Some stores make you think you’re getting a bargain when you’re actually not. So here’s what you need to know before you go shopping. This comes from Money Magazine.

  • It’s ok to wait. Are you dying for a fancy cell phone or plasma screen TV? You might want to wait a few months before you buy. Since technology is changing so quickly, a product that comes out during the spring could be replaced with a “new, improved” version by summertime. And that means a reduced price on the older version. Like when the Motorola Razor cell phone debuted in 2004, it sold for about 600 bucks. About a year later, you could get one for half the price.
  • Beware of “price matching”. You’ve probably seen ads like this: “We’ll beat anyone’s advertised price. Guaranteed!” Sounds like a good deal, right? Most people think it is: One study found that people usually view stores with “price matching” guarantees as being less expensive. But sometimes, these stores actually have higher prices. Sure, they’ll give you a discount if you show them a lower price, but if you don’t bother to comparison shop, you could end up paying more than if you’d bought the product somewhere else. So before you buy, log onto a website like ‘Shopzilla .com’ or ‘Biz Rate .com.’ These sites allow you to compare prices so you can get the best deal possible. And one study found that people who spent just 16 minutes comparing prices for a TV saved an average of 100 bucks.  
  • High prices can hide in bundles. Retailers often group items together and sell them as a package. But sometimes, these “bundles” can hide high prices. Here’s an example: The Nintendo Wii (“Wee”) game console sells for about 250 bucks. But some stores sell it bundled with a handful of games for over 600 bucks. But once you subtract the cost of the games, you actually end up paying more than 250 bucks for the console. What can you do? If you see something advertised as part of a package, figure out the cost of each individual item to make sure you’re not getting hosed.