Controlling where your money goes can often times feel overwhelming. And with inflation on the rise, the price of everything, from groceries to gas, seems to be getting higher and higher. While you can’t control the price of things sold in stores, you can have control over your money by following these four steps of strategic buying. Here’s how it works and how you can take back control of your money.
Research the product
The first step to strategic buying is doing your research. Take the time to read reviews about the product you’re buying. Read about the available features, what people liked most and also review any complaints people had with the product. This will give you a better idea about the quality of the item you’re looking to purchase.
And don’t just rely on the manufacturer’s website for reviews, since most of them will likely be positive and not mention the negative.
Research online for the best price
When you’re looking to buy an item, start by shopping around online. Then make a list of stores that offer the best prices and options. This will help you narrow down your options so you can find the best place to buy it. Just because it’s cheaper at one store, doesn’t mean it’s the best place to purchase it. If you notice bad reviews about the store, you may be okay spending a little more knowing it’s a trustworthy place to buy.
Identify a need versus a want
Before buying anything, you should consider whether or not you really need the item. For example, are you replacing your kitchen sink because it’s outdated or are you replacing it because it’s broken? If you decide you absolutely need the item, then go ahead and buy it. However, if you decide you can get along without it, you may want to re-evaluate whether it’s worth buying now or waiting.
Determine how you’ll pay
Credit cards make buying things quick and easy. All you have to do is swipe your credit card and it’s yours. But it may not always be the best option for making a purchase. When it comes to buying something, paying cash is usually the best option. It helps you stay out of debt because you know your purchase will already fit within your budget. If you can’t afford to pay cash, you can always get a loan or use a line of credit.
When it comes to paying with a credit card, loan or line of credit, you have to factor in the interest you’ll be charged, monthly payments and how long it will take to pay it off. If you’re going to charge a large expense, it’s in your best interest to choose the option with the lowest interest rate and monthly payment that fits your budget.
Make the purchase
Once you’ve followed each of the previous steps, you’re ready to make the purchase. Don’t forget to ask if there are any discounts that can be applied before paying, it never hurts to ask. After you’ve bought the item, review your receipt carefully to make sure you were charged the amount you were expecting. Perhaps a discount wasn’t applied correctly or you were charged the wrong amount by mistake. If you notice a mistake on the receipt, have the store fix it before you leave. If you’re paying online, review the order summary carefully before finalizing the purchase.
Thinking through these four steps of strategic buying, will have you well on your way to gaining more control over your money. If you need help tracking your expenses, you can use our free online personal financial management tool, My Financial Partner. If you need more financial support when it comes to controlling your spending, you can take advantage of our Partners in Financial Health program. A GreenPath counselor will work with you to review your financial situation and develop a personalized plan to meet your needs.