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How to Pay Less Than 30% for Almost Anything

How to Pay Less Than 30% for Almost Anything

I’m going to show you a super easy, step-by-step process for ensuring that you never pay more than half price for any new book (even if it’s an absolute best-seller that everyone is trying to buy) or product.

I’m not talking about wasting hours scouring discount and deal sites for great prices either. Amazon already does a great job of offering low prices across a range of items so getting a good price is a given.

Fortunately, with only a tiny bit of extra effort you will be able to squeeze far more out of your shopping budget. Here’s how you do it.

1. Getting Started

We’ve all shopped on Amazon, right? Here’s a typical buying page for a really popular best-seller by Elon Musk:

Amazon Product Buying Page

    There are a couple of important things to notice about this page that will help you save more cash in the coming steps:

    • The List Price is $29.99 but we can buy it now for $17.84
    • It is also available New from $13.69
    • It is available Used from $11.22

    So, right here, right now we can buy a $30 book for about $14. That’s a little under half price already. So far so good.

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    2. Price Tracking & Alerts

    The Amazon marketplace is extremely fluid and volatile. Prices for products can change on an hourly basis, as Amazon competes with other sellers to offer the best prices. This is where we can gain a bit of extra advantage over other shoppers.

    Instead of spending time checking back each day to see what the new price is, we can use an accurate price tracking service that will notify us of price drops (and increases – these will be important later on) in virtual real-time.

    Set up a price alert watchlist of all the items you want to buy for both price drops and increases.

    Here’s a screenshot of the sales and price changes for the aforementioned book using RankTracer – an extremely accurate tracking service that updates hourly so you are never more than a few minutes behind the latest price changes:

    Sales & Price Chart

      Chart showing hourly sales & price changes Amazon book (Tesla, SpaceX …). Courtesy of RankTracer – Amazon Sales & Price Tracker[1]

      Not all products have the same pricing profile, however. It’s important to note that some items swing wildly from day to day, or even hour to hour. Here’s a price chart showing changes for a popular entrepreneurship book entitled ‘The Third Wave‘:

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      Sales & Price Chart for Amazon Book

        Chart showing hourly sales & price changes for Amazon book (The Third Wave). Courtesy of RankTracer – Amazon Sales & Price Tracker

        As you can see, that is a bit more volatile, and prone to changing price more often, and in this instance becoming consistently cheaper. Each product will, of course, be different. The important thing here is to know when the price drops and when it increases. Once you know that, we can take the next step – buying low.

        3. Buy Low

        Looking at the charts above you can see that there are better (and worse) times to buy than others. But, with your price alerts coming in via email, you’ll be able to buy the items you want at the best possible prices.

        I was thinking of buying a new notebook recently, so I tracked a few to see their prices over time. Here’s one for the Samsung Chromebook:

        Chart of Samsung Chromebook

          Clearly buying any time between December 3rd and December 7th would have been ideal, as it would have resulted in an additional saving (on top of the best price you might find shopping on a random day) of just under $250.

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          So we can save money by buying low. Great.

          Unfortunately, buying low is where most people stop going. After all, doing things like this will mean you save plenty of cash on the Christmas shopping. But, if you really want to ensure you pay less there’s one more step to take.

          4. Sell High

          Once you’ve finished reading your book (or no longer need the item purchased), it’s time to sell it back via Amazon.

          Becoming an Amazon seller is quick and easy, and you can get started over at Amazon’s Seller Central website. If you are going to sell less than 40 items, then it is completely free to sign up – although there are small charges per item sold. Selling more than 40 items will require a paid plan that should cost about $39.99 per month, although you can explore the different types of seller accounts at their pricing page.[2]

          With your seller account set up, it is now possible to re-list the products you bought – most likely listing them in Used condition.

          At this point our price tracking comes in handy because it can tell us when prices are high so we can sneak in with a slightly lower offer in order to radically improve the chances of making a sale.

          Take a look at the original screenshot of the Elon Musk book sales page and notice that there were used copies being sold from $11.22. Given that we could have purchased it for $13.69 (according to RankTracer’s price data), and we can sell it back for $11.22, we have effectively bought it brand new for the grand total price of $2.47.

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          Take into account other costs, like Amazon charges, and you are probably still going to get away with paying less than $4. For a book listed at $29.99, that works out to less than 15% of the list price.

          You can squeeze as little or as much out of this process by waiting for the lowest low prices and selling at the highest high prices. But, on average, spending between 10% and 30% of the asking price should make anyone very happy.

          This trick works for any product that can be sold used. Obviously, consumables like food and drink probably won’t fetch a reasonable price in used condition. Simply watch your price alerts, wait for the right time to buy and sell, and start saving money big time.

          I’d love to hear how much money this saves you in the long run. Drop a comment here and share your huge savings stories to make the rest of us jealous.

          Featured photo credit: Roderick Eime via flickr.com

          Reference

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          Last Updated on November 27, 2020

          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

          How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

          Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

          In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

          4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

          Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

          1. Be Clear About the Objectives

          Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

          It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

          Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

          2. Keep Goals Realistic

          It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

          It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

          3. Account for Inflation

          Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

          Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

          For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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          4. Short Term Vs Long Term

          Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

          As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

          By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

          How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

          Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

          • Ensuring healthy savings
          • Making smart investments

          You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

          Ensuring Healthy Savings

          Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

          This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

          1. Track Expenses

          The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

          Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

          If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

          2. Pay Yourself First

          Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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          Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

          The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

          Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

          3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

          Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

          Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

          At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

          Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

          You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

          4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

          In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

          Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

          • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
          • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
          • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

          The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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          5. Talk About It

          Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

          Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

          6. Maintain a Journal

          For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

          If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

          When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

          Making Smart Investments

          Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

          1. Consult a Financial Advisor

          Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

          Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

          2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

          Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

          Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

          As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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          3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

          Einstein once remarked about compounding:

          “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

          Use compound interest when setting financial goals

            Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

            Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

            4. Measure, Measure, Measure

            All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

            If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

            Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

            The Bottom Line

            Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

            and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

            More Tips on Financial Goals

            Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

            Reference

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