Consider These before Plunking Down Cash
By Shannon M. Medisky
Price Matching might as well be shopping insurance in that it provides consumers financial peace of mind. Should you purchase an item at a store that offers price matching and that item is later offered at a better price either by that store or another, you can present your receipt within a specified time period for an immediate refund of the price difference.
Additional store warranties and guarantees can be a great way of insuring your purchases for free. Stores that offer these to consumers are basically saying they are willing to (financially) stand behind the products they sell. Store warranties help protect customers from faulty products purchased from their stores. Guarantees, on the other hand, help ensure that you will be happy with your purchase. If you’re not, fear not, a store guarantee will help rectify it.
Receipt look-up is a new service that is starting to pop-up everywhere. Just imagine you purchased an item a week ago and just saw it on sale at another store. You’d like to request a price adjustment (courtesy of your store’s price matching policy), but you can’t find your receipt to do so. With receipt look-up, a store can electronically find a copy of your receipt by simply swiping your credit or debit card, entering your checking account information or even using your shopping loyalty card. By presenting your previous method of payment for the purchase in question and a scanning the UPC (Universal Product Code) on the item itself, many stores – Target, Fred Meyer and Kroger, just to name a few – can immediately pull up a digitial copy of your receipt. Choosing to purchase items at stores with this service can be more than convenient; it can translate into future savings.
Pay with cold, hard cash to save a stash. If you’re willing and able, paying for a purchase entirely upfront and in cash can save you money. Avoid finances charges, compound interest charges and simplify your life by avoiding reoccurring bills later are all obvious advantages to paying upfront. Money may talk, but cash can scream. If you’re willing to fork over cash, you can likely negotiate an even better purchase price.
Seek wise counsel before spending your money. Mistakes can be costly, so avoiding them makes good financial sense. Before making a major purchase, check with family and friends for recommendations. Get online and visit consumer review sites. Check manufacturer recall lists. A bit of detective work upfront can help ensure you and your budget are happy with your purchase. To scope out a potential purchase prior to plunking down your money, consider visiting the one or a few of the following sites:
- Consumerreports.org is a hands-down money saver’s dream. Reap all of the benefits with none of the work, Consumer Reports provides the public with unbiased information on product usability, reliability and cost. While there is a membership fee to access much of the site, it can be well-worth it in savings – both potential headaches you could save as well as dollars. At the time of printing, a one-year online membership cost $26 and a monthly membership only $5.95. (The latter option may be perfect for you if you’re in the process of making a larger, less frequent purchase such as a car or household appliance.) If you prefer to do your product sleuthing in a more traditional format, visit your local library for current and back issues of Consumer Reports magazine.
- Amazon is another great place to read up on the opinions of others when it comes to making a variety of purchases. Whether you chose to actually order through Amazon or not doesn’t matter, you can still look up a wide range of products from books to movies to even grocery items and immediately read buyer input. With reviews organized according to a 5-star rating system, Sleuths can easily access and read both the best and worst reviews for any product Amazon currently sells. (To read the individual consumer ratings, just click on the link next to the product’s star rating that reads “customer reviews.”)
- Epinion.com is a site devoted to allowing consumers to publicly air their praise and put-downs for a variety of products. Also based on star-rating system, this site is both informative and easy to navigate. If you want to make sure you’re both smiling and saving money after you make your purchase, a quick visit to Epinion.com can help ensure just that.
Photo credit: Gordon McKinlay
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