I’m enjoying a cup of tea while the sun warms my face. I just got a comfortable new office chair and desk. The desk is small, spartan, minimalist, everything I wanted. I set it up in front of a big window. Now I can lean on my desk, propping my chin on my palm, and stare out the window contemplating life. It’s the perfect setup for my home office. I can roll the chair around to grab my guitar, or a snack, or a beer, or to blast some tunes on the stereo. I got this this desk for free with the same technique I use to get the best price on anything.

Picture of desk. The spot for reading, writing, and rocking.

Stop rushing to buy things

I remember when I graduated college and didn’t have much stuff. Over time I discovered items that I could use such as a bed frame and a sofa. I didn’t need these things to survive. But since they would improve my living condition, I decided the sooner I got them the better.

I got a buzz from visiting furniture stores, and scouring the internet for the best deals. Before I knew it, I had a brand new Ikea bed. It was a sleek and solid bed frame – I still use it today. But I also paid retail price for it.

With the sofa, I took some more time. Several weeks went by as I looked on Craigslist for something used. A of couple months later I found a leather set for $500. It was a quarter of the price I’d seen at stores, and was in excellent condition. I jumped on the opportunity.

If you want to get the best price on anything, wait for it

These days, there’s no way I could fit all my possessions into the back of my car. We’ve actually been working towards becoming more minimalist by donating loads of our stuff. It feels great to be unhindered by possessions. If I don’t buy something right away, I often realize a few days later that I don’t really need it. But as life changes, I still discover things that can improve on my life.

When I quit my job I took up writing this blog as one of my new hobbies. I didn’t have a desk, and decided it would be nice to have one for writing. Maybe I’d put it in front of our big window so I could type away while enjoying a view of the outdoors. This would probably also compel me to spend more time outdoors and less time writing which would be OK too. But having a desk wasn’t urgent, I could still write from the comfort of the sofa or sit at the kitchen table with my laptop.

Instead of making the desk acquisition one of my top priorities, I let the idea simmer in the back of my mind. I never looked for one actively, but I had something to keep an eye out for.

The best deals find you

Last weekend, I was back in PA visiting family and friends. My mom, who also retired recently, is getting ready to downsize. I was helping her start to clear out the old house. As we were taking out some books to donate, we uncovered a desk. As luck would have it, it was exactly what I needed and something my mom was getting rid of. It took half a year, but a free desk came my way. It even came with a nice chair.

The best prices are rare and fleeting

Over time, all prices return to a mean. Good deals come along rarely, and when they do, they are picked up quickly.

I’ve had some incredible deals over the years. A lot of the times, they’re items on Craigslist, or at yard sales, or free on the side of the road, or free from helping friends and family move. Whether it’s buying a house, a car, a desk, or airfare, if you want to get the best best price on anything you need to be patient and ready, because the best deals pop up unexpectedly.

Picture of prius.

I causally searched for months before we bought our $5,000 Prius.

When looking for my first home, I was on a schedule. I rushed things, and consequently paid retail price. While I made it work financially by having roommates, it was far from a home run.

Years later, when Mrs. CK and I contemplated moving, we decided it would only happen if the right deal presented itself. By being patient, we narrowly avoided some bad deals. A year later, our patience payed off – a neighbor let us know they were foreclosing. An incredible opportunity popped up and smacked us in the face. We picked up the house through a short sale, and should be able to sell at a profit even in a bad market.

Why you don’t get the best price on anything

When you go out and buy stuff right away, you are throwing away the opportunity get the best price on anything. I could have driven to Ikea and purchased a desk and chair the first day I started writing at home. Not only would I have paid retail price for the desk, but I would have robbed myself of the opportunity to get a free one at a later time.

Next time you decide you want to buy something, relax. Keep enjoying life as you take your time looking. You will not only save yourself the anxiety of chasing crappy deals, but you’ll remain open to opportunities you might not expect. Good deals come and go. If you want to get the best price on anything, you need to be waiting and ready when the opportunity comes your way.