questionsdo you buy first or research, comparison shop and…

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Depends on the item. Appliances - big purchases - I will comparison shop. Clothing, well I already know where I can the pieces that fit me best and price isn't negotiable so there is no comparison shopping there. Food - in the winter I check to see which store is less expensive and that is where shopping is done that week in the summer most of my produce is purchased at the local farmer's market along with farm fresh eggs and cheese. The Eggs and cheese aren't cheaper but I am helping the local farmers, however their produce is vastly less expensive than the grocery store so it does make up for it in the long run.

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I shop almost entirely by impulse. I don't think I comparison shop, or if I do, I'm unaware of it. I bought a beautiful two-tiered occasional table, mahogany, with the harp feature that I find attractive, and I'd looked at others that probably look the same, but this particular one struck me as something I wanted. The others did not. Were the others more expensive, or less? I have no idea.

Applicances are where I pay more attention to outside forces, such as ratings from consumer reports, or the opinions of friends. The one or two times I've purchased carelessly, I've regretted it. I found years ago (when I was poor) that shopping at one store, consistently, was cheaper than trying to shop the sales. Almost everything I buy at the store is fresh (no premade or prepackaged foods), so it's an easy decision.

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I'm pretty ticked I didn't jump on that 42" LED deal I posted yesterday. I actually saw it Sunday, and waited to read reviews. shipping wasn't bad, reviews were good, but I was skeptical that only the good ones were being posted. Now it's sold out, and I still don't have a TV for my living room.

I impulse bought my last TV, a 37" Vizio LCD that was a floor display at Sam's Club. No visible damage, and it was all set up. whipped out the trusty iPhone and Googled it: selling for ~twice as much online. Sold. Got it home, loved it.

I usually try to comparison shop, then I miss out. I console myself by reassuring myself that an even better deal is coming.

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Generally speaking, I tend to have a pretty good idea of what a 'good price' is on the types of things I'm likely to impulse buy.

But if I have no idea if it's a good price or not, I'd likely take the time to do a little research.

But that's the beauty of living in the modern age.... With a smart phone and a free app, you can scan the bar code of whatever you're looking at and search for the same item online. If you scan it and see that reputable online dealers are selling it for 20% more, you can make an informed decision, having done the research, without ever letting the item out of your grubby little hands.

A friend did this at Best Buy when looking at TVs. She showed the salesman the price that came up for Walmart just down the street and asked if Best Buy could match the price.

Power to the people!

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I keep a list of things my kids likes and hobbies, and I also ask them to make me a wish list. Believe it or not, four of my six gave me preliminary lists before New Years. (My children are all adults now, but I LOVE Christmas and they love Christmas morning.)

Because I browse all year long, I have a pretty good idea if an item is a good deal, or how difficult it is to get something.

As I peruse clearance racks, or sales flyers, or online sources, I look for items that match my children's lists or hobbies. If I find something that isn't on my list, but suits someone's personality, and if that item is priced well, I'll grab it. That's about as impulsive as I get.

Big purchases, like appliances, televisions, computers, cars, etc., my husband likes to hunt for. Though often after he' found something he's researched and likes, he'll send me out to find the best price I can. On big ticket items, I've found that often all you have to do is name your deal and you can get it.

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The vast majority of deals I post are things I'm actually looking for. Just ordered the rolling kitchen island I posted for my daughter. The 3-gallon beverage dispenser was for a friend. The rolling pin, the Sony sound system, bras, bird feeders, laptop, etc. All stuff I'm looking for personally. Just got a call from a friend wanting me to hunt down info & deals on electronic readers. I love the hunt! And the kill! And the bragging rights afterward!

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@debbiedunlap: did you tell your friend she missed out on the woot deal last Friday on the Sony eReader?

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@hobbit: I did tell her she missed out on several Sony deals.

She's just getting started in the looking phase, and wants help researching both the Kindle and the Sony to see which will best suit her needs. Once she makes up her mind, I'll try and find the best price. Might even post a challenge if I'm having trouble. This Deals gang has resources I don't even know about!!

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Generally I'm an impulsive shopper. That means that if I see a deal that I can't just pass by, I'll buy it.

