When evaluating purchases, some folks are just so enamored with the price. They think a good deal is all about price. I used to think the lower the price the better, so I guess you could call me a recovering price addict. However, I’m coming to realize a good deal can only be found when one factors in both the price and the value of an item.
Consider the following fictional conversation:
Low Price Lover: “I got a great deal on my new bike!”
Person Concerned with Value: “Really? That bike looks like a piece of junk that could break if you sat on it.”
Low Price Lover: “Hey man, don’t dis’ my bike! Most bikes I looked at cost over a hundred dollars and this one was only $35. I got it for 65% less than every other bike I saw.”
Person Concerned with Value: “You just bought $35 worth of junk.”
Admittedly, this conversation over-emphasizes the boasting of the “low price lover.” However, the larger point still stands — any of us can become so enamored by price that we completely neglect to factor in the value or true worth of an item.
What is a “good deal”?
Getting a good deal means getting something that has a higher value for a lower than average price. At a minimum, every buyer should be sure that as the price for an item increases, so does the true value of the product. A purchase where price and value are comparable would be neither a good deal nor a bad deal. So what we’re really interested in is the value/dollar ratio.
When value lags behind price: a bad deal
Instances in which the price of a certain item is high, but the value is not, represent a bad deal. You’re spending more money without getting anything extra in return. If you want some examples of high price/low value items, look no further than the SkyMall Magazine next time you fly. There are some pretty outrageous prices for standard items. The bottom line is that it’s possible to get something for a really low price and still get a bad deal.
When price lags behind value: the good deal
The ultimate “good deal” occurs when you you get a high value item for a low price. In other words, the money that you spend winds up giving you more value per dollar, such that you’re maximizing that value/dollar ratio.
What are the best ways to get a good deal?
- Shop second hand stores. Some folks love name brands. When you shop second hand you can still get the value of a name brand without the associated price increase.
- Shop garage sales. Garage sales are filled with things that no longer appeal to their owners. In many cases, however, the items are still as valuable as ever. As a result, it’s possible to find like-new products at garage sales.
- Shop off season. Who wants to buy shorts in September? You do! When you buy off-season, you can typically buy items for anywhere between 50-85% off. Now that is a great deal.
- Inform the sales associate. When I bought my last computer, I started by simply telling the the sales rep that I was looking for a computer. After he showed me a few computers, I specified that I was looking for a good deal, and he then showed a number of items that had been deeply discounted for various reasons. Remember, as long as it fits your needs, and the value exceeds the price, you’re getting a good deal.
- Anticipate your needs. The more time you have available to purchase your item, the more likely you are to find a good deal. For example, if you know in advance that you need new running shoes, you have time to shop around and a great deal. If, however, you head out the night before a big race, you’ll be forced to buy whatever is available regardless of price.
- Look online. You can find some great prices online. If you’re not comfortable shopping online, then at least make some price comparisons and then ask a local store for a price match.
- Be creative. You can get a great deal if you find a way to share a product or even if you find a different item that will fill the same needs. When making a purchase, you might also consider asking if the store will throw in something extra.
- Inform friends and associates. If you are hunting for a particular item, be sure to let those around you know. It’s amazing the number of times someone has an item they are willing to sell (and even give away) for practically nothing. Take advantage of your networking groups.
- Check out non-traditional shopping outlets. Craigslist and eBay are both great places to find a good deal . Find a flea market around.
- Use cash. When purchasing items — especially from individuals — nothing makes them more anxious to make the sale than a flash of cash. They know if they make the sale there will be no hassles or problems with getting paid, so don’t be afraid to make an offer accompanied by a fistful of cash.
Any more ideas?
Do you have any additional tips/strategies for getting get a good deal?