Smart Shopping in a Troubled Economy
Now that the US Government has bailed out the same companies who have been maneuvering to take your money, isn’t it time for your own bailout? If the Government can take $700 billion and reward the banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies, and auto makers who have long taken advantage of consumers, isn’t it time you fought and won?
It is an extremely daunting task trying to borrow your way to prosperity. As the government digs itself further into debt, you do not have to follow suit. The one silver lining from the 2008-9 financial crisis is consumers will have to rely less on debt to finance their lifestyles. As credit becomes more difficult to obtain, consumers dare I say have to pay cash for certain items. They can no longer use their home equity as an ATM, and have to find more creative ways such as saving to buy larger items. I half joke about these points but the good news in this downturn is more and more people will have to go back to the basics: spend less than you earn, save money for a rainy day, try to avoid credit, and invest more for financial freedom to name a few.
As credit has become tighter, financial companies are scrambling for new ways to take money out of your pocket and line their profits. Can you say hidden fees, increased charges, misleading offers, and more fine print? The war has been declared are you prepared to battle?
Win the Battle, Win the War
So how do you win the battle for your wealth? It starts with education! As English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon declared, “knowledge is power”! Increase your knowledge and you not only can turn your financial life around but build a new mentality to change your future. Fix your money problems and you will achieve more purpose, a stronger passion, and improved satisfaction in all areas of your life.
Chances are you are losing at this sophisticated money game. Don’t feel bad, the odds are stacked against you. Many people often pay 10-20% more than they should for goods and services simply because they are unaware or ignore hidden fees, extra costs, finance charges, and wasteful add-ons to name a few.
Here are a few examples:
- Credit card finance charges, late fees, over the limit fees, and rate hikes
- Extended warranties that will never likely pay for themselves
- Extra, fine print, fees on your telephone or cable bills
- Paying too much for a product or service
- “Service fees” from you bank
These extra costs add up and can often mean the difference between financial freedom and financial bondage. The banks want you to use overdraft, the credit cards want you to send in payments late, not to mention the airlines now charging to send your luggage. The oil companies, health care, banking, and insurance companies are all picking your pocket and chances are you probably don’t even know it.
How Do I Get the Odds Back in My Favor?
It all starts with a new attitude, a new sense of direction – part detective, part prudent shopper, part diligent saver, part shrewd investor, and a whole lot of prayer! To change it will take time, commitment, focus, and the desire to turn things around. The basis of what we will call common S-E-N-S-E.
We look at:
- Sound too good to be true offers: There’s no FREE lunch! Everything comes with some sort of string attached.
- Evaluating package deals: are you buying more than you really need?
- Needing everything in writing: verbal deals often result in one party misunderstanding pertinent facts. If the deal is legit, a company should back their deal in writing.
- Signing contracts only after reading: read the fine print, understand what you’re signing and make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
- Evaluating the total cost: often there will be add-on costs, taxes, and fees not mentioned in advertisements. Make sure you factor in the total cost not just the monthly payment.
This S-E-N-S-E approach will help you evaluate each financial decision through a whole new lens. When you apply this approach to your spending, saving, investing, and even your income choices, you can be victorious. Be prepared for change and you can swing the odds back in your favor. Unlike the casino where the house always wins, with a little education and work on your part you too can always win!