7 Guidelines to shop wisely

There are so many choices and it is sometimes very hard to make a decision what to buy.

Should I buy this because I like it?
Will it be good?
Is it the best value for money?
Should I buy it because it is on sale?
Is there any review on that?
Should I buy a brand name?
Should I buy it online or in a retailer shop?

We are going to help you to make wise purchasing decisions by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Can I really afford it?

If we do not have the means to pay for it we should not even contemplate buying it.
Almost everyone would love to drive a BMW or Mercedes but then we may not have enough money to buy food. It is not worth getting a loan and into debt to make this kind of purchase.

The exception to the rule is, when it is for survival reason, like a medical device to monitor your diabetes, or if it is going to help you save money and repay back any loan you might have taken within a few years.

For example, buying an energy saving washing machine which will cut back your electricity bill as well as water and detergent consumption and enable you to save $200 a year, which is more than enough to repay the loan interest.

So forget about buying anything which you would not be able to afford in your budget.

2. Will I need it?

Buying something we are not going to need or to use is like throwing money bills into the sewage drain.
What is the use of buying a surf board if we don’t surf, even if it is on sale with 75% discount?

Often time because something is on sale we buy it with the hope of eventually using it. Most of the time it ends up in the basement.

True, sale can really help you save money.
The best thing is to make a list of items you can not afford presently or you would eventually need and if you spot it on a sale you can then buy it.

We need also to remember that often times the sale repeats itself and there might be better products coming out.

So make sure the product you are going to buy will not be outdated and you will use it.

3. Consider the life span of the product and its usage frequency

Whenever you buy something the first thing you have to ask yourself is how long will you be able to use it?
We need to factor in the life span of the product.

A product which has a long life span will be cheaper than one with a short one. Some products have a very short life span.

The lifespan depends on the quality of the product and on how fast it becomes obsolete.

For example, a computer has a life span of only 3 to 4 years. They will become sluggish to work with after that. On the other hand a bed mattress may have a life span of 10 to 15 years.

Always find out how long the product is going to last. Divide the price by the number of years and you will determine its yearly cost.

If item A costs $60 and has a lifespan of 3 years whereas item B costs $90 but has a lifespan of 6 years then item B is actually cheaper because its yearly cost amounts to $15 compared to $20 for item A. Item B is infact 25% cheaper than item A.

So if you have to choose between 2 products with the same frequency usage you need to determine the lifespan of the 2 products. You may have to investigate a little bit on that through reviews and asking other people who have used those items.

The other factor to consider is the frequency usage.

There are products you use everyday, for example, a toothbrush, maybe a microwave oven, a telephone.
And there are products you use once in a while, for example, a battery recharger, a lawn mower.

Something which appears expensive may actually be cheap if it has a long life span and high frequency usage. And similarly something which is cheap is actually more expensive if it has a short lifespan and low frequency usage.

By dividing the yearly cost by the number of times you are going to use it in a year you would have calculated the real unit cost of the item, i.e how much you have to pay to use it every time. This will be a more accurate indication of the real cost of the product.

If detergent A, costs $6 and detergent B costs $4 and both can be used 40 times then detergent A costs 0.15 cts per usage compared to 0.10 cts for detergent B. However it is proven that detergent A is better quality than detergent B. Since the difference in saving is only 0.05 cts for a load wash and is consequently negligible it is better to use detergent A even if it cost 50% more. Clothes washed with detergent B might need a second wash if they still appear dirty and this will become more costly.

4. Ease of use

Another important factor to consider is the ease of use.
A product may have a high life span and frequency usage which make it cheaper but if you are not comfortable using it then the frequency of usage may drop sharply making it more expensive.

Spotshoppingguide recommends you to purchase products which are easy and enjoyable to use, even if it costs more.

5. Check the products reviews

There are many sites which review products.
Consumer Reports is one of the best but requires subscription.
ConsumerSearch is another very good site as it review the reviewers and presents a summary.
Epinions.com are reviews done by consumers and can be very helpful to compare with expert reviewers to see if they match.
ConsumerReview do not review the products themselves but allow users to generate them.
For digital photography Photoxels and Steve Digicams would be excellent sites.
For electronic and computer products CNet would be a site to go to. They actually test the products in many cases.
Amazon.com although it is an online store allows its customers to post both positive and negative reviews of the products they buy.

These are some of the reviewers sites which we recommend. There are other reviewers sites which are also very good.

Reviews will give you an indication how good the product is. It may not be totally accurate and in some cases may be completely wrong. If a lot of experts and users complain about a certain issue chances are high that you might encounter the same problem if you buy it.

So look for consistency in reviews.

Time spent researching reviews might save you a lot of money.

6. Try it if possible

It doesn’t matter if you buy it online or in a store. Often times the prices online could be better than in a retail store but the important thing is to try it first and see if you like it. If you do then you can either buy it in the store or online, whichever offers the best deal.

The disadvantage with online buying is that you would have to pay the return postage if you decide to return the product whereas for a retail shop you simply return it. The likelihood that you will return a product is low if you have tested it and are pleased with it before you place your order.

7. Don’t buy if you are not sure

If you are still undecided which product to buy then you should avoid making the purchase, especially if it is a costly item.

Another alternative is to buy it at a store and try it for a few days. However make sure that the store has a policy to refund the customers within a certain period of time, no questions asked. If you are not satisfied you can then return it. We do not recommend buying online in this case.

We hope these 7 guidelines will help you make wiser purchases and save you some money.

Ready to do some shopping for stuff that you really need and can afford? Visit our Amazon.com Store.