- Personal Finance»
- Frugal Living
Gifts Made Easy: The Cheapest Way to Shop
Shopping Made Cheap!
As a college student, finding the time to walk around the local mall or visit every thrift store in the city searching for the perfect gift that is simultaneously affordable on my ramen-noodle budget, is not my reality. I have papers to write, videos to watch, and desks to fall asleep on in the library. However, as a young adult, it is still imperative that I prove to both my mother and father that I can be a responsible adult by remembering their birthdays. There isn't a better way to boost one's pride than being able to send a family member or friend a congratulatory gift for turning another year older. It shows that you are not broke and that you are easily surviving away from the nest, even if you aren't.
Needless to say... I needed a solution, something that saves me both time and money. Well ladies and gentlemen I believe I have discovered it; Ebay. Most of us know Ebay as an online store where people buy and sell things both new and second hand. It's a great way to clean out your closet and make a few dollars. However, purchasing from Ebay isn't as strenuous or time-consuming as you may think. For example, last year for Christmas I bought gifts for fourteen people off Ebay. For my sister and my brothers I obviously bought more than one gift and after purchasing roughly 24 presents, I still had not spent $100.
What did I buy for so cheap? Everything. My personal specialty on Ebay is watches and jewelry. I buy beautiful rings for only $0.05, watches for just $0.25, and the list goes on. These items are sold from many stores across the world located in the U.S., Hong Kong, and even Japan. And yes they are made fairly cheap, but they work and they last. Gifts go in and out of fashion no matter what they are. It can be a T-shirt or a foot-spa, chances are it will only be used for a short period of time before being put into a closet. Besides, it's the thought that counts, right?
Many of these items that come so cheap are brand new, and most are being auctioned off with free shipping. You just need to now how to go about it.
Step One: Find a category that suits the gift receiver.
Whether you a searching for a present for a male or female, family member or friend, you have to know what they like. Jewelry is typically always safe. A bracelet for mom or a female friend, and a watch for dad. If not, there are clothes and book categories as well, just make sure you know what size you will need because returns are hard with an online store, and some sellers don't allow it.
Step Two: Refine your search.
Once you've selected your category, refine your search to exactly what your looking for. It can be color, size, subject, etc.. It will ask you, if you want to look at jewelry for example, if you want to look at earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, toe-rings, or men's jewelry. It will ask you if you know what type of metal you would prefer, type of stone or jewel you would like. However, unless your mom is a huge fan or turquoise like mine is, these specifics won't matter. However, with clothes or shoes you may want to select what size you need so you won't come across an amazing find that won't work.
Step Three: List what you need first.
At the top of the page, in both mobile and the full website versions of Ebay, you will find the option to list or sort these items according to what you need. It will automatically select 'Best Match' to give you what it thinks you are looking for. However, my trick is to switch this option to Price + Shipping: lowest first. This allows you to see the cheapest items listed for purchase. Most of these listings start at a penny with free shipping. You can make your bid by using the place bid option at the bottom of the screen, you can even bid the highest amount you are willing to pay for the item and Ebay will still list your bid as a cent. This tactic helps keep you the winning bidder once other buyers begin viewing the same item.
Also, you will notice the items that are cheapest usually have several days left up for auction. So if you are like me and have only a week or two before you need to have a gift ready, you don't have time to wait for an item to end and be shipped. The other best listing option is Time: ending soonest this will list items according to how much time is left to bid on them. These items will vary in price, but it's another great way to find an item for cheap and in a hurry.
Step Four: Purchasing
Once you make a bid on an item make sure you opt to "watch" the item. This allows your email or mobile device to get notifications when the item is close to ending or if you have been outbid. Once it has ended and you are declared the winner, similar to a live auction, you are expected to pay for your prize. Ebay uses PayPal for it's purchases. This protects your identity and the seller by not giving your bank account or debit card information directly. It is the safest and most secure way to purchase anything on the internet.
Step Five: The Wait
Once you have purchased your item, you may be able to track it depending on the seller. Some sellers offer tracking information once the payment for the item has been cleared and they have shipped your item. It gives you more piece of mind that your gift will arrive on time. If this isn't an option, every seller lists exactly how long it will take them to get the item shipped, along with an estimated time of arrival. This can be viewed even before you bid on the item, that way you will know whether it will arrive too late or not.
Once you build confidence in purchasing with Ebay, it will get addicting. You will find that while these items are horribly cheap, they are still of good quality. Give it a try and see how easily you adapt as a thrifty shopper, just be mindful of your bidding, pennies add up quick. I plan on doing my Christmas shopping on Ebay again this year. I always start a few months early, to allow time for those long-distance packages to be shipped. My jewelry boxes have become over-filled with beautiful rings and watches that keep my sporting all the new styles, and my friends and family believe I have put so much thought into their gifts and are so impressed. I just remind myself that I am not being cheap, I am being thrifty!