General Consumerism

A wise consumer makes smart choices and spends money carefully when shopping for goods and services.

Here are some hints that can help you make smarter purchasing choices:

  • Make a list before you go shopping.
  • Do not purchase something just because you see it. Think about what you need. Ask yourself, “do I need it?” “Where will I keep it?”
  • Know how much money you have to spend. Do not spend more money than you have. Remember, you also need money for other things.
  • Learn all you can about the things you need. That makes it easier to purchase what is best for you.
  • Shop when stores are not too busy. Take the time to shop.
  • Check the cost of what you want to purchase. Phone or go to several stores to do this.

Getting Your Money’s Worth

Everyday you decide how and where to spend your money. Knowing how to make wise decisions will help you get the most for your money. Making a good decision is easier when you follow these steps.

1. Decide what you need.

Example: Your television stops working. You have to decide:

  • Do you get the television fixed?
  • Do you purchase a new television?
  • Do you purchase a second-hand television?
  • Do you need a television set?

2. Get information. Find out all you can.

You will need to get information about these questions:

  • Will the store you bought the appliance from fix it? How much will it cost to fix? Is there still a warranty on the appliance?
  • Go to stores to find out what a new appliance costs. Ask the sales people to help you. Get information at more than one store.
  • Go to used furniture stores to find out what a second-hand appliance costs.
  • Go to the library to find magazines or buyers’ guides. These can help you decide what kind of appliance to purchase. Consumer Reports is a magazine that has information to help you decide how to spend your money.
  • Ask a repair person if he or she can tell you the appliance models or brands that are most frequently repaired. Avoid buying these.

3. Think of all the choices you have.

Look at all of the information you have gathered. Make a list of all the good things and bad things about each choice.

4. Make a decision.

Think about your list of choices. Make a decision that is best for you and the money you have to spend.

5. Do what you have decided.

Put your decision to work! Do what you decided.

6. Think about your decision.

Sometimes consumers find they did not make a good decision. You may not be pleased with your decision but you can learn from these decisions.

What is the Best Buy?

Consumers can make better use of their money and make wiser decisions if they comparison shop.

Comparison shopping means going to different stores or businesses to look at different brands, models, quality, special features and prices of goods. You can also shop at second-hand stores, flea markets and garage sales to compare products.

You should do these things when you shop:

  • Read the labels.
    • Labels may have information about contents, how to use, care, electricity usage and safety concerns.
  • Check and compare prices.
    • Check the price of two items that are alike. If one item costs a lot more than the other, is it worth it? Will it last longer than the lower-cost item? Why does it cost more?
  • Compare unit pricing.
    • Unit pricing helps you compare prices. A unit price is the price per measure. Items can be measured in weight, volume or how many items in a package.
    • You can determine how much a unit costs. Divide the price of the products by the number of items or a unit of measure. For example, if three cans of corn are on sale for $1.99, one can costs $1.99 divided by 3. Each can on sale is $0.66. Compare this with the price of a single can to determine whether the sale price is really a bargain.
  • Compare different stores.
    • Go to different stores to compare the prices of what you want to buy. Sometimes the same item will cost less in a different store.
  • Compare sizes and costs.
    • Look at the price of a large package and a small package of the same item. Often it costs less to buy a large package. Check to see which one gives you more for your money.
  • Compare brands and packages.
    • Look at different brand names of the same item. The items will not always have the same number or weight of items in each box.
  • Compare warranties and guarantees.
    • A warranty or guarantee is a written statement that says what or whether the manufacturer will repair or replace the item. Some items may have better warranties than others.

*Excerpted from Living Simply, a handbook for adults assuming responsibility for household tasks prepared by the Association Of Saskatchewan Home Economists. Copies of the handbook are available from the Saskatoon Council on Aging, tel. (306) 652-2255.