Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Introducing The Frugal Lawyer!

Some of my most popular posts over the past two months have centered around great airfare deals, such as the flash JetBlue one-day sale and incredible fares to Hawaii found here and here.

With the popularity of "deal-finding" on a meteoric rise, I wanted to reach out to a close friend to hopefully share some insight with you.  Nicknamed "The Frugal Lawyer," he constantly scours the internet for great bargains on just about everything.  When I need to make a major (or minor) purchase, I usually consult with him first.


The Frugal Lawyer Himself
Hopefully he will share some of his tricks and methodology in future posts on how to nab that perfect deal.  In the meantime, let me introduce you to the Frugal Laywer via a comprehensive Q&A session!

How and/or why did you get into deal-finding?  What's special about your methodology?

When I feel like I get ripped-off, it really bothers me.  I can't really explain it, but it gives me a knot in my stomach.  So, I just try not to rush into any decision and just do as much research as possible.  For major purchases, I just take my time and get a sense for that good prices are.  Then, when a great deal comes along, I feel comfortable to grab it quickly.  

What websites do you use to find your deals and how often do you check them?

I use a couple of different sites, namely DealNews and SlickDeals.  I found dealnews first, and check it periodically throughout the day.  What really impressed me was that it doesn't just list a sale.  It tells you if it's the lowest price, by how much, and compares it to times the item previously went on sale.  Moreover, it has an "Editor's Choice" section for the truly crazy deals.  If you don't want to check the website throughout the day, you can sign up for the dealnews newsletter where they simply email you the Editor's Choice deals for that day.  It's a great snapshot for bargains over the last 24 hours.

ALSO, I rely on Amazon for a majority of my purchases.  If you don't have time to wait for a deal, their prices are often the best.  Though, there are ways to double-check with Amazon as well.  Did you know that prices for Amazon products can shift daily?  I often consult the ridiculously-named site: camelcamelcamel.com.  This website tracks prices for every product sold on Amazon and can give you a line graph for recent price fluctuations.  So, let's say you are interested in a particular toaster.  You plug the Amazon product link into this website, and you see that it was $10 less last month.  If you are not in a rush, you can set an email alert where they will notify you when the price drops again.  It's awesome. 

What's the one thing my readers can do to save money that they don't do already?

There are tons of way to save money every single day.  The biggest thing is to avoid monthly fees whenever possible.  People are also ripped off every day by cable companies, cell phone carriers, and drug stores.  There are really interesting (and totally viable) ways to cut down on those monthly costs, and I'd love to elaborate on them another time!

What's the single most successful deal you've ever encountered and why?

A couple of incredible deals come to mind, and with them came some valuable lessons.  My first crazy deal involves Joseph A Bank, the notoriously deal-happy mens clothing store.  They advertise deals CONSTANTLY, and it's easy to lump them all together.  The trick is not to get suckered in, and wait for the "big one" - when their clearance merchandise is marked off an additional 50% off.  These deals come around a couple of times a year, and you have to watch for them closely.  One day a couple of years ago I literally stumbled into the deal when I was walking past one of their stores.  When I did some poking around, I saw a  $1000 suit marked down to $200.  To this day, it's my favorite suit.  And I still watch carefully for that sale - it's also a great way to get $100 dress shirts for $20 (they make great gifts for family - and people think you spent way more than you did).


Plenty of Deals to be Had at Jos. A. Bank
How does your spouse feel about your deal-finding.  Does she support it?

I am exceedingly fortunate in this regard.  My wife and I are both incredibly frugal, so we are 100% on the same page about the importance of savings.  I am clearly more obsessive about it, but I am slowly converting her to the dark side of deal finding.  

What is your "most memorable" deal?  

My most memorable deal is also my most shameful, but I honestly love the story.   One day I was looking for a new sportcoat on ebay.  I found a really nice one in my size, and on a hunch I clicked to view the other offering by this seller. Lo and behold, an entire wardrobe was on sale!  With no minimum bids!  After an evening of bidding against one or two pesky people, I walked away with two suits, a sportcoat, three sweaters, and eight pair of fancy wool slacks.  I paid shockingly little money - I think I won one of the suits for like $30.  

After the bidding process, I contacted the seller about consolidating shipping costs.  She was happy to oblige and was very polite.  Unfortunately, she elaborated a bit about the ownership of these garments, and it quickly became clear that this was an estate sale (i.e. the previous owner had passed away).  Some people find this story to be very troubling, but I proudly wear these garments as a badge of honor for the best best deal I have ever encountered.  

Any other parting suggestions/advice for my readers?

Do your research in advance and be ready to pounce when you find that deal.  I really enjoy helping people find deals, but many people are so hesitant to pull the trigger and miss out on the great ones.  It can be frustrating to point people towards one deal after another, only to watch each deal sell out before that person summons the courage to make the purchase.  Figure out the specs you need, decide if refurbs are OK with you (hint: they should be), and grab that deal before it goes away!
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We look forward to having the Frugal Lawyer's contributions on this site.  If you want to give him any suggestions on future posts, don't hesitate to email me.

Until tomorrow, everyone!

-Charm City Traveler

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