Join the bargain hunting game with these proven tips for money-saving success. From haggling to wholesales stores, here is all you need to know to score the best deals.
Know What You're Getting
Before you’re convinced to buy something just because it’s on sale, make sure to carefully consider the discount offer. For example, when something is offered for 25 percent off, with an additional 25 percent taken at the register, you’re usually not actually getting 50 percent off—you’re getting 25 percent of 25 percent—or 43.75 percent off. Also, make sure to ask whether “buy one, get one free” promotions require you to purchase two items, or if you can simply get one for 50 percent off. Finally, be aware that many stores put quantity limits on sale items just to try to convince consumers that the product is in demand. Buying more than you regularly would doesn’t save you money—it makes them more.
Play Good Cop, Bad Cop
One of the best methods for negotiating at the store is the “good cop, bad cop” strategy, so make sure to bring your spouse or a friend. One of you acts really interested in the product, while the other continually points out the flaws and negative aspects. Because of the “good cop,” the salesperson will remain hopeful that he can sell the product, but “bad cop” will make him work for it.
Return to the Scene for Even More Deals
You’re shopping in your favorite store and notice that there are tons of markdowns. After you fill your arms with bargains, go home and mark the day on your calendar! Most stores receive shipments of new goods every 9-12 weeks and discount current merchandise to make room for the new stuff. Return to the store during that time frame to find more deals.
Not Just Members Only
Just because you don’t belong to a wholesale club doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t shop there. Many states have laws that say that a store must allow anyone (even non-members) to buy prescription medication and/or alcohol there. Most stores will also allow you to shop there if a friend has given you a gift card for the store. Call the store’s customer service department and ask them what their policy is.
Join the Club
Just because you don’t belong to a wholesale club like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club doesn’t always mean you can’t take advantage of their savings. Have a friend who is a member get you a gift card, and they’ll let you shop there without a membership! (Just make sure to call the store and check first.) Show your gift card at the front desk and most wholesale clubs will let you in without a membership card.
Ask for Price-Matching
Before you go to the store, do a little research at competing stores or on the internet beforehand. If you ask a salesperson to match the price at a nearby store, there’s a good chance she will. Make sure you’re aware of “extras” that the competing stores may be offering. Even if you’re not interested in an extended warranty or free engraving at the other place, you can use the incentive to your advantage when bargaining.
When a Deal Isn’t a Deal
When looking at your store’s circular, be aware that not all of the products they show are on sale (even if they say “Deal!”). Stores often advertise a product just to call attention to it (like if they have too many in stock), not because it’s on sale. So before you snatch up what you think is a deal, make sure to consider the prices of similar items.
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