Ask The Readers: Do You Comparison Shop?

By Ashley Jacobs on 2 August 2011 (Updated 9 August 2011) 97 comments
Photo: juliegomoll

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Lisa, BRB, and Kristen for winning this week's contest!

Everyone loves finding good deals on items they need to buy. Most people will look for items on sale and relish in the glory of not paying full price. Others will take their shopping to a new level and comparison shop to make sure they go to the right store to get the best price on what they need.

Do you comparison shop?  Why or why not? If you do comparison shop, do you only do it at certain times (i.e. when you buy groceries) or do you do it whenever you go shopping?

Tell us whether or not you comparison shop and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, August 8th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 8th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Note: Due to recent changes in Facebook's promotions guidelines, we have restructured the entry format of our giveaways.

Good Luck!

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Rhonda

Yes, I always comparison shop! I keep a list of staples as well (milk, bread, cheese, etc.) and periodically go through all the local stores to keep it updated. I check it against the fliers that come out so I can make sure we're getting the best price.

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Jessica G.

I comparison shop for toiletries, particularly between Target, Giant Eagle/Kroger, and CVS. I also do some comparison shopping for larger purchases.

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Jessica G.

Also, I already like Wise Bread on Facebook. Thanks!

Guest's picture

Absolutely! I just went comparison shopping yesterday on video games for my son's birthday. With my smart shopping skills, I ended up saving $35! It might not sound like much, but every bit helps! I always "look around" and write down prices whenever I'm out running errands.

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Christine Hiles

I always comparison shop-and I love Wise Bread for making it fun!
~Christine

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NJJ

Unless something is on clearance I always comparison shop and haggle too when I can. I make vendors work hard to earn my money LOL! :)

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Razorbacks92

I only comparison shop on internet purchases and large purchases, like TVs or appliances. I find that doing it on everyday items means I am likely to spend more on gas and waste a lot more time searching for the best price on soap that it is worth.

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Kathy

Yes, I comparison shop. It is worth it to me because I'm on a budget. My local grocery store (you know who that is, one of the biggest mass merchants around) offer price matching even though it's competitors are 30 miles away. So I make sure that I'm getting the lowest price on my buys.

Guest's picture
Donna Wasneski

I comparison shop for groceries by checking the Wednesday ads. We always eat the same few things to cut down on calories so I "know" the good deals.

I comparison shop for clothing (even in thrift stores) by knowing my store. Goodwill is cheaper than most consignment shops. I check the dollar racks/clearance racks regularly. I am not afraid to purchased second hand socks, scarves or over boots.

I gauge the lifespan of most household items, watching for signs of trouble, strange sounds etc. Then,I ask for advice for purchasing less frequently purchased items such as replacement MP3 players, computers or house siding. I am not afraid to spend more for good quality, long lasting and energy saving cement house siding.

The cell phone/internet services are such a challenge to shop for. Information is overwhelming without consulting a tech savvy individual. Cell use history can be viewed at the provider's site for the background information needed to select the appropriate plan. Our internet choices are limited in my location. When you change providers what happens to old email addresses using the providers domain as part of your address?
Thanks
Mrs. Wasneski

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Monica

On smaller priced necessities, not usually it's not worth the drive. On big ticket items I always do sometimes waiting for a really good sale.

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Guest

Yes, I comparison shop. I need to know that I'm getting a good deal for my money.

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Keith

I comparison shop on any items I can. If I am at a store, I use my smart phone to research online prices before purchasing.

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Guest in CA

Absolutely. Most of the time, for just about anything. It's easy to do for planned purchases, with all the info online now. In the store I'll compare against similar items or what I've seen in other stores. My DH comparison shops interminably in grocery stores.

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Sarah V

Heck yeah, I compare prices at all of the online vendors I can find. Usually it is a better deal for me to order online than in the actual brick and mortar, even with shipping!

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Kristy OT

Really depends on how much free time I have. Usually, honestly, the savings are not worth the time spent researching/traveling/etc. But if I'm about to spend a LOT of money, or I have a lot of free time, sure.

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Nicholas

I always shop around and comparison shop for mostly larger items. It saves money and I have worked it into my normal shopping habits. The smaller items don't seem to save as much so I don't focus on them as much as the larger more expensive items.

