1. Buy at the right time
You might be thinking that the right time to buy a new television is during all those crazy Black Friday sales – and you’re partially right. We always see some amazing deals on TVs on Black Friday, but unfortunately, the stock is usually limited and shopping on this day can be stressful. If you aren’t up for the early-morning madness, wait until right after the Super Bowl. Stores are known to stock up on televisions between the months of November and February for the holiday rush and Super Bowl parties, but often have an abundance of unsold stock come the day after.
2. Check for manufacturer rebates
When you start shopping for a new TV, the first thing you will probably look at are the prices and current sales going on in stores and on sites such as Best Buy and Amazon. However, don’t forget to check out the manufacturer websites to see what rebates and special offers are going on. Manufacturer websites will often have special deals such as a free product with purchase, rebates or free trial channels with the purchase of one of their TVs. Many of these offers can be redeemed no matter where you purchased the TV, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the sales associates at the store will be familiar with them. However, some of the special offers are only available by purchasing through the manufacturer’s website and can change as often as weekly, so it is important to check these sites frequently.
3. Use cash back sites
If you’re a KCL like myself, you’re probably familiar with cash-back sites such as Ebates and ShopatHome, but you forget to use them half the time! However, when it comes to a pricey purchase such as a television, these sites can save you some serious dough. Although there aren’t as many electronics stores on these sites as other types of stores, don’t dismiss them! Currently, Ebates is offering 5 percent cash back at Sears and 3 percent back at Sony, and ShopatHome is currently offering 2 percent at Best Buy. That means that if you purchase a TV priced at $1000, you could get as much as $50 back! Put a sticky note on the computer, set one of these sites as your homepage, or do whatever you need to do to remember to use it!
4. Don’t buy the extended warranty
This option might not be for everyone. I know that some people just feel much better about a product when they buy an extended warranty and it gives them less to worry about. However, statistically speaking, the majority of folks who purchase extended warranties never have to use them. Fortunately, these days most products are made well enough that if they do break, it usually happens while the item is still covered by the manufacturer (or else well beyond when the extended warranty would have ended). This is why Consumer Reports actually recommends that you skip extended warranties on electronics. Since the average cost of an extended warranty in stores is around $73, you can save yourself a good bit of money. Another reason why you should skip it? Many credit cards such as American Express and Discover offer extended warranties on items purchased with their card for one year after the manufacturer warranty has expired. If your credit card offers this feature, you just got yourself an extended warranty for free!
5. Look for open-box items
It’s tempting to just shop online when it comes to electronics, but it can really pay to actually visit brick-and-mortar stores. Stores will often have open-box items available, and the discounts can be significant. These are usually items that have been returned within the return period (and deemed free of any defects) or items that have had the box damaged during transit. I actually purchased an open-box television about three years ago and managed to save about 30 percent! If you follow tip number one and shop right after the Super Bowl, you may see some open-box items from people who purchased a new TV to watch the big game on and then decided to return it. And yes, that does actually happen!
6. Skip the extras
These days there are tons of specialty features on TVs such as iPhone docks, 3D, and Internet connectivity. But before you buy into any of these features, think about how often you would really use them. Sure, they’re a lot of fun — but they’re also completely unnecessary and may blow your budget out of the water. You may spend the first week playing with these features, but after the novelty wears off, would you really continue to use them? If the answer is no, skip the frills and stick with a good-quality basic set.
7. Don’t buy expensive cables
If you purchase your TV in a store, the salesman is immediately going to ask you if you need any cables, as well. If you do need to purchase new cables, don’t be swayed by the claims on the higher-priced models — most experts agree, there is no significant difference between a cheap cable and those $50 jobs. In fact, CNET actually recommends that you don’t spend more than $10 on a standard 6-foot HDMI cable, and you can usually find them for just a couple of bucks on Amazon or Newegg.
8. Beware of "vivid" mode
If you’ve ever walked into an electronics store and thought that all of the TVs look amazingly bright and vivid, you’re right — they all do. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that TV would look just as good once you get it home. Many stores actually manipulate the settings by altering the contrast and placing them on "vivid" mode to make them look more vibrant. Some stores are extra sneaky and only put the higher-priced TVs on "vivid" mode to make them look more appealing than their lower-priced counterparts. Instead, ask the sales associate to change the setting to "normal,” which is the setting most people use in their home. This will give you a much more realistic feel of what that TV would actually look like in your living room.