By Jasmine Turner
In today’s marketplace the consumer has the power to make smart choices. Here’s how.
Are you a savvy consumer?
Probably. In this digital age, consumers have the ability to curate, share and collaborate on their opinions, wants and needs instantaneously. This has not only given them the ability to drive and command the marketplace, it has forced brands’ behaviors to change. Brands now have to be transparent while creating engagement opportunities that cater to the savvy consumer.
So what’s the key to being a savvy consumer? These days, consumers are looking to save time, energy and money, and to remain protected while making purchases. To be a savvy consumer is about being a confident consumer who understands how to make these smart purchases and that you have the power to do so. To become a savvy consumer you have to understand what you need, what you can afford, how to keep within your budget and have the will power to not make extravagant purchases. Making small changes like: saving money, spending wisely, using credit cautiously and protecting personal finances can help you become a savvy consumer. Remember, the power resides in you, there is a savvy consumer within us all.
Here are 4 key tips for becoming a savvy consumer:
Budget before you buy.
You work hard for your money; why not preserve what you’ve worked so hard for? Putting a budget in place will tell you how much you’re willing to spend each pay period. Before you walk in the store or place your order online, you’re in control of your spending. When you create your budget be realistic. There are free online tools and apps, such as Mint, Level Money or Levanto Financial, to help you create the perfect budget.
Research, negotiate and clip coupons.
Before you make a big purchase, you should research the item to compare prices. Take your time and examine market prices, check e-commerce sites and make your purchases without giving in to high retail prices. Some retailers have price matching policies in place, to help you purchase the item at the lowest price. They don’t always advertise this, but it never hurts to ask. Remember “good things come to those who wait” Waiting for a sale is also a good idea. Coupons are extremely popular; coupon apps allow consumers to even access discounts while they’re shopping. Coupons not only save money, but introduce new products, so it’s a great way to try something different.
Get everything in writing and always read the fine print.
Contracts, customer agreements, and fine print protect businesses and outline the terms of the agreement with customers. A savvy consumer should always ask questions and read the agreements thoroughly. Although it’s natural to want to avoid reading the legalese, it’s important that customers understand their rights. Whenever signing a contract, Better Business Bureau recommends reading the fine print carefully—even if it means taking it home to evaluate it further. Also, don’t just take the sales associate’s word for it; get all verbal promises in writing. Be certain to ask for a sales receipt.
Protect yourself online.
When shopping online use credit cards to make purchases. Disputing charges with a credit card company can be easier than dealing with your bank. After you make your online purchase, monitor your financial accounts closely to ensure you’re charged the price you expected to pay. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy. Some stores have different return policies when trying to return an item you purchased online. Although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees.