Becoming an Informed and Wise Shopper

The buying habits of yesterday no longer works in today’s gloomy economy. The free spending ways of the past are gone. For anyone to survive today, they need to become informed consumer. But an informed consumer isn’t just about choosing between buying brand name or generic products. There’s a lot more needed.

Buying on impulse is sure to put you in the poorhouse today. While there are still those who buy just because they need to be “in” with their peer groups, today’s consumer has to have a wary eye on every purchase he makes. But just what is an informed consumer? And what rules can make you one?

Your Needs

One of the first areas to becoming an informed consumer is simply to know yourself. Too often a flashy ad in a magazine is enough to make many head to the store to buy the advertised product. They buy, not because they actually need what’s advertised, but simply because it appeals to their emotions. The first step to become an informed consumer is to analyze your real needs. Obviously, you need clothing, food and shelter and these things should predominate over an ipad, a case of beer or a pack of cigarettes.

Your Viewpoint

Being an informed consumer starts in the mind. If you’re constantly focused on spending every dollar you make, you’re likely to skip any logic when buying anything. People buy for many reasons, few of which have anything to do with improving lifestyles. They buy to fill an emotional need. They buy to belong to their teen group or be considered as wealthy as the neighborhood they live in. None of these reasons make you an informed consumer as you’ll always be looking to fill your emotional requirements. Informed consumers set aside emotions before they buy.

Taking it with a Grain of Salt

The purpose of all advertising today is to appeal to your senses and circumvent your reasoning skills. Whether it’s the fliers or an email urging you to buy before the price goes up, most people buy without any thought that the item will likely be on sale next month and next year. Basic human instinct is to want something now instead of tomorrow. Advertising that appeals is a science where the items get the best treatment, lighting conditions and manipulated photographs to lower your objections to delay gratification. Once you get them, they often don’t look as good as those advertised photos and the promises made in the ads.

Frugal Considerations

Some families have cultivated a blind eye to all the glitz and glamor and have disciplined themselves to only buy what they really need in accordance to a carefully drawn up budget. It’s certainly wonderful to walk down the mall among the bright lights of Christmas trees and gaily decorated gift boxes, but too many people end up in debt when they buy the latest electronic gadgets and can’t buy food.

Asking the Right Questions

When it comes to expensive items such as appliances, furniture and cars, you need to ask several questions about what you buy as they may not suite your temperament once you take them home. The salesman is there to help you determine the right vehicle you want to drive and the size, style and price of the furniture you’re going to use for years. An informed consumer buys after he’s satisfied that his questions have been answered fairly to his satisfaction.

Take Time to Think About It

It’s the best way to avoid buying anything on impulse. Informed shoppers don’t always buy immediately. They allow a cooling off period. If they feel they still need the item after a week or more, they buy it the next time they’re in the store.

Becoming an informed consumer isn’t easy to do in a society so used to instant gratification, but in today’s world, it’s the only way you can survive the economic doldrums and still live in reasonable comfort.