What is Airtel Money and why should you use it?

airtel-money

Airtel Money is virtual money that acts like a prepaid card. You fill it, and you get to spend it in a awefully limited number of merchants. So, why bother? Let’s see a few good reasons that are true today.

airtel-money

  • While the sales are low, there are bound to be better offers. Rightnow Magazine had been offering various freebies for sometime now, but the offer to reimburse 100% of Rs. 1600 in form of Airtel Money beats every other offer so far

airtel-money-offers

  • I had availed of the earlier 5% discount on Airtel postpaid fees using Airtel Money. Well, it was not that exciting to load the money to Airtel Money from bank account and paying the bill through that channel, but saving Rs. 50 in a monthly bill of Rs. 1000 sometimes compensated for it. For a limited time now, Airtel is offering 10% discount when you pay for Airtel services with Airtel Money
  • There have been a few times when Airtel Money ran discount offers for other popular websites. This included direct discounts, discount coupons and more. Right now they are having a eBay discount coupon, but nothing that will cause a flutter

airtel-money-coupon

  • When in dire need due to shortage of time or due to poor planning, you can pay utility bills through Airtel Money. You can try to book train tickets as well, but I am not really sure how many people *actually* succeed in that. Of course like the ads say, you can transfer money to friends or enemies
  • Probably the best thing though – you can carry out all your transactions without credit card, and only with your phone. This works out best if you do not have a credit card, or you want to minimize the risk of virtual money by limiting the max amount for any transactions. Since Airtel Money is completely dependent on the amount of money loaded earlier, this can act as one layer of security as well. Also, you cannot do more than Rs. 10000 worth of transactions in a single month using Airtel Money

Be aware of charges and fees though. Airtel Money today does not have a lot of merchants on its rolls, but certain payments and transactions may attract a commission or a flat fee (this is clearly depicted on their site).

Go ahead, register yourself for a free account today. It does not take any more money than you are spending anyway, you may also end up saving a few hard-earned rupees in the process and feeling more secure through a pre-paid, limited-value transactions.

[disclaimer: links here may fetch me money at no additional cost to you]

Find good deals in India – eBay.in

ebay india

Finding deals in India was a big deal. First, there was all the physical work involved. I have done this multiple times, and sometimes continue doing this even today.

  • Visit a store, know the price
  • Visit another 5 stores in the neighbourhood. Haggle with everyone for a good proce
  • Now, settle for one of the shops you like. Haggle some more
  • Get the product you wanted to buy so much, at the right cost

All this and more have changed drastically over the past 2-3 years with the advent of numerous internet stores that enable you to ‘point and click’ the product that you like, and the next thing you know – you get it delivered at your doorstep. Well, it is always not that easy, but you get the picture. Where there are internet sites, there ofcourse is eBay. eBay.com is a website that enabled online auctions back in 1995 and quickly transitioned to ‘Buy it now’ or getting a product without going through the auction process. eBay came to India in 2005 as ebay.in, and the rest is history.

ebay.in

But enough of all that, what you would want to know about eBay today:

  • eBay has one of the best prices for a lot of categories. I have typically found better deals in mobile phones and electronics.
  • eBay coupons are good, the discounts sometimes are excellent. Subscribe to the newsletter and make sure you keep an eye open for the coupons. These get you discounts anywhere between 5 to 10% on various categories of products. eBay also gives out coupons in Adsense ads – a more recent one was Rs. 150 off a min. purchase of Rs. 200 (i.e. you can get an item that costs Rs. 200 at Rs. 150)
  • eBay also has special deals that run for limited time. These are also part of the newsletters that arrive in your inbox. There is a potential to get bigger discounts for specific products, the categories of course are focused more on electronics
  • Auctions are always present, but I have not really seen a lot of good things happen in this space in the Indian site

Best of all is the eBay guarantee. I have personally been through 2 cases where high value (which for me is > 5000) items were not the same as what was promised. All I needed to do was to open a case with them, and they followed up with me later on, followed up with the supplier and refunded the money within 7-9 days. Having this trust really helps, especially since there are more than a few instances when products are available at much lesser prices in eBay.

What is your experience of eBay? Do you agree that it is worth buying through eBay?

ebay.in

Save money on books (again)

own a book

See the first part of this article to check on how libraries help you. But I do understand libraries are not for everyone – for starters, you may not want to feel the pressure of committing to read something in a finite time. For others, it is just filling up the books till you can actually feel the knowledge transferring directly to the brain! So here are a few more options.

2. Become a deal-hunter

This is for the people who want to feel the pages, smell the smell and see the decay of books in their shelves. Physical books are the reason for the earlier mentioned libraries to continue their survival (though they may change avatars later). Books are not cheap, they are exhorbitantly priced sometimes. But if you are willing to wait for the opportune moment, you get it for much less.

flipkart.com/books

Flipkart deserves to find the first mention. Hardly called innovation on the global stage but continuing strongly with good delivery model in India, Flipkart should be a good website to check on book bargains. Often on sale and offering better deals, your wait can result in some good money savings while reading some fantastic books.

amazon.in/books

The king of books is here, and boy, do they rock. Amazon has a really good selection of books, and often has the right deals to go with it.

