With spring fever striking and another five months until football season starts, TV shopping has dropped to the bottom of the priority list for many Americans. If you count yourself among those willing to wait for another round of holiday deals, you may want to reconsider your strategy.
Consumer Reports recently reported that many television manufacturers are changing their pricing policies as of April 1. The new policies will prevent stores from selling TVs at a price lower than the one suggested by manufacturers. Though these policies are designed to protect stores from losing ground to Internet retailers, they also mean higher prices for consumers. Luckily, you still have a chance to avoid this impending price hike by following these tips.
1. Research First
Even though it feels like the clock is ticking on your remaining time to buy a TV, don't succumb to the shopping pressure. A new television is a big expense and worth buying for quality instead of a bargain. Often product specs are analyzed in detail by review sites, but they neglect the user experience over time. CNET.com provides a nice pairing of expert reviews with user reviews to give you a complete picture.
2. Buy Old Models
If you're still lugging around one of those bulky tube TVs, the picture on an HDTV from last year versus the picture from the latest release will be unrecognizable. What you will be able to notice is the huge discrepancy in price. Manufacturers turn out new television technology all the time, and stores will still slash prices to make room for units that make them the most money. Before you go shopping, brush up on some key HDTV terms so you don't end up like a deer in the headlights.
3. Using Coupons
Whenever the tyranny of high prices threatens innocent consumers, coupons come to the rescue. These money-savers are especially important when you're planning to order your TV online. For example, TigerDirect coupons from sites like FreeShipping.org will often combine a discount with free shipping and help you get a better deal all around.
4. Open Box Specials
Most stores have a section at the end of an aisle or off in a corner filled with open-box items. While the name is somewhat offputting, don't mix these discounted products up with damaged goods. They're generally items that were opened and returned, but are still in working condition. Sometimes open-box items will have different rules regarding warranties, so be sure to ask first.
5. Buy Used
Buying used electronics isn't for everyone. However, if you need your TV for utilitarian purposes like video games or a spare bedroom, there are always plenty available locally on Craigslist or at a pawn shop. Just make sure you check what the same model is selling for new. People often ask outrageous prices for their unwanted sets and sometimes you can get an identical TV right out of the box for less than it's listed for online.
6. Buy Accessories Separately
It's astounding what stores will charge for HDMI cables. One simple, six-foot cord can run upwards of $30 when purchased directly from stores like Best Buy. A quick search of Amazon will produce dozens of results at a fraction of the price. If stores are already going to raise prices on TVs, don't let them nickel-and-dime you on the accessories.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!