Making major purchases

Ever buy something big and then regret it later? Read these steps to make sure you’re a satisfied buyer.

Consider your needs
Is this item something you want or truly need? Ask yourself what needs you’re trying to fill by making this purchase.

Determine your budget
Decide how much you can spend on this purchase and still cover your other expenses.

Research before you buy
Do some research to determine when, how, and where to buy the item to get the most for your money.

Research any product claims. Try to separate fact from fantasy when you read an ad or listen to a commercial. Check product ratings and reviews in magazines and on the Web.

Inspect products and try before you buy. Ask a friend who has the item or ask the salesperson for a demonstration.

Ask the advice of friends, parents, teachers, or others you know who might be familiar with the product you’re considering.

Inspect the product carefully before you buy it. Check for quality and durability. When in doubt, stick to reliable brand names.

Check warranties carefully. Make sure you understand what’s covered and for how long.

A computer

Comparison shop
Shop around by Internet. Doing your research on the Web can save you time, effort, and transportation costs. Compare ads in the newspaper, shop by telephone, and look at catalogues, too.

Call three stores to compare prices, models, and the store return policies.

Be sure to confirm the price. Ask about any extra charges, like delivery.

Find out about the store’s return policy.

Find the best overall value
Remember, your goal is value, not just the lowest price tag. Look for the features and quality you want, good customer service, a fair price, and a flexible return policy. Watch for sales, coupons, and rebate offers to get the best price. Depending on the item and the store, you may be able to negotiate the price.

Follow-up if there’s a problem
Save your receipts and return unsatisfactory products to the store. Speak to the store manager if there’s a problem before or after you buy. To keep your business as their customer, they should be motivated make it right.

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