How to Be a More Savvy Consumer

We’re all consumers, but some of us are better consumers than others. With the rise of online shopping, there are so many potential mistakes you can make when it comes to purchasing new items. That’s why it’s important to think about how you can be a more savvy consumer going forward.

So what are the benefits of being a more savvy consumer? First and foremost, it’s about saving yourself money and not throwing it away on purchases that you end up regretting later. We’ve all rushed into purchases that we end up regretting later, and that’s precisely what you want to avoid.

But there’s more to it than that, so read on and find out what you can do to become a more savvy consumer.

Understand the Consumer Protection Laws That Exist

It’s important to realize that there are laws that protect customers against the bad and unethical practices of businesses. You should be sure to do some research and find out more about these protectins. It’s impossible to stand up for your rights if you don’t even know what those rights are, after all. The consumer protection laws that are in place differ from place to place, so you’ll need to find out which laws apply to you in the place where you live. If you understand your rights, you’ll know when they’re being breached.

Check Reviews

Checking reviews is one of the easiest ways to save money when you’re looking for products to buy. The last thing you want to do is buy something and then find out later that it’s not up to scratch and doesn’t do what you need it to. But that’s precisely what can happen if you’re not careful. So do a little digging and check all of the reviews online before you go ahead and make a purchase. Every product has a few bad reviews, but if you notice a bigger trend in the reviews, that should certainly make you think twice.

Always Look at Value vs Price

It’s important to know the difference between value and price when you’re trying to be a more savvy consumer. If you’re going to make a purchase based purely on finding the lowest price out there, you might save money in the short term but it might not actually benefit you all that much in the long run. That’s because value is about getting your money’s worth and not regretting your purchase. The cheapest option might offer a low price but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll offer you the best value for the money you spent.

Don’t Be Fooled by Brand Names

When you’re making a purchase, there’s an understandable desire to opt for the safer brand names out there. You can see why that would be the case; people feel better about buying from brands they feel they can trust. Nevertheless, if you only ever look at the big brands and the brands you recognize, you might miss out on some of the best bargains and deals that exist out there, and that’s obviously not what you want. There’s more value out there than you might think.

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Research Before You Buy

Before you make any kind of purchase, you should always take the time to do a little research. When you know what you’re buying and why you’re buying it, it makes your life a lot easier later. It’s all about not rushing into a purchase or feeling rushed into doing so. That’s the way a lot of people feel when they buy things. But taking a step back and slowing down the process so you can do some deeper research into the options might really serve you well in the end.

Try to Get a Variety of Price Quotes for Services

If you’re looking for professionals to provide you with a particular service, it’s important to get quotes from a variety of options before you go ahead and make a decision. When you get as many quotes as possible, you can see which company is able to offer you the best quotes. And if you let them know that you’re going to be comparing prices across a range of different companies, some of them might even agree to match the lowest price you’re quoted. They won’t want to lose out to the competition after all.

Keep Your Receipts

Getting into the habit of keeping your receipts and not throwing them away as soon as you leave the store is a good idea. That way, you can make sure that if you do later regret a purchase or have a problem, you won’t have any problem getting your money back or having the purchase replaced. It simply makes the process a lot easier and there’ll be less contention or push back from the company if you do try to retrieve your money later on.

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Learn How to Negotiate Effectively

Learning how to negotiate effectively when making certain types of purchases might end up being very useful indeed for you. Most people in western countries don’t think to bargain or ask for a lower price, but it’s often possible to achieve a better price if you’re willing to try. That’s certainly true when you’re buying used items and things such as cars. Bigger purchases should always be negotiated, so don’t assume that you simply have to pay the price that the seller is asking for.

Always Research Trusted Companies Within a Particular Industry Before Buying

When you’re looking for a specific type of company to buy from or to use the services of, it’s important to do a little research and find out which companies in that niche are considered trusted and reliable. Some companies have better reputations than others, you just might not be aware of it yet. If you need a bookmaker, for example, you can use this list of bookmakers to see which are highly regarded in the industry. The same principle applies to whichever kind of company you might be looking for.

Be Wary of Upselling

It’s important to be able to spot when someone is upselling. Upselling is the process of trying to add further purchases to the main purchase you want to make. It might mean tempting you with complimentary items that are associated with the thing that you’re buying in some way. Upselling is common in all kinds of settings, and saying no to these opportunities is almost always the best option. If you really do want to buy any of those things later on, you’ll be able to find them at lower prices elsewhere.

Read What You Sign

If making a purchase ever involves you having to sign some documentation, you should always make sure you read it before putting pen to paper. It’s easy to assume that there’s not going to be anything particularly strange or unwanted in those papers, but you can’t know that for sure until you read them. And if you’re still unsure of anything, you could ask a lawyer to take a look at it and recommend whether you should sign it or not. When it comes to contracts, caution pays off.

As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to make yourself a more savvy consumer, so be sure to make the most of the tips and ideas we’ve shared here today. Each of them will serve you well in one way or another and prevent you from making bad decisions and purchases.

