To understand the meaning of a consumer, we should look at the definition of it. In simple words, a consumer is a person or any organization that buys products or services. It may also refer to hiring goods and services. They are the end users in the distribution chain of goods and services. Sometimes, the buyer and the consumer are different people. For example, children are the end users of toys but their parents buy toys for them. Therefore, in a market, buyers and consumers can be different people.
In a marketplace, consumer buy products for their own use. They are the final consumers. They do not buy products for further manufacturing or sale. Specifically, people engage in buying and evaluating products to satisfy their needs and wants. Consumers are the key figures in market place. All the activities in the market depend on the consumers only.
We can say consumers are the most powerful entity in the market as the whole market business depends on them. Makers of goods or marketing professionals spend their lives studying behavior of consumers. The study of the process of buying and discarding goods is called consumer behavior.
Let us come back to our main concern. We have talked about consumer, but what does it take to be a smart consumer?
There is a difference between consumer and a smart consumer. A smart consumer knows what to buy exactly and from where. He does not beat about the bush. He has a strategy to follow. You can also become a smart consumer. It is an easy task. All you need is a little observation and more effort to buy your desired product. A smart consumer follows a plan. Few steps that we have gathered for you on your way of becoming a smart consumer are listed below:
Set a goal (confirm your buying product)
List available resources (places from where you can buy)
Choose from the resources (from where you will buy)
Form a plan of action and then follow it.
Sales persons spend a career studying their consumers. They easily know if you are an easy mark. There is a huge difference between a sucker and a smart consumer. Do not be a sucker. Instead, use your money wisely and be a smart consumer. Their goal is to find out what makes you tick. They easily understand what compels you to buy a certain product. In a market place, marketers study their customers using test marketing, sophisticated analytics and outside consultants. They are intelligent but you have to be smart. Here we are giving you five signs of a smart consumer.
If you can easily walk past a sale sign, there is a pretty good chance that you won’t fall for a fast sales pitch. It is hard to resist, especially for women, a sale sign anywhere. These companies study you like a lab rat. If you can resist their corporate moves, you are a smart consumer.
Patience is the key to becoming a smart consumer. There is a huge difference between “a want” and “a need”. You should know the difference between the two. Always buy the product that you really need. We want thousand of things but cannot buy all of them. It is wise to buy only needed items. So be patient with your wants.
Politeness is the trait of a smart consumer. Believe it or not, smart consumers know that their manners are the way to get what they want. If you want a special discount or a special consideration, rudeness will rarely get it for you. Always be polite in your manners. Smiling, making eye-contact and saying “please” and “thank you” are the best ways to win over the sales person.
Do you always read the end-user agreement or the contract? If yes, you are already a smart consumer. Suckers only want the product they desire, they do not care about the agreement or contract. If someone catches you reading the fine print on a product, they will understand that you are not an easy prey.
If you immediately give an impression that you are willing to spend your money, you will be an easy mark for them. The sales staff will be drawn to you and they will not let you go until you have spent a big chunk of your money. Do not buy an overpriced and overhyped item. They profit from your ignorance. A smart consumer does not become a part of bandwagon as everyone invites you to become a part of the crowd by using it too snob appeal.So know it all before going to buy any product.
As a consumer, you should also be aware of your rights.
Right to safety: Protection from products and services hazardous to your health.
Right to be informed: You should be provided with useful and truthful product facts.
Right to choose:Selection of goods and services at a fair price.
Right to voice:if you have a problem purchasing a specific product, it is your right to be heard.
With rights come responsibilities, consumers should also be aware of their responsibilities.
A consumer should use the product safely.
Use the information on the product wisely.
If you have any concern regarding the product, express your concerns to those who can help you.
Choose the product carefully.
Educate yourself about the product.
Consume your product in a healthy environment.
