You’ve gotten this far and wondering when should you pick up your Perfect E-Bible? Well, at this point, I hope you’ve done your research but don’t run out and buy something just yet.
First, I know you’ve been saving. There’s a point about being a good steward of your finances by making sure you’re giving but you also have to make sure you’re not squandering what should be used elsewhere. Set up a budget with the amount you expect to spend on the device, and set aside money. Pack lunch and save yourself about $25 a week. Drop cable TV and save at least $40 a month. Bicycle to work (if you’re close enough) and you’ll save roughly $50 a week. The E-Bible is a planned investment not an impulse buy.
Second (but really consecutive with the First thing you do): open up a Google Spreadsheet under Google Docs. What you want to do here is set up an easy-to-read chart with computers you’re looking at that fit your specific need. Here’s a sample of one I’ve done but you’d probably want to use more color to highlight bad stuff (in red) and good stuff (in green). Mind you, this chart might wind up changing a bit every six months or so as new product hits the shelves, but it’ll let you compare to your needs (which is the second chart). Use Consumer Search to ensure you’ve made a good choice but use it conservatively.
Third: you’re going to want to trend product prices. Use tracking tools like Camel Camel Camel or their browser plugin The Camelizer to show you a history of pricing for the product you’re looking at. You can even flag certain product to notify you when the price drops.
Fourth, make sure to double check any online shops you’re looking at by researching them on Reseller Ratings. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you’re buying at a major retailer like Best Buy or Amazon (and I’d add Newegg.com to that list but don’t take my word for it).
Fifth: consider the holidays since that’s when you might find good deals. I say might because some of these things might have had inflated prices for a month to only dip down to create the appearance of a sale (like on Black Friday). Discounts are often offered to affiliate companies or educators and students so you might be able to get better deals at other times of the year but you won’t know if you don’t check what’s historically available pricewise (number three above).
Sixth: don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and rebates. I have no problem pitting retailer A versus retailer B if they might give me a better price. Best Buy, for example, has been known to match advertised prices on like products. Online direct sellers (like Dell) might give you a discount if they know that you’re also considering an HP. Ask them outright. I’ve even had an online representative kick me to an online coupon site to resubmit an order. Be careful with rebates though; money back in eight to twelve weeks is stretching it.
Read the next post in this series: The Hunt: Mac or PC?