Friday, April 3, 2009

Research Before You Buy

Tip #111 - Research Before You Buy. Don’t buy the first thing that comes along, even if it looks like a good deal. When you are in the market for purchasing a product, it is important to figure out exactly what you want and then research the best price for it. This is far preferable than seeing an item and then buying it. For example, suppose you are in the market for a bread machine. You get a flyer in the mail for a store that shows bread machines for a special price of $69.99. It is very tempting to run over to the store to pick it up, after all you are quite anxious to make some fresh bread. But that is not the best way to go about buying something. How do you know that it is the best brand for you? Most likely, it is not. And even if it is, how do you know it is the best price? It probably is not.

Instead, if you decide you need a bread machine, research bread machines – talk to friends who have them, read reviews on the Internet, look at Consumer Reports. Then decide which brand and model you would like to buy. After you decide that, compare prices. Look at local stores. Look at online stores. Consider a pre-owned one on eBay, Craigslist or other used-item source. Sometimes you will find that prices are very comparable at many stores. Other times there are great differences. Let’s say that the best price you see for the model you want is $80 at an online site including shipping. A local store, on the other hand, sells it for $85 including tax. However, you know that the local store sends out 20% discount coupons on a regular basis. You wait until you get one in the mail, bring it to the store and snag your item for $68. Now you can be confident that you got the model you want and for the best price. Aren’t you glad you didn’t run out and just buy any old model for $69.99?

In Real Life –
I tend to research things pretty thoroughly before I buy, especially if it is a high-dollar item. I like to figure out which brand or model I am buying, and then I shop around for the best price. Sometimes, even after I buy something, I tend to keep looking to see if I could have gotten it cheaper (bad habit I know because it just causes me frustration if I find it for less). My husband on the other hand is very impulsive. If he wants something he wants it NOW. And I often have to be the voice of reason to get him to slow down and research what he wants and to wait to purchase it for the best price.

About two years ago, our old model vacuum cleaner from my mother-in-law was not working well anymore. My husband kept saying that we needed to buy a new one. Being that I am the more frugal one in the family, I felt that we could get by with what we had for a little bit longer. He, however, did not agree, and one day he came home from work with a new vacuum cleaner. He was in the store – saw one for $100 that looked good - and bought it. I was not pleased to say the least. In my mind, he approached the situation all backwards. He saw the item and then decided to buy it rather than figure out what he wanted to buy and then find the item. Who knows if it was the right vacuum for us, let alone if $100 was a good price for that particular brand and model?

At that time I had been hearing great things about the Dyson vacuums and was leaning toward saving up for one of these more expensive models. Well, here it is two years later and that $100 vacuum isn't working properly any more. So now we are in the market for a vacuum again, and this time we are going to approach it the right way. We're going to research which one is the most appropriate for us and then we will find that best price for it. In the meantime, I am still fuming because we wasted $100 on that other vacuum. For other frugal tips, check out Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.


Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Good advice! Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

I wanted a bread machine and just waited and waited....checking out every yard sale, household/estate sale for almost a year. I went to a rather nice sale here in my own town and asked the seller if by any chance she had a bread machine for sale. She said she had been thinking about selling hers since she hardly used it and went into her house and brought it out. It was almost BRAND NEW, with the book and everything. My eyes almost popped out of my head and I'm sure my jaw hit the ground when she said, "I hope you don't mind, but I'll have to ask $5 for it". SOLD!!! I love it. It sure paid to wait!

I love my Oreck vacuum and that was something else I waited for and researched. Got a godd deal on that, too!

Love your blog and laugh like crazy over the Florida stories on your other one!