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Paula

I am European and moved to the USA a few months ago. I grew up with cleaning my yogurt and jam jars to return it clean for recycling. I grew up with an awareness that in the entire circle of life I am unique and special exactly like every other plant, animal or person. Treat those like you want to be treated yourself. Money does not grow on trees, you have to work for it. Fruit do grow on trees. Care for the labor and what is given to you. Because that is where you come from and that is where you should go too: care for yourself and appreciate your resources, without them there is not left to go for. To keep it short and simple: sustain and produce, care and share. The word consumerism was never mentioned... I compare prices for poultry, produce and dairy. Comparison: Whole Food, Harris Teeter, Farmers Market, PYO, directly from the farm /cooperative and restaurant supplier.
I cook from scratch, make my own pasta, dressings, condiments, often my own flour, bake bread and make fresh juice and or lemonade daily. It not only complies with what I have written above, it saves time, money, benefits your health. I feel content and accomplished. I am a tough baller for the best quality, best price at the most convenient timing possible.
I guess my statement above makes clear how shocked I was entering an American supermarket the very first time!
Now you got my story, the view of an "outsider" which love living resourceful inside out!

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Eric

I comparison shop to some degree. Not so much grocery shopping though, as I stick to QFC as it's the most walkable/convenient. Mostly on online shopping.

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Eric

I like you on Facebook.

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Alex

Comparing prices, I have found, is one of the best ways to cut down on impulse buying. I think, "ooo I really want that" but then after comparing prices between stores, I usually realize I don't need it. So I compare prices on most things

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Guest

Yes yes yes, comparison shopping is one of the reasons I manage to hold on to so much cash throughout the month. Even if it means going to multiple stores, at least I know I'm getting the best prices for most (if not ALL) of the items I have to purchase for my household.

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SamanthaI

I compare everything from toilet paper to electronics! I didn't used to do this and ended up wasting money... foolish youth :) Someone mentioned haggling in their comments - I LOVE to haggle!

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Metta

You have to comparison shop. One of the greatest things about the information age is that it creates a much more informed consumer.

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NL

I don't often shop, but when I do, I buy things on sale or lower priced at one store compared to another.

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Kate

I comparison shop for larger purchases, but rarely invest the time for things like groceries (even though I should).

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Karen

I do comparison shop. I feel that's what every wise consumer shoul do. There are many deals out there to be had! Wise Bread is a great website that helps us find good deals! Thank you!!!

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toni clutter

Wisebread, has the best of helpful articles. As for comparison shopping, I have always comparison shopped!! It does always pay off. Not to mention, I always go home with extra money in my purse!! It most definitely, does pay in the end.

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Kristin

I comparison shop online, but in the face-to-face world, my store options are much more limited so I know the prices at my local stores and watch for when they go down.

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Christie

Who that is frugal doesn't comparison shop?? That is a key component, I believe. Knowing what a good price is doesn't have to take a lot of time and effort, just patience and observation when you are in different stores. That way, when you see a good price, you know it!

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Lauren

For groceries, no, but I comparison shop for everything else because I buy almost exclusively online:)

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Lauren

liked your facebook page and the status about this Ask The Readers:)

Guest's picture

Absolutely! Groceries, clothing, you name it! And because we have started doing this, we have found real gems! Things that we had no idea could be so cheap and so awesome! It has really opened our eyes, and thanks to comparison shopping, we come under-budget every week, by about $10. Quite a savings. We already only budget for $262/mo for two adults and a baby. :)

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Lauren

My twitter timestamp:) http://twitter.com/#!/ldelangel/status/98434390161506305

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Rachel R

I alwas look for the best price, and weigh that against quality, in everything I buy. When I want to buy something on the expensive end, I always look up customer reviews online first.

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Idabelle

I will compare store ads to see where I have better bargains for the week. In store I will always compare store brand vs name brand and check the store promo to find the right deal.

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Lisa

Most of my shopping takes place at the one local supermarket or the dollar store...both within walking distance from my home. The prices are slightly higher but still cheaper than buying gas and travelling to the nearest center 20 miles away. Plus walking to shop tends to keep me from buying things that I don't really need.