If we move further, there are also consumer protection laws. Most of the consumers are unaware about the laws. Firstly, consumers should be aware of the consumer protection. Consumer protection stands for group of laws specifically made to ensure the rights of consumers. They also manage if there is a fair trade, healthy competition and accurate information in the market. The government organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission in America and Better Business Bureaus in America, Canada, and England etc. provide services to consumers for their protection from frauds.Consumer protection contributes and gives a healthy space to effective markets so that their business can grow.
A smart consumer is always aware of his rights and responsibilities as he is the key figure in running big businesses. He should be aware of consumer protection policies, laws and regulations as they help increase consumer welfare by ensuring that businesses can be held accountable.
We are always hasty in spending money and then tormenting ourselves for doing so. There is always not enough money. As a result, we keep wondering about “How to save money and become a smart consumer?”
The word “economy” does not mean that you will become poor and live on streets. Being economical means living within your means and cutting all the extra expenditure. Saving funds means being a smart consumer who spends smartly. This will give you an idea about spending less and saving more.
One of the main social problems in consumers is the financial illiteracy. They do not know how to spend wisely. We are capable of earning but we waste our earnings irresponsibly making unnecessary purchases.
Learning to save a chunk of money is everyone’s desire, but it becomes difficult to implement it sometimes. Do not worry. It is a difficult task but not impossible one. Just learn a technique to save money. We are offering few valuable tips on saving money intelligently.
How to save money?
First of all, you should understand the meaning of saving money. It does not mean to save cash only. It means to have a discipline and motivation to work for it. Earning is everyone’s cup of tea but not everyone can save money. You need a power of will for effective savings. Try to adopt a mediocre way. Do not spend too much and do not save too much. Spending too much causes damage to your home budget. And saving all is not wise either. First you need to know why you want to save money and for what purpose.
People have different goals. They want to save money for different purposes. Someone wants to go on a vacation, someone wants to buy a new laptop or a tablet, and someone intends to buy a new home or an apartment. Maybe you need money for a long-term goal i.e. for your children’s education etc. When you have a clear vision of what you are collecting, the process will be much easier to follow. Instead, make a deadline and start saving. For example, you have to buy a computer, set a deadline of one year. After one year, you will have enough savings to buy a new computer. Everyone has a different vision. Everyone can choose what suits him more. It is said that 20% should be set aside for savings every month, 50% for the items you need in daily life and 30% for your personal use.
After you have saved enough money to buy your desired product, now you can buy easily. But here is the trick, do not get fooled. This is a test of your smartness. A smart consumer will have a thorough plan to buy his desired product. We have gathered here few important ways to make you a smart consumer.
1. Buy from reputable store
Buy from a well-reputed place. Reputation is important when it comes to businesses. Whether it is just a small-scale shop or a big renowned business, if you have a good reputation, people will trust you and recommend you to others too. Everyone wants to buy an authentic and a good quality product. Therefore, have your research with you when buying a product.
2. Get recommendations
It is wise to get recommendation from people you know about the product you want to buy. If you are shopping online, read comments on their page, get feedback from the people and try to communicate with them. Also you can ask your own people, family and friends to give you suggestions.
3. Research thoroughly
Before buying any product, complete your research first. Try to find out the reputable store, a good quality product and genuine price. Research the features of the product and its alternatives before putting any money.
4. Buy only what you need
Do not become an impulse shopper. Make a list of things that you need as well as what features you are looking for. This way, you only buy what you need and consume what you can. Do not go for your wants as there will be many. Focus only on your needs and you will be a smart consumer.
5. Check warranty, exchange or return policy
Warranties and guarantees are important before making your final purchases. You should be fully aware of what to do and where to go if you encounter any problem after the purchase. Ask right away the store about the return policy or exchange offer of the product. It is best to keep the sale receipt in case you need it afterwards.
6. Read product reviews
Product reviews are one of the ways that can help you in buying what you need exactly. This will be helpful to decide whether the product is right one for you and if it will suit your needs. You can compare prices, brands, features as well as read about the product’s good and bad points. It will also give you information about the kind of company you are dealing with, their customer service, technical support and other details.
