I shouldn’t have to tell you to buy only what you can pay for. But it’s easy to lose your head—and scuttle your budget—in a bidding war. If you plan to bid on an item, first write the maximum you can afford on a Post-it, stick it to your computer monitor, and then don’t exceed it, period. If an item’s starting price is already near your upper limit, be careful about diving in. It’s not uncommon to see sniping—a bidding frenzy in the closing minutes of an auction—that could tempt you to spend more than you planned. Finally, don’t forget to pay attention to the shipping costs. They will probably be a major outlay for expensive or heavy items and are sometimes padded when a seller is trying to make up for a low sale price.
Stick to Stellar Sellers
Most auction and flea-market sites display a feedback rating for sellers. Do business only with those who have the highest rating, and keep an eye on the number of transactions the seller has completed. The higher that number—and I’m talking hundreds and thousands—the more confident you can be.
1 / 6