Being a smart consumer is more than just getting a great deal on a product. It also means knowing your spending limits, knowing your rights and being informed before parting with your hard-earned money.
Donít be tempted into a fast purchase by a great offer, or a flashy red sale sticker. Use these tips to make sure youíre being a smart shopper!
Before You Buy
Know what you can afford to spend
Stick to a spending plan to keep your finances in check. Ask yourself if this purchase fits into your budget.
Research products before you buy
Especially big ticket items. Compare prices, service and warranties.
Read the fine print before you buy
Ask questions about anything that is unclear to you and donít sign anything you donít fully understand. You are responsible to hold up your end of the contract once it is signed, even if you didn't take the time to read and understand it before you signed.
Get it in writing
Get any verbal promises made by a dealer in writing. It is easier to prove what was said in case there is a dispute.
Ask for references
Check them before you hire a contractor. It's also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints filed against the business.
Negotiate the price of an item with the seller.
You may have better luck if you are polite and reasonable.
Check the return policy.
Unless stated in their policy, a seller does not have to give a refund or exchange a product if you change your mind about the purchase. Learn more about the 30-Day Myth.
Use credit wisely.
If you donít have the cash saved for a purchase, consider if you truly need it before paying with credit. Give yourself a cooling off period. Go home and consider the purchase. If you do choose to pay with credit, make sure you can afford the payments. Interest can quickly drive the price up if you donít pay off your balance and all of a sudden that great sale can end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
After you Buy
Keep warranties and service contracts. You may need these to make a claim.
Take responsibility for your debts
If you canít pay your bills, talk to your creditors or ask a budget counsellor for help. Visit Credit and Collections for more information on your rights when dealing with creditors and collection agencies.
Give the seller a chance to correct any problems first