How to Be a Wise Consumer

How to Be a Wise Consumer
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Warning

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you find yourself thinking that there must be a catch, it's a sure sign to do your homework thoroughly before getting involved, making a purchase, or giving away any personal or account information.

Tip

Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights. A mistake of a few dollars may not seem like much, but a few dollars over many different retailers could add up to hundreds of dollars that you've given away due to errors. Check your credit report several times each year for errors. Errors are not uncommon, and it's one way to be sure you haven't fallen victim to identity theft.

Saving money is a priority for many families. Whether you're purchasing a product or a service, you're bound to encounter a problem with a business at some point. Knowing your rights as a consumer, doing your homework before using a business, and researching products before you purchase are ways to ensure you're dealing with a reputable business and will receive a fair exchange for your hard earned money.

Step 1

Research the industry prior to making a product purchase. Competition between manufacturers is stiff, so there are often many models to choose from. Ask friends and family if they've had experience with a product, and use the internet to compare various models. Read reviews from consumers who have purchased different models to determine which product is best suited for your needs.

Step 2

Find available discounts and price shop. The same products can be priced differently at different retailers. Shop around to find the best price, and look for rebates and coupons.

Step 3

Compare businesses if you're using a service. Call at least three different providers or contractors and ask the same list of questions to each. Rather than basing your decision on an advertisement, choose a provider based on personal recommendations and a phone conversation.

Step 4

Check your reciepts and review invoices in detail. Be sure you're being charged the agreed upon or advertised price. Check for hidden costs. For example, hospitals are notorious for billing errors, charging patients for services that were never received.

Step 5

Refuse to give your personal or account information in any situation that seems unnecessary, and never give it over email. For example, if you're purchasing a bottle of perfume, it's probably not necessary for the retailer to have your name, email address, and phone number, unless you're purchasing it online. Find out why they want the information, and decide whether you'll provide it.

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