Usually though, I'll buy things because I need them for some purpose. In that respect, it's better to research and compare prices. This usually includes any purchase >$50 and long-run usable items... like computers, speakers, mattresses, appliances, etc.

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I'm like @debbiedunlap, mos t of my deals posted are items I'm shopping for also. I'm a gift-buyer year-round too. Only a few times have I purchased an item extra-early only to find it was cheaper closer to the gifting date. I find value in spreading purchases throughout the year also.

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I think I'd guess as a general statement of experienced wooters (purple and black triangles, maybe more experienced shoppers who are just new to woot) that we probably all have a general idea of a good price for most items...and if we don't we know where to look.

That takes a lot of the list of impulse buying out of the purchase for me.

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It depends on the gender and item too...I think?

I usually impulse buy girly things. Clothes, shoes, cosmetics, as long as they're a good enough price I usually just click buy without much comparison. Much like what others said, I have a pretty good idea of how much things should cost at this point.

However, I can't justify doing that for electronics. Those things can have such a huge price range!

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I am a mixture of @debbiedunlap and @anotherhiggins without the iphone. I usually know what I would be interested in purchasing and I know what the price is going to be. If I happen to run across a screaming deal (on an item that I am clueless about), I grab the trusty cell and contact my other half (who is always glued to a computer somewhere), who in less than 10 mins can usually give me the break down on tech specs, reviews, and other issues.

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@theoneill555: Too funny - I'm the guy who gets those calls from friends and family.

When calling me for such services (or for directions - I get a fair number of calls asking me how to get somewhere), some folks will start the call with, "Hello, John Star?" (referring to OnStar - www.onstar.com)

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@anotherhiggins: my friends message me on FB asking for directions because I google better than they do.

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This is really an interesting thread. I just went shopping for a bit today, trying to pay attention to what I was doing. That does take some of the fun out of it... However:

I see that when it comes to antiques, even though I believe they are impulse purchases, they are not unskilled, nor uninformed, and since they are often one of a kind, the only thing about price that matters is whether the price on something is about what an item like that is worth.

If it's a tech item, I know almost exactly how much something should be, and know also that I pay a premium for living in an area where there isn't much competition (if I needed something specific and expensive, I'd order it from CDW, or drive 300+ miles to Fry's). Still, it makes me wonder what the tech items are that I'll buy online, here (which is the point, after all).

Continued...

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{I'd like an account that had a 2000 char limit please}

Things that I'd buy online, specifically Deals (or Woot):

Computers (including refurb, now and then), cameras, things that are easy to look up and compare, or that I already know really well, or that I can ask about over here in AtW.

Fun things that aren't crazy expensive. Flying pigs, random stuff from Meritline, toys. I love fun. It's my favorite.

Books. Books that I didn't know I needed until someone posts them as a deal. Movies too, and music (although much less often). I buy plenty of music, I just don't usually see anything on Deals that I'd want (and I don't want downloadable music).

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@shrdlu: Antiques or vintage items are definitely impulse buy items! :) If you know that's the only one you'll see in a long long time it's hard to refuse it.

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I used to research and look for deals compulsively, but not so much lately. The problem is that sitting in front of the computer trying to find the best price takes time, and time is a limited (and valuable!) resource. Sure, I might have saved $10 on a $200 hard drive purchase, but it probably is not worth it if I had to spend hours to find the coupon.

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The people who write the reviews on the products actually sell me the product, the manufacturers just showcase them for me. Thats the best thing about researching online.
I live by them. It's helped so much on decisions on major purchases. The only thing is, you have to wade through the "opinions" on which brand is the best, or, I had problems with this brand in the past and they'll never looked at them again. Every manufacturer has lemons. It's a design fault with mass produced items. The thing is to look at "all" the reviews. Out of 25 reviews, three might have problems but 22 love them. And if you look at all the other stores reviews, 100 might be great and 5 might be bad. I look at most of the online stores like Amazon, TigerDIrect, etc., and get an average of what every one says. The price "difference" is secondary. $5 or $10 isn't a problem but $50+, maybe. How much is shipping and what's their return policy is usually the deciding factor on price. ......Start writing reviews!