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Fernanda

I Do comparison shop. I keep a priCebook where I keep track of prices for staples. For major items I check prices on the net. I think by doing this I do save money.

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Amy G.

I certainly do! I comparison shop for almost everything, though I do find it easier with grocery shopping to just get everything I possibly can at Aldi. I don't think I have ever found an instance where a food item cost more at Aldi than at another grocery store. Sometimes I go by brands for clothing, but I still comparison shop between several brands I like and find whichever one is cheapest or is having the best sale at the moment. Comparison shopping might take a little more time (though it's not that bad with the internet), but it is definitely worth it!

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Therese

Yes. Whenever making a major purchase, we check out Consumer Reports before we buy.

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Phloyd

Yes. For absolutely everything.

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gaerdog

Absolutely, I comparison shop for almost all purchases. Impulse buying is something I battled in the past and it is just a matter of self discipline to overcome that.
I comparison shop using store ads as well as using the interwebz whenever feasible for almost every single purchase consideration.

Guest's picture
Chris

For basic necessities we tend to check out ads for sales and stock up when possible. For the rest of the time we try to save on the overall purchase by shopping at Walmart where you may not get the absolute best deal on everything, but overall you win by getting generally low prices.

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Chris

like you on Facebook!

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Chris

Tweeted!

https://twitter.com/#!/cdcookin/status/98476902938976256

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Tim C.

I check the Family Express gas station, Aldi, and Walmart which are all in a pretty close area while I buy other groceries/gas anways to see where I can get the cheapest milk. I've seen prices vary by almost a dollar for a gallon of skim milk.

Guest's picture

I always comparison shop -- and I think it drives my husband crazy sometimes. He'll tire of waiting me to choose a laundry detergent, for example. I'm pretty excited, though, when he comparison shops online -- makes me feel like we're getting on the same page. :)

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Megan

I usually comparison shop online with electronics and other big purchases, but I am borderline obsessive about comparison shopping brand to brand with groceries, reading the cost per unit labels within the stores. Just yesterday, I talked my boyfriend out of his toothpaste and deodorant choices in favor of more cost-efficient name-brand options!

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SAM54

Yes, it is essential that our family shop wisely. I started subscribing to the Sunday paper again to use the coupons and to compare the ads. While using those sales and coupons, I prepare our meal plan for the week. It is very satisfying to take care of my family this way!

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Debbie M

Mostly I do. I have a price book for groceries (actually a spreadsheet) and try to stock up on whatever's cheapest at the store I'm at. One exception is vitamins and other similar supplements. For some reason it seems more boring or futile to compare those. Especially cranberry extract pills--I buy the cheapest ones per serving wherever I am, but I end up with a different brand every time.

For clothing I just make periodic trips to my favorite thrift stores and wait for sales at L.L. Bean (where the pants actually fit and last a while). I'm sure there are other things where I just go to whatever I think is the best store (after years of data collecting) and just get whatever they have.

For other purchases (plane tickets, cars, my house, re-roofing the house, electronics, books, gym memberships, etc.) I do generally check at least a few places first, maybe 20 for the super-expensive ones.

I call around occasionally for insurance (after checking my local state department of insurance) but after many years of finding that my current companies are the best deal, it's less motivating.

For some things, I just go with the only company I like (such as Netflix--awesome selection, reasonable prices) and get the best deal I can for my current situation.

Guest's picture
Lisa

All the time, every time. Especially on clothing. I'm frugal with my clothing prices and if I can't find it for $10 or less, I know I can find it online.

Guest's picture

Definitely! I always perform a quick online search to find the cheapest prices. Recently my husband and I registered for baby items and I was amazed by the price differences between stores. We finally settled on creating a registry at Amazon.com because the prices and free shipping made it 10 - 20% cheaper than the alternatives.

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Dee Dee

Absolutely, with the way prices have gone up it is a must and the Internet makes this pretty easy. The Sunday grocery flyers are a great resource.

