Buying Do's & Don'ts
                    by Marriott_Guy
Work has been a bit brutal as of late and has required me to travel quite a bit.  Though I work in the hospitality industry (hotels), I hate all aspects of traveling myself – packing for a trip, wading through the lines at the airport, cab rides to the hotel, having to iron every item for a meeting the next morning (of course I use the bath room shower 'steam' method to reduce ironing times).  Most everyone has experienced these types of annoyances at one some point and gets the picture.
On my most recent trip, I had to buy some coffee at the airport instead of the 'Cup of Joe' dealer I usually frequent (a Shell gas station).  Upon receiving my 10 oz coffee from the bagel peddler just in front of Gate 32, the clerk mildly informed me that it would be $3.15. "For a cup of coffee??" I said to myself.  In my field, I am fully aware of the both the simple and complex supply and demand scenarios.  This simple coffee purchase of mine was the best example of this theory as any other lesson learned within an economics class.  Yes – I was running late that morning and probably should not have hit the snooze button that third time.  It would have saved me $2.50.  Not allot of money, but viewed in a different way I paid over 500% more for the same product I would have received from Sally at my local Shell station.

The telling of this most recent frustration of mine provides an appropriate segue to this post – Buying Do's & Don'ts. To make this a little easier to read, I decided to bullet point a few main thoughts I have on this subject.
Don't Buy a New Video Game System the Same Day It Is Released
This is a cardinal rule (as seen with the Xbox 360 and its failure rate).  I admit that I was the first one in line in 1993 at my local Electronics Boutique (there were very few dedicated video game stores at the time) to purchase the 3DO for $699.  Learn from my mistake – it will save you allot of money, not too mention letting others test out the system for you and avoiding the possible 'red ring of death' scenario for a respective system.

Don't Become a New Technology Addict
I grew up in a different time, when the operating system of a PC had to be booted from a 5.25" disk (DOS).  As technology improved (PCs and video game systems), my need to have this new hardware mirrored this growth.  I made many particularly bad decisions (especially in PCs) to try and keep up with 'Silicon Valley'.  This is the same thing as buying a new car – the minute you drive out of the show room with it, it is instantly worth $7,000 less than what you paid for it.

Don't Purchase From an Unknown Source
You will have to do this at some point, but ensure to get as much reference information as you can, especially on those high-end purchases.  A great resource in this area is the public selling forums (like at RFG and DP).  Vice versa, you have to establish yourself as a trusted buyer.  Always ensure to leave comments on all transactions.

Don't get into a bidding war on an eBay auction at 2 AM on a Friday Night
This does not warrant an explanation at all.  I always joke with my brother and say that there should be one of those breathalyzer car starter apparatuses attached to your computer whenever your fire up eBay or like web sites.  A reading over .20 – Access Denied.
Don't Get Emotional
Leave all of your emotions at the door, especially when bidding on an online auction.  Be prepared to walk away and not obtain an item.  Getting all hyped up will only cloud matters for you and your decision making ability.

Do Have Patience and Educate Yourself
This is a tough one to manage since the passion runs high on a number of items we are considering to procure.  I have made some purchases just to complete a certain collection where I over paid for an item, sometimes grossly.  There are times to pull the trigger, other moments when it is best to wait for the next possible transaction (which is most of the time).  Do not get into bidding wars – determine a price that are willing to pay and be willing to walk.  Do your research – this is key.  Know what the value of an item is today as well as what it was worth last year and the demand for it in the future.

Do Keep All Items/Boxes – Ensure CIB
As a pure collector, performing this action is of paramount importance.  Having a CIB unit is worth as much as 1000% of one that is not when reselling (obviously depends on the item).  Do keep everything in pristine condition – collectors know what came with the system and will pay you for it when the time comes.  Also, if you do not have to rip open the plastic baggy that contains the manual, et al, then don't.  This will further increase your investment through time.  Take the greatest care of your boxes and manuals – these are non-replaceable and the truly LN (Like New) games/systems command high dollars.

Do Consider Shipping Charges Locations
Especially important for console/hardware collectors, this can add up to $150 in additional costs for some of the heavier units.  Many times, the price of the shipping will not be able to be recovered when reselling a system in your country of origin.  Again, do your research on both the seller and the country it is coming from.

Do Keep Financial Priorities In Tact
Short and sweet here – you do need to pay the mortgage/rent.  Don't allow your passionate pursuit of an item to interfere with your everyday financial responsibilities.  Give yourself a budget, save up for that special item, track your expenses and investment. Remember – no electricity, no video gaming.

Do visit your local garage sales and flea markets
This is a diminishing avenue for good purchases, but you can still land some pretty good deals from time to time.  The local pawn shop is another semi-good avenue.  Be prepared to sift through a great deal of crap to find that diamond in the rough.  At the same time, establish strong relationships with these vendors (might have to make some bad, low money purchases at first to gain credibility) and then you can have them call you with their new finds (before they go on sale at their market/store).
These are just some of the things that I have learned from both great buying transactions as well as the ones I got buried upon.  Today is a different day than it was 30 years ago, but a great many of the same lessons can be learned, and more importantly financially avoided.  Exuding financial prowess with an aptitude in employing keen negotiation techniques will not only save you money, but will earn you respect.

I do hope this article assists and allows you to avoid some of the potholes that I have driven directly into in the past and still struggle to circumvent presently.  I am sure that you have some other great tips to add – please share them and your comments!

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