive on time. If we were really worried about our payment arriving at the other end of the transaction on time, we would take time out of our lunch hour to run to the bill collector’s office to make our payment just under the wire.
Yes, back in those old days, we used to call mom on the phone once a week to check in and catch up. Now, we can logon to our favorite Internet chat client or call her on our Internet phone and talk to mom everyday. We can even share pictures of the kids with mom through our Myspace accounts.
Back in those grand old days, if we wanted to learn something of value to our lives, we needed to go to the library or bookstore and check out or buy a book that would answer our questions about the world around us. It was either that or we had to enroll at a nearby college and take classes relevant to our interests.
Today, it is much different. Nearly any topic that might be of interest to us can be learned, after a trip to our favorite search engines. We might have to pay to gain access to the information we want, but in many cases, information is handed out like candy on Halloween, on the Internet.
We could even go further and enroll at a major university online. We can now take classes and get a degree at our favorite university or college, even if we live one thousand miles away from the school.
Back in the day, in order to find out what great sales were running at the national chains, we had to subscribe to a newspaper for the full week and take the time to review the paper everyday to make sure we did not miss those important sales.
Now, we pop open an Internet browser and navigate to the website of the chain store we are interested and click through to their sales circular page. What does Wal-Mart have on sale? Let’s go to their webpage. What about Napa Auto Parts stores? Let’s go their webpage. How about “Ace, the helpful hardware place”? Let’s load up their website. Walgreens — what kinds of specials do “they” have this week? We are off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz (also known as Al Gore, the guy who “invented” the Internet).
Before the World Wide Web, if we wanted to know the “skinny” on a particular product we were interested in buying, we would need to ask friends. For an expert opinion, we would need to subscribe to Consumer Reports, or take our chances by visiting the local store that sold the product and have faith that the salesperson was not loading our brains full of commission-biased opinion.
These days, we can go online to learn all about any single product or service we might be interested in purchasing. Even better, we can look at a cross-section of products under the same classification and make an intelligent decision based on factual research. If we put our minds to it, we could even pull up customer reviews on the products we want to purchase.
The sky is the limit. We can do as little or as much research as we would like to do on a single product or service and be happy with our final decision.
Dig Up In-Depth Product Specifications
Sometimes, we can trust the Sears salesman not to lead us astray in our purchase selections. It is pretty straight forward as to which brand of wrenches will give us the best performance over many years or to find out which 27″ television has the best picture.
But, with other product groups, a cursory glance will not deliver the be-all-end-all analysis that we need to make intelligent shopping decisions. Such examples include insurance products or financial products such as credit cards and loans.
If you have to ask yourself what the difference between a term-life insurance policy and a whole-life policy, then you need to get some really in-depth information to make a good purchase decision. There are insurance websites and information websites that will pass this kind of information along to you. They may even let you apply online for a new insurance policy and give you an instant approval for your new policy.
The same mindset will often accompany your interest in learning about credit card products. With so many choices and options available, it is hard to know which credit card offer or credit card rewards program will be best for your needs.
The beauty of the Internet is that the answer to all of these questions and more are right at your fingertips.
Credit card offers range from gas credit cards, student credit cards, low APR credit cards and even 0% interest credit cards. Among this range of credit card types and special offers, many banks also offer credit card points in the form of airline miles, credit card travel rewards, cash-back rewards programs, and store credit at your favorite chain stores or restaurants.
So, how do you know which credit card will be best for your needs? All you have to do is to start with a plan as to what you would like to gain from a credit card, and eliminate credit card offers that do not match your needs. Then do a side-by-side analysis of those credit card offers that remain to see which one will deliver to you the best value for your dollars.
Don’t be afraid to dig in and get the facts on any product you may be interested in buying. I have learned a lot on the Internet about insurance products, credit card plans, and high-definition televisions. Even when I had questions that the Circuit City salesperson could not answer, I was able to turn up that important information on the Internet.
Longing For The Old Days
No, I don’t really long for the old days anymore, except when my Internet connection is down for more than just a few hours.
If I want to add a credit card to my wallet, I only need to decide which one I want and then fill out the online credit card application. If I want to buy car insurance, I can shop around for the best policy and buy it right then online, without having to go to an agent’s office. If I want to shop for a better price on my next software purchase, all I have to do is to go to a shopping website and compare prices.
The Internet has improved the experience of my life one-hundred-fold, and I do not want to ever have to return to those days before dial-up. Before I came on the Internet, I did not even know why I would want to buy more than one type of home insurance. Now, I sweat if I might miss my payment.
If you take the time to search and research the Internet for the information that will help you to make better shopping decisions, you might just find as I have that the Internet is something that you never want to live without ever again.