Friday, May 27, 2011

Check, Check, Double Check

Here's a little lesson in bargain shopping- check, check, double check!

I couple weeks ago we receive an invitation to a little girl's first birthday party. We don't have kids yet and I know virtually nothing about children so I tend to default to one gift for kids: books. I'm pretty sure one-year-olds aren't reading yet but one day they will and in the mean time they can certainly be read to so I like to buy books that I loved growing up.

I went to the closest book store near us, Waldenbooks, and picked out three of my all time favorites: Amelia Bedelia Celebration: Four Stories Tall with Audio CD by Peggy Parish (I love anything Amelia Bedelia does!); Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! (Giant Little Golden Book); and Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever (Golden Bestsellers Series). These three together added up to roughly the amount I had budgeted to spend but the cashier informed me that all books in the store that day were buy 4 get the 5th free. Well then, I had to go back and pick out two more.

I added on Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales: A Treasury of Children's Classics and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I like to buy children' books with multiple stories inside: I feel like it's more story bang for your buck. When all was totaled, however, I spent about $80 ($30 over the original budget) but I bought them anyway because I wanted to cross that task off the to-do list so I didn't have to go out shopping later that week.

Lesson #1: Not all promotions are bargains. I found the books I wanted to get and was at budget. By taking advantage of the sale I went over budget. No bueno!

I felt a little guilty about going over budget, so the next day I went online and did a little price comparison. As it turned out, Barnes & Noble offered the exact same 5 books for just $56.94 (shipped). These were their regular prices, not even sale prices or with a promotion!

PLUS, since I was ordering online I linked through to B&N via Ebates (see my post here to learn more about Ebates) and earned $3.42 cash back on that purchase. DOUBLE PLUS, Ebates was offering a promotion to new customers (I had just signed up) which earned me a $10 gift card to Target for placing a purchase over $50. (I think the qualifying order had to be placed within the first 3 months of opening the account.) If you are interested in signing-up with Ebates, just click here.

I'll do the math for you: $56.94 - $3.42 - $10 = $43.52. That's UNDER budget!

Lesson #2: Shop around! Even if you make a purchase in store, checkout competitors prices online. You may need to return the original purchase (as long as you are still within that store's return period) but in this situation it saved me over $20. I didn't waste the gas making a special trip for the return though.  I just put the original 5 books in the trunk of my car and the next time I made a trip to the mall I returned them. You might be able to ask the original store to adjust the price to meet the competitors but I always find that to be a hassle and not always a guarantee.

In summary, it never hurts to check, check, double check to make sure you got the best deal!

If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, just click the links above. You can currently get all 5 for just $59.34 on with free shipping!