Most of us love a bargain. But is it the joy of the chase or the joy of the purchase that really motivates us? Is a bargain hunt without all the trappings of hard work, negotiation, bluff and counter bluff any fun at all?
Those are the questions I asked myself when I came across the subscription based shopping advice service from Bargain.com. Just $10 a month and they’ll do all the hard work in finding high ticket items like houses and cars.
I hate to bargain. Even the mention of the word brings me out in a cold sweat. Of course, it’s not my fault, it’s my mother who is to blame – she made me this way.
My mother, Nancy is a part-time property developer, art dealer and car buyer - and a full time bargain hunter and dealmaker. She’ll go to any lengths to get a bargain and she’s very good at it.
The only problem is that during our childhood, she always insisted on taking me, my brother and my sister along, either to applaud her latest deal or to learn from her expertise – I’m not sure which.
But what I am sure of is that my childhood memories are dominated by long boring trips from neighborhood to neighborhood, frustrating waits in stuffy offices while my mother argued with one realtor after another, and then meticulous room-by-room examinations once a property had tweaked her interest.
These marathon sessions were followed by long discourses to us kids on the journey home, and then still more discussions with my father once we reached there. And our home life was a bit nomadic - a change and a jump to the next rung of the property ladder came around every two years or so.
My mother is a truly remarkable woman. Now in her seventies, she has lost none of her zest for buying, developing and then moving on – she’s doing it again as I write.
She plans her forays into the property market with military precision. First the extensive research, then a careful assessment of the lay of the land, then the determined approach to the helpless vendor, the relentless prodding for weaknesses in said vendor’s defenses, followed almost invariably several weeks later with a triumphant roar as she puts the phone down after squeezing every ounce of value from her latest victim.
That’s my mum – but I’m not like that. I have more than a sneaking suspicion that all the time that she spends looking for a bargain might not be worth the undoubted savings that she eventually makes.
For me, a change of job meant an imminent move from one side of the country to the other - and of course at the very idea of having to search for a new home, I broke out in that familiar cold sweat.
But things have changed since my enforced childhood property searches. Now we have the internet and things are very, very different. A friend recommended Bargain.com and I decided to sign up for their service at http://www.bargain.com/fe/homes and see how I’d get on. I wasn’t disappointed.
After dinner, I sat down in front of the screen with my partner and logged on to the site. I entered our new location and budget into the search boxes and hey presto, there were over 40 properties for us to browse.
After some discussions and a bit of banter over a very pleasant glass of wine, we whittled our selections down to six properties – all from the comfort of our own home.
All that was left was a trip to look round our chosen properties and a mercifully short negotiation as we settled on our final choice. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
That was three months ago and we’re settling in to our new neighborhood. I’m now getting even more value from my subscription by looking for a car on Bargain.com, http://www.bargain.com/fe/autos/. (Perhaps my bargain-hunting phobia is disappearing).
As for my mother, she’s just been for her first week-end visit.
Of course, mum being mum she asked all sorts of penetrating questions about our house buying experiences. She must have been impressed – her final question was, “Now, how do I find myself the cheapest broadband connection in Portland?”
Caroline Murphy is a freelance writer and full time mum. She has written articles on family, home business and psychology. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org