I don’t know about you…
But, whenever I buy something, I’m always wondering if I got the lowest price. There’s often a lingering doubt that I could have found it cheaper elsewhere.
I don’t like that feeling - but I don’t always have the time or energy to make sure I got the best deal. And that’s ok!
When I DO find the time though - I can be pretty fanatical about it. In fact, I’ve developed a handy process that you too can use for tracking down rock bottom prices.
The best part is you can pick and choose those steps you have the time for and skip those you don’t. You’ll still wind up with a REALLY good price after all.
Here’s what you do:
1) Choose Your Product
The first step is simply to choose the product that is right for you.
If you can, choose a well-reviewed product that is sold at plenty of stores so you know competition will be high. I’ll assume you know what you want, so this step should be easy.
Be sure to take note of the full product name and the model number of the item you plan to buy. You need this to ensure you are comparing apples to apples.
Tip: The model number is listed in the product description at most online stores. Click through a few stores until you find it, then write it down or copy it to your clipboard or notepad.
2) Start With A Light Google Search
This is where many people’s search for the lowest price starts and ends. They search for the product by name on Google and click through the first few results or ads and hope they found the lowest price.
Here’s a few search strings you can try when doing this yourself to improve your results...
- The full product name like:
- “KitchenAid Classic Plus 4.5-qt Tilt Head Stand Mixer”
- A few shorter versions might give more results like:
- “KitchenAid ClassicPlus Mixer”
- “Kitchen Aid Classic Plus Mixer” (notice the spacing difference)
- “KitchenAid Mixer”
- Just the model number like:
3) Track The Lowest Prices
I find the easiest way to keep track of the lowest prices during my search is with organized browser tabs.
Simply ctrl-click any link you find to a low-priced item to open it in a new tab. Then, drag it to the left side of your browser window so all your lowest-priced items are stored neatly there.
Keep your active search tabs on the right hand side of your browser which makes it easy to open and close tabs as needed while you search.
When finished, you will have a nice collection of low-priced buying options open in tabs on the left hand side of your browser window.
4) Check ALL The Flyers Using Flipp.com
Flipp has become the clear leader in flyer comparison. There are other options, but they just aren’t as easy or convenient to use.
Since you are likely on your computer when doing this research - go ahead and use Flipp.com - but keep in mind their app is also fantastic when you’re on the go.
Do your search on Flipp using the best short version of the product name you are looking for that you discovered from Step 2. Why? Because Flipp doesn’t usually track model numbers and often won’t list full product names.
5) Use Price Comparison Sites To Compare Prices Fast
Canadian price comparison sites allow you to quickly compare prices across multiple stores.
The problem is that these sites only track prices from some stores - not all of them. To access prices from MOST stores - here’s what you do:
- Navigate to my Best Price Comparison Sites article.
- Open ALL the sites in tabs by ctrl-clicking each link in the article.
- Copy/paste the product name quickly into each tab and click search.
- Go back and review the prices - move the lowest prices to new tabs on the left.
- Repeat this process using the model number.
6) Do A Manual Search Of Well-Known Stores
The biggest big box stores are also the ones most likely to not share their pricing information. They rely on their brand recognition and marketing efforts to drive shoppers directly to their sites and stores.
Unfortunately, they may also have the lowest price and you don’t want to miss out on that.
Here’s what you do:
Take a minute to brainstorm every store you know of that might sell the item you are looking to buy. For a small appliance like a KitchenAid mixer I came up with this list:
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Canadian Tire
- Home Depot
- Home Hardware
- Hudsons Bay
- London Drugs
Open all the stores in separate browser tabs and follow the same steps you did with the price comparison sites. First, copy/paste the product name and then the model number into each store’s site as quickly as possible.
7) Find The Lowest Past Selling Price
By now, you should have found the lowest current selling price for whatever thing you want to buy.
There’s one more check you can do though - check to see what sale prices have been like in the past. That way you can see if the price is likely to drop much lower again in the future. Most products go through cyclical sale and pricing cycles - if you are willing to wait it out there’s a good chance that amazing price will come around again eventually.
To find previous hot deals try this:
- Search for “product name OR model + forum”.
- Search for “product name OR model + RedFlagDeals”.
- Search for “site:redflagdeals.com + product name OR model”.
- Search directly in the RedFlagDeals Hot Deals forum.
8) Price Match To Save More Money
By now you’ve seen dozens of prices for the same item so you know ALL the stores that are selling it.
If one of the stores that is selling it offers a 110% price match guarantee, like Canadian Tire or Home Depot, you might be able to get a further 10% discount off the lowest price you’ve found or maybe 10% of the difference.
You can see which stores have the best price match policies here. If you are new to price matching, then you can read our complete guide to price matching here.
If the item you want is not in stock at the lowest priced store, then most stores will refuse to do a price match if they bother to check stock. You can get around this by doing the price match through a credit card that has price protection insurance coverage like the MBNA Rewards World Elite MasterCard. It also happens to be the best cash back credit card in Canada right now.
9) Get Extra Cash Back
You’ve now zoned in on the store where you’re planning to make your purchase.
If it happens to be an online store, then you might be able to earn an extra cash back discount by going through a cash back website. You can see all the cash back websites available to Canadians here - or you can just jump over to my favourite one - Great Canadian Rebates.
10) Tack On A Coupon If You Can
Just before you check out, you might as well check if the store you are shopping at is offering any discount coupons. Head over to Retail Me Not and type in the store’s name to see what is currently available.
Copy and paste the coupon code into the space for it on the checkout page for even more savings. You can also Google “store name + coupon code” have a chance at finding more coupons.
How Extreme Are You?
Am I the only one intense enough to do this sort of thing? Tell me - what are your tricks for finding the lowest price when you want to buy something?