12 November 2013
Making a Big Ticket Purchase: 7 Tips to Buy Smart and Save

Making a big purchase? A new SUV? A new washer and dryer to replace your antique appliances? A new fridge so you can finally make ice cubes?  Before you make that next big purchase, think big, plan ahead and know what you’re really getting into.

1. Buy the best you can comfortably afford. A cheap car doesn’t necessarily deliver the value a more expensive, higher-quality car does. Low-cost cars must cut corners to keep them low-cost. Your low-cost car may not last as long, it may need more maintenance, it may not retain its resale value as long. Do your homework before you buy, to make sure you’re getting the best quality you can afford.

2. Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers and associates for referrals. A solid “thumbs up” from your brother on a big-ticket purchase is a referral you can trust.  Ask around to see who else just made a big purchase. Where did they buy it? How was the service? Would she recommend the seller and the product?

Conduct your own “customer satisfaction survey” to get the best deal you can, based on reviews from trusted sources.

3. Read and understand the product warranty.  These product warranties aren’t always easy to read or understand on first scan. Take your time. Take the warranty home to read it. Ask questions about Paragraph 18, sub-clause g, if you don’t understand it.

A warranty is a contract between you and the manufacturer of that high-end purchase you’re considering. Read the warranty, compare it to other warranties, and get the most protection for your purchase at the lowest cost.

4. Shop around. The Internet has made comparison shopping simple in many ways.  Compare product features and specifications, one against the other. Weigh value – more features at a lower cost. Do your homework and, chances are, you’ll end up with a better, more feature-rich product than you would if you walked into the store unprepared, and bought the first item you saw.

5. Always ask about the retailer’s return and/or replacement policy. How are mechanical or technical problems handled? Look for a retailer that values client care and puts your needs first – and puts it in writing.  A 14-day, no-hassle return lets you test drive the item. A five-year manufacturer’s warranty may save you lots of money on repairs.  Avoid any fees associated with returns – like a re-stocking fee you may have to pay, even though you returned the item in mint condition.

6. Never sign a contract with blank spaces. “Oh, that’s just boilerplate. I’ll fill that in later,” says the salesperson. So you sign, even though you don’t know what you signed. Before you make a durable goods purchase, read the sales agreement. It’s a contract, often with fine print. Never sign a contract, an extended warranty agreement, or any purchase document that isn’t filled out completely. Read it, understand it, ask questions, get the answers you want, then sign it.

7. Look at your purchase before you make the purchase. Look for dents and dings, scratches and other imperfections. If you know something about the product – if you’re an auto mechanic buying a used car  – look under the car, open the trunk, start the motor, listen for pings and other noises. In other words, LOOK at what you’re buying.

Today’s consumers buy durable goods on the Internet – everything from cars to computers. This makes a detailed examination of the item impossible, or at least very difficult. That’s why a simple-to-understand return policy is a must with Internet purchases.

If you only spend a few dollars on something, and it lasts as long as you expected, no problem. However, if you purchase a washing machine that dies on the third load, you want to be covered and protected.

Be smart when buying big ticket items. Be prepared for problems. Then you’ll be ready when the unexpected happens.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.


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