How To Master Comparison Shopping

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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screen shot 2013 12 20 at 12 20 13 pm How To Master Comparison Shopping

This article is provided and sponsored by:
ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions
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Comparison-shopping is a very useful skill to help reduce your expenses and live within your means. It can save you on groceries, clothing, and many other expenses. The consumer credit counselors at ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions (CCCS) offer these pointers.

Recognize the “value” of an item, not only the price. For an avid gardener, good pruning shears are key. You might prefer a pair of high-quality, Swiss-made ones which sell for $50 retail. But to save, you purchase a $15 pair made in China from a hardware store. Your pair wears out every six months, you toss it and replace it for another $15. If you had bought the more expensive pair, you would have saved money on a long-lasting item of higher value.

Stay committed. Comparison-shopping is time consuming and requires resourcefulness. You need to be ready and willing to make this commitment.

Try shopping on the internet. Craigslist and eBay are good sources for many commonly-used items. While eBay is better for smaller objects (lower shipping costs), Craigslist is a better for appliances and furniture. When people move, they often get rid of large items-washers and dryers, refrigerators, and furniture-and are willing to part with them cheaply.

Beware of deals that aren’t really deals. Just because a store is going-out-of-business doesn’t mean it’s offering good deals. You’ll see lines of uninformed consumers snaked around stores advertising liquidation sales. Often these shoppers could go to a discount store and buy their items for less every day! It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a crowd-buying mentality and overpay.

Avoid the outlet store trap. Because a store is located in an outlet mall doesn’t mean you’ll find low prices there. In fact, the majority of retailers located in outlets offer rather expensive clothes, accessories, and housewares. If a designer purse is regularly $450, but marked down 67 percent to $150, is it truly a deal?

Rely on the internet for key price comparisons. Searching the Internet to get the best deals is a must. Calling six (800) numbers to price a plane ticket from Los Angeles to New York, for instance, will take an inordinate amount of time and patience, and usually won’t get you the best deal. Most large companies, from airlines to phone and insurance companies, offer exclusive online discounts. For those without a computer, try using one at a public library or enlisting help from a friend or relative.

Consider the source. Dozens of websites were created to help consumers comparison shop. Make sure the sites you use do not only include companies who pay them to be included in their resource lists. This business model creates a conflict of interest and disregards offers from companies that do not advertise with them. When searching for flights on Orbitz, for instance, also check fares on Southwest Airlines’ site. Orbitz was started by six of the largest airlines of which Southwest was not a part. Despite having some of the lowest prices, Southwest doesn’t advertise regular passenger tickets on other sites.

For in-store purchases, ask if your salesperson is paid commissions. If so, he or she may be less likely to have your best interests in mind.

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Comparison-shopping is necessary to reduce expenses so they more closely align with your your income. For more savings ideas and money management tips, visit ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions.

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