In one of my most boring finance classes in college, I actually learned something valuable that can be applied to anyone’s life. The concept was for a business, but it can be translated to this: Invest in large items that will benefit your family or it’s just not worth it. You can’t buy frivolous items that are just going to end up in the trash. You can’t afford to waste your money like that.
If you want examples of items that contribute to your family’s overall good, you have to think high-quality. If you buy the cheapest product because you think that’s what you can afford, you are dead wrong. Don’t splurge for the high-quality item unless you have the cash, but don’t waste your hard-earned money on garbage, either. Learn how to save for the high-quality items, and you will be able to enjoy them for a lot longer.
© rmag / Dollar Photo Club
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7 Ways to Save Money on Big Ticket Items
High-quality items not only last longer, but they are often easier to use and more pleasing to the eye. You likely see dollar signs when you think of a big ticket, high-quality product, don’t you? Well, I’m here to tell you that you can actually save BIG on big ticket items that are going to last your family many, many years. These big ticket items include appliances, electronics, furniture, etc. Here are 7 ways you can save money on these items:
1. Research, Research, and Research Some More
One of the first things you should do when deciding you are going to buy a big ticket item is research what options you have. If it’s a blender you’re looking for, go to Google and type in “blender” and see what brands you come across. Keep track of these brands and their names so you can compare as you do research.
Once you have a pretty good idea of all the different brands out there for your item, look for reviews. You can find reviews on YouTube, Amazon, eBay, and, of course, the manufacturer’s website.
Finally, in your research, you should be noticing the price range of the item you are going to buy. In this case, if you were researching blenders, the price range would be around $25-$500. That’s quite a range, but if you are looking for high-quality, you will most likely be leaving off many of the cheaper ones.
One of the final, but really important, parts of your research should be to “test drive” the item. Go to a store and look at your options in person. Maybe you can even look for demonstrations or ask an employee to talk to you more about it. You might have liked a certain brand online, but seeing it in person could certainly change your mind.
You will save money by doing diligent research first, because you will be able to eliminate the duds of the group (i.e. the items that break on you a few months after purchasing) with reviews or even price and brand. You will also see which ones are expensive, but not exactly high-quality and, therefore, not worth your money.
2. Create a Buy It Later List
A Buy It Later List is a genius idea from Kate from The Beautiful Useful Project. If you aren’t quite in the ready-to-purchase stage, you should put the item on this list. Let a few weeks pass by, and if you still need the item or it’s still something you really want, maybe you really should go through with purchasing the item. If it’s not something that you even think about anymore, maybe you can cross it off the list for now. You could literally save thousands a year by using such a list.
3. Check for Cash Back, Coupons, and Sales
If you are definitely moving forward with your purchase, you should now check if there are any sites you could buy the item from that offer cash back or have a coupon code. Ebates (referral link) is what I personally use to get cash back on online purchases. Honestly, I’ve never bought anything big using Ebates, but there are plenty of stores that offer great cash back through the site. Just go to the Ebates site, browse by category of what you’re shopping for or by store name, and then you have to make sure to click from the link in Ebates to the website in order to earn cashback or use a coupon code from Ebates.
When you need a big ticket item right away, you might be out of luck as far as sales go. But if you can wait a bit to buy it, you will benefit from looking for a sale. If you aren’t sure when your particular item will go on sale, make sure you check out THIS article.
4. Consider Refurbished or Used
If you are buying some sort of electronic, always check for refurbished. This means that someone else bought the tablet, for example, and returned it because there was something wrong with it. The company fixes the issue, and they can sell it again, but they have to disclose that it is refurbished and it will most likely be quite a bit cheaper than the new item. I usually check on TigerDirect first, for any electronic item I need, and then I’ll check other sites if I didn’t find a good deal. They seem to have a great selection of refurbished items. I bought a refurbished Samsung Tab 2 for just $135. The price I would have paid was $179. I saved $44 and it still works great (I bought it July 2013)!
Buying big ticket items used can often be a huge mistake. You might be able to save a ton of money initially, but, over time, you’ll probably realize that it wasn’t such a great purchase after all. If you find a used big ticket item, make sure you know a lot about where the item came from and if it will still have a long life.
