Barter for Bargains

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While disposable income is tighter in these tough economic times, the state of the economy makes it easier for those willing to think outside of the box to find deals.  The keys to getting the most for your money are, first, doing research on the product you are looking for so you are informed about going rates and available product options.  Next, know your budget.  Finally, remember that everything is negotiable.  Having cash that businesses desperately need gives you leverage.

There are many places to look for deals outside the mainstream shopping venues.  Pawn shops can reveal amazing opportunities to save.  There are three general ways that pawn shops get their inventory.  First, pawn shops buy product just like any other store.  Second, customers go to pawn shops to sell items they do not want or need anymore.  For example, when a gamer gets a Wii for their birthday they may go to a pawnshop to sell their previous system and games.  Many gamers will sell their games once they have beaten them.  Pawn shops will sell these used games for significantly less than the original store price.  Lastly, customers will borrow money against their property and the pawn shop holds it until the loan is repaid according to certain terms.  Not everyone repays.  These items are forfeited by the owner and now owned by the pawn shop.  Since a pawn broker will not lend the full value of an item they can sell it at a discount if the owner fails to repay as agreed.  A pawn shop’s inventory can vary greatly from one month to the next.  Some shops sell cars, firearms, CDs and DVDs, commercial-grade power tools, GPS navigation devices, instruments or porcelain dolls, just to start.  Keep checking bad to see what savings await.

Estate sales occur after a person dies.  Often, the executor of an estate must liquidate property of the estate to pay bills of the deceased or settle terms of the will.  The sales are usually held as open houses where prospective buyers can just come in, browse, and barter for price.  Other times, however, the transaction is an auction.  Items may be sold piece by piece or in bulk lots.  It is hard to tell what will show up at an estate sale.  Most estate sales are publicized in newspapers so ads are limited by space and per-word charges.  Sales are often held on the weekends.  Plan your day like an expedition.  You and a group of friends could each take a sale.  When you see something the other friend may enjoy text them a photo.  They can give you bidding instructions.  You get the thrill of the bidding competition and your friend gets a deal.  Everyone wins.  Meet back at your house later for drinks and dinner while you compare finds.

The government is offering deals to more than just drowning banks and automakers.  On the government sale site,, a wide variety of articles can be found.  Some of the items, like houses and land, are foreclosed Veteran’s Affairs or Housing and Urban Affairs loans.  Significant opportunities to save on things like jewelry and household furnishings are also available.  Vehicles and equipment the government does not need anymore are also available.  To find information about postal auctions, go to  The important thing to remember is to read the terms of auction.

Websites have sprung up to bridge the gap between people who have things they do not need and other things they want but do not have.  One of these,, links traders together.  You can list vacations, event tickets, personal property and services.  Remember that trading services in this way may have tax implications.  If you do not have many cash to spare, but do have a cluttered attic, this may be a perfect way to get the things you want.  The best part is that signing up is free.  Again, it is always important to read the terms of use.

When looking for ways to save, it is important to be ready to bargain.  Know what you want and what you are willing and able to spend to get it.  It is hard for any business to turn down cash, even if it not the full asking price.  Be firm and ready to walk away if the seller is not flexible.  Watching your wallet walk away may encourage them to be a little more accommodating.  The sales are there, you just have to search them out.


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