Many of us (even those who otherwise enjoy shopping) frequently leave the store feeling like they paid too much for their purchases. Whether it’s airline tickets, health insurance or major appliances, we are seldom happy to have paid full price for anything. Fortunately, with some smart changes to your buying habits, the feeling of being ripped off can become a thing of the past. Below are seven time-tested ways to ensure that you never pay full price for any of your significant purchases again.
Buy During Predictable Sale Periods
Certain items are sold for less at predictable times of the year, for reasons you can anticipate and plan your shopping around well in advance. About.com reveals that appliances, for example, are frequently sold for less during September and October, when retailers are anxious to clear space for the arrival of newer models. Air conditioners, as common sense might suggest, are cheaper once fall sets in and demand goes down. Computers, meanwhile, are discounted for back to school sales during late summer. The next time you need to make a major purchase, spend a few moments researching when those items typically go on sale rather than buying it right away.
Monitor Newspapers for Sales
In addition to timing your purchases to coincide with predictable sale periods, you can also monitor the newspapers for several days or weeks before buying something. On weekends especially, retailers tend to stuff newspapers with fliers and coupons advertising when the next big sale is scheduled. Everything from food to appliances to computer equipment and televisions can likely be monitored in the newspaper(s) you already read and receive at home. A hour or two a week spent clipping coupons and circling sale dates could produce serious savings when it comes time to buy.
Buy Used from Craigslist or eBay
In recent years, it has become possible to buy virtually anything used on websites such as Craigslist or eBay. Whether you are looking for a TV, a tool set or some living room furniture, you will likely be surprised at the selection of high-quality items being offered for sale online–and how inexpensive they are, compared to current retail prices. So long as you are buying from trusted sellers that other buyers have not complained about, Craigslist and eBay offer a way for anyone with an Internet connection to buy just about any tangible item for a fraction of what they would pay in stores.
Use Comparison Shopping Websites
Everyone knows they should shop around before buying, but it’s so time-consuming that few of us actually follow through. One way to take the time and hassle out of shopping around is to use comparison shopping websites like PriceGrabber and NexTag. Rather than painstakingly traveling from store to store and jotting down prices in a notebook, these websites allow you to view the prices different retailers have for everything from books and electronics to flowers and bed sets. Once you find a satisfactory price, you can click straight through to the merchant’s website and place an order immediately.
Become a Skilled Negotiator
Some purchases require of bargain hunters more than passively waiting for sale periods to arrive. Cars are an excellent example. While auto dealerships do run sale periods, it is well known among veteran car shoppers that there is no such thing as “the” price of a car. FightingChance.com, for instance, is a service car buyers can use to obtain detailed information about the markup and dealer profit that is built into any car they are considering. Armed with this and other information (such as up to date reports on how well the car in question is selling nationwide), savvy car buyers can walk onto the lot and confidently negotiate a lower price using the data at their disposal. Negotiation is also helpful in obtaining discounts on real estate and other major purchases.
Search for Coupon or Discount Codes Before Buying Online
Online retailers are increasingly offering discount and coupon codes as part of advertising promotions to encourage more sales. Luckily for you, it is possible to use these coupon codes without actually seeing the ads they appear in. Instead, before you place an order, just type “x discount code” or “x promotion code” into your favorite search engine (substituting the name of the company for x.) More often than not, your search will produce countless websites that list all the available discount or promo codes currently being offered by that company. Just pick the one you want, key it into the order form and place your order for immediate, virtually effortless savings.
Buy as Part of a Group
For expensive purchases, it is often possible to achieve substantial savings if you buy as part of a group rather than by yourself. Health insurance is a common example. While individual policies are priced expensively to reflect the risks of insuring just one person (who may or may not have pristine health), that same person can typically get a policy for substantially less if he buys as part of a neighborhood association or alongside the employees in his small business. Car dealerships and utility companies are also known to discount group purchases for all involved. Groupon.com, founded in 2009, promises group discounts on everything from meals to dental work to opera tickets, according to a New York Times article about the company. The lesson here is that many companies are eager to get the business of a sizable group and you can use this to achieve savings.
Chris Bennett is the marketing director for Creditloan.com. Creditloan.com provides the help you need with any consumer finance issue. From auto loans to personal loans, there are so many articles for you to choose from. If it’s a free credit report you are after, this is the place to be – a site that will help you move towards understanding what you need to do to achieve or keep good financial standing.