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Smart and Savvy Shopping Tips to Find Great Deals Online:

All materials courtesy of: eBay

Family Features

Bar_gain [bahr-guh n] – noun: an advantageous purchase, a great deal, especially one acquired at less than the usual cost.

These days, people are getting more creative with how they spend. When it comes to shopping, many are turning to the Internet for great deals on seasonal items, trendy fashions and the latest in tech gear.

One popular shopping resource is eBay. With more than 88 million worldwide users each month, it has long been known as a place to find deals on new and used items.

Three eBay insiders — Constance White, style director, Cat Schwartz, gadget and toy director and Karen Bard, pop culture expert — have some tips to help deal-hunters in their quest for the hottest items and the best bargains this year.

What to Shop For

Savvy shoppers should look for deals in these trend areas this year:

Family Staycation. Cat Schwartz: “This year, more families are trading the family vacation for a staycation. Look for the latest toys and gadgets at a great value to make this year’s backyard vacation more fun than ever.”

Bring Sexy Back. Constance White: “Shop by look rather than by designer label and then choose the brand with the best price. Keep an eye out for those body-hugging dresses and bold Ikat prints!”

What’s Hot. Karen Bard: “What’s old is new again. The 80s are back! Look for nostalgic, vintage and pre-loved pop culture classics — from retro clothing to vintage Madonna albums.”

Rules of Savvy Searching

To make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for keep these insider search tips in mind.

“The key is in the keyword search,” says White. “To find the best deals, be specific with your search terms. Instead of searching for shoes in general, try searching by designer, style, trend or even intentionally misspell the brand name to unearth hidden gems.”

Schwartz advises, “Consider searching pre-owned, re-furbished or used products, as well. Buying these goods eliminates waste going to landfills and scores you a great deal on a unique find.”

Bidding and buying strategies also play a key role in how much you’ll pay and how soon you’ll get the item. The basic strategies are:

Daily Deals. Follow eBay’s Daily Deals, hot items at steep discounts. Visit http://deals.ebay.com to sign up for the Daily Deals e-mail, and information about the freshest deals will be delivered directly to your inbox every day.

Buy It Now. Buy the item at a fixed price, and forgo the auction process. “Buy It Now is an easy way to make a quick purchase without bidding,” says Schwartz. “Use this option to purchase the item at a guaranteed low price.”

Bid Early. In auction-style listings, bidding early with the absolute highest price you are willing to pay (a true maximum bid) allows eBay’s Automatic Bidding to do the work for you.

Watch, Wait, Bid Late. “Another approach to auction-style listings is to watch the listing,” says Bard. “Most bidding takes place at the end of the auction. Bide your time; you’ll get alerts when items you are watching are ending soon so you don’t miss out.”

Whether you’re an eco-conscious fashionista or are trying to keep up with the latest tech trends, being a savvy shopper can get you what you want without breaking the bank.

For more information and to find great deals on must-have items, visit ebay.com.

Make Extra Cash

Thinking about selling some items to make extra money? You’re not alone.

An eBay survey from 2008 by Harris Interactive found that:

—One in 10 U.S. adults (11 percent) is currently selling personal or household items to generate extra cash, with the majority (59 percent) doing so via online sales or auction sites like eBay.

—Thirty percent of all U.S. adults say they are likely to sell their personal or household items over the next three months to earn extra money.

eBay just made it easier for casual sellers to make some extra cash, risk-free. Now, you can post up to five eBay listings free every 30 days. Visit ebay.com for more information.

Illustrations by Tom McFarland

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