DIY Consumer Education

If you’re forking out your hard earned money without doing a bit of preliminary homework than you might as well just start throwing money out the window because that’s what you could be doing. When it comes to my cash – and I’m just guessing here that I’m probably not alone – I want to make sure I’m not only getting the best deal possible, but that I’m getting the best value possible as well. Fortunately, this information – in the day and age of the Internet – couldn’t be simpler or quicker to get either. So the next time you’re looking to spend a tidy sum of money, save yourself (and your wallet) a bit of unnecessary agony and do a bit of DIY consumer educating upfront. Take it from others who have “been there” and “done that” with whatever product you’ll potentially be buying. It’ll be far less of a headache and far less expensive to learn from their already misfortunate mistakes. So grab your mouse and get online or grab a phone and start dialing before you open up your wallet. Take a moment to learn from others what products are a boon, what are a bane and what could potentially be a pain to you and your budget.

Word of mouth can do wonders for your satisfaction and your budget. Thinking about making a purchase? Don’t be shy! Instead, ask around to family and friends to find out if they have any hot tips or savings suggestions or – sometimes even more important – warnings to heed. Chances are they’ll give you an earful that’ll be worth its weight in gold!

Speak up and seek out wise counsel of the virtual variety, too. Check out message boards related to your potential purchase, and ask around for specific information. Read online reviews at a variety of sites, including sites you’re not necessarily interested in purchasing from., for example, is a great resource for such reviews regardless of whether you purchase from them or not. Based on a 5-star system, consumers can readily read the gamut of reviews from a wide variety of posters on an even wider variety of products from grocery items to DVDs. The more reviews you read – both pro and con – the greater the chances you’ll not only be well informed, but the likelier you are to be happy with your purchase overall.

Check the good ol’ consumer standbys. Whether you’re a traditionalist and reach for the magazine version or more the “techie” sort and hit the information superhighway instead doesn’t matter, Consumer Reports is a God-send for consumers everywhere looking for a way to cash in on a bit of free, trustworthy advice when it comes to finding out what is worth the money and what is not. Another great source for getting the “goods” on what is good is Whether you choose to join the site or not, you can still gather great information from fellow consumers who have already taken the plunge with a variety of purchases. With free, ready resources like these, there’s absolutely no reason to take a risk when it comes to spending your money.

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Author Info

This post was written by Shannon M. Medisky. Shannon is an educator turned parent turned writer and focuses on sharing new and innovative ways to not just survive, but thrive on empty. Visit to learn more. Her newest book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Stretching Your Dollar is available in bookstores now.

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