Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Computer prices drop in September. But even in a land of plenty, getting the best deals requires a strategy and planning. I approach seasonal sales using a seven-part multi-spectrum approach:

  1. Alerts on price drops.
  2. Browser extensions.
  3. Aggressive price matching.
  4. Rebates and rebate tracking.
  5. Coupon stacking.
  6. Discounted gift card stacking.
  7. IFTTT’s recipe database.

All of these methods will save you money. But together, these will save more than any would individually. So, let’s look into them one-by-one.

Alerts on Price Drops

Getting the latest alerts on sales takes work. Hunting for a specific item can mean refreshing a page several times a day. Why give yourself a repetitive stress injury hitting F5 repeatedly, when you can instead let the Internet find the best prices?

Price-drop spotting site CamelCamelCamel allows users to track price changes, even without making an account. Simply navigate to the site, select either Amazon or Best Buy from the tabs up top, and input either the Amazon URL or keyword specific to the item that you’re looking for.

CamelCamelCamel will then ask for either your email or Twitter account address and the target price. Once the item falls, you receive a notification. Unfortunately, the service only provides alerts for either Best Buy or Amazon – Newegg recently blocked CamelCamelCamel from monitoring its prices.

camelcamelcamel   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Although I prefer CamelCamelCamel, other Amazon price watch trackers exist. Some can even be installed as extensions on your browser.

Browser Extensions

There are a variety of browser extensions that can find coupons automatically. Honey (Chrome), for example, can find coupons on most sites at checkout. Another extension can track changes on sites, which helps for watching price changes.

  • Camelizer: Amazon Price Tracker for Chrome.
  • Page Monitor: This Chrome extension rocks for tracking any kind of webpage change, including inventories, prices and more.
  • Booly: Turns your search engine into a shopping basket by intelligently monitoring searches and applying real time price comparisons. Saikat wrote a walkthrough of Booly’s awesome intelligent features. It is available for both Firefox and Chrome.

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Aggressive Price Matching

Most big name retailers allow for price-matching, with some exceptions. For example, Frys.com, a US-based West Coast electronics retailer, will match online prices in addition to brick-and-mortar locations. However, the caveat is that the price must include shipping and rebates don’t apply.

Virtually all online retailers that price match include some exceptions and rules as a policy. Fortunately, if you combine price-matching with an aggressive strategy involving coupons, price alerts and more, you can score absolutely killer deals.

Here’s a lineup of online price matching retailers and their policies:

coins and money   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Rebates and Rebate Tracking

Getting great deals oftentimes requires that you systematically keep track of your rebates. When a rebate becomes delinquent, most of the time it’s due to a filing or clerical. Few rebate companies conspire to defraud their customers of money, although they will keep it, given the chance.

I suggest using a spreadsheet, such as Google Documents, to keep track of your rebates. You can even use my spreadsheet template. Essentially, you want to track which company has your money and when they owe it.

rebate spreadsheet tracker   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Discounted Gift Card Stacking

Another great – and risky – way to get discounts comes from websites that resell unused gift cards. Every year, consumers receive gift cards they never use. Some of these get resold for a fraction of their face value. The advantage of these cards is that they function just like money, so they can be stacked with coupons.

For example, if you use a $100 gift card that you purchased for $50, and throw in a coupon for 10% off, you actually get a discount synergy since you can get $111.11 worth of merchandise for $50. Had either discount been used individually, the savings would have been smaller.

A few discounted gift card sites:

gift   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Coupon Stacking

It goes without saying that coupons provide savings. However, several browser extensions and websites greatly aid in discovering the right coupon for our needs. We’ve mentioned it before, but there are a huge number of online coupon finding sites:

IFTTT Recipes

The “If That Then This” web automation service, can find amazing and timely deals. If you set it up properly, IFTTT will automatically search deal-hunting sites and send you notifications when sales show. Getting started is simple:

Just sign up for an account. Then search for an item that you’re looking for deals on. For example: “SSD”.

IFTTT recipes   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

Click on a recipe that’s relevant to your needs, then click on the arrow on the right.

ifttt click on right   Going Back To School? Save Money On A New Computer With 7 Secret Tips

At this point, you can customize the recipe to fit your needs. Some recipes allow you to change the key term. If you change the key term, the recipe will find sales related to that term.

Conclusion

Getting great seasonal deals on computers (or really anything) is easy with the right tools. If you use a synergistic strategy, the savings can get immense. Imagine using a deal alert on a laptop that you’ve been waiting for at Best Buy. Amazon drops the price, so you get Best Buy to match. You buy a discounted Best Buy gift card and combine it with a 10% off coupon. And because you used automation software, you didn’t really do much hunting at all. The deals came to you.

Anyone else love using deal-stacking strategies? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credits: Gift via MorgueFile.com; Money via MorgueFile.com.

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9 Comments -

jay

Interesting, thanks! Too bad most links etc are us based and can’t be well used for uk viewers of this website

willy flom

Lots of back to school computer needs could easily be met by purchasing a Chromebook.

Kannon Yamada

I really like Chromebooks, although I think it’s shortsighted of Google to not make Android the basis of Chromebook. It appears that they wanted to maintain proprietary control over the software. Ultimately, though, Chromebooks offer great value and amazing performance, particularly for the price.

Thanks for the comment!

SH

A couple of nit-picks. 1) The link to Amazon’s “Low price match” is for sellers to match the current lowest price offered by other sellers on Amazon, not a price match for buyers. 2) In your example for discount gift card stacking, you could actually get $111.11 worth of goods for $50, because 90% (using the 10% off coupon) of $111.11 is $100. There, I warned you that they were nits!

Kannon Yamada

Actually, that’s a very valid comment and it’s much appreciated!

It turns out that Amazon stopped price-matching except on Televisions! I’m really glad you pointed this out.

RE: The math, I knew something was wrong, but then lazily didn’t do the basic algebra. You have sharp eyes, though. Most folks gloss over the numbers (like me). Thanks again for the comment!

Min Xuan X

I’m from Singapore and there’s only one way for me to save on IT products: the quarterly electronics show.

Kannon Yamada

That’s actually pretty interesting. I thought quarterly electronics shows only involved displays. I had no idea they actually sold things there!

Totoliciu D

Interesting, thanks!