Getting the Best Bargains on eBay

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ebay logoOnline shopping has transformed the way we buy things, but eBay in particular is a marketplace unlike any other. Businesses and individuals with second hand items are found side-by-side. “Buy it Now” items from countless independent sellers alongside the auctions which form eBay’s flagship feature.

The auction and selling site can be a great place to find bargains, but it is also easy to get stung or carried away with an auction and end up paying over the odds. Tactics you can use to help make sure you get good bargains include:

Don’t Rely on eBay Alone

Very often, the cheapest prices can be found on eBay – but this is definitely not something you can assume. Look on other sites like Amazon to see if there are better prices out there, rather than relying on eBay alone to look for bargains.

Sort Your Results

Always sort your search results instead of leaving them on eBay’s default “Best Match” ordering. Which order you choose, however, depends on what you are looking for:

  • Cheap Auctions: Sort by “Time: Ending Soonest” to bring auctions that will finish soon to the top of the list. Look for items that are going to finish in minutes or hours and are still at low prices, and then items that you might want to add to your “Watch List” for later.
  • Buy-it-Now Bargains: Simply sort by “Price+P&P: Lowest First.” Don’t confuse this with “Price: Lowest First” which excludes postage charges and therefore doesn’t reflect the amount you will actually pay. With some items such as gadgets, however, you may find yourself sorting through pages of 99p accessories before getting to the item you want.
  • Second Hand Items: This is a little more complex. Most second hand bargains are listed as auctions, so sort your results accordingly. Buy-it-Now listings can and should also be checked as you would at any other time. However, if you have had a good look through the items and want to wait and see if you get a better deal another time, in future you should sort Buy-it-Now listings by “Time: Newly Listed.” This will bring listings that have been placed since you last looked to the top, and help you find bargain Buy-it-Now prices that might not last for long before being snapped up.

Bid Tactically

Don’t just bid at any old time – think carefully about when and how to bid. If you think the item may go for the starting price or not much more, it may be worth placing a bid as soon as you are sure that you want to. Other people are less likely to bid if they see that a bid has already been placed than if they see that nobody has bid yet, and this can put off competition. If you think other bids are inevitable, wait until the last day. This will help you see whether the price stays low enough to be of interest, and give other bidders less time to outbid you.

If you are outbid shortly before the auction ends and want to bid back, leave it until the most last-minute moment you can stomach. This significantly reduces the chance that the other bidder will simply, instantly outbid you again. However, don’t get carried away and pay more than you intend, or more than you would pay if you simply bought the item elsewhere.


Save as you Shop

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Receipt PrinterWhether buying online or doing your weekly food shop in the supermarket, there are a number of tactics you can use to save money. Some of these are as simple as looking for offers or not buying more than you need, but others don’t actually, directly have anything to do with the items you buy. Instead, they give you a small saving on every bit of money you spend, and over time this can build up into a nice sum you’ve managed to save.

Reward Cards

A lot of people wonder whether it is really worth bothering with loyalty cards and reward programmes. In fact, they are definitely worthwhile – at least for places where you shop often. All you do is hand your card over to the checkout assistant or swipe it at the self-service checkout – almost no effort at all. In return, you get a small amount of what you spent “reimbursed” in the form of loyalty points, and you will also usually receive vouchers for money saving or extra points. With regular shops you will be surprised how many points you can rack up.

Different schemes work in different ways. Tesco Clubcard points can be spent as a substitute for money in Tesco stores. Nectar Points are a bit more flexible. They can be earned and used in Sainsbury’s and in some other places, including some online retailers. Co-Operative Member Points, meanwhile, pay out annually in cash, with the value of each point depending on the year’s profits.

Cashback Websites

Cashback websites give you money back when you shop online. You can shop at the same sites you normally do, but instead of heading directly there you go via a link on the cashback site. The site then gets paid a commission for bringing your business to the retailer, and they pay a percentage back to you.

Top Cashback and Quidco are the two highest-paying cashback sites. They give you 100% of the commission, and rely on advertising revenue to make profits for themselves. Not all retailers can be accessed through cashback sites but a lot of them can, including most major names. Probably the biggest exception is eBay.

Cashback Cards

Some credit cards offer a percentage of cashback on purchases. Even if you would not normally use a credit card for day-to-day shopping, doing so with a cashback card and then paying the bill off promptly each month can give you small but noticeable savings through the cashback scheme.

Usually, cashback offers on credit cards will be limited. Either they will only be valid until your purchases have reached a certain combined value, they will only be offered for an initial period, or they will be limited by a combination of the above. For this reason, getting a credit card exclusively for a cashback offer may not be worthwhile unless you have a big purchase coming up.


