Searching for legitimate money-saving websites can be daunting. That's why editors of Wise Bread compiled a list of over 190 best online resources for saving money. These websites have been hand-picked for their innovation and effectiveness. Here are 12 of the most unique and relatively unknown websites from the list. Take a look – chances are you'll be able to put several of them to good use right away!
[Slideshow: 10 Things to Splurge on This Summer.]
1. BeatThat!: We all know someone who is passionate about tracking down the very best deals. With BeatThat, an entire community of such people is put to work for you. Those who find the very best deals are put into a daily drawing that can earn them $50 to $125. With an incentive like that, topnotch results are guaranteed – and spammy, unreliable "deals" are kept out of the loop. The site once focused strictly on electronics; today, you can find deals on just about anything that can be purchased online.
2. Zilok: If the thought of buying a new chainsaw for a one-off project makes you cringe, relax – Zilok is a site that lets you rent everyday items from everyday people in your area. Better still, you can list items that you'd happily let others rent in order to make a little extra money. The entire process is regulated through the site, ensuring that everything goes smoothly. It's a smart way to avoid buying big-ticket items that you don't need on a regular basis.
3. BillShrink: Who doesn't want to save money on credit card fees? Now you can get a list of credit card offers, cell phone plans, cable packages, and savings account offers that are better than what you have in less than 5 minutes. Answer a few questions about your current plan and BillShrink will recommend better options to fit your needs.
4. CrossLoop: Is your child a whiz at solving computer problems, but attends school thousands of miles away? Thanks to CrossLoop, you don't have to say goodbye to their assistance when they fly the coop. The site allows users to link their computers remotely, making it possible for one person to solve another's computer issues from anywhere in the world. Various levels of service are available; if you're a computer whiz, you could even make some extra money by signing up for a pro account and setting up a profile.
5. Shop It To Me: Have you ever stumbled upon an amazing sale on your favorite designer clothing brand, only to discover that they are out of your particular size? At times like those, the urge to have your very own personal shopper couldn't be stronger; Shop It To Me is the next best thing. Simply plug in the sizes you wear and the designers you love, and the site will alert you to incredible deals from across the web. You can be alerted as frequently, or infrequently, as you'd like – and you'll always stay abreast of the lowest prices on the clothes you adore.
6. Covestor: We'd all like to get ready for retirement with smart investments. But who has the time to keep track of stocks on a daily basis? Covestor is a site that lets you ride on the coattails of savvy investors who share their portfolios with the unwashed masses. The site is easy to navigate, with intuitive search options and useful rankings. Best of all, users have the option of automatically matching the trades that are made by the investors that they like the best.
7. MyLifeScoop: Do you have a closet full of gadgets you don't understand how to use? If you like cool toys but hate reading manuals, then MyLifeScoop is the community for you. This site offers thousands of surprising ways to make use of everyday technology. (For example, do you know which smartphone apps can protect your family in an emergency?) Written in plain English, the tips from MyLifeScoop can help anyone get the most out of their tech purchases.
8. Smart Hippo: Navigating the tumultuous waters of mortgages, banks, lenders and loan officers can make even the most levelheaded person positively seasick. Instead of picking up the phone and subjecting yourself to one spiel after another, why not pick the brains of those who have been there and done that? At Smart Hippo, regular people post reviews of their experiences with all sorts of mortgage-related products and services. The stress and aggravation of buying a new home can be slashed by frequenting this simple-to-use website.
9. Coupon Sherpa: The days of waiting for the weekend circulars to arrive in order to find the best coupons are long gone. Thanks to the Internet, there are more options for tracking down deals and savings than ever. The major caveat here, though, is sorting through all of the offers that turn up in any given search. Coupon Sherpa compiles user-submitted online coupons, printable coupons, grocery coupons and even mobile coupons and ranks them according to how many votes they receive. With a few clicks of the mouse button, you'll be on your way to exceptional savings! (See also 50 best deals and coupon sites.)
10. SmartyPig: These days, brick-and-mortar banks aren't offering very competitive interest rates for savings accounts. SmartyPig allows you to create a virtual piggy bank, set up savings goals and solicit donations from friends and family – all while enjoying a practically unheard-of interest rate. Once you achieve your goal, the savings – plus any interest – can be added to a debit card, sent to your bank account or added to a retail card.
11. Upromise: Your kids may be babies or toddlers right now; before you know it, though, they'll be striding across the stage accepting their high school diplomas. Will you have enough money saved up to send them to college? Upromise partners up with thousands of retailers who contribute anywhere from 1% to 25% of your purchases into a college savings account. When the time comes, that money can be put into a 529, used to pay for college expenses or used to pay down student loans. It's totally free and it couldn't be easier.
12. Freecycle: During tough economic times, donating used items – and using donated items – makes all kinds of sense. On Freecycle, you can find your local group and peruse listings of free, unwanted things. On the flip-side, you can post free ads for things that you'd like to give away. This especially comes in handy when you have extra items left over from a garage sale. There's even a mobile app available that allows you to keep an eye on new listings while on the go.
Greg Go is the co-founder and Top Blog Rank Editor of Wise Bread, a blog dedicated to helping readers live large on a small budget. Wise Bread's book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, debuted as the #1 Money Management book on Amazon.com.