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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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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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