Hunting for an Online Deal. For Real.
How did people find things to buy before the Internet? Department stores? And what if they wanted something specific? Did they search the classifieds? Did they scour bulletin boards around town? Or were they just content with whatever they could find at Target? No need to settle these days. Thanks to Al Gore, we have the Internet, and because of the Internet, we have online shopping! Not only is the Web a way to find a vast array of goods, it’s an opportunity to efficiently search for deals. So get ready!
Enter the digital age
So maybe you’re skeptical. I mean, things go on sale at Meijer all the time; how could shopping on the Web save me more than that, especially with added shipping? Well, it isn’t always easy. Saving money online is more about the way you shop and a consideration of how the website works. Different sites yield deals to different strategies.
Craigslist: Early bird gets the worm
If you’re not familiar with Craigslist, it’s basically a listing of classified ads posted online. When you’re looking for the deals it’s really about responding before someone else has the chance to. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Either bide your time and let your heart harden, or broaden your search to something less specific – or try another online service. However, if you do have a few different postings to choose from, respond to a few. I wouldn’t stick with just one option if I could help it, because sellers don’t always respond when a piece is already sold. In fact, they usually don’t. If you don’t get an answer, move on, and don’t let it spoil your day.
Craigslist does have the perk of letting you pick up the item yourself and allowing you to meet some new people in the process! I realize strangers may make some of you nervous, so it couldn’t hurt to bring a friend. Also, try to bring exact change. It’s a bummer to watch the seller scramble to break a twenty when you pay in cash.
Amazon: The glass of cold lemonade
Amazon may have the easiest setup. All you have to do is find what you want (this site has almost anything you can imagine) and buy it. The shipping is usually around $4, unless you have a Prime membership and shipping is fulfilled by Amazon. Then it’s free 2-day shipping. I mean, if you’re willing to get something used, you could really snag a deal. But even if you aren’t, there are deals to be had. Of course, I’m also a fan of the idea that you don’t have to be beat someone else to get it; I’m just not aggressive enough. The deals on Amazon are pretty consistent, but they do have special deals in the “Gold Box.”
Also, the package tracking listed online will show you each waypoint in the journey to your house, giving you a better idea of when it will arrive. And it’s just kind of cool to see the route your package traveled.
eBay: Spy vs. spy
eBay is probably the best place to go for something unique. You never know what you can find on eBay, but it’s sure to be more than you expected. The difference here is the auction aspect, and it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you really want something, and if there’s some competition, you need to just hold off and bid right at the last second before the auction ends. It’s sneaky, but it’s how you get things done. For that reason, it helps to try a search using a common misspelling of your item to find a listing other people didn’t find. Sometimes that isn’t necessary with an item with more postings than people willing to buy, but I wouldn’t count on that.
So, while you’re looking for deals, go with the site that suits you. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re not aggressive or that meeting strangers isn’t your thing. And remember, saving money on something you don’t need isn’t going to save you money. So use your common sense.