I take a lot of pride in saving money for my family. That’s why, when it comes to buying, I look not only for the best price, but opportunities to get an even lower price. Some places are easier than others, and you need to maintain some etiquette when negotiating (I hate the word “haggling”). I’ve been putting my skills to hard use over the last month as I transition my son’s bedroom from the infant nursery into a toddler Seussville. Here are a few of my tips for you to try the next time you’re shopping:
Deals are harder to beat than what you’ll find at yard sales. If you show up at 7 am, don’t expect the seller to be incredibly willing to take your first offer. I find the best deals are garnered after 10 am, or when the heat index is nearing 100. Also, instead of asking for a lower price on just one item, pick several items and offer a price for the lot. I love going to yard sales closer to noon as sellers are more motivated to get rid of their stuff so they don’t have to pack it back into the garage.
Some thrift stores will let you negotiate prices like at a yard sale, but you should assume that most will not. Instead, ask if they have any specials. If you are a fan of Goodwill stores, each week you can get 50% off a particular color tag (the sign is usually posted when you walk in as to what color is on sale that week). If your local thrift store has a Facebook page or email list, sign up as you may get deals through their posts and email blasts.
I love eBay. I’ve been on the site since 1999. One of my favorite features on there is the “Make Offer” button. I’ve garnered some incredible deals over the last month through it, most at 50% off the original price. Before I make the offer, I search eBay and Amazon.com to see what other sellers are asking for the same item. For items that don’t have a “make offer,” I put the item on my watch list and wait to see if it sells. If it doesn’t, I send an offer to the seller using the “contact seller” link. Over the last month, about 75% of my offers have been accepted. I’ve also contacted sellers to get shipping fees reduced, though often times, the priority shipping is only $1 or so more than economy shipping. **Note: Be sure that if a seller accepts your offer that they create a new auction with a “Buy It Now” button. Otherwise, any purchase you make will not be covered by eBay’s Buyer Protection.** You may also look to purchase items from the same seller as they will often combine shipping on your winnings (just be sure to check their shipping description to see if they will).
My big scores off eBay: $6 for 4-in-1 game, $4 for new-in-box Matching game, and $6 for flashlight, all using the “Make Offer” button.
Half.com and Amazon.com Marketplace
It seems I will never have enough books, and Half.com and Amazon Marketplace were created just for people like me (well, probably not, but they are making a pretty penny from my purchases). The issue with these two sites is the shipping. Amazon.com Marketplace charges a flat shipping fee per item, regardless if you are purchasing more than one item from the same seller. On the contrary, Half.com charges a fee for the first item and then about 1/2 that for each additional item. For that reason, I tend to buy most of my books on Half.com instead of Amazon, but I maintain a wishlist on Amazon to keep tabs on newer listings at lower prices.
Yardsellr/Danny & Kate
I just recently got introduced to Yardsellr (or Danny & Kate - same inventory on both sites). It seems like a Craigslist/eBay hash up. You buy the items outright. You may pay shipping on some items, others the sellers may ship for free. But when you make a purchase, the site charges you a fee (they call it a “slice”) for the purchase. Where you get the savings here are on Photons (called “parent points” on Danny & Kate). I still have not quite figured out how to get more, but they award you a few when you log in and do other actions on the site. Additionally, if you mark an item as a “Love,” you may find that the seller gifts you photons to help toward your purchase. My best score off of there so far has been a Dr. Seuss T-shirt for my son for $1.75, that was using photons I had and with the site getting their slice. There are not quite as many items available as eBay as I belive the site is still getting traction. They also run “block” specials where they will multiply your photons toward a purchase in that particular block. It does require that you wait for their emails to get a good deal. My main gripe about this site is that the photons run out. You either use them or lose them.
There is no telling what you will find on Woot.com from one day to the next, and if nothing else, you’ll enjoy reading the narratives with their items. I’ve scored two different sets of Dr. Seuss floor puzzles for my son at the cost of just one. You can sign up for their emails specifically for kids items, shirt of the day, and five more categories. There is a flat shipping charge with each order.
Essentially, if you’re willing to make the effort, you can almost always get a lower price on items. Remember, it never hurts to ask.