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How to Shop Wisely for Products

Is shopping around for products worth your time? You bet. And today it's easier than ever because of online reviews and price comparisons. Buying stuff breaks down into the three Rs: Read reviews, research prices, and reevaluate.

How to Buy Products, 1-2-3

  1. Read reviews. Visit ConsumerReports.org, ConsumerSearch.com, and Amazon.com.
  2. Research prices. See Froogle.com, MySimon.com, and Shopzilla.com.
  3. Reevaluate. Wait a day before buying.

Granted, you don't need a three-step process for one-time purchases of less than $50, for example. But for bigger purchases or purchases you make repeatedly, it's well worth it.

A recent search for a Garmin Nuvi GPS navigator turned up a variety of prices. The exact same model could cost anywhere from $345 to $900. That's a heck of a difference. How long did it take me to get that information? Less than 10 seconds on MySimon.com. Is 10 seconds of your time worth a $555 savings?

I'm not saying you should necessarily buy the least-expensive item for $345, especially if it's offered by an unfamiliar retailer with an amateurish Web site that doesn't pass the "smell" test for being legitimate. If one retailer is offering a price far below all the others, there might be something fishy. But after those well-invested 10 seconds, you'll have an excellent idea about the range of prices for that GPS system.

Armed with that knowledge, how likely are you now to visit a retail store and pay $900, knowing the average price is half that? Unlikely.

Granted, that was a fun example using a "want" item, a GPS navigator. But you can use this system on needs too.

More on: Family Finances


From The 1-2-3 Money Plan Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


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