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How to Shop Wisely for Products

Research Prices

QUICK TIP

One promising service is Frucall. If you're standing at a store looking at an item and wondering whether it's being offered at a good price, you can find out. Pull out your cell phone and call 1-888-DO-FRUCALL and enter the product's barcode number. The automated service will recite several prices from online retailers. You can also get the information by text message or by going to a Web site. Find out more at Frucall.com.

The point of price comparisons is to know what a good price is. Blindly accepting the first price you see is a conscious decision to be powerless as a consumer. In most cases, it's voluntarily paying more than you have to. And, come on, that's just plain dumb.

Again, we'll turn to the Internet to compare prices efficiently.

Among my favorite Web sites is Froogle.com, also known as Google Product Search. If you type a specific product into the main Google search window, a sampling of the product search results will appear on top. You can click through to view more. I also like MySimon.com and Shopzilla.com. These are all shopbots, like robots that go searching for prices on the Internet.

After visiting just a few shopbots, which literally could take about one minute, you'll have an excellent idea about the range of prices an item is being sold for. Be skeptical of prices that are far lower than others, especially if you click through to the retailer and the Web site looks amateurish. Included in some price comparisons will be refurbished products and listings on auction site eBay.com. So view those listings differently than new products from well-known retailers.

Speaking of eBay, that's also a prudent stop in your quest to find good prices. Many items are offered as new on eBay and are worth considering if you'll receive a deep discount in return for taking the risk of dealing with a person or merchant who might not be reputable. I've had good luck buying new items on eBay.

Just because you're searching online for prices doesn't mean you have to purchase online. You could still purchase in person locally. But knowing what a good price is before visiting a store arms you with information.

Opt for shopbots that include taxes and shipping charges. That way, you can get apples-to-apples comparisons on the total price of acquiring that product if you decide to buy it online.

You might find shopbots you like better, but good places to start are Froogle.com, MySimon.com, PriceGrabber.com, and Shopzilla.com.



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More on: Family Finances

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From The 1-2-3 Money Plan Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


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