Personal finance sites put a lot of attention on saving money, investing, even career advice. I haven't read a lot of information on how research a product before you buy it. Today I'd like to share with you my thoughts and maybe in comments you can teach me a thing or two.
How much research should I put in a purchase?
I look at two major factors in answering this question. How much is it going to impact my life and how much is the item? I'll actually put some research into something like pillows because I them every day. More often than not, the bigger factor is how much something costs. I'm simply not going to spend a lot of time and energy hemming and hawing over the price of a piece of chewing gum. However, a costly purchase like a home, car, even a flat-screen television... those are the kind of things that I want to research.
Five Tips for Researching Purchases
- Almost Anything - Amazon has a lot of reviews on more products than you can shake a stick at. Even if you aren't going to make your purchase there it's worth checking it out to see what people are saying.
- Technology - I'm sure some of you will cringe, but I love the reviews of Walt Mossberg. I also like to check Gizmodo and Engadget.
- Cars - Edmunds really has a wealth of knowledge. I supplement that with Kelly Blue Book. If I was buying a used car, I'd probably pick up a Car Fax report.
- Homes - When I was buying my home, using Bankrate was instrumental in finding my best mortgage rate. I always like to give Zillow a look, even if it might not be accurate in your area. I'd like to recommend a local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) - but it seems like there are some areas where you can better information if you partner with a Realtor. Since it's been a few years since I've been home shopping, perhaps I'm missing some great resources.
- Restaurants & Shops - Word of mouth is still king in finding a good restaurant. However, I'm starting to depend a little more on Yelp ratings. Yelp provides more than just restaurant ratings, it's good for shops and businesses of many varieties.
What research do you do before you buy a product? Please share your best tips in the comments below.
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