Put Some Frugal Finesse in your Grocery Shop

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There are many ways which you can save good money on your household grocery shop, and following some of these basic tips will make it a lot easier!

Before you even draw up a list, ensure you have a budget already in hand for all your household spending (a good link on how to make your first budget can be found at budgetbuddy.co.uk). Many fail to do this most fundamental of financial necessities, and therefore cannot benefit from the information and planning ability a budget can provide.  Once you have a budget in clear black and white, you can then really tell yourself what you can and can’t afford – what is a need and what counts as a ‘want’.

A shopping list must be drawn up before you go for the shop – so you only buy what you really need!  When doing the list, take care to check what you need but also what you may need in the coming week or two too (just so that if it is on offer, you are better off buying it now and saving some money off next week’s shop!).

1Shop where it suits you to shop!  It may be cheaper to shop in that big store but if it costs you £5 in fuel just to drive there and back is it better to walk to the local convenience store if you only need a few things?  You might pay a bit more but you may still save overall, and you would be benefitting local trade which in turn provides local jobs etc!  If you have a discount/loyalty card and it works for you – stick to it and claim the rewards.  There is no such thing as ‘the cheapest place to shop’ – all the big stores are becoming increasingly competitive and all have a host of special offers on at any one time.  Also why stick to one shop – alternate where you go so you get access to different deals/price reductions.  Get your family/friends in on it too – e.g. let your sister know when her brand of shampoo is on offer, or when the nappies are buy one get one half price etc.  We can all help each other!

Then there’s the brands.  Obvious to say, but you can very easily save money by switching from name brand to shop brand. Sure nothing beats the taste of the branded biscuits or even cereal but the taste of the store made one is very similar with a lot of saving to be made. Also it could even be in some cases that the store brand tastes better than the branded one (bourbon biscuits, maybe the cheaper ones have more sugar but they sure taste great!).  I have also found some items like Sainsbury’s own brand toilet paper to be nicer than the branded ones, and I only discovered this when none of the branded ones were on offer and I tried it once. That’s all it takes, try something different, you don’t have to buy it again if no good, but if it is you can save money every time!

The reason brands cost more than store prices is because brands have a seven-year brand copyright.  Once those seven years are up there is no copyright, so similar products can be made and sold at a much cheaper price- the stores own- branded price. In some cases you could save up to 40% of buying the store brand instead of the branded one.

Lastly, buy less junk food! Buying a lot stricter not only does it save you money on your grocery shop but also makes you and your household a lot healthier. For example instead of going to a fast-food place for fish and chips, compare the cost to making your own oven chips and buying frozen cod pieces, a lot healthier and cheaper.  Stir-frys too, again a quick, healthy and cheap option compared to reaching for the phone for an £18 pizza.

These are all really easy ways to save money; I hope even in some small way any of these tips may help you to save good hard cash… and master that frugal finesse!


Get Hold of Your Finances by Curtailing Impulse Spending

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Think about how much money we could save if there weren’t so many nice things staring at us from the store displays or even our television or computer displays. Retailers know how to real us in and separate us from our hard earned money. But if you want to gain control of your financial situation, you will have to learn to resist those impulse shopping tendencies so you can put some money aside for when you really need it.

Here are some tips to help you overcome the impulse shopping urges and keep your money where in your pockets.

window shopping

Shop but don’t buy

The most effective tool against impulse shopping is to make a point of not buying anything that you did not specifically go into a store to buy.

- Make a list before you go into the store. Not only does this help you remember to get everything you need, but you also don’t want to succumb to the impulse purchase and not have money left for more important things.

- Browse the things that you enjoy, but force yourself to wait until next time. Then if you decide to get it, you’ll be following the “buy what you came for” rule. This gives you time to decide how you are going to pay for it and if it really is a good time.

Consider how bad you want that new thing

One of the fundamental aspects of impulse sales is that the effects often wear off once a customer is no longer under the influence of the sales pitch. If you hold off on buying something until another time, very often you will discover that you don’t really want to buy the thing after all, if you even remember that you wanted it in the first place.

What does your budget allow?

The key to ultimately deciding whether you are going to make a purchase that is not part of your monthly, weekly or daily requirements boils down to how much spare money you have to spend. And that means that you should keep a budget. This is not as scary as it sounds. You just need a realistic and detailed list of everything you absolutely have to spend on each month, such as food, bills, etc. and subtract it from how much money you take in. That extra money, allowing some cushion for emergencies, is your disposable cash.

You see, it is not that hard to avoid impulse spending after all. You can save money and still enjoy the things you want in life by hanging onto your money until you are sure you really want and can afford to buy something.