Getting Through Your First Online Auction Without Going Overboard

Auctions are a lot more exciting than their image lets on. Even seasoned shoppers can get a little too excited during an auction where there's pressure to get that item before anyone else decides to bid on it. Online auctions have allowed some of that overexcitement to cool down a bit, but buyers still need to find that sweet spot that lets them stay involved and aware without losing themselves in a race to be the highest bidder. Auctions, both in-person and online, are wonderful tools for finding and acquiring rare or interesting items. They can be exciting and fun, and if this is your first auction, you need to learn how to handle the process while keeping a cool head — and keeping track of your bids.

Mistakes Happen but Don't Leave Resolution to Later

First, one fear that people tend to have about auctions is that they'll accidentally indicate that they want to bid, or that they'll accidentally bid on the wrong thing. Auctions are run by and attended by humans, so mistakes do happen, but they are fixable if you act quickly enough. Don't think you can handle a mistake you made today via a phone call tomorrow morning; you do want to immediately notify the auction house about the mistake. But once you do that, mistakes can be remedied.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Most people planning to bid at an auction know exactly what they want to get and its value. If you're participating in the auction just to see what the auction world is all about, you'll have to be a little more careful. Research the items being put up for auction and have a final list of what you want to bid on when you go in. Don't wait to see how the bidding is going and then decide to jump in; you must be methodical when bidding. You also want to be aware of how many items you're bidding on and winning at the auction to ensure you don't spend your money on a few items that weren't the item you were really interested in getting.

Don't Get Carried Away – Decide on Your Limits and Stick to Them

For each item that you want to bid on, decide how high you'll go and stick to that number. No matter how badly you want the item, going over your limit is not a good idea as that can result in you either struggling financially for the next month or two to make up for the hole in your budget or having to notify the auction house that you aren't able to pay for the item. By setting a limit and becoming OK with the idea of not getting the item at auction because someone outbid you, you can maintain control and essentially live to bid another day.

Auctions can be great fun when you know what you're doing and have sensible limits in place. You may want to attend a few auctions without bidding, if you haven't already, to get used to the pace of things and how people truly signal that they're going to bid. Then you can work on setting your limits and trying to bid on a few smaller items (assuming you're actually prepared to pay for them). 

For more information, contact a local auction house