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mere :)

Most definitely! I comparison shop for EVERYTHING--groceries, clothes, textbooks for school, gas, electronics, financial products, etc etc etc. I comparison shop so much that it made planning our upcoming wedding that much more "complicated" as my fiance would say. WHATEVER! My comparison shopping has saved us close to $5k on wedding expenses!!! "Complications" be damned :-p

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mere :)

Liked you guys on facebook!

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kristina wittchen

I usually comparison shop.

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Brenda

We comparison shop for many items, including groceries, clothes, household appliances and replacement parts. With the internet it has become so easy to check a few different stores, craigslist and ebay to see if we can get what we want or need at a low price.

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Lynda

i try to - for groceries, clothes, shoes and for large purchases. but sometimes i'm willing to pay a little bit more for convenience.

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Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

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Guest

tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/oshkoshbgosh123/status/98753778399977472

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Chara

I usually only comparison shop on big ticket items.

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Guest

If I have time!

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holly

I definitely comparison shop. I use a variety of methods, ranging from checking all the Sunday sale ads, browsing the internet, and now I use the free apps on my Android phone to be able to scan barcodes while I'm in the store to see if there's somewhere close by that has a cheaper price.

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KelR1

I'm a casual comparison shopper. For many items I buy I will think "Where can I get this for the best price?" I usually go to the store where it's cheapest. For bigger ticket items I will do a little research online before buying. But if something is only a bit cheaper and it's inconvenient to go/order from that place then I won't bother.

Guest's picture
Raina

I don't comparison shop for groceries. I know that I love Kroger and that they offer awesome prices in general, and I'm not about to check their prices on that soy milk then waste my time driving to another store to see if maybe, just maybe, they're offering it for $0.20 less. I use coupons for groceries when I can, though.

I also don't do comparison shopping for clothes. There are SOME clothes I buy online, but most are those you have to be in the store to see and try on. And at that point... you don't even know if you could find that same item in another store, and if it would be cheaper, and if it's even worth the trouble to look. I have a general idea about how much clothes "should" cost and how much I'm willing to spend on them (I'm not one of those women who go overboard).

For just about everything else, I do comparison shop online before purchasing. I consider Amazon to be a great resource for an idea of how much something should cost and user reviews to let me know if I should even buy or if there's a better product out there. Google Shopping is great for when you already have the exact product you want in mind and are just looking for the best price.

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Rebekah

I comparison shop a lot when I things online, and also at the grocery store.

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Marissa

I compairson shop for almost everything! It's silly not to. I understand completely convinence but convinence is (usually) expensive. It's amazing how MUCH you can actually save by compairson shopping.

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Carmen

I do most of my comparison "shopping" before leaving the house. I check for sales and match with coupons and can usually tell when the items we love to buy are at a good price.

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Julie

It depends on the item or type of item. For groceries, some toiletries and household supplies, I do not mind paying a few cents more for my usual grocery items because I don't have a car, therefore, getting most of my groceries from one store or stores within the same shopping center is most convenient for me. I do keep in mind which items are on sale or specials in the local ads. Although, when I do go out, I tend to check out prices of various items just to note current prices of items. For big items, like electronics or school supplies (especially those gosh-darn expensive textbooks for college courses), I tend to do my research way before I actually purchase and I compare prices from various sellers or stores. I like to get the most bang for my buck. I especially love comparison shopping before big shopping holidays like Black Friday. :)

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Kat

We always comparison shop because we want to get the item we want to purchase for the price that is best for our budget. It only takes a little time and patience, but it is so worth it!

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BRB

Heck yeah, I almost want a smart phone just so that I can see what things are priced elsewhere before I buy them.

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Francesca

I try to comparison shop with groceries and textbooks. With groceries, saving money is as easy as comparing grocery store ads; with textbooks, just search Amazon.com or Half.com. By comparison shopping, I can save a lot of money.

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Midsouth Mouth

I do comparison shop especially with big ticket items because I have more lead time. With groceries, there is not often a huge difference once I factor in transportation costs.

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Kristen

I comparison shop constantly. I am always taking in ads to get stores to price match items. I also use a add-on in Firefox while I am shopping online to compare the online price of items.

