So, you’re looking for a desk for your home office; the best place to go is a furniture store, right? The best deal for cable is by calling the company direct and negotiating, correct? Maybe not. In fact, you can find the best deals for many major purchases in some very unexpected places. Here’s our list of some common items and some great, unconventional places you may get the best deals:
1. College Student Unions. Believe it or not, cell phone and cable companies cater to the younger crowd, offering basic programs at minimal cost. Stop by the student union of your local college during registration week, and see what different companies have to offer. While you’re there, pick up any discount coupons offered – many companies will set up tables, and give out freebies and coupons that can be used during the year.
2. Bridal Expos. They aren’t just for finding flowers and DJs any more! Furniture stores, home and garden supply stores, and even travel agencies are frequent vendors at these events. There have been many stories of well-known mattress companies offering up to 50% discounts, and home stores offering great deals, as well. Just be sure to check out the vendor list before registering.
3. Surplus Auctions. Police departments and government agencies host these events to get rid of extra furniture, seized cars, electronics, appliances, and more. I know a friend who bought a beautiful solid oak desk for $50 – a far cry from the original price of $600. All it needed was a little refinishing on top. Printers and computers are also commonly auctioned items, typically selling for pennies on the dollar. Remember to take the time to thoroughly examine items before bidding – sales are typically final. Sites like usa.gov, and propertyroom.com offer lists of auctions in your area.
4. Yard Sales, Thrift Shops, Flea Markets. Many bargain shoppers are already aware of these resources, but aren’t sure how to maximize their value. Here are a few tips:
a. Check out Craigslist. Many homeowners announce their garage sales on Craigslist, and quite a few offer a list of items, and even pictures. This is a great way to find what you’re interested in before leaving home.
b. Attend community garage sales. Many communities and homeowner associations have specific days set aside. This is a great way to browse through a dozen or more sales in very close proximity to one another. Typically, associations have sales twice a year (spring and fall), and they often put up banners the week before, to alert people to the upcoming sale.
c. Shop thrift stores early in the week. Many people clean out their closets on the weekend. Additionally, many people take items leftover from their garage sale to local thrift shops, giving them lots of new items for the upcoming week. Some thrift stores even offer discount days during early and mid-week, to encourage potential shoppers.
5. eBay. Online auctions can be a great way to find barely-used clothes, books, household items, CDs, you name it at a bargain price. Many vendors offer a Buy-It-Now option or have fixed prices in affiliated stores. Before you buy on eBay or any auction site, make sure you know how much the item you want retails for before bidding. Don’t forget shipping costs. Many times, items are available on Amazon.com for with free shipping and hassle-free guarantees for the same price or less. On eBay, sellers set their own prices and shipping rates, so it pays to check if you are getting a deal, a steal, or getting robbed.
Deals can be found for virtually any item, as long as you know where to look. Sometimes, finding the deals is as easy as opening your Sunday paper. Other times, however, finding deals means looking in places you might never before have considered.
If you are looking for ways to get out of debt, consider looking into debt consolidation.