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We Paid Cash! :: Laptop and TV

We paid cash!

A testimony from A. Ellis

My husband and I wanted to purchase a new LED television to replace a very old, very tiny 19” television in our bedroom, but decided it was definitely a “luxury” expense that would wait until we had saved up to pay in cash. In the meantime, we window-shopped the electronics stores and settled on the approximate type we hoped to purchase.

My high-school daughter also needed a laptop (we homeschool) so I needed enough to cover that (first priority) and the television (second).

How We Did It

I started shopping eBay and Craigslist for gift cards to the large electronics store where we planned to purchase the television. At the time, Bing was giving an extra 8% rebate for eBay purchases. Each time I found a gift card that would net me at least 15% off face value including all rebates, plus fees and postage, etc., I would purchase it using eBay rebate points (2%), Mr. Rebates (3%) and the Bing cashback program (8%). Example: I bought a $500 gift card for $475 ($25 off) + rebates (another $61.75 off) = $388.25 for a $500 gift card.

Once I had enough for the laptop, I waited a couple weeks for a sale on an appropriate model, and bought the loss-leader on the front page of the ad. Cost: Less than $250 (before tax) for a $589 laptop computer.

It took about eight months of being in the “right place at the right time”, but I finally accumulated about $2000 total in gift card value (for which I paid a total of less than $1485 after all rebates were factored in). We then waited until we received a coupon for a “free $50 gift card with purchase over $500” and started shopping for the TV.

Two weeks later, almost every LED TV in the store was featured in some type of “package deal” in which extra merchandise was included in the sale price of the TV. We settled on a LG 47” 1080i HD 120Hz LED television which was packaged with a LG Home Theater system including blu-ray player and five speakers, and an internet connection thumb drive, all for $1399 (regular price of TV alone $1699).

The gift cards I had saved up and purchased over time at a discount covered the price plus tax, and we had enough left over to buy my son a video game he had been wanting with a “10% off one full-price item” coupon (they wouldn’t allow use of this coupon on already sale-priced item, I tried!) and we also received the extra $50 gift card for a future purchase.

Total cost (with 8.1% tax): $1128 for a complete home theater system with a sale price of $1512.32 including tax (and original retail of well over $2000)

A. Ellis, B.S., M.Ed. is a mom of 5, one married, two high school, two 3rd grade and lives in Arizona.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • Janine says:

    Great job! Congrats & thanks for sharing this. Great way to bring the price down even further.

  • Rae says:

    I have the same tv except it is 1080p not 1080i and got it with the same package. We LOVE the tv. And to agree to buy it, I made my husband agree to give up Dish! Most of the shows we watched were on the free channels anyway. And the picture is CLEARER using an antenna than the standard def programing that we were paying for (they recently changed to free hd but we would have had to pay to switch out the receivers). We have one of the flat antennas so we don’t have to adjust the rabbit ears different ways for different channels. I especially love watching ABC promo commercials because the bubbly effect they have is so pretty in high def LOL.

  • Fay says:

    Which stores do you think offer the best prices and deals when it comes to electronics? We are in the market for two laptops as ours are on their last leg and I am not sure where to start looking. We haven’t made a major purchase like this in a few years.

    • Anon says:

      I recommend browsing the weekly ads for Walmart, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy and other major retailers (most of them should have ads available online). Some weeks there are laptops for as low as $250. If you don’t need one with particular specs, you might get by with one of these. 🙂

    • Maria says:

      You might also try some of the “smaller” major retailers. We were looking for a new laptop, and watched the ads. Radio Shack ended up having the best price on one that fit our needs. We went in the evening, towards the end of the week, and looked at it. To help “convince” us to buy it, the sales clerk threw in a laptop case ($50) if we would buy it from him, that night. I’m not sure that sales associates at Best Buy and bigger stores like that have the authority to give away goodies. 🙂

  • Kristen says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I never thought of saving up through discounted gift cards! Smart!

  • jane says:

    Hey.. I did the same thing to get new blinds for home.I collected home depot gift cards in the exact same way.It was like reading my story.I really miss bing cash back.

