Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

The top tips to being a smart consumer

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Nov 8, 2017 11:36 PM

Many people spend a considerable amount of money regularly buying various types of consumer goods. This may range from something as small as a few throw pillow for the couch or a pack of socks to something as large as a new refrigerator or vehicle. Nobody wants to spend more money than necessary when buying any items, and truly savvy consumers take excellent steps regularly to ensure that they get quality merchandise at a great price.

Read Consumer Reviews

Smart consumers know that buying low-quality items may actually cost them more money in the long run. After all, these items may be more likely to break, or they may not have the maximum useful life possible. When you read consumer reviews, you can determine which products lived up to consumer expectations versus which products were a letdown or a waste of money. For each item that you purchase, spend a few minutes reading online reviews so that you make a great decision about how to proceed. Remember that you should never trust a single overly positive or overly critical review. Instead, read multiple reviews to get a general idea of what you can realistically expect.

Monitor Price Changes

Unless you truly need an item urgently, consider monitoring price changes to time your purchase for the most strategic time. Many retailers raise or lower their prices based on supply and demand, and they also may offer items on sale periodically. Some apps and other technologies are now available to help you more easily determine the most advantageous time to make a purchase. Prices may change more often than you may realize, and this simple effort can help you to save a large amount of money over time.

Negotiate Online Prices

Many online shoppers will compare prices for similar items with at least a few different vendors, but very few understand that they may be able to haggle or negotiate an even better price. You may not be able to negotiate for something small, like a picture frame or a package of barrettes. However, if you are buying something large, like furniture, many vendors are open to negotiations. They may offer a price discount, free shipping or some other perk simply because you asked for it. If you do not at least ask, you will never know what type of great offer you may be missing out on.

Use a Lowest Price Guarantee

Even when you take steps to get the best price possible on merchandise, there is always a chance that you bought the item too soon. When you notice that an item that you purchased a few weeks ago is now on sale for a much better price, you may feel frustrated or letdown. However, you may have low price protection or a low price guarantee through your credit card company. Typically, you would need to pay for the item with your credit card in order to qualify for this type of guarantee or benefit. Research the terms of this benefit on your credit card before you make your next purchase.

Shop During the Off-Season

In-season merchandise is in high demand at specific times of the year, and when demand is high, retailers often charge the highest price that they can realistically get away with. However, if you have the foresight to plan ahead for your purchases or to delay buying some items, you may benefit from off-season pricing. Some items, such as couches, may not have an off-season. However, summer and winter apparel, holiday décor and more can be purchased off-season to help you save a substantial amount of money on items you may plan to use later.

These are all exceptional steps that savvy shoppers take on a regular basis to get a wonderful deal on their purchases. They can help you to get a truly great product that has exceptional quality at a low price. If you are not currently taking all of these steps to save money, you may be losing money on each item that you purchase. The savings associated with taking these steps can be substantial over the course of a year, so now is the time to start implementing these tips in your future shopping activities.

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