7. Be an early bird
If you have your research and you want to buy your desired product, then do not be late. Try to buy it as soon as possible. Maybe prices become too high after few days. You should have a sharp sense of timing. Have you ever noticed how the prices of cinema tickets tend to be cheapest in the morning and most expensive at night? Go early and you will be paying less for the same quality of service, and be able to skip the crowds too.
8. Record your expenses
Make a special notebook or use your phone to write all the expenses that you have made. This will help you keep the detail of your spending and you will be able to cut-off if you have wasted your money.
A smart consumer is always a responsible shopper. Doing your research will help you in deciding. Because sometimes, a good deal is more than just a price tag, it’s the company, the service, environmental impact, and even the shopping experience. All it takes a little more time and effort and, and sometimes some observation to become a smart consumer.
Debt is one of the few stressors in life that does not go away easily. Most dangerous thing about debt is that it gives so much stress that person falls victim to chronic diseases. Most stressful things in life-a car accident, death in the family, a divorce-happen and then they are over. Our bodies react to these losses and bounce back. But owing someone money completely becomes inescapable.
But if we take a closer look at the emotional, psychological and behavioral studies, it shows that there are healthier ways to spend money and decrease the debt, which will ultimately reduce the stress we feel.
We have gathered few important tips that you can follow to decrease your debt and increase your savings.
Stop creating more debt
The first thing you should avoid is to create more debt. Increasing debt will not take you anywhere. Instead, try to pay-off your entire debt in minimum chunks of money. Although, it won’t get you out of your debt but atleast, you will not be increasing your debt. Make possible to pay-off the debt entirely in just one shot. If you can’t, it’s fine to pay the minimum on your credit cards.
Pick one debt and pay-off completely
It’s good if you have only one debt to repay, but if multiple debts are lingering on your head, it is better to choose the one with the highest amount. In this way, a huge burden will fall off from your chest. Or make a big payment from your account every month to repay debt if you can’t do it all at once. Do the same for another debt and so on.
Build an emergency fund
Building an emergency fund when you have already a debt to pay-off seems dull. But it will give you an edge in emergency situations. An emergency fund can actually keep you from creating more debt by providing you with a safety net you can use in an emergency. Usually, the perfect emergency fund is six to twelve months of living expenses. You should atleast make $1000 in the short term.
Request for lower interest rate
Ask your creditor for lower interest rate on your debt. Higher interest rates keep you in debt for longer period. Your hard-earned money goes towards the monthly interest charge and not towards your actual balance. If you have a good credit history, you will easily be considered for lower interest rate request.
Put more money towards the debt
The more money you put towards your debt, faster you will be paying off for your own good. Create your monthly budget and try to find ways where you can cut your expenses and add them to pay your debt. You can also come up with the money for your debt by selling few expensive things in your home.
Use retirement fund or life insurance policy
Both choices are risky. Use these options when you find no other way. You may consider pulling money from your retirement fund but your savings will fall short when the time of retirement comes. Also, borrowing from your life insurance can also be considered but it will affect the death benefit your beneficiaries will receive.
Get a second job
Getting a second job or doing second shift on work is common way for people to pay-off their debts. No one can actually make it but if it does work for you, you will be debt-free before you can even imagine. For this scheme to work, put your extra shift money into the debt repayment. These extra hours are not permanent. Once you have paid-off all the debt, just sit back and relax. You will be back to your normal routine.
Make settlements with creditors
Debt settlement is also the solution if your accounts are past due or you owe more money than you could repay over a few years. Ask the creditor to accept a one-time, lump-sum payment to satisfy the debtor. Sometimes, creditors who agree to a settlement offer also agree to cancel the rest of the debt, but they typically accept these offers on accounts that are in default or at risk of defaulting.
