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I absolutely love a good bargain. There’s not much I enjoy more than the thrill of hunting down the best possible price on something that we want or more importantly, need. And let me tell you, I have it down to a science, especially when it comes to those large purchases that take a big bite out of the budget. One of the most important factors in the hunt—patience. Sometimes it’s an emergency and you can’t wait, but having the flexibility and patience to wait for the right price and pair it with some price hacking maneuvers can save you a great deal of money. Let me teach you my ways:
Late last spring, our 12-year-old GE refrigerator needed repairs for the second time in less than a year. The water line for the filtered water dispenser/ice maker froze up and despite replacing and re-running the tubing away from the cold source during the first repair, it had happened again. The technician told us it would likely continue to happen as the insulation inside the freezer door itself was probably starting to deteriorate and take on water.
We had hoped to get a few more years out of it, but each repair cost $125. That’s $250 over the course of one year, or about 15-20% of the cost of a new, trouble-free fridge. After some discussion, we decided to cut our losses and start shopping for a new one rather than sink more money into it. Besides, we reasoned that if we didn’t use the in-door water, the leaking/freezing would stop and maybe the breakdown of insulation would slow so we could hopefully use it as an overflow fridge in the basement for a few more years.
We determined the features that were important to us: stainless steel to match the rest of our appliances (brand didn’t matter), Energy Star rated, side-by-side design, and in-door water/ice maker (preferably slim design so there was more freezer room for food storage). We set our budget at $1,500, but hoped to spend less. And then the search was on.
After scouring The Home Depot, Lowe’s and the rest of the internet, we decided on a Samsung Food ShowCase refrigerator with ice maker and door within door features. Now, here’s where the fun begins…the original price at Lowe’s was $2,098, clearly not within our set budget. Because our fridge’s primary problem was with the in-door water/ice maker, a nice feature but not a necessity, we could make do for a while so, I saved the fridge in my online shopping cart and checked on it every so often to see if it would go on sale. Miracle of miracles, it went on sale a few weeks later for $1,498! Boom! It was now just under budget, so let’s see how much I knocked off that price.
Lowe’s is known for providing coupons but they can be difficult to come by. They used to put them in the mailing address change packets at your local post office, but now you have to apply for them online so that option was out. After Googling fruitlessly for any available online, I headed over to eBay to check out their selection. Yes, people can and do sell their coupons online. Technically according to the terms on the coupon, you shouldn’t be able to, but basically, they get around that by saying you’re not paying for the coupon but rather their time, fees and postage to get it to you. Maybe it’s unethical to sell them, but this momma needed a new fridge and judge not, lest ye be judged, am I right?! There were many coupons available on eBay, so I was able to purchase a 10% off coupon for $1—sometimes you gotta spend some money to make some money—or in this case, save some money. The coupon was emailed to me within minutes and back to work I went.
Next, I checked the cashback websites I use to see who will give me the most on this purchase at Lowe’s. TopCashback usually offers the highest rates so I started there. They were offering 7%. Then, I checked Ebates and they were only offering 1.5%. So, I went back to TopCashback and started my purchase there by clicking through to Lowe’s from their site. This opened a new window at Lowe’s, which already had the fridge saved in my cart from my earlier search.
By the way, if you don’t belong to each of these sites (they’re both free), you really should join today. Ebates will even give you a sign up bonus! You’re leaving free money on the table people!
Okay, where was I? So, I began the checkout process, adding my 10% off coupon into the promotional discount box. The $1,498 subtotal dropped to $1,348, but alas there’s 6% sales tax in the good ‘ol state of Pennsylvania, so my purchase total was $1,428.88, which I placed on my Chase Visa. Not bad, but it doesn’t end there.
If you recall, I’m getting 7% cash back on my subtotal, so take that off the price. That equals $89.88 in cashback. The total now becomes an even $1,339.
And remember how I said an Energy Star model was a must? Well, it costs a little more up front, but we will save in future energy costs and our local power company offers a cash rebate on any Energy Star rated refrigerator purchase. So, I applied and received the $25 cash rebate bringing the total down a little more to $1,314.
I also used my Chase Freedom Visa card which offers 5% cashback in rotating categories every quarter. Typically, in the spring or summer quarter, they will offer 5% cashback on home improvement stores purchases of up to $1,500. So, I timed the purchase to their cashback calendar to receive another 5% cashback. That 5% is calculated off the subtotal before taxes so that was another $67.40 back in our pockets.
With those final savings, I was able to price hack a new $2,223.88 ($2098 plus 6% sales tax) fridge, with free delivery and installation, for a final out-of-pocket price of…drumroll please…$1,246.60 saving an impressive $977.28 or 44% off the original price (plus tax)! Not too shabby!
It always pays to shop around and take your time. As a general rule, I try to never buy something at full price. Wait for a sale and then start stacking coupons with available rebates, your cashback portals and credit card rewards to get the best deal possible. Take into consideration that shopping online allows you to take advantage of those cashback sites that you can’t use in store.
Consider too that sometimes the cheapest price up front won’t garner you the best overall deal. For instance, The Home Depot ended up putting the same fridge on sale for $1,497. That was $1 less than Lowe’s, but they don’t offer coupons (though sometimes they will accept Lowe’s coupons in store, but I needed an online offer) and they don’t participate in any cashback sites so my better option was Lowe’s.
So, my fellow slayers, done any price hacking that you’re particularly proud of? I would love to hear what you scored and how you got the best deal. Spill it in the comments!