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5 Smart Shopping Tips That Will Make You An Informed Customer

5 Smart Shopping Tips That Will Make You An Informed Customer

If you’re planning to make a purchase, you should always be an informed customer. With the sheer amount of things available to buy online, there are bound to be some great, quality-made products — as well as those that are not so great. Simply spending a little time researching your purchases before you make them can save you a lot of hassle, grief, and money. You might also have some luck with coupon sites online. Here are some ways you can become an informed customer.

Visit Review and Comparison Sites

What better way to see what’s worth buying than to see what others have to say? Review sites offer a way for you to quickly compare different products and see what people, from regular customers to industry pros, have to say about the things you’re looking to buy.

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The best part is that there’s a review site out there for just about everything imaginable. For example, The Zebra compares car insurance rates for more than 200 insurers, while ecigguide.com reviews the many types of vaporizers available.

See What Reddit Says

If you’re having trouble finding very specific information about the products you’re researching, head on over to Reddit to find in-depth information about almost anything. Reddit consists of thousands of different communities, and there’s probably a community related to whatever you’re hoping to buy. Here, you should be able to find reviews as well as answers to whatever questions you may have. Even if you can’t find the right information, you’re always free to start a new thread for others to respond to.

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Watch YouTube Unboxings

One of the best resources for doing product research might be one that you haven’t thought of: YouTube. Popular on this video-streaming site is a genre of videos called “unboxing” videos, in which people who’ve purchased a product open it for the first time and give their immediate impressions. This type of video has grown so popular that even professional reviewers have taken on the task of providing first unboxing impressions. Unboxings give you a visual, unbiased view of what you can expect to show up at your door if you choose to purchase a certain product.

Price Match

Even after you’ve done all your research and you’re ready to click the “add to cart” button, you may still be forgetting to do a price match comparison among the different shops that are selling your product. In some cases, you may only save a fraction of the cost, but there are still rare instances where you stand to save a lot of money. It’s also worth noting that you might not always find the best price online. So, it doesn’t hurt to check with your local stores to see if they have the product in stock and at what price they’re selling it. After all, you don’t want to spend any unnecessary money, do you? Online coupon websites like ClothingRIC are good resources to find a great number of online retailers and also their promotional offers.

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Know the Return Policy and Warranty

Despite your best research, you never know what you’re getting until it arrives at your doorstep. While the product itself may be well-rated and made with quality materials, there’s always the threat of a warehouse error or damage caused during the shipping process. Because of this, it’s good to know your seller’s return policy. Also, you should check to see if the manufacturer has included a warranty with the product, as you never know what could go wrong in the future.

While these resources will serve you well in the buying process, they’re also worth looking into after you’ve bought your item. These tips and tricks will help you get the most bang for your buck.

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Featured photo credit: Shopping Tips, via lifehack.org

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Published on November 20, 2018

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The Best Ways to Save Money Even Impulsive Spenders Can Get Behind

The truth is, there are many “money saving guides” online, but most don’t cover the root issue for not saving.

Once I’d discovered a few key factors that allowed me to save 10k in one year, I realized why most articles couldn’t help me. The problem is that even with the right strategies you can still fail to save money. You need to have the right systems in place and the right mindset.

In this guide, I’ll cover the best ways to save money — practical yet powerful steps you can take to start saving more. It won’t be easy but with hard work, I’m confident you’ll be able to save more money–even if you’re an impulsive spender.

Why Your Past Prevents You from Saving Money

Are you constantly thinking about your financial mistakes?

If so, these thoughts are holding you back from saving.

I get it, you wish you could go back in time to avoid your financial downfalls. But dwelling over your past will only rob you from your future. Instead, reflect on your mistakes and ask yourself what lessons you can learn from them.

It wasn’t easy for me to accept that I had accumulated thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Once I did, I started heading in the right direction. Embrace your past failures and use them as an opportunity to set new financial goals.

For example, after accepting that you’re thousands of dollars in debt create a plan to be debt free in a year or two. This way when you’ll be at peace even when you get negative thoughts about your finances. Now you can focus more time on saving and less on your past financial mistakes.

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How to Effortlessly Track Your Spending

Stop manually tracking your spending.

Leverage powerful analytic tools such as Personal Capital and these money management apps to do the work for you. This tool has worked for me and has kept me motivated to why I’m saving in the first place. Once you login to your Personal Capital dashboard, you’re able to view your net worth.

