With all the rushing around at this time of year, it takes a little extra effort to be a smart shopper. Your credit union here for you with 5 tips designed to help you find the good deals and stretch your holiday dollars.
1. Do your homework
A cheap price on lousy merchandise is no deal. You can find product evaluations at a number of sites, including Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping and CNET (for electronics). You should also check customer reviews on Amazon.com and other shopping sites.
Then find out what’s a good price. Sites such as pricegrabber.com, pricespider.com, bing.com and nextag.com make this easy to do. Look for coupons that can bring down the price even more at sites such as couponcabin.com, couponmountain.com and retailmenot.com.
2. Keep looking because prices change
“We’re seeing a lot of fast price-cutting online by both big retailers and small,” says Daniel de Grandpre, Editor-in-Chief at dealnews.com. “It’s a lot of fun to watch and it’s certainly something you should take advantage of.” If you’re looking for super deals on toys, de Grandpre suggests you wait a bit longer. He says Wal-Mart, Amazon, ToysRUs and Target “kind of go to war on prices” between December 7th to 20th. That’s when discounts can reach 60 to 70 percent.
There are a number of ways to keep up with these ever-changing prices. Sign up for deal alerts at dealnews.com, dealalerter.com and pricegrabber.com. You can also “friend” your favorite stores on Facebook and monitor their Twitter feeds for special deals. Some retail sites now offer their own price alerts, so be sure to check for that.
3. Haggle for a better deal
Most people won’t do it. But if you have the nerve, give it a try. Surveys by Consumer Reports show that about half the people who haggle are successful. Those who negotiated the price of a TV saved an average of $165. Haggling over the price of a computer saved about $105. Even if you don’t get a better price, you may get something extra. The store may give you free delivery, free installation or bonus software. You’ve got nothing to lose by asking.
4. Look for free shipping
You can’t beat free shipping. But “free” doesn't mean the same thing at every site. You need to check the rules. Is it limited to certain items? Are you required to make a minimum purchase? Are there any other strings attached? Also, watch out for sites that lure you in with low prices on the merchandise and then clobber you with a huge shipping fee. The editors at Shop Smart magazine discovered that when one of their secret shoppers went looking for a garden tool. It was advertised for $19.99, a great price. But not after the shipping charges were added on at checkout. The final price came to $56.80, no deal at all.
5. Get a price guarantee
Let’s face it, we all wonder if we really got the lowest price when we go shopping the sales. See if the store has a low-price guarantee that entitles you to a refund if the item goes on sale after you buy it or if you find it somewhere else for less. Keep in mind: most price-matching policies do not apply to online offers or warehouse clubs.
Stay tuned later this week for 5 more tips for your holiday shopping needs! Thanks for reading another blog post from your credit union!