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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More For Less: Big Ticket~Little Money

When it comes to finding the best price for big ticket items, it pays to do your research.

When we bought our last tv, we had already scoured all the local ads in the newspaper and visited a couple of showrooms to see if this was indeed what we wanted. We also did some intense internet surfing. The entire process took several weeks.

We are never in a hurry to buy anything. Over the years we've developed another rule along with the $50 Rule. We almost never buy a big ticket item on the same day we decide we need it. At the very least, we let the deal sit for 24 hours unless we are sure that it is the lowest price available and we are ready to buy.

Waiting 24 hours gives us a chance to think things through and it also allows us to double check to see if it really is a great price.

Above all else, never let a salesperson rush you into a sale. Trust me. If it's a big ticket item with a terrific price, the salesman will give you the 24 hours and honor that price the next day.

Back to research. Did you know there are entire sites dedicated to finding the lowest prices for any item? This in itself takes time, but when you consider you could be saving several hundred, if not thousands of dollars, it's worth the investment in time.

Here are a few to try that I found particularly helpful.

New Egg
Shop Local
Deal News

When we were shopping for our hi-def tv, we jotted down all the qualities it had to have along with the price it listed for at each store. The price spread was staggering.

On top of this even the sale price had to be scrutinized. What might seem like a great price on the surface could be for a slightly lower end product. The product code is the key. It will be the same no matter what store or e-store you buy the merchandise. When comparing prices, make sure it is for the exact product.

For me, this is where the headaches come in. One item may be almost identical to the other one. Sometimes you have to dig to get down to what the differences are—and then decide how important they are to you. It all comes down to doing your homework.

It's worth it. Don't settle for the first price you see at a "discount" store and assume it's the best one you'll find. And don't be afraid to haggle.

I am not a haggler by nature, but I do know the most I'm willing to pay for something.

A few months ago we had to buy an enclosed trailer. The price spread was anywhere from $4000 to $10,000 for the size and style we needed. The problem was I only wanted to spend $3500.

We were in a bit of a hurry since we were in the middle of moving, but we had already narrowed our search down to one of two trailer lots. Now it was just a matter of who could give us the best deal.

The salesperson at lot B gave us a price of $4850 on a very nice trailer with every feature we needed. He had us at a slight disadvantage because we really needed the trailer, and it wasn't too inflated a price (compared to the other lots).

On this go round, I was the one with the checkbook and I used that as my trump card. I told him flat out that $3500 was my limit, all the while making wifey-like innuendoes that suggested I was ready to look elsewhere.

Guess how much I paid for that trailer? $3500. Greg still brags about that. And I still love that trailer. I'm glad Greg talked me into the bigger one with the drop down ramp and the double axle. We've used the heck out of that thing.

Just remember that everything is negotiable. You don't have to fight with the salesperson. All you're after is a happy medium, a price you both can live with.

And do your homework. Good reconnaissance is your best armor.

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