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How to Get a Good Deal on Electronics

This post is meant as a follow on to my recent pricing post.  It involves putting those learnings into action.

Purchasing Large Consumer Electronics like a TV or a laptop can put a significant dent in your finances. Often you hear suggestions from Finance Bloggers not to purchase expensive electronics if you want to retire early. The reality is no matter who you are, you likely don’t want to live like a monk for the next 30 years. You are eventually going to find a need to buy some type of electronics. Over the last year I purchased a laptop and a TV to replace some old obsolete electronics. We’d been watching tv on a unit that had an unfortunate encounter with a harmonica, and the damage finally overwhelmed the picture to being unwatchable. If you do have to purchase something expensive like a TV every so often, you can still maximize what you purchase per dollar spent by getting the best deal possible.

Determing what you Need

The first step to any major electronic purchase is to determine what model you want to purchase. In general, I would recommend looking at something midrange unless you require a higher end spec. For example, if you want to write your blog on a laptop, you don’t need a 2000 dollar gaming rig. Instead, a 400 dollar basic laptop should be more than sufficient. Look for 2-3 purchase options of similar spec, and compare different brands based on their specs.  Make sure to include refurbished and scratch and dent items in your search.   Note that for scratch and dent this can be done in store with negotiating like in  Hacking a New Car Purchase or through options like Amazon Warehouse.  These options will give you a better likelihood to get a good deal.

Timing

The second thing to pay attention to is the time of year. Certain items have shown to be cheaper at different times of year. Specifically look for the time when a model typically changes or when sales are typically light.  These times will likely provide the best deal.

Tools

From here begin to look for a deal. I recommend using multiple tools for this purpose:

  1. A deal aggregator like Fatwallet or Slickdeals will give you the latest hot deals.
  2. A tool like camelcamelcamel can be used to track prices on AAmazon over time to observe when the best deal appears.
  3. A tool like Yahoo shopping and Google shopping can also be used to consider multiple sources.

Deal Inflation

Be very careful with your interpretation of what a deal is. Often a retailer will note something as heavily discounted, but simply up increase the base price to show a higher discount. Other times they will release a special subpar version.  Checking the tools above and the pricing trends will ensure that you get a good deal. Also, pay close attention to payment terms and shipping costs. Purchasing something through paypal with its associated fees is not the same as using a credit card. Purchasing with a shipping cost can also eliminate a price savings. Finally, watch where you are purchasing the item from, as in some cases if you do not purchase a product from an authorized retailer the warranty will be void.

Cashback

Once you’ve found your sale, there are 2 more steps to ensure you get the best deal. The first is to run your purchase through a cash back aggregator like Ebates. These cash back options can add 1-6% to your savings above and beyond the credit card cash back you can also collect by paying with a card. It is a good idea to pay with a card wherever possible.

As your purchasing decision draws to a  close, pay attention to whether you have any credit cards featuring categories with higher cash back from the sites you are purchasing. Combining Ebates and  credit card cash back can sometimes make one site’s deal better than others, so be sure to consider the entire picture. I’ve personally seen a combined cash back setup exceeding 15%, thus exceeding any savings I would receive from other sources. You can use sites like: https://www.visa.com/supplierlocator/search/index.jsp to determine what merchant category a specific store falls under to determine if it applies to a given category.

Price Look Back Features

One final note, some cards like Citibank ThankYou feature a price rewind benefit.  These functions check future prices after your purchase and will refund you the difference if the price changes in the near term.  All others being equal, consider using one of these cards and leveraging the benefit to get the best price.  I am told a few retailers also provide the feature, just be sure to read the fine print.

Look At The Entire Picture for the Best Deal

Ultimately, remember to consider the entire picture to ensure you get the best deal. A combination of all the tips above can save you upwards of 25-30% when applied correctly. When purchasing a low cost item the investigation might not be worth your time, remembering that time is money, but when you make a large purchase usually the minor needed effort can provide considerable dividend. Happy Shopping.

Do you have any tools you use for reducing purchasing costs?

Note: This post contains Affiliate Links.  It was written prior to the knowledge of the Affiliate capability existing, but I will receive renumeration if you follow through with the links.

4 Comments

  1. Mr Defined Sight
    Mr Defined Sight November 23, 2016

    Great tips, I will have to check out those sites you listed. That is unfortunate about the harmonica and tv encounter. You don’t hear of that one every day haha! Great post.

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] November 23, 2016

      Toddlers do make life interesting. Perhaps it’s a sign of athletic ability to come.

  2. Mustard Seed Money
    Mustard Seed Money November 23, 2016

    I love slickdeals!!! I check every day to see if they have anything that I want/need. I found my TV this way a couple of years ago and it was 50% off. I also bought a laptop this way last year. So slickdeals is definitely the way I go on electronic 🙂

    Thanks for the great post!!!

    • fulltimefinance@fulltimefinance.com
      [email protected] November 23, 2016

      Glad to know I’m not the only fan. It’s a great place to go if you have something specific you need.

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