I've mentioned before that I'm a software engineer living in Silicon Valley. Such an occupation forces you to stay alert with all the technology advantages in the field. Often that includes keeping up with the latest technology gadgets. Financially, it's quite a curse. Back in my "gotta have it first days" of 1998, I had a Diamond Rio, the second MP3 produced. At the time it retailed around $200, I took advantage of several deals to buy it for around $85. I proceeded to use it nearly every day for years.
After being unemployed for 18 months from 2001-2003, I re-evaluated how much value these products meant to me. I decided that I wouldn't buy the hot new products (like today's iPhone or iPod Touch) unless I could get an outstanding deal. This leads me to a couple of tips that I have for today. I don't know too many people using these tips and I've never seen a personal finance blogger use them. With that build up here are the two tips:
- Search the RSS Feeds of Deal sites - For those of you who don't know what RSS fees are, here's a good primer. The idea behind this is to have an RSS reader always saving deals and when you need a deal, simply do a search and take the best one. I recommend using either Mozilla Thunderbird or Google Reader to subscribe to deal sites RSS feeds. Here are the RSS feeds that I subscribe to - even though there is some overlap, finding too many deals is not a problem for me:
Slick Deals, Tech Bargains, eDealInfo, Deal News, Ben's Bargains, Deal Catcher, XP Bargains, Roosster, and Cheap Stingy Bargains.
- Save Money with Craigslist - My mother once thought that all computers had touch screens. What does this do with this tip? She now knows what Craigslist is and uses it to find bargains. If you don't know Craigslist, don't fret, just think of it as an online yard sale. How can you find bargains on Craigslist? Here are two simple ideas:
- Use the earlier example to subscribe to the RSS feed - Here is an example of a search for an iPod Nano in the San Francisco Bay area. At the bottom you'll see an RSS link. Just add it by following the earlier idea with Google Reader or Mozilla Thunderbird and use it to monitor deals
- Subscribe to 4info's alerts - If you are more impatient like myself, there's a better way. Simply go to 4info.net and sign up to receive text messages when an item is listed. Standard text message rates apply, so you'll want an unlimited plan. I've contacted sellers so quickly that they ask me how I do it.
- Sam at Getting Finances Done has some video tutorials on how to shop for amazing deals using RSS. Be sure to check those out as well.
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