Being a Smart Consumer | New Tripoli Bank
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Being a Smart Consumer

February 14, 2023


A smart consumer is more than someone who can find the best deal. They know their spending limits, understand their rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and do research before making a purchase. Smart consumers aren’t tempted by impulse purchases or eye-catching red tag sales; they’re focused on finding a reasonable deal on a product that will last.

Here are some tips for you to make the best decisions when you’re shopping online or at a retail store.

Doing Research

Before Purchasing

Know what you can afford. Keep track of your monthly finances and determine how much money you can afford to spend after paying for groceries, bills, and other necessities. Once you have a number, stick to a spending plan to make sure you don’t live beyond your means.

Research the product. It may feel like a lot of work for something as simple as making a purchase, but proper research can help you avoid buying a product or service with a history of complaints or missing a lower price for the same product. Check product reviews for common issues people have with the product. Investigate the company selling the product and make sure you are buying from a reputable seller; check the Better Business Bureau to see if complaints have been filed against the company.

Beware social media ads. There are many ads that pop up on Facebook and Instagram with great deals. Be sure to do your research before you buy. Use Google search to verify the product and seller. There may be scammers that use Facebook ads, advertising great deals to trick you into entering your card information.

Read the fine print. Before you sign a contract for a big purchase or hire someone for a service, make sure you read and understand everything you are agreeing to. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you’re unsure about something and never sign until you are 100% comfortable. Make sure you get everything in writing, and never pay in full until the job is done and you are satisfied with the workmanship.


While Shopping

Make sure to compare prices. Being a consumer in the age of smart phones means instant access to information that consumers in previous generations could only dream of. If you see a product that you’d like to purchase at a retail store, take the time to look it up online and see if other stores are selling it at a better price. Some retail stores offer price matching, so you don’t even need to make another trip!

Be careful with financing options. Companies sometimes offer 0% financing options for larger purchases (for example, window installations and furniture), which can be great for staying within your budget. However, make sure you understand the terms of any contracts you sign, as these offers usually come with extremely high interest rates that you will be required to pay if you fail to make your minimum monthly payment.

Though most shopping still happens in retail stores, many people have switched exclusively to shopping online since the pandemic, which can come with a whole host of problems for consumers who aren’t careful! When shopping online:

Stick to secure, reputable sites. Look for URLs that start with https://. These websites use encryption to protect your sensitive data. Keep an eye out for red flags such as spelling mistakes, malfunctioning features, or a lack of contact information. When in doubt, search the site’s name to see if the search results are filled with articles about frauds related to the site.

Avoid shopping on public wi-fi or public computers. Hackers will often target users on public networks with keyloggers or other methods to steal your information. You also never know who is watching you in a public place, so it is best to avoid entering personal information in such situations.

Make sure to read all contracts and agreements. Don’t click the check box without reading the documentation. It is especially important to read a website’s terms of use to understand how the company plans to use your data and if they share it with other companies.

Look for a return policy. Any reputable company will have a link to their return policy somewhere on the front page of their website. It’s important to understand your rights as a consumer before you buy.


After Buying

Keep a copy of any receipts, warranties, or service contracts. Consider creating a binder to hold all this documentation, as you may need it later to make a claim or in the event of a recall. You should make copies of any receipts printed with ink that could fade quickly.

Be a responsible borrower. If you financed a purchase or used your credit card, make sure you have a plan to pay it back quickly! Try to pay down outstanding balances immediately if you can. You can also contact a credit counseling service for additional help managing debt.

Make a complaint. If you’re not happy with your purchase, contact the seller and give them a chance to fix the problem. If the issue cannot be resolved, you may want to consider making a formal complaint to the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s easy to be a smart consumer if you arm yourself with the proper tools. A New Tripoli Bank checking account gives you access to our mobile banking tools such as email/text alerts that are customizable to you, which makes keeping track of spending and budgeting even easier. You can download the CardValet app to help monitor your accounts for fraud. Just make sure the next time you go shopping to keep these helpful tips in mind!

Jen Moyer

Jen Moyer is an Assistant Vice President and head of New Tripoli Bank's Deposit Operations. She has been a member of the New Tripoli Bank team for nearly twenty years and has worked in multiple departments within the Bank. 

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