How to Be a Smart Shopper

Ask lots of questions when you shop to make the wisest purchase.

Are you in the market for furniture, appliances or something really special? Take the time to be a smart shopper, and save lots of money.

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Step 1

Decide how much you can spend, and stay within those limits.

Step 2

Take the time to shop around. Some retail items can be found in discount, outlet or wearhouse stores.

Step 3

Look for a good sale. Be willing to wait for a Labor Day or After-Christmas Sale, when necessary.

Step 4

Ask friends and family members for product referrals. They can help you find the best product for the best price.

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Step 5

Check Consumer Reports and product-rating magazines for more information. Find copies at your local library.

Step 6

Inspect products carefully before buying. Check for quality and durability. When in doubt, stick to reliable brand names.

Step 7

Check warranties carefully. Make sure you understand the policy.

Step 8

Make sure you understand extra charges, like delivery.

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Step 9

Ask for certificates of authenticity for collectible items.

Step 10

Ask for appraisals for high-priced, used items.

Step 11

Purchase with coupons or discounts, when possible. Find out what discounts your travel club, credit cards, department store charge cards or other affiliations offer.

Step 12

Save your receipts, and return unsatisfactory products.

Tip

When in doubt, delay your purchase. A week's time will give you a fresh perspective. Remember that the cheapest buy is not always the smartest buy. Quality goes a long way. Remember that you'll often spend more when buying from a catalog. If you go to the store directly, you can take advantage of sales and avoid shipping charges. Consider shopping at "scratch-and-dent" outlet stores. Sears is one store that has them. The damage to furniture and appliances is often hidden or minimal. When shopping for smaller items, like groceries, compare prices by weight or quantity.

Warning

Avoid compulsive buying. Avoid buying something just because it's on sale.

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