7 Ways to make good purchase decisions

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

 When making purchases, particularly large purchases, one of the keys to getting a good deal is having good information. When making a deal, most often he who has the most information wins. How do you do this?

1. Pray

Especially when making very large purchases, pray. Ask God for wisdom. Ask Him to guide you as you look at making this purchase.

2. Ask friends or family

Check with friends or family that may have recently made a similar purchase or used a similar product or service. What did they like about it? What didn’t they like? Would they buy it again? Is there anything they would change?

3. Ask an expert

Find someone who is an “expert” in the area of your purchase. Looking to buy a new car and have a friend that’s a mechanic? Talked to them about what you should be looking for and perhaps even see if they will come with you to look at the car you are looking to buy. Looking to make some renovations on your house and have a friend who is a home builder? Seek out his advice. Looking to buy a new computer and have a friend that’s a techie? You get the idea. 

4. Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is a great source. Consumer Reports has two different parts. There is a the magazine and there is the online site. Unfortunately, these are two different subscriptions. The magazine version has a lot of terrific articles plus there are product reviews each month. The benefit of the web subscription is that you can search past reviews, otherwise you have to keep a stack of magazines around and hope you have one with reviews of the item you are looking to purchase. If I had to choose one or the other I’d probably get the web subscription just for the convenient searchability.

Consumer Reports is an excellent resource though for making sure that the product or service we are looking to buy is of good quality and value for our money. Consumer Reports also offers some excellent buying guides that discuss specific features that you should consider when making your purchase.  

5. Google

Google has kind of become the swiss army knife of the internet. If you have a specific item you are looking at purchasing, Google the model number. Google the name of the product along with the word “review”. If there are specific features that you are looking for google those. For example I was recently in the market to buy an inexpensive digital camera for my son. I wanted one that had a fairly low shutter lag (The time between when you press the button and when it actually takes the picture) because I thought that would make it easier for him to take clear pictures. I googled digital camera shutter lag and found several excellent resources to narrow down my camera selection.

6. Amazon.com

Even if you don’t intend to buy from Amazon, it is an excellent tool to use when making purchases. Amazon sells practically everything.  The good thing is they also give people the ability to write a review of the products and rate them from 1 to 5 stars. This is a great source of real world experience. If I am looking at purchasing an item, I’ll try to search for it on Amazon and then check out the reviews and the average rating. Now if  it has an average rating of 3 stars because there is one 1 star review and one 5 star review, that isn’t really too helpful. But if there are 70 reviews and the average is 4 stars then that’s a pretty good sign that the product is a good one. I will also usually check out some of the one star reviews just to get an idea of what it was people really hated about the product. Maybe it’s a feature I wouldn’t use anyway, or sometimes it relates to part of the purchase process that wouldn’t affect me. But if you see several one star reviews that all basically have the same complaint that might be a good clue of a defect in the product.

7. Price shop online

Once you know what you want to purchase, do some price shopping online. Go to Google and click on Shopping. The great thing about this site is you can search for a specific model and it will show you a number of retailers and what price they charge for the item. Look your item up on E-Bay. Even if you choose not to purchase it there, you can get an idea on price. Look the product up on Amazon. If you are looking at purchasing a vehicle look it up on Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

Even if you decide to purchase your product at a local retailer, you will now have the ammunition to know whether the price being offered is a good deal or not.  

Good deals can be found with a little homework

Don’t be in a rush. Take your time, especially when making large purchases. The more information you have the better you will be able to make wise purchases. By using some of these tips you can feel assured you have done all you can do to get the best deal possible.

What other methods do you use to try to make sure you make wise purchases?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.