Comparison Shopping the Smart Way

by Miranda Marquit · 2 comments

When it comes to spending your hard earned cash, you want to know that you are getting the best deal. One way to do this is to comparison shop. In order to see that you are getting the best possible price, it means comparing the prices on similar items, so that you know which is really the best value. If you are ready to co some comparison shopping, here are some tips to help you do it the smart way:

Comparing Apples to Apples

The first thing you need to do is decide what you are looking for, and then compare items that are the same — or at least very similar. When comparing items, make sure they are similar in sizes, color, functionality and quality. Sometimes, at face value, it can seem as though you are getting a good deal. Until you find out that you didn’t get what you were actually looking for. Sometimes something is cheaper than its counterpart for a reason. Do a good job of comparing items that are truly similar in order to get an idea of true value.

Buying Online

One of the best ways to comparison shop is to use the Internet. We frequently find that we can get items for much less online. But you have to be careful; comparing apples to apples is harder when you are buying something sight unseen.

Looking online is a good way to help get a discount in town, if you don’t want to wait for shipping. More than once, we have seen a price online, and then called the brick and mortar version of the store to ask if they would honor the online price. In all cases that we have asked, the answer has been yes. Even if the answer is no, you lose nothing by asking. This type of price match can be a good way to help the local economy while getting a good deal.

When comparison shopping online, make sure you factor in shipping. In some cases, the shipping charges added to your low online price can result in a higher overall cost — especially if you pay a premium for faster shipping. Before you complete your purchase, make sure that you see the cost of shipping, and do a true comparison that includes the total cost of the item.

Use Consumer Resources and Aggregators

You can enhance your results in comparison shopping with help from other sources. My husband swears by Consumer Reports magazine. Before he gets anything, he looks at issues (he saves back issues), to see which items are of higher quality. You aren’t really saving money if that cheap item you bought breaks down in a few months and you have to buy a new one.

There are online shopping aggregators that can help you quickly compare prices from a variety of web sites, without having to visit a bunch of places in cyberspace. Use these aggregators to simplify things, and make quicker comparisons.

Is It Really Worth the Time?

As you go about comparison shopping, make sure that you are getting true value for your time. In some cases, it might not be worth it to check everywhere, or drive across town, just to save $3 on something. You might be better off to just pay an extra few dollars for the convenience of getting something at your favorite store, whether than burning the gas to go all over town to run your errands. Pick your battles, if you are short on time, and really get into the comparison on those products that are likely to yield the biggest savings.

This post has been included in the Festival of Frugality at Nerd Wallet. Visit the Festival for great tips on frugal living and saving money.

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dayna June 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

And we just learned that we can access Consumer Reports online through our local library.

pbrower2a February 4, 2013 at 9:15 am

If you are buying video and are unfamiliar with a movie or TV documentary, first check such a site as Internet Movie Database that has mass ratings and customer reviews (some favorable — and some pans). Schlock is never a bargain. At best it is a waste of space, and of course it is a waste of money. But good stuff? You might watch Citizen Kane hundreds of times.

Most stuff has been packaged for impulse shoppers. Don’t be an impulse shopper.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: