NEW YORK — Consumers sometimes buy gadgets out of necessity, but often such purchases are fueled by a particular passion or hobby. Consumers line up for the latest incarnation of a smartphone or must-have gaming system, but just because a gadget is the current must-have item does not mean consumers have to overpay for it.
Without knowing how much products really cost, it can be challenging to gauge just what is a good deal. Unfortunately, information on price markups on popular items is relatively difficult to come by. There are a wide array of retailers, from boutique shops to online warehouses, so there is no standard pricing rule.
According to the site Wise Bread, a forum on living frugally, electronics have the lowest price markup rates of any products at just 8 to 10 percent. Armed with this information, those shopping for the latest gadgets can more accurately compare prices to find the best values.
Here are some other ways to save money on electronics.
Stepping into the first store you see and making a knee-jerk purchase is not often the way to get the best deal. Whatever the purchase, always do your homework, comparing prices online or in-store to determine the best values. Look at potential hidden fees, such as shipping charges (when buying online) or restocking fees.
Scour for coupons
Explore all means possible to get coupons for your purchase. Shop when stores are having doorbuster sales and then combine this discount with coupons found online, in newspapers or through community coupon books.
It’s always worth a few minutes of your time to search for a discount code or a coupon. And even if you don’t have a coupon, do not be shy about asking a checkout employee if any discounts exist.
Skip the frills
If you’re in the market for a new high-definition television but are scared away by some of the price tags, separate what you need from what you want. When you strip away certain features, such as internet connectivity or home maintenance software, you could save hundreds of dollars. With any purchase, start at the base model, which may fit your needs without breaking the bank.
- Buy used. Technology changes at breakneck speed. A tablet that was once the hot item could be outdated in a few months. You can save a good deal of money by purchasing an older, yet still functional model or buying a rebuilt or used item that is in good condition.
- Shop refurbished items directly from manufacturer websites. Companies like Dell and Apple offer used, warranty-backed devices for deep discounts over new items. Very often “refurbished” only means returned and reboxed.
- Don’t overlook sites like Craigslist and Ebay as well. Friends also may sell you items for an even bigger discount.
- Find multipurpose items. Instead of spending money on a separate phone and MP3 player, get a smartphone that does both. It may not pay to have a handheld gaming device and a tablet that can play thousands of games.
- Have patience. Products tend to be most expensive when they are initially introduced. Retailers and manufacturers count on new devices luring in customers willing to pay any price to be the first to have a particular item. But prices drop as gadgets become more mainstream and competitors flood the market with their own versions. Wait a few months before making your purchase, and you’re likely to save a substantial amount of money.
- Skip the warranty. Extended warranties are often unnecessary when buying electronics, as such products are usually covered by very good manufacturers’ warranties. Products like PCs, smartphones and tablets usually have a very long life. There’s a better chance that new software will come out or a newer generation of your current item arrives before the one you own breaks down.
- Sell your stuff. You can offset the cost of buying a new device by clearing out your own outdated merchandise. Companies like Gazelle will buy used phones and other electronics. While you may not make a fortune, a few dollars here and there can help fund upcoming purchases.