To be a successful bidder at an auction, keep these things in mind.

5 Smart tips to bid at an auction like a pro

Auctions are a goldmine for bargain hunters looking to snag a good deal on everything from artwork to furniture and accessories. Participating in an auction is not just another shopping experience, but requires some strategic planning. Learning how to bid successfully in an auction can help you score some great products at a reasonable price. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Attend the preview

Do your homework before you bid. Before you go for the auction, preview the items even if you’ve seen photos in the catalogue. You can typically inspect the items that will be sold, so make sure it’s possible to make repairs or improvements to slightly damaged pieces if necessary. Make a note of box lot numbers and contents of products that catch your eye and you are planning to bid on.

RelatedUnconventional goals for the modern independent woman

2. Set a spending cap

After you have inspected the items and decided which ones you’d like to bid on, give yourself a maximum preset limit on how much you are willing to shell out. Remember, bidding in an auction often moves quickly, given its competitive nature, so it can be easy to get carried away and bid far more than you intended to. Setting yourself a predetermined spending limit will also keep you accountable. If you doubt your willpower, take a friend along.

3. Register for a bidder’s card

Each registered bidder is given a bidder’s card with a number that is used to identify all the participants. Bidders hold up their bidder card to announce their bid price so the auctioneer can identify who is making the bid. You can’t participate without one, so registering for your bidder’s card should be the first thing you do when you arrive at the auction. 

Related: 5 Hobbies you can turn into assets for long-term benefits

4. Dress for the occasion

You might be surprised but what you wear to an auction can make a psychological impact on others and how they perceive you. Dressing smartly for an auction can intimidate others around you. For instance: if you were to show up at an auction in a suit or a formal dress, it would convey to others that you are confident and rich. This can give you a psychological edge as a bidder.

Dressing down, on the other hand, can work in an interesting way – it could convey that you are not financially well-off and hence not a competition to others. That said, make sure to dress practically, especially if the auction is being held outdoors or in a garden. Dress in layers if it’s indoors in an air-conditioned room. Look at these changing investing habits of a millennial woman.


How I did it

Praveen Nair

Ever since I retired, I have looked forward to the festive season with added zeal. It is the buzz that I need once in a year in my laidback post-retirement life. I like to celebrate the occasion, get the house painted or renovated, buy gifts for my dear ones or go on a vacation. These things… Read more

Swati Mehra

A couple of years ago I was over the moon after landing my first job. I celebrated regally during the festive season that ensued, only to land in a financial soup for the next few months. With gargantuan credit card bills and barely any cash left, I had no other option but to default the payment… Read more

Rohansh Pathak

It is highly unlikely that all the expenses made during the festive season were worth making in the first place. This is the time of the year when unavoidable expenses are bound to upset your budget plans, and you can do little about it. However, I have made it a point to have a look at the… Read more

Shubhra Banerjee

I am a single mother of one. I lost my husband just 5 years into my marriage. Life has been a struggle for me, but I have managed it and today I have no complaints. 

I was a young widow with a 3 year old son when my husband passed away due to a heart attack. My parents were my rock… Read more