Of course, the downside of hunting for bargains is just that – you always do not get what you want in your hunt. But hey, you do end up saving a bunch of cash.

3. Embrace the future – eBooks!

If you are all ready to move on to the next generation, check out eBooks. A lot of books nowadays get published in the digital format, and that often costs much less than the printed version. Apart from the feel-good factor of saving nature, you also get the flexibility of reading through your desktop, tablet or your phone. If you are a really serious reader, you will invest in a good tablet (not necessarily Kindle) and carry that everywhere with literally thousands of books!

amazon.in ebooks

The first and only mention is of course amazon.in. With good many eBooks (both paid and free) available in Kindle editions, the eBooks are fun to read with excellent portability. Newer eBooks are lesser than their printed counterparts (but not significantly less), but that is slated only to get optimised further.

Have some other options to continue reading while saving money? Comment, and see it create an impact!

Save money on books

book-quote

Reading books is a fantastic habbit, and a topic worth its own book. But, we are not here to discuss that. Reading books (especially the new ones) will cost you money – a lot of money if you live in countries like mine (Though the situation is improving with the differential pricing).

So, how do you keep your hobby alive and kicking, but dont end up spending too much money? Read on for a few good options:

1. Libraries

I am not kidding. I am from Bangalore, where the public library system is as bad as any other. Although there are select libraries that fare average, they fall woefully short when you want new books of your liking (new = anything in the last decade). The all new, modern libraries are the real answer. There are quite a few options when it comes to Bangalore.

justbooksclc.com

JustBooks comes first here since they were one of the first to start on the innovative path of making libraries available online in India and fully integrating technology while doing it. It may also have to do with the fact that I was a customer for more than 3 years. With membership fees starting from Rs. 200 per month (for 2 books at one time), and go up to Rs.4750 per year. You could go to the umpteen stores in your city, or choose to have the books home delivered (add Rs. 50 per delivery).

They have pretty good books, open to service across branches, courteous staff and a constantly refreshing library. My only complaint – not all branches are the same. They only have few options for book lovers (3 as of this article) and good luck with other sites if you don’t get aligned with one of them. JustBooks is expensive.

librarywala.com

Librarywala has been on the book lending scene for quite a long time. You have to select the books online and they deliver the books at your doorstep. The plans start at Rs. 80 per month (1 book/month, 1 book at a time) till Rs. 3800 per year at the high end (12 books per month, 3 books at a time).

Inexpensive as compared to some of its competition, Librarywala’s downside is that you cannot just walk over to pick up books. That is a recreational activity by itself, and I miss only that.

  • Easylib [dead!]

easylib.com

Easylib has been here for more than a decade, and is still going strong. Cheapest of the three options listed here, but is considered active for Bangalore. The plans start from Rs. 150 per month (1 book, you can return and read any number of times) to Rs. 3000 per year (4 books + 2 magazines, beat that!). In the annual plan, 25 home-deliveries are included, you always have the option of visiting them in Koramangala.

The other option is to find a good private library near you. Koramangala has good many options, for the rest of mortals the above should work just fine.

 

Don’t really like libraries? You want to own books so that you have that cozy feeling of owning a piece of literature that defines the world? If you want to do that but still save money, look at the options in the second part of this post!

[Bangalore] How to Buy Car Batteries for Cheap?

car battery

I have had rather good and bad experiences with my car, but more of latter. The number of people who take things for granted and quote exorbitant prices are simply too so many that I doubt whether hyper-local really works in India to provide a cost advantage, greater trust and good quality.Now, back to the core question..

  1. The first step in buying battery is to get the correct nomenclature of the battery. Either refer to the car owner’s handbook or do some queries on the internet. If you have already added significant after-market parts that eat up battery, add up the parts to arrive at how much battery is needed. Diesel and petrol cars have distinct battery requirements, and different models of the same car can be different. For example, the battery for my Indica is DIN44R. You can also check the battery numbers here: Exide, BatteryBhai (yes, that’s a site)
  2. Logon to http://justdial.com (or call them at 0 88888 88888) and post an ad for requirement of car battery and provide your number. You can also use olx.in or quikr.com, but I have typically found justdial responses much better in quality and in the number of responses I get for the ad.
  3. Again, visit your friendly neighborhood dealer. Ask for the price of battery by quoting the part number
  4. Not all batteries are created equal – read reviews. One of the trusted sites out there is http://team-bhp.com. Be wary of the number of years of warranty. Typically better quality of batteries from same company can have longer warranty but cost more, achieve a balance that you are comfortable with. Also, note the differentiation between ‘replacement’ warranty and warranty that offers you discounted rates when you buy a new battery replacement. For e.g. a company may offer you 2 yrs replacement warranty and 3 more yrs of extended warranty. In the extended period, they offer you to replace your battery in case of failure at a fraction of the cost of total battery (say 50% of cost).
  5. Buy (and profit!). If you contact seller on phone, they typically get the battery installed at your door step. The seller is legally obligated to accept the older battery and discount that price from your battery cost. I have typically seen the local buyers quote MRP rates and offer Rs. 200-300 discount, compare that to the offers from JD. Buy whichever is cheaper, the warranty will be provided by the manufacturer anyway.