Speak with a credit counselor-it’s free
If you are really struggling with your debt and you cannot manage anymore, try credit counseling. It’s absolutely free. They will help you in finding programs that can help to deal with your debts. A reputable and honest credit counselor will explain all the options that you can avail to clear your debt. Many people do not know about the debt-repayment programs but are relieved when they come to know about it. Speaking with a non-profit credit counselor about your options is confidential, non-judgmental and a better escape.
If the debt repayment has drained all of your savings, it’s time to build your savings again.Before you pay for anything else, put aside some money into your saving account. The secret to increase your savings –whether it’s earmarked for your emergency fund or another savings account-is to pay yourself first.
Here are few tips to paying yourself first to increase the savings.
Make a habit to save every month. It doesn’t matter if you save a single penny every month; it’s about commitment you make. If you make it a habit, it will help you towards a healthier financial future.
Consider saving as the necessary work. Make it a priority in your monthly budget.
When you reduce or eliminate an expense, or save any money on grocery or shopping, put it in the savings account. Any fund, bonus, raise you get should be put in the saving account.
Always go for the job that gives you maximum benefits for example a good life and health insurance, any extra favor, free transportation etc. The less you pay for these extra things, the more you will be able to save for yourself.
Worried about soaring monthly cable bills? We have the answer.
Cut the cord. Yes, you heard it right. Cutting the cord can actually save your money.
Cable and satellite bills keep piling up monthly and you might be worried about the high prices that you have to pay for the service. Its 21st century and technology has advanced with unlimited streaming services. There are many alternatives that you can try if you are tired of this cable thing.
We have made our own cord cutter's guide for you that can help you decide if it is a good decision to cut a cord and show you other alternative ways to watch your favorite shows on TV.
If cutting the cord is a right decision?
We know you really want to make sure if you can actually save money by cutting the cord and if it is really a right decision for you. Do not worry. Everyone has the right to do a proper research first. Before deciding to cut your cable cord, figure out how much you are paying the monthly bill. You can do a little math by checking monthly statement. The total of your bill will give you some to understanding of the figure to compare with other costs of alternatives that we will tell you. The goal is to make sure that you save your money.
Cable companies have started the business to cut the cable cord and offer you many other options for a suitable cost. Cord cutting means there are no contracts or any fees. You can also cancel the services at any time by just a simple button. Now how simple is that!
Recently a data was published that the average cable customer pays more than $90 a month. This is a huge amount for watching cable. Compare this cost with other streaming services and you will notice the big difference.
What are the other options?
After cutting the cord, you can go with having an antenna or switch to streaming services. If you are going to depend on streaming services, just make sure that your internet speed can handle the streaming. If you want to watch live TV, install an antenna. This is the cheapest way as you just need to purchase a good antenna and hook it up. Remember that only available channels in your local area will be there on your TV. Even if you have live TV, you are not bound to watch TV shows live. It’s your choice. There are methods to record your favorite shows and watch them later.
Talking about streaming services, there are unlimited options. HULU comes with a live TV and costs $45 a month. You can watch shows from every category and for the people of every age.
Sling TV provides its service with three different packages. These packages range from $25-$40 with many premium channels and international stations. DirecTV Now is also an online streaming service. It comes with no contracts and it charges $50-$70 depending on the package you pick.
YouTube TV is also a good option as it provides live streaming from dozens of networks. You can also consider PLAYSTATION VUE, PHILO, FUBO TV. You can also watch Network TV and Premium channels without a cable plan. You can also stream TV shows for free on Crackle, Tubi, VUDU and Pluto TV. There is no need to wait for your favorite shows as they are available readily on these services.
Netflix is the most popular streaming service right now in this advanced era. You have the option to choose from three plans that cost from $9-$16 with different options for HD content. Netflix also gives its customers facility of 1 month free trial.
