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Nov 29
It Pays to Be a Smart Shopper

Shopping is a skill that it pays to develop.

Shopping skills are developed through experience and practice in the marketplace. However, recent studies show that one person out of five in the United States doesn't have the skills needed to function effectively in the marketplace.

Shopping is more complex today than at any time in history. There are more products to choose from; more sellers vying for business; and more dollars to spend.

Studies show that 12 to 15 percent of potential buying power is lost due to careless shopping and more is lost due to improper use and care of purchases.

Here are some guidelines to use when shopping:

** Plan your purchases. Before going shopping know what you're going to purchase and why. Be prepared to say no to those things that are not on your list even though they don't cost much and would make life simpler. Avoid impulse buying.

** A shopper's plan should include an evaluation of products. Study the ads and develop a shopping list. The list should include names, sizes and maximum dollar amount to be spent on each gift. Take ads, as well as any savings coupons, with you to the store.

** Determine the true cost of an item before purchasing it. Examine the product for unit price. Don't assume that a larger product package costs less per unit than a smaller one. Compare the costs of packaged and unpackaged varieties.  Remember that free offers are rarely free. Compare prices of products with and without a "free" gift. When using credit to pay for a bargain, be sure to include the cost of the credit with the cost of the item.

** Know when to shop.Shop when stores are least crowded – usually right after opening, after lunch or slump times between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Avoid shopping on weekends, lunch hours and evenings, and don't shop when you are tired, preoccupied or hungry. All day shopping marathons are bad on your health and pocketbook.

** Know where to shop. Shop around. Shop at thrift or discount stores and speciality stores. Look for the best price for the item you want to buy.

** Learn to read ads. Delete all the empty words and phrases such as "special sale price," "unbelievable savings," and "too good to be true." Helpful information includes an item description, size and price, and limitations on the sale. Pay special attention to a store's return policies.

** Learn to judge quality. Don't rely on price alone. Once you learn to recognize quality, you can determine when a lesser quality will serve as well. Brand names are no guarantee of better quality, value or price. Check and compare brands including fiber content, care and sizing. Sizes can vary greatly among manufacturers.



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