Be Your Budget’s Best Advocate
By Shannon M. Medisky
An old adage might say that ignorance is bliss, but in actuality it rarely is. And when it comes to your money, it never is. The good news is that with a little effort it can be easy to educate yourself and truly become your own best advisor and your budget’s best advocate.
Start by seeking wise (and free) counsel. Don’t be shy about asking friends and family who have already “been there and done that” when it comes to financial situations. Save yourself potential heartache, headaches and potentially costly mistakes by learning from theirs. The same can be said about making major purchases. Make the investment of a few minutes of your time to peruse online reviews in order to help yourself make a better decision. Better to find out beforehand than to make the costly error of purchasing a sub par product.
A bit of advance planning can also help you save a fistful of cash. Any service you pay for, for example, such as haircuts, auto care and even doctor’s visits are a better value when scheduled and completed earlier in the day. This is simply because the person providing the service is less likely to be tired and better able to provide you with better service. Morning appointments are also less likely to be running behind, saving you time, energy and frustration. Purchases such as shoes (feet often swell during the process of the day) and airline tickets (unbooked seats are usually released at sale prices around midnight) are better made in the evening or at night.
Knowing what month or even what day of the week to make purchases can also save you a windfall of money. Sports and exercise equipment can be found for absolute steals during late December and early January due to marketing towards consumers’ New Year resolutions. Weddings may pique during the month of June, but the prices of wedding dresses, however, often plummet during November and early December.
While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the days of the week, history has shown some days are better served for finding deals than others. Friday, as it turns out, is rarely a good day to find a deal on anything unless, of course, it’s Black Friday. Your best bet for groceries is usually Sunday, right after the weekly sales begin, but before store shelves are picked over and cleaned out. And if you’re in the market for pre-owned car, Monday is a great day to hit the lot. Traditionally, weekends are the busiest time for car dealerships and many consumers are eager to trade-in their used cars towards the purchase of a new one. Visit on a Monday and you’re more likely to have a wider variety of used cars to choose from.
A large part of being your budget’s best advocate is not only knowing what to buy when, but how to buy as well. Credit cards, for example, can be a very effective tool when used correctly. Use them to make major appliance or electronic purchases, for example, and you may be able to take advantage of an extended warranty for absolutely free simply by registering the purchase with your credit card company. (For more specific information, check with your creditor directly.) Loyalty programs can also help you get more bang for your budget’s buck. Whether it’s in the form of a credit card loyalty program or an independent retailer program, if you’re not taking advantage you might as well be giving money (and often times, great discounts) away.
Photo credit: the queen of subtle
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