Amazon Prime includes streaming access to TV shows and movies. Prime membership costs $120 a year. You can also pay in monthly installments. Amazon gives you access to thousands of songs in their library, unlimited reading of books and magazines, free unlimited storage of photos and more.
Let’s do a little math over here. The average cable or satellite user spends about $100 a month on their TV bill. It means his total bill of a total year will be $1200. Assuming you are the consumer who pays for both TV and internet; if you switch to a web-based service, it should not be too expensive. The cost of Amazon Prime plan is $99 a year, Netflix charges subscription costs $132 and Hulu has $96 cost. Even if you get all of them, you will still only be paying $327 annually. It will save you total $875. That’s a huge amount if you consider.
We have already given you an idea how you can save money by cutting the cord and moving towards other alternatives. It takes some time thinking about your viewing preferences. Considering all your options can be tricky sometimes. Just look at these three major benefits and the decision is yours to make.
The cost savings are significant as we have mentioned earlier.
You have a option to get a cloud DVR instead of a physical DVR box. It comes with many live TV subscriptions with no extra charges. It even enables you to tape shows to watch at your convenience.
You can easily watch on your phone, laptop or tablet while travelling.
For many, money is the only issue. With the cord cutting technique, you can save a whole lot of money. Apart from this, there are many other reasons. The viewing experience is way better on streaming services than cable TV. The quality is superior and you have a long list to watch. Everything comes through one-box and can be controlled with a single remote. Also, cutting the cord removes the difficulty of using a cable box. You can watch easily your dearest shows literally anywhere. The bottom line is that try to move to other alternatives and make a choice for your own good.
For many homes and buildings, the common phenomenon to produce energy is through sunlight. Those areas are considered lucky where there is an abundance of sunlight. However, understanding how it works is still not so popular among people. They do not know the unlimited benefits of producing own energy. The real question still remains, “Does solar power save energy”?
If we consider first law of thermodynamics, it states that energy can be transferred but it cannot be created or destroyed. Solar power is a source of energy that is renewable; it is not a method of energy conservation. In reality, it is a method that can drastically reduce our dependence on the fossil fuels.
How solar power can save you money?
Having a solar power system at your home can save you a great deal of money. You can have your own power plant if solar panels are installed at your home and they remain connected to the electrical grid. In this way, they will actually contribute to the grid. When the sun shines bright all day with no clouds in sight, solar panels can produce more energy. Any extra energy produced will automatically be transferring to the electric grid. By giving energy to the grid, you will be saving money instead of spending it.
It depends on different factors; direct hours of sunlight and the size and angle of your roof are both important but local electricity rates play the biggest role in determining how much money you can save. The first step is to calculate how much you are spending every year on electricity bills. For example, the average annual electricity use required is approx. 10,400 kilowatt hour (kWh). Multiply that by the national average electricity rate ($0.1326 per kWh) and you will find that one home spends over $1,856 a year on electricity alone.
You have to keep in mind the volatile nature of electricity prices and determine the increase in electricity rates in the coming years. When you compare cost of utility electricity with home solar, also consider the increasing rates of electricity. Over the past decade, the trend shows that there is a 2.2% per rate increase in electricity annually. When you generate your own energy, you do not have to worry about the increase in electricity rates any longer.
In cutting-off utility bills, the exposure of sunlight plays a significant role. If the sunlight falls directly on your roof and you are getting the best angle, your solar panel will have a great potential to save the energy. Usually, the location of your home, the amount of light it receives and the type of roof explain the exposure quantity. The efficiency of panels in your area can be calculated easily by using the Solar-Estimate calculator.
Go for solar panels that suit your needs and can be easily installed. Usually solar panels are not very cheap. Without tax credit or incentives, the whole cost of a 5kW system lies from $15,000 to $25,000. The high cost can easily make it up to you in the coming years. The only cost associated with your solar panel is the cost of installation and any electricity cost that your system does not off-set 100% of your electricity use. Whether your system completely off-set your electricity or not depends on the accuracy of your PV system. You can easily calculate how many solar panels you will need to get the 100 percentage.
