Disclosure: This post is sponsored by tophatter.com. All opinions are my own.
Anyone who knows me would agree that I can sniff a good deal a mile away. It's a skill that has served me well now that I am a bargain-hunting mama, always on the look out for ways for the family to financially save and spend wisely.
Much of this value-hunting skill was developed when I worked as an editor for the shopping guide section of a local daily, hunting down bargain deals, writing about second-hand stores and profiling small-business owners.
Although I have a propensity to window-shop more than to sit in front of my Macbook and shop online (I always joked window-shopping is my "poor man's version" of a workout!), I always manage to control my expenses by staying away from impulsive purchases. So how in the world did I end up ferociously bidding on an online auction website if impulse-buying is not my cup of tea?
Believe it or not, as I've discovered after my first-ever online auction experience on tophatter.com, auction websites can actually be a great way to save money—as long as you shop with a strategy.
1. Research the products offered on the auction website before placing a bid.
Think of it like you are going to war—you want to be armed as much as possible. In this case, being armed with product information is winning half of the auction battle. Browse the product gallery of the auction website and click on products to read more on product descriptions and specifications. This is very important when buying gadgets to ensure it is compatible with your other devices.
2. Set a bid limit.
Similar to live auction events like Tophatter where you have less than 90 seconds to bid, it is easy to get swept in the moment and make the rookie mistake of overbidding on a product for fear of losing the bidding war. To avoid this, compare prices in other stores once you've determined the product you'd like to bid on. By comparing prices, you can wisely set a bid limit for yourself and ensure that you are always bidding with a mindset to save while shopping.
3. Sign up for bidding alerts and reminders.
Because products in auctions can easily come and go, set a bidding alert and reminder to ensure you get notified when products you are eyeing on are up for bids. For instance, I wanted to surprise the little one for her upcoming birthday with an old-school Mario Bros. handheld gaming device which was one of the featured products on the auction website. Instead of staying on the computer all day to wait for it to go on the live auction, I simply set up an alert. It was a smart strategy—I ended up winning that device as a birthday gift for the little one!
4. Refrain from getting emotionally attached.
Easier said than done! It is expected that the competitive spirit will kick in when in the midst of a bidding war. It can get competitive fast and even personal at times, but the only way to truly win on an online auction is to detach yourself emotionally from the idea that you must win every bid, every time. In fact, in order to shop wisely, you must be willing to lose and walk away from a bid. There will always be another opportunity.
5. Study the bidding pattern.
Visit the auction website during different times of the day and be observant. Are there more bidders during the day? Are you more likely to get less competitors at night? Whatever that bidding pattern is, work it to your advantage.