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Omar

For the most part I comparison shop but not for everything. For example, if its groceries or anything that I can purchase under $50 dollars I will tend to grab what I see of value. If its more expensive like electronics, home appliances, auto parts, etc., I will definitely comparison shop. What works best is most places (for the items I listed above) will price match, its just a matter of finding the deal. Other items like video games are usually listed at a standard price regardless of where you go (usually $60.00 for one Xbox, PS3, or Wii game). In these cases its hard to comparison shop. Unless its a used game then you call around and see which stores may have them in stock.

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Catherine

I want to comparison shop but often find myself running into the store at the last minute and getting whatever it is I need without having done the research. For larger items I do take the time to compare.

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Kristen

I do comparison shop. While I'm grocery shopping, I see how much my staples are at various stores. Before buying anything for the household (a vacuum, a blender, cookware), I research online to see who has exactly what I want the cheapest. Doing that also allows me to read reviews and prevents me from buying crappy merchandise.

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Monica

I liked wise bread on facebook! Thanks for the giveaway!

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Betty

I do comparison shop, however I won't go completely out of my way when it comes to groceries. Big ticket items- TVs, etc.- full blown investigation!

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Betty

Responded on Twitter. http://twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/99242434642448386

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Betty

Liked your post on Facebook.

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Renee

Yes, I always comparison shop. When my husband and I met, he thought I was crazy and wasting time, but he saw the light when I bought our school books for half the price online.

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Dustin

I do for some things, but not save pennies. When it comes to buying groceries, I avoid Ralphs and go with Trader Joe's because I know it's cheaper, better quality, and more creative there. If I want to buy sweats I'll go to Ross or Walmart. For Electronics I skip Best Buy and go to Fry's because they offer the same items (and more) for a better price. But when it comes to buying toothbrushes or mouthwash, wherever I'm near I'll get it. The 30cents save I might get isn't worth the time, effort, or planning.

Guest's picture
Keri Ritenour

Comparison shop? Yes. For groceries I check the local ads and clip coupons. For larger items and electronics I research the items extensively on the internet looking for the best deal. I also look for coupons and discount codes for anything I am going to purchase.

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Keri Ritenour

Liked the post and commented on Facebook via Keri Slinde Ritenour

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Keri Ritenour

Liked the post and commented on Facebook via Keri Slinde Ritenour

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Keri Ritenour

I liked the post and commented on Facebook via Keri Slinde Ritenour.

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Keri Ritenour

Tweeted my comment. Check it out at http://twitter.com/#!/KeriRitenour/status/99857002523668480 via @KeriRitenour.

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Raprob

Those who do not are either foolish, or just plain crazy. I have most general prices memorized and for those I don't I will compare before buying.

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Jeannine

-I am learning which stores have the best prices for many of my purchases, so I assume I am getting the best price for most items, although I am often refining what I do and switching stores. I just try to know what a good price is for my regular purchases.
- I check the grocery store ads every Wednesday and shop accordingly.
- Large purchases, you bet we comparison shop.
- We saved money by comparing Amazon, Half.com and Ebay on this fall's books for university courses.
-There are still impulse buys where we don't do any comparison such as when we see something we need and the quality is there and the price seems like a good deal.

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Rebecca R.

There is rarely a time that I don't comparison shop. The internet has definitely helped me with it, especially with books.

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Tracey

I don't comparison shop usually simply because I don't have time to!

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Yelena

I almost never comparison shop on groceries and daily items. However, I do it for larger-ticket items. A few days ago I comparison shopped for contact lenses and saved 35% over what I usually pay for them.

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Ernest S.

I definitely comparison shop ... even more now since I got my smartphone. It's so convenient to scan an item via my phone camera while at the store and get prices and review instantly. It has definitely changed the way I shop for general items.

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Ernest S.

"Liked" on Facebook!

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KJF

I don't know if this counts, but I'm a HUGE comparison shopper when it comes to booking flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. I start with the travel websites, then move on to individual airline/hotel/car websites, then hit sites with customer comments and recommendations. There are times when I feel like I've spent way too long on one aspect of my plans (ie, flights), but with patience and perseverence, I usually come away very satisfied~

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Ruth Sade

On most everything. Large purchases are easy to research on the web to get ideas of a good price plus if free shipping -- why go to the store??

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Kelly

I always comparison shop. I also factor in gas and shipping expense.