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Skills You Need to Develop to Be a Savvy Consumer

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Top view of stressed young Asian man holding credit cards and thinking about finding money to pay credit card debt and all bills. He is holding head by another hand. Financial problem concept.

One of the benefits of a free market economy is that you get to decide where your money goes. You aren’t generally forced into buying anything, and thus you get to vote for products with your money. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a wrong way to buy. Becoming a well-educated, effective consumer can help you save money and teach you how to make smart purchases. Here’s how you get started.

Spot Scams

The Internet has made the job of a scam artist easier and more effective than ever. Rather than convincing someone to buy a faulty product in person, they can more easily pretend to offer a working product in an attempt to steal information or your money. Spotting scams is a skill, but it can be developed. For instance, you can look at real pictures of a product before you buy and be wary of stock photos. Also, never giving out credit card information straight to a seller is essential. Read reviews of a specific merchant to see if they are trustworthy, and if a seller seems like they are sketchy or if an offer seems too good to be true, you may want to report them.

Negotiation Skills

Digital markets have created the perfect environment for bartering. If you see an overpriced item on Facebook Marketplace for instance, you can try to talk someone down from it. With some items like beds of course, customers are actually expected to haggle. Ultimately it is up to you to decide whether something is worth the price you are paying, but make sure that you don’t talk yourself into a bad deal. If you or the haggler refuses to lower their price, it’s best to walk away from the offer.

Research

Perhaps the most useful and applicable skill you should work on is your ability to research. Different industries have different values and standards which are attributed to their products, so each market will have new prices and standards you’ll have to learn. For example, if you plan on buying a shampoo bottle, you may need to learn why certain brands are priced so high compared to others. It doesn’t mean you have to buy it, but you’ll understand better what you’re paying for or not paying for. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons, and other times, it’s simply the brand name that determines the price.

Learning different market skills will help you become a skilled buyer, and being a skilled buyer will help you navigate society more effectively. You’ll understand industry lingo, negotiate more effectively, and spot scams a mile away. It’s worth the effort to get informed!

Read next: How the Internet is Transforming the World of Finance


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