How to Save Money When You Shop at Carousell and eBay

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Last updated 11 May, 2017

There's a fine line between buying bargains and overspending. Here are ways Singaporeans can save money at Carousell and eBay.

Sites like eBay and Carousell are meant to help you save, because you get more mileage out of used goods. However, they can just as quickly become as addictive as any online shopping site. A few clicks can have results as devastating as a three-hour shopping spree.

Here are some ways Singaporeans can save money at Carousell and eBay.

Budget by Balancing Selling and Buying

This is the simplest way to discipline yourself when it comes to sites like eBay and Carousell.

Just take note of how much you’ve sold in used items. Try to purchase in such a way that, whenever you buy something, it follows from a sale of more or less equal value. For example, if you’ve just sold a S$30 bag, you would allow yourself to buy only two pairs of shoes at S$15 a pair, or a S$30 pair of jeans.

In other words, treat the sites like goods exchanges rather than online stores. This has the added advantage of preventing clutter, as you are clearing out your used goods rather than piling them in a corner.

Reuse Packing Materials

Don’t throw away packing materials, when other sellers send you goods. It costs money to buy the boxes and bubble wraps that you need for certain items, such as electronics and jewellery.

Instead, keep the packing materials for when you’re selling and shipping your items.

If Possible, Buy in Bulk from One Seller

Many sellers are willing to give you a better deal, if you want to bulk buy items from them. This will require you to communicate with them, so be ready to send a message; if you don’t ask, you won’t know.

Remember that it’s cheaper to ship a S$200 package to one destination, than to ship 10 S$20 packages to 10 different locations.

Know Which Site to Sell On

When deciding to sell on eBay or Carousell, know that there’s a price difference. For now, there’s no cost to using Carousell, as it’s not yet monetised. For eBay, the company takes a cut of nine per cent of your sale, to a maximum of S$50.

This means that, as far as possible, you’ll want to use Carousell first. In the off chance you cannot sell it on Carousell (or cannot get a sufficiently good price), you can then turn to eBay.

Also Read: How to Become a Top Seller on Carousell

eBay offers more opportunities to sell and get higher prices, because it serves an international market. Due to currency exchange rates, for example, a foreign buyer might find your item to be cheap, whereas locals might find it expensive.

Avoid Buying From Merchants with No Reviews or Negative Reviews

In order to minimise the chances of being scammed, impose a spending limit on unreviewed (new) sellers. It’s best not to deal with sellers who have overly negative reviews, but if you absolutely insist, use this same rule.

If you must, try to cap your spending at S$20. Avoid buying products that cost more than this amount, until the seller earns your trust.

When Buying From Overseas, Ensure Items Can Clear Customs

Some items, such as animal parts or laser devices, are controlled by Singapore customs. If you purchase such an item and it’s stopped, you will have only two options: either let it be destroyed, or find some other destination to mail it to. Either way, you would have wasted your money.

On Carousell, always be careful that what you buy or sell is not illegal. Otherwise, the money will be the least of your problems.

Both sites do maintain checks to weed out illegal products; but even if they do miss something, don’t test the law by trying to buy it.

Have a Cut-Off Point Before Negotiating or Bidding

Never go into a negotiation or bid without predetermining your cut-off point. In other words, you should have fixed rules such as “absolutely nothing above S$100”, thus surrendering if anyone bids higher (or if the seller asks for more).

When you don’t set such rules, you will operate on instinct and gut feel. It’s easy to get caught up in the competition of bidding, or to be swayed by a cunning seller. An intense five minutes of bidding is enough to bust your entire budget.

Set the rules on how much you’ll pay, and stick to them.

Read This Next:

The Best Shopping Credit Cards in Singapore This 2017

5 Situations That Make You Spend More Money

Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.


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