The 2012 NBA ALL-STAR GAME kicks off in less than two weeks and in addition to soaring food prices, delectable dip recipes and showcasing pro basketball’s brightest stars, the big game brings with it some of the lowest prices of the year on electronics (save for Black Friday, of course).
If you’ve wanted to upgrade your big screen, enhance your surround sound or switch to a smartphone for instant play updates, now is a better time than ever. However, intercepting the best deals takes a smart shopping strategy.
Review this play-by-play buying guide to learn how to post up super savings on game-day gadgets:
1. Do Your Homework
Research is key when making any purchase, so be sure to read product reviews to determine the best make and model for your needs. If you’re in the market for a new HDTV, Lifehacker offers helpful advice on comparing specifications. Once you’ve determined what you want to buy, compare retail prices on sites like PriceGrabber.com to score the best deal.
2. Get Creative with Payment
Though salespeople will try to sell you on the store credit card with a one-time discount, you’re better off using your own card to rack up reward points or flyer miles. If you can, offer cash and see if doing so will land you a discount. Otherwise, guarantee yourself some savings by paying part of the bill with a discount gift card from GiftCardGranny.com to Best Buy and other popular gadget retailers.
3. Beware of Extras
Don’t let impatience impact the additional decisions you have to make at checkout. Extended warranties are an expensive and ultimately unnecessary add-on; in most cases, the warranty provided by the manufacturer is sufficient, especially since electronics have a rapid depreciation value. HDMI cables have the most obscene markup around, and can be found for a fraction of brick-and-mortar store prices online (specifically, if you go generic).
The ability to negotiate is a powerful skill, one that’s getting more attention as consumers use it to save money. According to Consumer Reports, shoppers who haggled over the price of electronics saved an average of $82. The adage “knowledge is power” definitely applies here, so do you research before you head into battle. If you’re completely green on the strategy, consult this article from Kiplinger for a few pointers.
5. Opt for Refurbished
If a new TV or iPod simply isn’t in your budget, you needn’t give up on your dream of owning one. Refurbished electronics represent a smart substitute for buying new, as they cost a fraction of the price and often come with a warranty and new parts and accessories. Apple, for example, conducts rigorous testing and offers a one-year warranty on their refurbished products.
6. High Definition Without Cable
I recently learned that DirectTV doesn’t offer local channels in high definition, a fact deemed unacceptable by my significant other for NBA ALL-STAR GAME. Thankfully, you can get high-definition quality with an HD antenna for a one-time purchase price of $20 to $60, depending on the model. Don’t worry about ugly metal wires in the form of rabbit ears — modern antennas are thin, squared-shaped gadgets that make for a sleek addition to your entertainment system.
7. Don’t Overlook Open-box
Open-box items are another great opportunity for serious savings. Retailers like Best Buy often have open-box items on the sales floor along with a web page of available inventory. The assumption that the product is defective is often incorrect, as open-box items are more likely the product of buyer’s remorse or less-than-pristine appearance. Ask a sales associate about the condition of the item and verify all components are included before purchasing.
8. Let the Jones’ Be
Newsflash, technology fanatics: the latest bells and whistles will depreciate just as fast as last year’s models. One of the easiest ways to save on electronics is to limit your search to year-old inventory, which is timely advice since new models of electronics are typically introduced in February.
9. Friends with Benefits
If you can’t wiggle your budget to include a new flat screen or subwoofer, find friends or neighbors who are willing to share their systems in exchange for beer and brats on game day. After all, a party isn’t a party without good friends and good food.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.