Even if you comparison shop and end up saving a few dollars, those bucks in your bank are better off there than in someone else's. Bottom line: Comparison shopping is all good and doesn't take the time involved that it once did.
Vinny Olmstead, founder of OfferWire.com, notes, "Comparative shopping results in getting a better value at the cost of spending a little extra time searching the Internet. And with the economy in the shape that it is, everyone could benefit from saving money and even getting cash back when they purchase products and services online."
Plus, as you're surfing to save, you may also learn a few things in the process. "Most sites include detailed product descriptions and reviews that can be very enlightening."
So how much time is too much time to invest in comparison shopping? If you're shopping for cable TV, high-speed internet and phone services, Vinny mentions essentially two choices -- your cable company and your phone company. "In that case, you should carefully compare the prices and fine print between their respective sites. But if you're shopping for a digital camera or a new cell phone, you may want to compare 10 or 12 different websites to find the best deal and most appropriate option for you. It's also important to make sure that the sites you use are secure. Look for sites secured by McAfee Secure and Verisign."
A few websites are extremely helpful when comparison shopping. For instance, Bing.com allows you to compare and sort products by the bottom-line price. Shopathome.com lets you check out thousands of coupons and quickly access stores and products. OfferWire.com gives you exclusive deals and rebates so you can get cash back after a purchase. It also lets you buy several different types of home services at once, such as cable, Internet, phone, security, Netflix and music, through one online shopping cart.
The Internet is helpful for comparison shopping, but it's not the be-all and end-all. Ask around, chat with neighbors and talk to your friends. For example, if you're searching for the right summer camp for your kid, ask around for referrals and recommendations as you consider prices.
Most importantly, Vinny reminds us, "By taking the time to [comparison shop], you will be able to save money on important purchases."
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