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Shopping is the modern day equivalent of hunting and gathering. Being able to shop is a survival skill that is essential every 21st century man or woman. Whether you’re shopping for clothing, food, automobiles, electronics, music, books, houses, apartments or anything else, there’s a certain art and science to shopping that directly effects our enjoyment of the goods and services that we obtain. Much of it has to do with money—how much we save, and how much we spend. But truly smart shopping goes far beyond pure dollar figures.

As astute consumers, we are always on the lookout for bargains on quality items. A bargain, as collectively defined by discerning shoppers, is the gleaning of the most value from a purchase while relinquishing the smallest amount of money possible. The concept is simple and obvious—but recognizing deals and bargains requires a great deal of intuition and, in most cases, insider knowledge and up-to-date consumer information,

For shoppers, gaining this critical edge is an ongoing challenge—one which some individuals relish and genuinely enjoy. Pitted directly at odds with bargain hunters are marketers and vendors, whose goal it is to make shoppers believe they are getting a deal, when really, the lion’s share of the value exchange skews towards profits for the retailer. The tricks of the trade range from teaser rates, free trials, psychological gambits and, of course, repetition, repetition, repetition of brands, slogans, jingles and other commercial paraphernalia. Seeing through the smokescreen of profiteering advertisers and promoters can be a thrilling triumph for intrepid shoppers.

As long as currency has been exchanged for goods and services, the epic struggle between shoppers and vendors has raged on. But the advent of the Internet has introduced a gamechanging element into the entire endeavor—both in terms of marketing and research. Websites, email, mobile advertising, contextual ads and the ever-expanding universe of Internet marketing tactics have transformed the way consumers are exposed to marketable products. But at the same time, user-driven communities, powerful price comparison aggregators and an increasingly sophisticated consumer culture has placed more knowledge and leverage into the hands of shoppers.

The sides are still evenly matched—but there are more choices, more opportunities and more insider information to be sleuthed out than ever. As a consumer, your work is cut out for your—but your resources are vast. We’ve provided a wealth of links, articles and resources that will aid you in your hunt for the best possible electronics, services, books, food items, clothing, equipment, toys and sporting goods that money can buy. Dive right in and learn all you can.

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