#980 eBay Saves You Money And Makes You Money

19 Nov

eBay changes may leave users frustrated, but it’s a great source of second-hand or new stuff at a discount. I was going to make this graphic myself, but found it on Adweek and used the version on their site.

I love Express Editor pants, but at $60 to $80 retail, they’re pricey. I can find them on eBay for $9.99 – $14.99 new or like new. Sometimes they’re even tailored to the exact length I need! Anytime I’m looking for something for my daughter that I haven’t found at Goodwill, I look on eBay and can usually find it for less than $10. It’s a great source of replacement items for makes and models of items large and small. When someone kicked in our car’s front grill (grr…). I found the exact color and match on eBay for a fraction of the price new. And I didn’t have to pay to get it painted to match the car. I buy discontinued items that my husband loves for a song.

It may have gotten all corporate, replaced the common man seller with large businesses and made it almost impossible for sellers to keep track of all the changes and fees, but for buyers, eBay still offers great deals if you’re careful.

For all its follies that are lamented on a daily basis by users, eBay is still the largest source available to find exactly what you’re looking for. But since it’s changed so much since the early days when I started using it seriously in the early 2000s, here are some suggestions to help you find a great deal on eBay and save you money along the way.

  • Look for what you need on eBay and then check what the going price is by looking only at Completed Listings. Whether buying or selling, this will give you and idea of whether the item you are looking to buy on eBay is worth it.
  • Know what the item costs new. Some eBay auctions end so close to the price of the item new, it’s not worth buying it used and paying for shipping, which may make the price more than if you bought it new. If the price is too close to make a difference, I much prefer popping by the store and getting the item than waiting for the auction to end or for the item to be shipped.
  • Factor shipping into your final cost. Shipping varies so wildly on eBay that I only consider and bid on items for which shipping doesn’t blow the deal out of the water. I add the shipping to the price and decide whether it’s still worth it.
  • Consider Buy It Now. Just because you buy it outright doesn’t mean that it’s not a good deal. In fact, I find Buy It Now options are priced better than the final auction price of many items.

    A favorite that has been discontinued can be found on eBay, new with tags, for a great price.

  • For items that offer Make an Offer, bargain away. Start low and then you’ll end up at the price you wanted in the first place.
  • Don’t get caught up in the bid frenzy. The excitement of bidding and winning an ebay auction is a form of gambling addition in my opinion. You’re palms sweat, you can’t stop thinking about it and then you spend too much. Set an amount that you want to pay (always factoring shipping) and refuse to budge. If the item goes out of your range, so be it.
  • Put a bid in and leave it. For items that aren’t a huge deal to you, put in your bid and walk away. If you win it, great, if you don’t oh, well. I win 50% or less of the auctions this way but my max bid is so low that it’s a bargain if I win and too much for my taste if I don’t.
  • Snipe for things you really want. Another lamented factor of eBay is sniping, or last second bids winning an auction. The way eBay is set up, there is no way to win auctions with surety besides sniping. You can manually snipe or use an automatic sniper for auctions for which you can’t be available or to ensure you don’t get carried away when bidding yourself. Use only reputable sniping services as you are sharing personal info with them. Esnipe.com has minimal fees and is well regarded. At $0.25 for auctions less than $25, which is my budget range, esnipe is affordable. Jbidwatcher.com is free although it is someone’s personal project, meaning updates and fixes might be slower than a pay service. Goofbid.com is free and a good site for U.K. users. It includes a misspelling and not in title search as well. I find sniping works best in the last three to six seconds of an auction.
  • Go with individual sellers. It might seem like the vast majority of sellers on eBay are large companies selling their stock or medium to large resellers. But there are regular individual sellers cleaning out their closets or trying to make a little money. The individual sellers usually have the best deals. They start the auctions low and have reasonable shipping. Resellers want way too much for their stuff because they’ve found it for you at a yard sale or thrift shop and are trying to sell at a profit. You should just do the bargain hunting yourself.
  • Check misspellings. You can lessen your competition for an item by looking for items that have misspellings in the titles or missing the brand name or other descriptor in the title. Goofbid has this service along with the snipe service. Other misspellings sites that return the most results from ebay are fatfingers.com and typobay.com. Typobay returned the most results although fatfingers has a better advanced search function.
  • Don’t shop unless you need something. This is the case all the  time, so I’ll just keep repeating it…

eBay plus Goodwill equals thrifty and happy.

Here’s a specific example where eBay can come in handy. I bought two Fisher Price Animal Sounds Farms at Goodwill in great condition one for $1.99 and the other for $2.99. But they had no animal figures accompanying them. So a quick search on ebay revealed a lot of auctions for a varying number of animals, farmers and accessories. The auctions varied hugely in the number of pieces you received and the shipping charged. I tallied the final auction price plus shipping divided by the number of figures offered in each lot. Math is not my strong suit, but I can do averages. I found that, on average, auctions for the farm pieces ended anywhere from $2.10 – $2.50 per piece. Buy It Now options averaged $1.30 – $1.80 per piece. To buy new retail averaged $3 – $4 per piece. Obviously Buy It Now had the lowest price per piece and the larger the lot, the lower the price. I ended up buying a much larger lot than I needed from a Buy It Now seller at $1.66 per piece. I outfitted the two farms with the required animals plus some other fun ones and extras. I took the remaining animals and figures I didn’t need and sold them at auction on eBay for a final sale price of $2.37 per piece, or $0.71 higher per piece than I bought them for; partially covering the cost of the pieces I kept. I ended up paying just under $20 for the two farms and the animals, which would have been $80 or more retail. Between Goodwill and eBay, I was happy with the outcome. Not to mention the hours of play that have been enjoyed since.

You can also clean out your closet and make some extra cash on eBay by being an occasional seller. To be a serious seller take a lot of time and organization that you may not have. If you start to sell on eBay and think you can swing being a more serious seller, go for it.

Alternatives to eBay if you really hate eBay or want to try something different:

Ioffer: It looks nice, but the options to narrow down your search are limited. Items offered are much more limited than ebay (as is the case for all competing sites). Ioffer is mostly based on the bartering system of making an offer to the seller. My offer just sat there for days until it expired, not impressed (with the seller, not the site). With eBay I hear within hours of an offer most times. It’s worth a look if you’re searching for something.

Ebid: A little better than ioffer with options to narrow your search based on price, size, ect. A lot of items are listed to buy only so no bidding or bartering is going on. Also it is more limited in the number of items offered in any category.

Atomic Mall: Looks like a flashback to the ’80s, if they’d had web pages during the ’80s. It is very limited in narrowing down your search by different categories. It is mostly a site to buy, but has auctions as well.

Ruby Lane: This site is exclusively for antiques, vintage and collectibles. It has mostly options to buy, but you can make offers as well. It’s a great venue for finding unique pieces, and prices offered would have to be evaluated based on the item. It is highly rated by users.

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