When I’d first signed up with Personal Capital, I had a negative net worth, but this motivated me to save more. With this tool, you can also view your spending patterns, expenses, and how much money you’re saving.

Use your net worth as your north star to saving more. Whenever you experience financial setbacks, view how far you’ve come along. Saving money is only half the battle, being consistent is the other half.

The Truth on Why You Keep Failing

Saving money isn’t sexy. If it was, wouldn’t everyone be doing it?

Some people are natural savers, but most are impulsive spenders. Instead of denying that you’re an impulsive spender, embrace it.

Don’t try to save 60 to 70% of your income if this means you’ll live a miserable life. Saving money isn’t a race but a marathon. You’re saving for retirement and for large purchases.

If you’re currently having a hard time saving, start spending more money on nice things. This may sound counterintuitive but hear me out. Wouldn’t it be better to save $200 each month for 12 months instead of $500 for 3 months?

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Most people run into trouble because they create budgets that set them up for failure. This system won’t work for those who are frugal, but chances are they don’t need help saving. This system is for those who can’t save money and need to be rewarded for their hard work.

Only because you’re buying nice things doesn’t mean that you’ll save less. Here are some rules you should have in place:

  1. Save more than 50% of your available money (after expenses)
  2. Only buy nice things after saving
  3. Automate your savings with automatic bank transfers

These are the same rules that helped me save thousands each year while buying the latest iPhone. Focus only on items that are important to you. Remember, you can afford anything but not everything.

How to Foolproof Yourself out of Debt

Personal finance is a game. On one end, you’re earning money; and on the to other, you’re saving. But what ends up counting in the end isn’t how much you earn but how much you save. Research shows that about 60% of Americans spend more than they save.[1]

So how can you separate yourself from the 60%?

By not accumulating more debt. This way you’ll have more money to save and avoid having more financial obligations. A great way to stop accumulating debt is using cash to pay for all your transactions.

This will be challenging, depending on how reliant you are with your credit card, but it’s worth the effort. Not only will you stop accruing debt, but you’ll also be more conscious with what you buy.

For example, you’ll think twice about purchasing a new $200 headphone despite having the cash to buy them. According to a poll conducted by The CreditCards.com, 5 out of 6 Americans are impulsive spenders.[2]

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Telling yourself that you’ll have the discipline to not buy things won’t cut it. This is equal to having junk food in your fridge while trying to eat healthy–it’s only a matter of time before you slip. By using cash to make your purchases, you’ll spend less and save more.

A Proven Formula to Skyrocket Your Savings

Having proven systems in place to help you save more is important, but they’re not the best way to save money.

You can search for dozens of ways to save money, but there’ll always be a limit. Instead of spending the majority of your effort saving, look for ways to increase your income. The truth is that once you have the right systems in place, saving is easy.

What’s challenging is earning more money. There are many routes you can take to achieve this. For example, you can work long and hard at your current job to earn a raise. But there’s one problem–you’re depending on someone else to give you a raise.

Your company will have to have the budget, and you’ll have to know how to toot your own horn to get this raise. This isn’t to say that earning a raise is impossible, but things are better when you’re in control right? That’s why building a side-hustle is the best way to increase your income.

Think of your side-hustle as a part-time job doing something you enjoy. You can sell items on eBay for a profit, or design websites for small businesses. Building a side-hustle will be on the hardest things you’ll do, be too stubborn to quit.

During the early stages, you won’t be making money and that’s okay. Since you already have a source of income, you won’t be dependent on your side-hustle to pay for your expenses. Depending on how much time you invest in your side-hustle, it can one day replace your current income.

Whatever route you take, focus more on earning and save as much as possible. You have more control than you give yourself credit for.

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Transform Yourself into a Saving Money Machine

Saving money isn’t complicated but it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do.

By learning from your mistakes and rewarding yourself after saving you’ll save more. What would you do with an extra $200 or $500 each month? To some, this is life-changing money that can improve the quality of their lives.

The truth is saving money is an art. Save too much and you’ll quit, but save too little and you’ll pay for the consequences in the future. Saving money takes effort and having the right systems in place.

Imagine if you’d started saving an extra $100 this next month? Or, saved $20K in one year? Although it’s hard to imagine, this can be your reality if you follow the principles covered in this guide.

Take a moment to brainstorm which goals you’d be able to reach if you had extra money each month. Use these goals as motivation to help you stay on track on your journey to saving more. If I was able to save thousands of dollars with little guidance, imagine what you’ll be able to do.

What are you waiting for? Go and start saving money, the sky is your limit.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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