  • Marissa says:

    Hi, I am just wondering if anyone has any $10 off amazon codes that they don’t need. I have really been trying to save money by cutting costs and this would be help. Have a wonderful day. marissa_rostad@hotmail(dot)com

  • willy says:

    That is a great idea!

    But how did you decide what store to start buying the discounted gift cards for?

  • Ashlee says:

    I have never thought of discounted giftcards for a big purchase! Really smart move. We aren’t in a place to buy anything major like that, but when we are I’ll remember that for sure!

  • Cheryl S says:

    Wow, I’m learning something everyday on, and alot is all new to me so I’m glad I can ask these questions. How does Mr. Rebates work (couldn’t find a “how this works” tab)? Say I want to buy a TV from Target. Do you go to Mr. Rebates, find Target, order it there to get the rebate? Is it instant?

    • Rae says:

      MrRebates, cashbaq, ebates, shopathome, etc (there are tons) are sites that give you money back for making purchases through certain sites. Most give a percentage back but some give set dollar amounts for certain sites. The money is credited to your account within 30 (or 60 or 90 depending on the site) days. Then when you get to $10 (or $20 depending on the site) in your account, you can request a check (or paypal for some sites). So for instance if is doing 8% on, you sign in, click through their target link and complete your order as usual. After a few days, the credit will show up as “pending” on your shopathome account until the set amount of days. Once you hit the pay out amount, you can request a check to be mailed to you. Hope that wasn’t too confusing. Most of them work the same way they just have different variables when it comes to percentages, pending days, and payout amounts.

  • Tiffany says:

    This is a great idea! I always forget to shop through the rebate companies when I purchase online and I do a lot of online shopping. I’m missing out.

  • mary c says:

    You bought gift cards, right? Did you worry about the g/c being used ? I would like to do this but I am afraid I would get scammed buying g/c off ebay or craigslist.

  • Rachel says:

    My husband found his laptop in mint condition at the local pawn shop. We live near a big business park, so we visited a pawn shop in the area which is evidently frequented by young professionals. We were able to get a $650 laptop for $350!

  • Chelsea says:

    I’m impressed!! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • lalalalala says:

    How did you know the gift cards on craigslist were legit? I looked on Ebay, but those things are going for more than their worth (?????). At least on there, you are insured by paypal. I’m worried about getting an empty card from somebody on craiglist…

    • Chelsea says:

      In the past, my husband and I have bought gift card’s on craig’s list, and we always ask for the pin number on the back so that we can call the company (they usually have a number you can call for a gift card balance online) and make sure it is legitimate, then we make sure the number matches up when we meet the person (to make sure they didn’t switch it out for an already used gift card after giving us the pin number for a legitimate one). We’ve had people get offended get refuse to give us the pin number before when we ask- and we turn away from the deal. Most of the time, if they are honest people, they understand why we ask for confirmation.

      • Rae says:

        They might not be offended they might be wary that the “buyer” is going to scam them. Like using that giftcard online before paying for it.

  • Diana Bombach says:

    I’m unsure how this works. I have been buying discounted gift cards through sites like plasticjungle and giftcardrescue but don’t understand how Bing works. Can we still buy gift cards through them and get large rebates back or is that deal over now?

  • Becky says:

    How did you buy one gift card using Mr. Rebates AND Bing? Don’t you have to go through their links to get the cash back? How can you make one purchase using two links??

    I’m referring to this part of your post:
    “I would purchase it using eBay rebate points (2%), Mr. Rebates (3%) and the Bing cashback program (8%). Example: I bought a $500 gift card for $475 ($25 off) + rebates (another $61.75 off) = $388.25 for a $500 gift card.”


  • Gail says:

    If you have a AAA card (the ones you call for for a tow, battery jump, tire repair and more), they give a 10% discount on purchases. You must go to the AAA website and enter your membership number, then click on Target.Com to get the discount. It’s just like when you use Ebates, etc and log in to get the rebates, but 10% is a great percent off. In addition, if you charge your purchase to a Target red card, you save 5% as well. 15% savings total. I’d only do this on a Free Shipping item. While I don’t know if Target has Laptops, they do have TV’s, and other big ticket items. My AAA card has already paid for itself with 2 battery jump calls (one for me, one for Mom, hey it’s been cold this winter!), and the 10% savings on

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