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It used to be that if you waited until the last minute for something, you could get a deal on it, just for procrastinating. But for some reason, that never winds up being the case when it comes to my family. The truth of the matter is — procrastinating can cost you money in the long run.
You see, my husband has a habit of not being able to decide on things and often waiting until the last minute to make a purchase. He is this way with everything from clothing to travel plans. Much to my dismay, it winds up costing us an arm and a leg when he finally does make a decision.
This is nothing new. Back when we were getting married, I needed to purchase a gazebo-esque tent for our ceremony. I found one for the bargain price of $78 at — where else but Target.
I told him he needed to bring the truck now so he could pick it up. Or at least pick it up that night. He kept procrastinating and when he finally did go, it was gone. When I looked up that exact same structure online at target.com? It was $800.
Yes. That’s correct. A one THOUSAND percent markup on the exact same item. It was no longer available at any nearby Target. We were tight on time at this point so now we had no choice but to spend the $800 on the piece for the wedding. (In case you are wondering: No, it hasn’t been used since the wedding and has been sitting at my mother-in-law’s house in a box.)
This also happens with travel arrangements. We will look to book a place but wait to see if the price goes down. So we’ll wait. And wait. And then the price goes up instead of down. This happened most recently when we had to go to San Diego. We kept waiting for prices to drop, figuring they would as it got closer, but unfortunately they jumped instead. As a result, we spent the night in an old hotel right off of the highway in an area with almost nothing around it while our friends stayed at a resort overlooking the beach for only slightly more than we wound up spending.
Yes, last-minute deals do exist in the form of clearance sales and the like. But often, by the time you get to that point, the size or color of the item you want is no longer available, and you either have to pay full price for it online, pay a markup for it on a re-sale site or not get it at all.
Even with hotels, options like Priceline and Hotel Tonight don’t offer true last-minute bargains. Often the price is identical to what you would get on the hotel site, and at least there you get hotel points with it.
If you do buy something in advance and find the price reduced later, there are options to recoup some of your lost funds.
There are price protection systems in place to make sure you can get the most bang for your buck when you shop. Many credit cards offer a 90-day price protection guarantee if the price drops after you buy something. This is helpful, but can be extremely labor intensive.
I recently tried to do this for a bunch of items I had purchased on Amazon. I had to call the credit card company, make claims for each item, fill out the item information with an online form and include photos of receipts and where I found the item for less. This took close to three hours of my time to gather all this information and create each claim for the eight items.
After that, I received emails saying that I had to verify each date I had seen the lower pricing and that the price protection would not be valid without it. By this time I called it quits because while $45 was a substantial amount of money, it wasn’t worth it if I had to invest another few hours trying to figure out how to prove that the images I took were from the day I made the claim.
This is much simpler than credit card price protection, but the timeframe is much shorter. If you see a price drop on something you bought at a store, you usually have 14 days from the time it was purchased to bring it back —with a receipt — to get a price adjustment. Make sure to check the store because the timeframe can vary from as short as 7 days to as much as 30 days, and not all stores offer this option.
There are also certain travel sites that offer price protection if a price drops after you’ve purchased a fare. Travelocity will refund you the difference, plus $50 if the airfare cost drops within 24 hours of when you purchased it. For hotels, the policy is within two days of your stay. It’s best to book, then just set up an alert if the price on the hotel you are staying at for those selected dates drops.
My takeaway tip for you is this: If you really want or need something, don’t wait until the last minute to buy it.
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