We all like to save money when we make purchases. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying something for $10 or something for $10,000, if you can save yourself some money then it’s a good thing. To that end it often makes a lot of sense to shop around for the best price. Unfortunately there are pros and cons when it comes to shopping around.
- Getting a better price
- Perks of the Sale
- Better Quality
This point is particularly obvious since stores rarely have the same prices. You can see price differences between two different grocery stores. By taking a bit of time out of your day you can save yourself a great deal of money. The bigger the purchase the more likely that you can save yourself a lot of money by shopping around. For example buying tires for your car at store A vs. store B can save you $20+ per tire (and often a lot more). There is definitely a possibility of saving money if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it.
Perks of the Sale
When you’re buying a big ticket item there are often perks and giveaways that you can get at no charge. When I was shopping around for tires a couple years back one tire shop offered to balance my tires and do an alignment as part of my purchase. If you factor this into the sale you can really save yourself a great deal of money (surprisingly that tire shop also had the best prices).
When you’re not shopping around for a specific brand or model you might be able to find yourself a better quality item by shopping around. If you have a set budget for your purchase you might be able to find a better quality brand within your price range by shopping around.
- Waste your time and money
- Benefits negligible
- Impact to the environment
Waste your time and Money
By going out of your way to get the best price on something you can spend so much time and money doing so that although you end up getting the best price in the city you spend more effort than its worth. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with items at the lower price point. If you’re spending hours and hours buying a new car you can really save money but the same isn’t true when you’re buying a pair of jeans.
Benefits are Negligible
The perfect example of this is driving 20 miles out of your way to get the best price on gas in the city. The reality is that the $2 you just saved on your gas purchase was spent in getting there. Not to mention that you might have just spent 40 minutes sitting in traffic getting that savings. The benefits that you get as a result of shopping around for the best prices might wash out to pennies and not be worth it.
Impact to the Environment
This point is relatively mute when if you shop around for the best price by driving around the city once every few years. But if you’re driving around all the time just because you know that you can save a few dollars on groceries every week there’s a difference. Also this point is more valid when you start multiplying it by masses of people. If everyone shopped around for every item they purchased then you’d have traffic everywhere and the impact to the environment would start becoming noticeable.
In conclusion shopping around definitely has its place in our society but there is a definite point where it stops being beneficial and actually starts costing us money. Personally I only actively shop around when I’m buying more expensive items. When I need to buy tires for my car I’ll make the effort to shop around because tires for my car are expensive. But getting the best price on $20 headphones I can’t be bothered to do. More often than naught my time is worth more than the money I save by shopping around. Essentially it comes down to how much time and effort are you willing to put into saving a few dollars. Next week I’ll post on how I shop around.