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With all the coupon clipping and penny pinching we do, we sometimes forget that there’s money to be saved on the big purchases, too. The key to saving money on the big stuff is to shop intentionally.
First determine the need and speed.
When your oven quits just before a major holiday, you feel a lot of pressure to make a purchase and make it quick.
But when it comes to things that you want (like a TV or computer), you have more time to make a good decision. In those instances, you have to stave off the need for instant gratification.
Even in “emergencies” there is usually more time than you think to make up your mind. For example, when our old clothes dryer died during the winter, we really wanted to replace it right away. But instead of rushing out to buy a new dryer and paying more than we wanted to, we strung a clothes line across our laundry room and used drying racks for a few weeks before we bought a new dryer. We were able to get a better dryer at a better price because we had more time to shop. All we had to do was make do for a little while.
If it is an urgent need, you may not get months to decide, but you certainly can take a day or two to figure out a plan. Taking a step back to assess your situation (what you need, what you want, and what you can afford) can be one of the simplest and biggest things you can do to save money on a major purchase.
Then do your homework.
If you’re serious about saving on your next major purchase, be prepared to get to know the subject inside and out. Consult Consumer Reports, do a web search, read product reviews, and ask your friends and family. Ask questions at the store. Learn what the trends are. Are you buying something that may be obsolete two years from now? If you wait three months will a new and improved model be on store shelves? What accessories will you need? Will you be able to afford the maintenance of this item?
Set a budget and start saving.
Those unexpected emergencies are exactly what an emergency fund is for. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to figure out how to pay for it. If that means financing the purchase, shop around for the best rates and make a plan to pay it off as soon as possible.
If it’s a new toy or gadget you want, you’ll enjoy it more if you pay for it cash. Start setting aside any money you save into a special fund.
Shop for the best price.
You can save a lot by shopping secondhand at estate sales, Facebook groups, eBay or Craigslist. Watch your local stores for sales and ask if they will price match their competitors. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. A business willing to win you as a loyal customer may offer things like free delivery or set up just for asking.
Consider purchasing a display model or a scratch and dent model (just make sure the warranty is still valid). That tiny dent on the side of your new fridge could save you $50 and no one will see the dent against the kitchen wall.
Avoid the up-sell.
Many salespeople work on commission and will push you to buy additional things like accessories and extended warranties.
Decide ahead of time what upgrades you’d consider and recognize that you may be able to get some things cheaper elsewhere. Just because a salesperson says you can add something on for just $20 more, doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
Just remember, when you shop intentionally and really think through a purchase, your wallet will always fare better than if you just rush out and buy what you want when you want it.
Read more frugal living tips and money-saving ideas at http://www.northerncheapskate.com