Although fossil fuels are cheap and generate inexpensive electricity but it is a disaster for environment. In contrast to that, solar power is completely clean; there is no air and water pollution and no green house gas effects.
Disruptions in energy supply
As the demand for energy has been increasing, we have been forced to take energy from outside to meet the ever increasing demand. Imported energy is also not reliable. Solar energy eliminates this problem and having solar energy at home, energy supply to distant areas is not a problem anymore.
With the increased use of solar panels at home, there is a prevailing sense of self-reliance. The ability to produce energy at home makes you self-reliant. You do not have to pay heavy bills.
Furthermore, you can generate both heat and electricity from sunlight using different methods. The two important methods are solar thermal heating and PV panels. Solar thermal heating uses sunlight to heat domestic water. The pipes in solar thermal panel run the heated water to a storage cylinder for use by the household. Solar panels are installed on the roof of your house or garage. As described earlier, they gather light from the sun and energy is then converted to electricity for domestic use. The PV panels are available of two types: tiles or fixed panels. Panels are the cheaper option. These panels vary in size and length. Efficiency of energy increases with the exposure of sunlight but they can also produce electricity in areas with less sunlight.
As a responsible individual of the earth, we are clearly moving from heavy reliance on fossil fuel energy sources to electricity produced by renewable resources. The cost may be very high but the long-term pay-off will be permanent. It’s possible that eventually most of the homes will be either built with solar installations. You should not wait any longer as the upfront cost of solar system installation is easily justifiable by the long-term savings. If you have high electric bills and you are living in an area with abundant sunshine, you do not need to worry as your pay-off will come even sooner. You are just one step away from joining the solar revolution, install solar panels at your homes and make your own electricity. Having solar production at your home will put you in a better position to welcome an increasingly different future.
Nowadays, car fuel prices are on the rise and consumers are suffering. Gone are the days when you can carelessly drive your car without worrying about burning up too much gas.
There are important procedures that you, as a car owner, can take in order to improve gas mileage. The following are practical tips to conserve gas:
Close Windows – Windows that are open can create air drag that can decrease the fuel consumption by 10%.
Avoid Bumpy Roads – Rough roads should not be taken as much as possible. Dirt, bumps, rough roads and gravels can cause 30% increase in fuel consumption.
Keep Your Car Light – Take out unnecessary baggage. The trunk should be kept clean, any gadget, tools or loads that are not needed should be taken out. 100 pounds of extra baggage can affect fuel economy by two percent.
Drive Efficiently – Just drive reasonably within the speed limit. Remember that speeds of more than 60 miles per hour increase fuel consumption. Do not do sudden starts, accelerations and stops. Acceleration should be done gradually. The gas pedal should not be stepped on more than one fourth of the way down. This will allow the engine to function most efficiently. Gas conservation could reach up to 5 percent if sudden stops, jerks and accelerations are avoided. Make use of gears for overdrive and cruise control as needed.
Check Your Car Regularly – The car should always be maintained. The engine should be given a regular tune up, the tires should always have the right air pressure and efficiently aligned, the oil should be changed when needed and air filters replaced regularly. Clogged filters can affect gas consumption adversely by up to ten percent.
Don't Burn Gas Unnecessarily – Turn off the engine whenever there is an opportunity. Idle engine wastes fuel. There are instances where the engine could be turned off; stopping for gas, waiting for someone, changing tire pressure, caught in traffic and a lot more.
Don't Warm Up Too Long – Lengthy warming up of the engine should be avoided. 30 to 45 seconds should be enough time. Also check if the automatic check is removed after warming up the engine. This is usually stuck which could usually cause poor gas and air combination.
By following these simple tips, you will be surprised at how much money you can save on your car fuel. And guess what? The money really adds up if you continue to follow these simple practices for conserving car fuel!