I'm learning more and more about saving money on all sorts of things. Here are some tips we've picked up over the last few years about getting good deals on larger purchases. For part one of getting great deals on major purchases, click here.
First of all, do your research. Know what you want and why you want it. Pick out your model and get familiar with the costs associated with each of the features. Know about the models above and below that one, and which features you're willing to let go of to get a different model at a bargain price.
I think everyone knows about price comparing. Visit different retailers- in person and online. Check out the major stores, as well as the discount stores. Sometimes there will be a special in store that they're not running online, or vice versa. Get an idea of how much your item is selling for and which places have the best prices. What kinds of sales do they have? Are there any other promotions you can take advantage of?
Consider purchasing second hand. Sites like e-bay and craigslist are the favorites in our home. Make sure you really know what you're getting before you make any bids or phone calls. This is where knowing how much it costs new can really help you out. Generally, you should be able to find something used for at 10% off, but could get it for as low as 50% off depending on the product and the demand for that item.
Most of my second-hand purchases are for kids' items. Garage sales, consignment sales, and thrift stores are great places to find baragains. Sales like Neat Repeatz and Take 2 here in Lincoln are where I get most of my shopping done for the year. I haven't been brave enough to take all my kids to a garage sale in quite a while, but I believe that's where some of the best deals can be found, and you can have fun bargaining, as well!
Recently, I was looking for an infant swing. New, they're anywhere in the $60-$200 price range. I figured out which brands should get me a $20 swing and kept my eye on craigslist for several weeks. Nothing was coming to my price point, and I began considering the need to spend more than that. But wait! Here comes Take 2, and not only did they have a swing for $20, but there were two to choose from!
Look for the clearance, returns, scratches, and overstocks. These are usually found in a back corner somewhere. If the store is big enough, there will be an outlet store or something like it "nearby." Last summer, we needed a new dishwasher. We just happened to get a $75 rebate off our particular brand because of some problem with a feature we didn't even use. Within the time frame of using that coupon, ours actually broke- it's a lot nicer to run a dishwasher if the dishes get cleaned and the water stays inside! So, we went to a store that was doing some appliance promotional, as well. We found our dishwasher on clearance because the new year's model came out the week before! I can't remember what we spent, but after clearance price, sale, and rebate, we paid less than half the original cost of the dishwasher. At that point, even the most basic model they had would have cost us more money!
Have a budget and stick to it. This is a lot easier if you're planning to pay with cash. It's amazing what will happen when you say something like, "we'll just write a check" when they go into their store credit card speech. It makes me wonder how much time they spend on those that just get turned down. We were at a furniture overstock-like store to purchase some couches. They were a "special buy" and with the 10% off weekend, we thought we were getting a great deal. I was wandering around again while Greg waited for a salesman. I found a beautiful dining room table. Originally priced around $1800, it was marked under $300! The salesman even went to see if it would qualify for the 10% off! Anyways, he was moving kind of slowly with our purchases until we said we'd write a check. Boy, did he move fast then! The same thing happens on the car lot. They don't seem to know what to do with you if you pull out a checkbook! Dave Ramsey says to bring cash in, but we haven't tried that, yet.
Buying in multiples. This is the way stores like Sam's Club operate, but it can work on other things, as well. We love the Slumberland clearance section and often use part of a date night to wander around in there. One time we found three of the chairs for our dining room in the return section. Of course, we asked for a deal if we bought all three. Of course, we got it!
Be willing to walk away. This is especially important when shopping for something that you will actually bargain for- cars, furniture, etc. We were looking trade our car in for a van and had a certain amount of money to spend above that- and it wasn't very much. We didn't need the van, yet, so were able to walk away when the dealership wasn't willing to come down on the model we were looking at or show us anything in our price range. Just two days later, the dealership called and offered us the van for what we had! We got an exceptional deal because we knew our budget before going in and were willing to walk away. This is a lot easier to do this if you're paying in cash and the item isn't an urgent need.
Have we missed out on other deal opportunities? How do you get the best bang for you buck when you make a larger purchase? I'd love to hear some of your ideas for getting a great deal. We'll try them out when we make our next large purchase!
If you're looking for other ways to save some money, check out some other links at Frugal Fridays.