How to Be a Better Bargain Hunter

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a great deal, whatever they may be shopping for, myself included, but I wonder how many of us are doing all we can to get the best deal possible on the things we need. Here are a few tips on how to be a better bargain hunter.

Flea Market and Estate Sale Shopping

Timing is Everything

While early shoppers have the advantage of best selection, buying later in the day will get you the best deal because sellers don’t want to have too much stuff left over to take home. A vendor may offer to lower the price on an item at closing time, so if you see something in the morning that’s out of your price range, offer to leave your cell number in case the vendor still has the item later in the day and is willing to deal.

Leave the Bling at Home

A seller will size you up by the way you dress and charge accordingly, so don’t wear your flashy jewelry or designer clothes to a flea market. Also, a roomy shoulder bag will let you tuck smaller purchases in with essentials such as your wallet, your keys, and a bottle of water so you can browse freely.

Know the Going Rate

If you’re looking for something specific, it’s best to have some idea of what it might cost, so do a bit of research. eBay can give you an idea of what the going rate is for whatever is on the market and Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide ( lists the value of  antiques.

How to Haggle

A little artful negotiating can save you a lot of money. Make your best offer while praising, not belittling, the item in question. If a seller won’t budge on the price, she may agree to a better deal if you take more stuff off her hands, so ask her to throw in another item for free.

Saving on Clothes

Clothes that haven’t sold six weeks after they arrive in stores will begin to go on sale. These sales often start on Thursdays as part of weekend sales. Coats and other winter clothes often go on sale starting in January. The longer you wait, the lower the prices will go as retailers need to make room for spring clothing. However, the longer you wait, the less selection there will be.

January is typically a slow month for suit sales, so clothiers will lower prices to get you into their stores. Consider all-weather wool suits and timeless styles. Remember that, to some extent, you get what you pay for. A  $100 suit probably won’t last four or five years but  a $500 suit will last several years.

September is the best time to buy a swimsuit as department stores really want to get rid of them by then. Buy jeans in October, after the back-to-school rush. That’s when you’ll see deep discounts, especially if denim isn’t expected to be a big part of fashion trends.

Off-Season Savings

August is the best time to buy outdoor furniture and other outdoor items. Stores discount summer gear in August because they are getting ready to bring in fall and winter merchandise. If you wait to buy that new patio set in August, you’ll still have a few weeks of warm weather to enjoy it and you’ll have saved a lot of money.

The winter months offer the best savings on things like gas grills and air conditioners, when most people aren’t shopping for these items.

Out With the Old

New model home appliances arrive in September and October, so that’s when you’ll find good deals on last year’s models. If you don’t need something absolutely pristine right out of the box, you can get a deal on floor models and end-of-lines. My husband and I once bought fridge and stove floor models and never had a problem with either. Stores also offer discounts for dings and scratches.

New mattresses show up in stores in May, so you’ll snag a good deal on last year’s mattresses then.

You can get some great bargains on furniture if you wait until January or July to start shopping. These months offer the best sales on home furnishings because stores want to make room for new inventory.

If you need a new car, the fall is when the new models are arriving on car lots so shop in September to pick up a deal on last year’s model.

In retail, there’s a pattern and a perfect time to buy just about anything. Shop off-season, end-of-season, or when new models bring down prices on the old models and you’ll save a ton of money.

2 Responses to How to Be a Better Bargain Hunter

  1. I had been looking at my current usede car on the dealer lot for weeks. I went when the dealer was closed so I could read the information sheet in the window. I went several times and walked around it. I loved the look of it and was pleased with the low mileage features.

    Then I waited. There was a risk of someone else snapping up the car while I waited but the car is a 4 door sedan and those aren’t as popular . I went and spoke to a salesman when the car had been on the lot for almost 6 weeks and it was almost the end of the month. I test drove showed him my sad, nearly worthless trade in and we negotiated in the office while the mechanics looked at my trade in. Then I said that I wasn’t sure and I needed to think about it.

    I came back next day and asked for the same salesman. They are on commision and he did a lot of selling and missed out on other customers when he was trying to sell me. The price was easier to negotiate on the second last day of the month. Dealers want to move product before the end of the month and salesmen want their numbers up and the car had taken up space on the lot for 6 weeks. Good deal for me.

  2. Leave the bling at home, awesome tip. Our friend has a huge engagement ring and my wife and her love to go to garage sales in the summer. I said to her, how do you expect to negotiate with a rock that size on your hand. The seller is automatically (even though it’s an assumption of risk) think that you have cash and won’t budget when haggling even if he/she will haggle. Keep the bling at home.. smart move.

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