How to Save Money on School Supplies

Back to school, like Christmas is a family budget-buster today. According to a study by Huntington Bank, the Backpack Index revealed that the average cost of sending a child back to school was $1000 in 2017.

You do not need to drain your bank account and spend that much though. If you plan and start early, it will only cost you a fraction of the $ 1000 to set your kids off.

Here are strategies to help you shop for back to school as a frugal parent, whether your kids are off to college, or starting kindergarten.

Supply sweep

Round up all school and office supplies you own. If you look around, you may have plenty of these lying around your house in the desk drawers, basements bin or closets. Office and schools supplies that you own can help you save a significant amount of money.

Collect all of them in a central location like the dining room. Make a list or take pictures of what you have and carry the list or photos with you to the store when going for shopping to remember what you have.

Also, check the kids closets and dispose of worn-out clothes. Donate or sell what your child has outgrown. The sweep will give you a clear picture of what you need to buy and prevent you from getting what you already have.

Plan a supply swap

Get your neighbors and friends on board, and organize a supply swap before you go shopping. You may have things that they need, like reams of paper bought on sale but will never use. Someone else may have some packs of pencils that they would willingly trade for the paper. Family and friends with school-going children may have extra supplies that they will not mind trading in. Talk to them and sell the idea.

Shop at thrift stores and garage sales

You will find used shoes in good condition, clothing, school supplies and even backpacks in garage sales. Hit up the garage sales for all the things you need as they are a treasure trove. Though this may take time, you may get great bargains and save significantly on back to school clothes and supplies. All you need to do is to start early, and also ask family and friends to keep an eye on garage sales near them. Moms will also find great bargains on other things.

Thrift stores are also a great way to save. Many stores run back to school items sales for parents and clothing is incredibly affordable. Since many parents are after saving, the selection is picked over early, hence you need to start early.

Start shopping for clothes in mid-June to late July when the clothes selection is plenty. Put the clothes away until school start so as not to wear off the newness of the clothes.

Consignment stores

Here you will find great bargains on used clothing as their products are vetted, unlike the thrift store. You will not have to go through blouses from 1975 to get a designer cloth on a budget.

Check if consignment shops around you will have summer sales. Many organize seasonal sales. Keep watch on the back-to-school shopping season as several stores may have a mega-sale in one location.

Check the dollar store

Dollar stores have incredible school supplies bargains and you will find basic things like pencils and notebooks, sanitizer, and Kleenex, all at discounted prices. Shop in summer months as you will never know what the stores will order and how long the items will be in stock.

Compare prices

Amazon’s ever-changing prices are a great way to save on kids electronics that most parents have to buy. Websites like camelcamelcamel track the history of the price range for every product on Amazon. Sign up for the price change alert of the particular products so that you can tell when it changes.

There are many apps to help save money by comparing prices across retailers to find out the best deal. ShopSavvy, available for Android and iOS users will let you know if a product is available at a lower price in another store when you scan the barcode. Download a barcode scanner for it to work.

Also, check your nearest drugstore or grocery store for the best prices on school supplies. You may be surprised that items are cheaper in your neighborhood when on sale than the big stores. If you have any store dollars from loyalty programs, consider using them and save.

Conclusion

Many parents would rather enjoy summer than think of back to school shopping for the coming school year. However, it pays to prepare early. Planning ahead will save you money as you take advantage of every sale and opportunity to save that comes your way. Find a safe way of keeping the coupons you collect through the year as they will come in handy when shopping for back to school.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

20 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Trying to spend less this year? Cooking dinner for your family doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your wallet. Here are 20 tips on cutting costs while buying groceries:

 

  1. Avoid inner isles

Go straight to the shelves of essentials groceries. Stores place basics on opposite ends to trick you into buying more products.

 

  1. Use coupons

Coupons will save you money on groceries. Combine products that are on sale with coupons to save more.

 

  1. Forget toiletries

Toiletries are expensive at the supermarket. Instead, buy them at a cheaper price at the pharmacy.

 

  1. Avoid fad brands

Generic brands are cheaper than name-brand products, but they still are made up of the same ingredients. Don’t be fooled!

 

  1. Check out all the shelves

You first see products in your eye level. Stores often place pricier items on these shelves. Look for cheaper groceries on the shelves below or above your eye-level.

 

  1. Consider rain checks

Basic items sell out fast when placed on sale. Ask for rain check items; these products’ sale has been extended.

 

  1. Buy dried beans

Cooking dried beans is cheaper than buying canned beans. They have a superior taste, too. Beans make for a cheap and easy meal.

 

  1. Eat before shopping

Don’t shop on an empty belly. You will buy more groceries than you actually should.

 

  1. Avoid pre-cooked meals

Pre-cooked foods can be twice as expensive as the ingredients and are often not as tasty.

 

  1. Buy produce that is in season

Buy fresh produce that is in season. Out of season products aren’t as fresh and cost more.

