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The real deal - Playing the buying game

How to win the buying game

Everybody plays the buying game. But not everybody wins. If you want to be a winner in spending your money right, learn to read between the lines.

Get the best deal

Spend wisely and getting the real deal

Spending wisely takes skill, time and experience. Learn how to spot a scam, figure out a fraud and recognize a rip-off. This article will help you learn how to read between the lines to buy smart. Then, when you're shopping for something that means a lot to you, you can be sure you're doing it right and getting the most for your money.

1. Read between the lines. Separate facts from fantasy when you hear a commercial or read an ad.

2. Chill. Think before you buy. What do you want? What do you need? What's your budget?

3. Research. Check out product claims. Is the new model really improved? Does it perform better or does it just look different?

4. Ask questions. Talk to your friends, neighbors, co-workers and other parents. They may know something that could help you make up your mind.

5. Try before you buy. Call a friend who has the item or ask a salesperson for a demonstration.

6. Be picky. What are you getting for your money? Is it quality or is it junk? Check the library or the bookstore for guides to price and value.

7. Shop around by telephone or via the web. Check or call three stores to compare prices, models and return policies. (SheKnows also offers internet price comparisons here.)

8. Scope it out. What you see isn't always what you get. At the store, ask to see what's inside the package.

9. Uh oh! What if the product's a dud? Don't wait -- tell the store manager right away. Be clear about the problem. Most store managers want to satisfy their customers, not turn them off.

10. Spend a little time. Buying smart means being smart. It could take some time, but your money's on the line.

Don't believe everything you see

You've seen it on TV. You've heard about it on the radio. You've read about it in a magazine. You can picture it in your living room. You must have it. But first... what's your budget? Relax and think about it. Separate the facts from the fantasy.

Ads, labels, and packages can be great sources of information if you know how to read them. Sometimes, what's missing is just as important as what's said outright. Ads and packages should not mislead about the product, its appearance or performance. But once in a while, a package or an ad exaggerates a bit when it comes to the size, speed, sound or color of a product, how durable it is -- or even how it works.

The buying game

Sometimes the product's a dud. What now? As a consumer playing the buying game, you have certain rights: the right to choice, information, consumer education, safety and service. You also have the right to be heard.

If a purchase doesn't meet your expectations, you can do something about it. Tell the store manager as soon as you can. If you wait, you might forget the details. Be clear and polite about the problem. Most store managers want your business -- that of your friends. They don't want to turn you off as a customer. This article was adapted from material provided by theFederal Trade Commission and the National Association of Attorneys General

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