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Ten Creative Ways to Save Money by Using eBay

Think outside the box and eBay can even save you money on your "non-eBay" life

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Ten Creative Ways to Save Money by Using eBay

Often it's not the one-time big deal, but the little savings here and there that add up to a big difference in your pocketbook.

Photo: Kineticimagery / Dreamstime.com

Everyone wants to save money, and lots have found ways to save money by buying on eBay. The real penny pinchers, however, know that there are more ways to save money on eBay than most will ever know.

Here are ten creative, think-outside-the-box ways to save money on eBay that even some veteran eBayers don't know about.

  • Buy cheap gift cards on eBay. Did you know that almost any gift card you can buy in a store can be bought on eBay for below face value, thereby saving you money? No, it's not a scam—just a reality: people get gift cards as a gift, but they'd rather have the cash. They sell it on eBay at a discount. They get cash, you get a $50 gift card for $45, or a $100 gift card for $85. Not a bad deal, particularly for stores you regularly shop or those fancy coffees you buy every single day.

  • Buy coupons on eBay. There is a thriving marketplace for manufacturer's coupons on eBay. If there's a particular brand or product that you buy regularly, check eBay for manufacturer's coupons that apply. These are also sold below face value so that you come out ahead in the end.

  • Top up your mobile or pay-as-you-go account on eBay. If you're a mobile user with a plan that most be "topped up" for more minutes or that requires a monthly "pay as you go" payment, buy top-up or dollar value cards for your mobile carrier on eBay. Like gift cards, these generally are sold below face value, meaning that you get a discount on your monthly mobile bill!

  • Make an offer. Use eBay's search refinement tools to find only listings on which you can make your own offer. Think of this as eBay's version of that "name your own price" website; your offer won't always be accepted, but most sellers that are willing to entertain offers are likely to accept offers within a 5-10 percent window of their asking price. Instant discount!

  • Pay for your upgrades. Lots of people toss out their old consumer goods when they buy a new model, but in fact so long as your phone/laptop/game console/leather jacket is still presentable and functional, you can sell them on eBay first in order to pay for its replacement.

  • Do it yourself. They say that things aren't made to be repaired any longer, and the dearth of repair shops and proliferation of "no user servicable parts" stickers would seem to attest to this, but it's shocking how easy it is to find replacement parts for lots of common things on eBay. The same goes for building things from the ground up; for some kinds of projects, it's cheaper to buy the parts and build it yourself using eBay than to buy the original thing new.

  • Get your books on eBay. eBay's Half.com media store carries a wide variety of books and media, including lots of those needed for school, and siginificantly discounted prices. You may also find some titles in the main eBay marketplace, often for even less than they're sold for on Half.com.

  • Get your event tickets on eBay. Rather than paying full price for your event tickets, go to StubHub and buy from someone that's looking to get rid of a few of them. StubHub does tickets justice, showing you the venue and event and allowing you to choose seating and so on. Don't pay face value again; for most events and performances, from sports to the arts, StubHub saves you a lot of dough—particularly if you're just after a couple of tickets!

  • Buy your own car parts. Sure, you may have a mechanic that you trust, and you may not want to crawl under your own car any more often than you absolutely have to, but that doesn't mean that you have to buy your parts from your mechanic. Whenever doing a repair that's not an emergency, ask your mechanic which parts are needed, then buy them on eBay and have them installed for the cost of labor or have your kid or crazy uncle install them for the cost of a pizza.

  • Focus on used. Too often in our economy we automatically look to buy new. It's a kind of reflex. But eBay is one of the biggest marketplaces (if not the biggest marketplace) of used goods on earth, and most of them have a lot of use left in them. Don't just think "used mobile phone" to replace the one that you just dropped in the sink. Think used car, used jeans, used piano, used tires, used light fixtures, used toddlers' toys, used astronomical telescope, or just about anything else you can think of. On eBay, used is cheap, and you can often augment high-priced used purchases with a warranty from a reputable third-party vendor.

Often, saving money isn't about hitting that one big sale or getting that secret online coupon, but about consistently knocking five or ten percent off of every price you pay, for anything. With the strategies above, you can come close to accomplishing this, using eBay as a resource.

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