Mouse Wheeling and Dealing

By Jeffrey Bridgman

What’s that in your purse? A wad of cash? Or is it receipts where money used to be? Regardless of your cash flow or net worth, if you’re planning a purchase, you should exercise due diligence to get the best deal. More information than you need or want is available on the Internet, but if you’re not careful, you can waste so much time trying to find it that you’ve diluted your deal. And browser beware that Internet surfers can be carried away by cyber riptides and end up buying things they don’t need or products more expensive than they planned to buy. The tide can quickly turn on this technique that is meant to save you money. So mentally prepare yourself before you jump in by setting a time limit for finding what you’re looking for and a spending limit. Write these things down with a list of the must-have features you’re looking for in a product. Stay focused!
With those cautions, I recommend a two-pronged approach to purchasing. First, do some research a few weeks in advance by checking some sites and signing up for some newsletters that are likely to alert you of a deal on what you’re buying. Second, on the day you buy, scan the Web to make sure there’s no better deal before you click “buy now.”
Here are a few of my favorites for research and keeping a watchful eye for a sale over a period of a few weeks prior to purchasing:
www.dealnews.com – This website has over 200 select deals each day, and they are confirmed to be legit from trusted retailers. What’s their slogan? “Where Black Friday is Every Day.” You can search for and subscribe to email alerts for a particular item, subscribe to one of several newsletters for different types of products, or subscribe to RSS feeds for whatever you need. You can also get coupons to use on brand-name websites. (In case you’re wondering, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and allows users to avoid manually inspecting all of the websites they are interested in, and instead, subscribe to websites such that all new content is pushed onto their browsers when it becomes available. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you are really simple if you didn’t know that!)
www.techbargains.com – This site has hand-picked bargains on electronics among other things. It also includes coupon codes, etc. Deals change frequently, so you want to check this site often. It has a newsletter and custom alerts you can set up, too.
www.woot.com – This is a fun website to check out: “One Day, One Deal.” Every day they have a different deal. It hooked me for a while.
www.deals.com – This is a community for sharing and finding coupons, deals and promotions.
Finally, on the day you buy, the price-comparison websites can check various retail sites to find the best price. Search for a specific product or a general category and filter the results down to see the various prices offered on desired items. Most of these sites also have a price history feature that show what prices were charged for a particular item in the past. This function allows us to see if the current offer is a good deal, or if we should wait a few months for a better price. Some websites also have customer ratings and reviews, as well.
Here are some good ones to check:
www.pricegrabber.com
www.nextag.com www.google.com/products
shopping.yahoo.com
www.half.com This is only scratching the surface of all the resources available, but it should get you started finding deals and comparison-shopping. If this seems like a lot of work, compare it to going to three or four stores around town and the gas, time and effort involved. Add up those resources and keep them in mind when allotting your time to search the Web.

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