5. Buy the Lower-Priced Product
If you did your research, and you find that the cheaper item is actually fairly high-quality, that could be a huge money saver. We’ve been researching blenders, and we wanted to compare the top blenders with a few cheaper ones (still nearly $100!), and I have come back to one of the cheaper ones every time. I haven’t bought it yet, so I can’t tell you if my research led me to a great product with wonderful savings, but if it is really higher quality than those more expensive blenders, I’ll have saved at least $150-$200 right there!
I once bought some knives from IKEA for the purpose of using them in my dorm. That was more than 7 years ago, and I still use them on a daily basis with absolutely no problems. That is definitely the exception and not the rule, though.
6. Buy the Item at Retail Price
So you did your research, made a ‘buy it later’ list, and the item passed the test. Then you looked for cash back, coupons, sales, refurbished, and used, yet you just couldn’t save money on your high-quality item. Well, you still really can. You might be putting down a huge hunk of change today, but in ten years, if you still have your item, it will have paid for itself several times over. It’s ridiculous to buy a cheaper item just to replace it 3-5 years later.
We bought our food processor in May 2011 and now, only 3 1/2 years later, the motor has completely stopped working. Actually before that happened, and only about a year after we had bought it, the workbowl got a crack that grew quite fast. I was always afraid that as soon as I turned it on, it would send plastic flying everywhere.
7. Consider Your Payment Options
When you buy at retail, you have two options: paying with cash or paying with credit. If you are the type that cannot pay off something right after you buy it, make sure you save up the cash to purchase it outright. Only use a credit card if you are going to pay it off right away or you will be paying more for the item thanks to interest. The benefit of using a credit card, though, is that you can get some great cash back or other incentives, especially by purchasing something big. Just pay it off ASAP.
Applying This to My Own Life
Unfortunately, I am only barely starting to grasp this concept in my own life. I am so used to purchasing low-quality products that it will be quite a change to actually save up for big ticket items that are higher quality. Can you believe this is my 8th mistake as our family finance manager? Eighth!
Over the last couple months, we’ve lost our food processor and blender, the immersion blender is starting to give out, the computer is starting to get really slow, the tablet has huge cracks in the screen from a brutal attack by our lovely toddler, and our microwave is on the brink. I’ll tell you what, these appliances and devices were not high-quality. We bought them specifically because they were pretty much the cheapest price we could find. We’ve had all of them for less than 7 years and most of them for less than 3 years.
So even if your family unit is not a business trying to make a profit off the big ticket items you purchase, it is imperative that you think long-term in order to save, look for ways you can save big, and only buy what will be useful for your family.
How do you save money when buying big ticket items?
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Want to know more about my job as the family financial manager? Check out these posts:
You Need a Bill Pay System
My Struggles as the Family Finance “Manager”
Mistake #1 – Quit budgeting
Mistake #2 – Mixed up wants and needs
Mistake #3 – Used credit cards for things we couldn’t afford
Mistake #4 – Overcomplicated our budget
Mistake #5 – Checked over our accounts less often
Mistake #6 – Saved $0
Mistake #7 – Spent bonuses
Mistake #8 – Bought low-quality appliances
This is great. Sometimes the best financial choice really is to go with the higher sticker price. I usually go mid grade, to be honest. Not something so cheap that it’s garbage, but, honestly, for most things in our life we don’t need top of the line. We evaluate how much we use something/how much it really means to us, and if we can seriously say that it’s worth it we’ll go with top of the line. But most of the time midgrade does us just fine. Have had my blender for about 9 years now and it’s still going, but we also don’t use it everyday.
My cheapie toaster, however, that we do use daily, has me kicking myself so hard!
Charlee Anne says
That’s a great point. If you know you aren’t going to use the product all the time, you should think about going the middle of the road. I’m hoping our next blender works for more than a decade!
It seems you are wayyyy better with your money than I am. But, that’s why I love your blog! Always helping me out in that department 🙂 Much appreciated, Charlee!
Charlee Anne says
Thank you for the sweet compliment, Chels!
R.F. Dietz says
I think one thing you’re really really good at (though there are a lot of things you’re good at) is approaching home finances from a business mentality. That is hugely instrumental to your savvy economics
Charlee Anne says
Wow, thank you for the compliment. I really have never thought about our family finances like a business until now, and I think it’s going to help us get better and better!