 

  1. Check out international markets

Most exotic spices at your local store are expensive as they have been shipped from afar. Buy cheaper imported spices at an international market in your city so that you can create meals inspired by some of the most amazing places in the world!

 

  1. Rethink when buying bottled water

The bottled water industry is worth a billion dollars, with a 16oz bottle going for a dollar. The recommended four bottles will cost you $120 every month. Why not treat water at home?

 

  1. Go with a shopping list

A shopping list helps you stick to your budget for things you need while avoiding groceries you don’t need.

 

  1. Say no to children!

Your kids will only help you increase your expenditure with stuff you don’t need. Learn to say no to their requests for junk food and toys.

 

  1. Pre-washed groceries cost more

You will pay a price for the ready-to-cook groceries at the store. Purchase groceries that have not been pre-washed instead.

 

  1. Pre-packed fruit is expensive

The store hired someone to cut and pack their fruit, and you will pay for it too. Do not buy fruit that has already been packaged for you.

 

  1. Pick fresh herbs from your kitchen garden

If you aren’t gardening, you may be paying a small fortune for herbs at the grocery store. Consider using the space available to you on your kitchen or porch for a small herb garden.

 

  1. You’re paying for the convenience of grated cheese

Grate your cheese at home with a box grater. It is easy and will save you loads of dollars.

 

  1. Prepare your spice mix

Make your spice mix at home with easy to find seasonings and spices. This way, you aren’t paying extra for someone to mix and package it.

 

  1. Compare similar products

Products such as potatoes can be cheaper when bagged as opposed to loose ones. Check product prices and make big savings.

 

10 Costco Membership Benefits You Didn’t Know About

There are significant upsides to shopping at Costco besides sampling the tasty foods and consuming some great hot dogs. The annual membership fee is one of them. Shop at the warehouse a few times and the membership costs are absorbed. What to know a couple more benefits about shopping at Costco? Here are 10 of the lesser-known benefits you may be missing out on by not having a Costco membership:

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1. Costco has Medical Insurance

Are you looking for new medical insurance for you and/or family? Costco has you covered. It offers competitive rates for its members. For instance, Costco offers small business and personal plans. It is important to read all the details of the plan to make sure the coverage is exactly what you need.

2.Want to Check Your Health While Shopping? Costco has Health Screenings.

We just discussed health insurance in the number two spot of benefits you don’t know about. So, let’s stay on the topic. Costco also offers free health screenings via its pharmacy department. Costco offers screenings for a variety of conditions ranging from osteoporosis and diabetes. For more information about health screenings offered, check the local store events listed on online.

3. Costco has Group Vision Plans and Budget eyewear for Its Members

You have time to shop. That is not in dispute. You often don’t have time to stop for reading classes. Worry no more! There are some great deals to be found on reading glasses at Costco. It is even has multi-pack of reading glasses for those who lose them constantly (we won’t mention any names). If your medical plan doesn’t have vision insurance, once again Costco has you covered. It offers group vision plans for those who need eyewear and eye screenings.

4. Get Need Prescriptions at a Low Cost

You may not know, but it makes a difference where you buy your prescription medications. One retail pharmacy may charge more than a large pharmacy. This means if you go to the wrong pharmacy, you’re going to pay too much. Costco’s pharmacy department is one of the pharmacies that charge less for prescription medications. In fact, the prescriptions may be significantly lower than other pharmacies. Always check with various pharmacies, including Costco, to determine which is the lowest price.

5. You Will Find Unique Gift Sets

You may not know this, but sometimes Costco will package items together in gift sets. The are often available an excellent price. The gift sets include housewares and beauty supplies. They always a great buy during the holidays.

6. Costco has Low Cost Vaccinations for the Members

Costco understands that vaccinations are important to staying healthy. That’s why they are also offered at Costco’s pharmacy. The vaccinations pricing is competitive. So you can find a great deal on vaccinations for the family. If your medical insurance company doesn’t cover vaccinations, get a Costco membership.

7. Love Buying Gifts and Movie Tickets? These are Two More Benefits Costco has.

By the time you buy movie tickets and everything that goes with it (popcorn and drinks), you’ve made a big investment. One way to put the joy back into going to the movies is by buying discounted movie tickets at Costco. In fact, you can save about 25 percent. You can save the same percentage on store gift cards too.

8. Get Your Groceries at a Lower Price

Shopping at Costco can save you a lot of money. When you are there, check out the peanut butter and cheese. You’ll find some great prices. You can also stock up of many grocery items because of the price.

9. Save Money on Birthday Cakes

Some of the most amazing birthday cakes are found in Costco’s bakery department. They look beautiful, taste great and cost less than other bakeries.

10. Get Your Ink Cartridge Refills at Costco

This may be the best tip on the list. Costco will refill your ink cartridges. Take your old ink cartridges into Costco. It will refill them. You can save about 70 percent when you do this (compared to buying a new one).

There is no doubt about it. Costco is a fabulous place to find all your family’s needs from clothing to groceries and auto repair. A Costco membership is definitely a great value with many benefits.