Consumer Smarts:  Cultivating Good Shopping and Buying Habits

Cultivating good shopping and buying habits lasts a lifetime. It will save you much money and, perhaps more importantly, much agony. Therefore, spend time cultivating good shopping and buying habits, which will help you immeasurably in your journey through life.

Do not purchase on impulse. Food is probably one of the common items that people buy on impulse. One way to stop that is to go to places that sell food (eg Food courts, Grocery Stores, Fairs, Sports Events, Movies) only on a full stomach - after you have eaten, that is. Another way to save when eating out is that if you eat at places like food courts, or if you plan on being out for a good part of the day, is to bring your own water in a water bottle, as the prices of drinks outside can be exorbitant. 

Of course, food is just one common area that people buy on impulse. There are many others too: clothing, cars, or even houses. One way to stop this habit is to always decide to think about what you will buy for one day. The next day, your desire for that product may be gone, or you may remember some of the glitches that are too big to ignore. So, in order not to regret your decision later, the best course of action is to wait a little while before purchasing, especially for expensive items. If you still think that it was a good deal, by all means buy it. More often than not, however, it was probably an impulse decision at that moment, stirred by your good emotions for the product, that prompted you to buy it.

Make sure you can refund what you buy. Before purchasing anything, ask the clerk whether you will be able to refund that item, and within what time frame. Some stores have certain discount items that cannot be refunded once it has been bought. You should refrain from buying those items because you just may decide that you do not want it after bringing it home, or it may be intrinsically defective. In such a case, having the option to refund the item is a must. It would also be wise to check if the refund policy is written on your bill. If not, you may want the clerk to write a note saying that this can be refunded within whatever time frame and whatever condition. Some stores or some items also require a restocking fee if the item is returned. Others require that you not open the packaging in order for the item to be refunded, so check what is the case with the particular item that you buy so that you don't get any surprises, and so that you can decide whether it is worth purchasing.

Make online purchases carefully. When dealing with online purchases, there are several points to note. One is that you must make sure that the site is a secure one so that when you put your credit card information it is secure. You should also check with your credit card whether it has fraud protection and the details of the protection plan in case someone is able to get a hold of your credit card number. If the product is displayed as an image on the website, the color that your computer monitor shows may also be slightly off than the color that the actual item possesses, so keep that in mind when purchasing online. What color you think that you will get may be different from what you had envisioned. Before making an online purchase, it is also recommended to contact the vendor to see if they answer your queries. If even before you make the purchase and they don't answer your query promptly and politely, then you probably should not buy from them because in case you need to refund the item, you may not be able to contact them. There may also be sites that rate online vendors, so you may want to check out those rating sites first before making the purchase to see if they have a reputable rating.

Buy at the best possible time. If certain items have a reputation for going on sale periodically and you are not in a rush to have it, then it makes sense to wait for the sale before buying it. However, if you definitely need that item or you rarely come to this part of time, it is not worth waiting for the sale just to save a few cents.

Group your shopping tasks and jot down your intended purchases. Try to write a shopping list of all the items that you will want to buy. Also remember to look at the list you have created and/or check off items that you have picked up once you are at the store. Too often people either forget what they intended to buy, or they buy on impulse and buy items that they really do not need. The other advantage of making a list of what you want to buy is that you can save trips to certain places by grouping all the tasks that you want to do or buy that are close to each other.

Purchase quality. Sometimes, it is worth buying something more expensive because in the long run, you make get more out of it. Its quality may be higher so that it will last longer and you may need to buy it less often. Or it may have more features that you think are useful. However, brand names do not always live up to their names, so definitely analyze the product that you will buy and see if it is definitely worth the extra money. Often it is worth it, but sometimes it may not be worth it.

Get recommendations. Especially when something that you want to buy is expensive or you are not sure if the source is trustworthy, you should get recommendations from friends or perhaps look for ratings and reviews of that product before purchasing. Just be careful when reading reviews and ratings online to be sure that what you are reading is not from the vendor itself.

Do not buy more than what you need. Sometimes, certain items are on sale for bulk, or maybe going to a buffet may seem like a great idea. However, often you do not really need the extra material and buying in bulk, even though it may save money per unit item, may not be worth it. It may cause problems such as taking up space at home, having it rot away before you can eat all of it, or just being of such poor quality that you do not even want any of it in the first place. Therefore, think twice before buying more than what you may actually need.

Cultivating good shopping and buying habits sometimes requires experience.  Each time you may learn something new.  Enjoy.

In summary, to cultivate good shopping and buying habits,

A. Do not purchase on impulse.

B. Make sure you can refund what you buy.

C. Make online purchases carefully.

D. Purchase quality.

E. Get recommendations.

F. Do not buy more than what you need.

Life Skills > Money Management Skills > Consumer Smarts: Cultivating Good Shopping and Buying Habits


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Last Checked 2015