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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Importance of Comparison Shopping

With the need to tighten wallets becoming increasingly necessary in this continuing recession, the temptation is to deny oneself every happiness and joy regardless of expense because of instant gratification.  A&G doesn't accept the 'either/or' notion that one either can spend frivolously like there's no tomorrow on impulse buys or put every penny not spent on essentials into a bank or lockbox to never touch.   Neither option is very practical or realistic.

To achieve a balance, a person must learn a very essential skill for economic survival... comparison shopping.  And to understand comparison shopping, means you must understand some undeniable truths:

1)   You're likely to spend more for an item at a physical store vs buying online, even when adding shipping
2)   Sales tax adds up- physical stores and some online retailers charge it; other online retailers do not
3)   To modify the old adage of 'the early bird gets the worm'-  the patient bird gets the worm for less.

To be a skillful comparison shopper means to avoid the impulse of buying something and dropping into your shopping cart the moment you spot something.  It means to check other stores and sites via internet and to figure what is the best price when including shipping charges and possible sales taxes.

It means to do something most people refuse to do- temporarily deny themselves the things they want or feel they 'deserve' to have

I want to use a real example-  Let us say you wanted to own Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland" starring Johnny Depp and you wanted the 3 disc Combo Pack with Blu-Ray, regular DVD and digital copy.   Now, say you're at a physical store in your area and you see it for $34.99-  is that really the best price?   Let's find out.  (For this example, the sales tax will be 6%)

Options:  (all internet pricing is real- links provided)

A-  Physical Store-   $34.99  +  $2.10 tax =  $37.09
     ~  This option you have in your hand immediately.. no wait

B-  Barnes &    $40.49 + $2.43 tax = $42.92

     ~   Ok.. option B would be a terrible option even with free shipping- you're paying about $6 more and have to wait for it to be delivered-  let's continue...

C-  Best  $34.99 + $2.10 tax + $3 s/h = $40.09

     ~  This option is just as poor.. you'd be paying more because of shipping and if you went to their physical store, it would cost exactly the same as the physical store used in option A..  continuing...

D-   $30.49  + $1.83 tax =  $31.32

~  Ah, the first lower-price option.  Overstock currently offers free shipping for first order so based on the Option A price of $37.09 to buy at the store, you would be saving $6.23 ..   But can we find any better?

E-    $26.99

~  Amazon does not charge sales tax and offers free shipping for total purchases over $25.  So that means $26.99 is the final price for the  brand-new Combo pack, a savings of $10.10 vs the impulse purchase of your local store.

One last thing..   let's say you wanted this Combo pack but it really didn't matter that it was new and unopened since it was for yourself, and not as a gift.   Amazon offers opportunity to buy the items they sell used when possible through third-party sellers.  The quality is usually just as good and if not will specify when you read description.

Currently, the lowest used price for the Combo pack is $13.28  and you have to add $2.98 s/h, which makes the total price $16.26  ..    If that was purchased vs Option A,  your total savings would be $20.83!! 

This was a good example to demonstrate because when you hunt for the best prices, you're not always going to find the best deal online and sometimes when you add shipping costs, it will make the purchase online higher.  But with due diligence, there are deals to be found for the things you wish to buy if you know where to look.

I can not say it any plainer- the difference between and ant and a grasshopper in the modern sense, is the ability and desire to comparison shop.

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