Buying Tips and Tricks

Below are some tips and suggestions that I have compiled from my own experiences:


Take Advantage of Airline Ticket Price Swings

Yapta is going to revolutionize cheap flight bookings. Yapta tracks fluctuations in airline ticket prices and notifies you when a ticket you have already purchased or are interested in buying drops in price so you can get the best deal. And if you have already purchased a ticket that drops afterwards, Yapta notifies the airline to compensate you in cash or travel vouchers. See more travel tips and deal

Save Big on Printer Ink

The printer companies have realized that they can make a lot of money selling you cheap printers that run on expensive ink. The cost of replacing ink on newer four color inkjets often exceeds the price of the printer itself. If you are willing to get your hands dirty, you can instead order ink refill kits from eBay at a fraction of the cost. The kits usually come with bottles of ink matched to your specific printer, syringes, rubber gloves and instructions for refilling your empty containers. For a few minutes of work, you can save about 75%.
See an example search of options for HP replacement ink on eBay.

Guarantee Against Price Drops

It’s painful when the new digital cameras you bought goes on sale for $100 off a week later. Many stores and credit card companies such as Amazon and American Express have both “official” and “unofficial” price protection policies and will refund you the difference of any price drops within a certain time period; you just have to ask. The only problem is that you have to keep your eye on the item. Enter Priceprotecr.com, a new site that will let you know of any price changes to recent purchases. After entering in the information from the product you purchased, Priceprotectr will keep you up to date on any changes via email. It’s an easy way to save some money.

Cutting Your Cable, Internet or Phone Bill

Rising competition has meant that packages for phone, internet and cable are cheaper than ever. Additionally, these companies have spent so much money to acquire new customers that they will go to great lengths to keep you. If your plan is over six months old, chances are you are overpaying. Call your phone, cable or internet company and tell them that a competitor has offered you a better deal to switch over and you are thinking taking the offer unless they can match it. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for 20-30% below what you are paying currently and to name the competitor i.e. Comcast, RCN. If they won’t budge, ask to speak with the cancellation department and tell them you want to cancel your service. These folks are empowered to make a last ditch effort to keep you. As an example, when I recently switch to Verzion’s new FOIS service, the retention department at RCN called me and offered a package that was 50% of what I was currently paying. Go all the way with the bluff, you can always pick a cancellation date a few weeks out and then call and change your mind. They will be more than happy to keep you as a customer.

Save at Least 10% at Home Depot & Lowes Every Time

If you Search on eBay, you will find many people selling coupons for both Lowe’s & Home Depot for 10%-20% off your entire purchase. It’s usually about $5-$7 for a package of five coupons. I have purchased these gift certificates many times, saving hundreds of dollars on my purchases. The best part is that both stores accept any competitor coupons, making them good at either location. Most of the coupons for sale are legitimate and have different SKU numbers. However, if you have any question as to the legitimacy once you receive them, use the coupon at the opposite store because both companies are unable to validate competitor’s coupons. Search eBay for the latest coupons.

Save Money Buying A New Car

Let’s start with the basics. The best time to buy a car for the most part (in order) is end of year, followed by end of quarter, followed by end of month. Although there may be other sales and dealer incentives, most sales people are trying to make a quota at these times and may have a quantity incentive that makes sense for them to sell to you the car at or close to invoice. Speaking of invoice price (what the dealer paid the manufacturer), you should always be negotiating up from invoice, not down from sticker. You can find the invoice price on the car and options you are interested in at Edmunds.com.

It’s very important to decide on the specific car you want before you try to get the best price, otherwise there are too many moving variables. Cars are a commodity. Once you know exactly what you want, then you can focus on the lowest price without having to deal with bait and switch. When you have settled on a choice, create a little competition. If you contact a dealer over the internet, they will usually give you their “best price” right away because they believe you have decided on the car you want and now price is your deciding factor. One way to get quotes from many dealers at once is to use Autobytel which is a free service. The internet sales person for each dealership will then send you a price and instruct you to come to them when you visit the dealer. They will then hand you over to a salesperson without the usual games and fanfare. Most will honor the price they e-mailed you, but if they don’t or try to play games, just walk away immediately because you shouldn’t trust them. You should also create a fax listing the car you want to buy, color and specific options. Put a note that you want to buy it within the week and then fax it to 4-5 dealerships. This has worked well for many of my friends, often there is a salesperson who needs to pad his/her stats who will offer you a great deal because they don’t have to do much work.

Also, don't get fooled thinking that you got a great deal on your trade in, this is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Salespeople usually bump up the trade value and then don't give you as much of a discount on the new car as they would have. Even if you are going to trade in your car to the dealer, don't mention you have a trade in until after you have agreed upon the price of the new car. You can tell the salesperson that you are planning to sell privately and then once you have a price for the new car, tell them you changed your mind and you think you want to trade it in. Ask them what they will give you, I can promise you that this number will be much lower than if you muddle the two transactions together. Usually, you get thousands more by selling your car privately. Craigslist is great option, I sold my last two cars on Cragislist for about $2500 more than the dealer offered me each time.

Extended Warranties

In general, extended warranties don’t make a lot of sense. Retailers push these warranties very hard because they are their single most profitable item. Many stores even give their employees commissions on them. It’s kind of like gambling, both you and the house can’t win. Simple math will tell you the reason they are so profitable is that far more people purchase these contracts than ever use them. If you are buying a cordless phone, toaster, small appliance, etc, skip the extra $10-$15 dollars. Chances are if your item does break in a few years, you will want a new version anyway and it will be cheaper. The one exception to this rule is large ticket items such as a Plasma or LCD TV. Despite their lofty prices, these items come with pretty skimpy warranties. If you are going to shell out a few grand on a highly technical product, it may be worth a few extra hundred dollars for the piece of mind.

Online Shopping Coupons

Before you purchase anything online, go to Google and look for an online coupon, 50% of the time you will save yourself money, especially if you are purchasing from a store that does a lot of online marketing. You want to put the store name into Google followed by the words “coupon code” surrounded by quotations (i.e. “kodak gallery coupon code”). It will probably take you a few minutes to sift though the links and find the best offer that is not expired (although try expired ones too). If you want to get a little more advanced, try searching for a specific discount i.e. “overstock coupon code 30% off”. You never know, you may get lucky. See all the Bobby's Best Deals and Coupons

Credit Card Price Matching

In order encourage buyers not to “hesitate” with their major purchases, many credit card companies, most notably American Express now offer “Buyer Protection” as a card benefit. Essentially if you buy something and then find it at a lower advertised price with a specified period of time (usually 90 days), and send them a copy of an advertisement, they will mail you a check for the difference. These programs aren’t heavily marketed, but make sure you take advantage of the feature if your card has it. Amex has sent me checks on multiple occasions, so I know it works. The only catch is that the lower price usually has to be in a print ad, they won’t accept anything from the web.