For consumers, the opportunity to exert control over their money often seems impossible. Financial institutions control the interest rates for loans and credit cards. Retail stores and supermarkets control the prices of goods for sale. Insurance companies set the premiums for car insurance and life insurance. However, consumers can exert some control over their money simply by using a few steadfast rules for strategic buying.
Strategic Buying in 5 Simple Steps
Controlling your money and where it goes is easier if you use a few simple steps when spending it. This strategy is especially important to use on big-ticket items since the savings are usually greater than it is for small daily purchases. Follow the steps below, and take back some control of your finances.
Step One: Read up on Reviews of the Product
First, you should do yourself a favor and take the time to read several reviews about the product that you are thinking about buying. Read about the product's different features and see what other consumers have to say about these features. Is there anything about the item that many people seem to complain about when reviewing it?
Don’t rely solely on the manufacturer's website for your reviews since most of those reviews (if not all) will be positive ones that do not mention any problematic issues.
Step Two: Research Local Stores and Online Businesses for the Best Price
If you want to save money on large purchases, do some of your shopping on the internet. You should be able to shrink the list of stores that you will actually visit. Prices will vary, so take advantage of the flexibility of using the internet to locate which stores offer the best prices and options for the item you want to purchase. You may be able to limit your shopping trip to a couple of local stores.
Step Three: Re-evaluate Your Need for the Product
Before making any purchase, it is essential to consider whether or not you actually need the item. For example, are you simply replacing an existing item just because it is a few years old, or are you replacing it because it is broken? If you determine that you need the item in question, then go ahead with the purchase. On the other hand, if you decide that you don't need it and can get along without it, you probably should re-evaluate your decision to buy it.
Step Four: Re-evaluate Your Method of Payment for the Product
For many, credit cards have simplified the buying process. It is so easy to pull out a credit card and buy whatever you want. However, that may not always be your best choice. For most purchases, you have three options:
- Pay by cash
- Pay with short-term credit
- Pay with long-term credit
With a credit card or a long-term installment plan, the item's cost will be greater than the selling price once you add in all of the interest charges. Therefore, if you must use credit to buy the item, you might want to re-evaluate your decision, holding off until you can pay cash to avoid the interest charges.
Step Five: Making the Purchase
Once you have carefully followed each step of your strategic buying plan, you are ready to make your purchase. At this point, you need to carefully review the sales receipt to ensure that you have been charged the appropriate amount. Mistakes do occur, so look over the sales receipt for errors of any kind. If you discover any errors, have them corrected before you leave the store. If you are paying for your purchase online, look at the order summary carefully before you finalize your online purchase.
Controlling where your money is going involves careful monitoring of each of your purchases. It is important to take control of your spending before it takes control of your finances. Each purchase should be thought out carefully to keep your spending under control.
By BALANCE, A First Northern Credit Union partner in financial wellness