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Comparison shopping is a terrific way to save money towards your home mortgage down payment or other large money saving goal. I used to work at a large Internet comparison shopping website so I know all about the pros and cons of the different comparison shopping sites and how to make the most of them. First, let's take a step back and look at shopping in general. Why am I talking about shopping at all? It's really important: Americans in general buy a lot of stuff. It's our culture. We work really hard and we deserve to enjoy the benefits of our labor. At the same time, if you are determined to save money for a down payment or other goal, it's going to be necessary to reduce your spending. While cutting back on spending altogether is a very admirable way to save money for your down payment, it's just not practical. Some expenses, such as birthday gifts, are necessary. Moreover, it's important to occasionally splurge and enjoy life too. That's where comparison shopping comes in. Comparison shopping allows you to save money on items you need to purchase.
Comparison Shopping Provides Instant Money Savings
You've decided to make a purchase. You can either go straight to your favorite store and buy it or shop around for the lowest price. Going to straight to your favorite store sounds enticing because that saves you time, your most valuable asset. With more time, you can make more money towards you down payment savings. Comparing multiple stores manually definitely does not sound like fun. I do not enjoy calling around or looking through multiple websites to find the best price. This is where comparison shopping websites come into play. Large comparison shopping websites like Shopzilla and Pricegrabber allow you to compare thousands of stores instantly. They have live feeds from the stores so they can compare prices (including tax and shipping). It is a tremendous compromise between just buying the item at your favorite store and doing the research yourself. In fact, you might even come out ahead saving the most time in this scenario because you might be able to get the item shipped directly to you and still save money. Now, you don't even have to drive to the store!
Saving The Most Money on Comparison Shopping Websites
Here's a little known trick of the comparison shopping industry: The search results and stores are mostly ranked based on how much each store pays per click. Each time you leave the comparison shopping website and go the merchant website, the merchant pays for that click. The more the merchant is willing to pay, the higher they rank. This is similar to the old Overture search engine marketing model and is likely to move towards more of a Google quality score type model in the coming years. For now, it is mostly a pay for position model. Consequently, never pick the first store that shows up. Always scroll to the bottom of the list. It might be the cheap advertiser that can't afford a high position that actually provides the best price. An easy way also is to always just click on the price column and then sort by ascending price. One word of caution: If you have never heard of a merchant before, take precaution. Always read the reviews on the comparison shopping website. Do a quick Google of their name and see if you can find some reviews. It's always good to have peace of mind that you're working with a reputable and honest store.
Save Money By Being Patient
One really neat aspect of comparison shopping giant NexTag is their alerts and price history graphs. They track prices of items over time and allow you to set up alerts. When the price of a certain item you are interested in reaches your desired price, you can have NexTag send you an email alert. Then, you get the price you want. It's hard to have willpower and patience, but your patience will definitely be rewarded in a larger savings account balance.
The Downside of Comparison Shopping - A Warning To Money Savers
These websites are in the business of selling products. Often, they will have really interesting products that are featured and reviewed. Don't get enticed to buy something you were not originally intending to buy! If you feel the urge to make an unexpected purchase, make sure to think about it. Perhaps you could write down what you are thinking of buying in your money saving journal. Remember, your top goal is to save money for your home loan down payment. Would you rather have a new TV or have an extra $2,000 toward your down payment? This one is easy. Always stay on course and remember your broader goals and how satisfied you will be when you reach your broader savings goals. Sure the purchase will give some short term fun, but long term you will be much happier you decided to save your money. Moreover, your unnecessary purchase may end up being something you sell for extra cash at a later date.
Conclusion: Which Comparison Shopping Sites Should I Use?
So you're probably thinking, which comparison shopping sites should I use? This one is easy. Which search engines do you use? Most likely Google, Yahoo, and maybe MSN. Anything smaller does not make sense because the search results are more spotty and less reliable. Similarly, you will want to stick with the large comparison shopping engines. The three big ones are Shopzilla, Pricegrabber, and NexTag. The reason you want to stick with the big three is they have the largest number of shops signed up. The name of the game in comparison shopping is finding the lowest cost merchant. The more that are signed up the greater your chance for saving money. Have fun comparison shopping and good luck saving money!