6 Products Part 6: Avoid Pitfalls

Most fringers approach purchases with extreme trepidation. As each new transaction looms, they worry whether they’re about to stumble into a painful pitfall. Here’s a list of the typical disasters. Sidestep them and save.

   6.6.1  Refuse to Pay Interest on Consumer Purchases
If there’s anything worse than a sales tax of 9.5 percent, it’s 15 percent in credit card interest. Don’t borrow except for houses, educations, and, only if you must, cars. If you can’t afford particular objects of desire without financing them, revisit Chapters 1-2 for cheaper alternatives that don’t plunge you into debt.

   6.6.2  Buy the Right Size
Buy more than needed, and you waste money. Buy less than needed, and the upgrades demand more cash. In order to save, get in touch with your inner Goldilocks—don’t buy too big, don’t buy too small, and strive always to buy the size that’s “just right.”

  • Furniture. Sectional sofas look nice in show rooms, but for your small cave, a loveseat looks nicer.
  • SUVs. You live in Miami and it never snows. Buy a sedan.
  • Computers. Don’t splurge on costly gaming machines if you only surf the internet and process words.
  • Pets. Apartments are bad for St. Bernards. Think Chihuahuas.

   6.6.3  Avoid Stuff That Ends Up Owning You
Beware high maintenance products like motorboats, RVs, ATVs, snowmobiles, hot tubs, swimming pools, lawn tractors, and their ilk. If it has a motor in it, think twice.

   6.6.4  Sweep Away Dust Gatherers
If you doubt your future need for a product, borrow or rent one first. My foremost dust-gatherer was an electric pasta maker. Did you know they sell perfectly good rigatoni in grocery stores?

   6.6.5  Never Pay Extra for Prestige
Pay extra for quality, but don’t pay more for the name alone. Cheaper brands often perform every bit as well and sometimes better than their luxury counterparts.

   6.6.6  Beware of Buying too Cheap
You want the most bang for your buck, but that doesn’t always mean paying the lowest price. I’ve suffered through dollar store bungee cords that didn’t stretch, cheap popcorn that never popped, and weak tools that splintered when confronted with their first tough job. Avoid these messes. Seek quality at value prices.

   6.6.7  Decline to Serve as an “Early Adopter”
The sooner you buy into new technologies, the more you spend. These products have short shelf lives, so prices plunge quickly. Wait.

   6.6.8  Reject Fads and Short-Lived Trends
Let others buy pet rocks and eight-track tapes; you can do without.

   6.6.9  Read Agreements Before Signing Them
Contracts are binding. If you sign first and read them later, your cart is misplaced relative to your horse.

   6.6.10  Say No to Middlemen Who Add No Value
Even at this late date, middlemen somehow survive. God bless ‘em. If you buy from one who adds value, then maybe you should pay extra. If not, then maybe he or she should find another line of work.

   6.6.11  Plan Ahead for Big Ticket Purchases
Beware rarely bought items—carpets, flooring, mattresses, and autos. Sellers enjoy a huge advantage because they conduct many more negotiations than you do. To level the playing field, anticipate that your infrastructure eventually fails. If your furnace has started to show its age, research replacements now. Don’t be forced into a hasty decision when it dies next winter.

   6.6.12  Beware of Deals “Too Good To Be True”
If the price seems far too low, make sure it’s not a scam.

   6.6.13  Sidestep the “Bait and Switch”
In this ploy, sellers lure shoppers with low prices (the “bait”) and then push them into other products that deliver higher profits (the “switch”). Success depends upon the buyer’s willingness to act impulsively. You never fall for this if you’ve researched enough to know precisely what you want and how it meets your needs.

   6.6.14  Forgo Bells and Whistles
Impose a heavy presumption against paying more for upgraded features, extended warranties, or luxury add-ons. Typically, these line sellers’ pockets and deliver no added value to buyers.

*     *     *


  6.6.1  refuse to pay interest on products
[revisit strategy nos. 1-2]

  6.6.2  buy the right size
[measure twice, buy once]

  6.6.3  avoid stuff that owns me
[spas, RVs, ATVs]

  6.6.4  sweep away dust gatherers
[pasta makers]

  6.6.5  never pay extra for prestige

  6.6.6  beware of buying too cheap
[seek values, not lowest prices]

  6.6.7  decline to be an “early adopter”
[newest iWhatevers]

  6.6.8  reject fads
[Beanie Babies]

  6.6.9  read contracts before signing them

  6.6.10  say no to middlemen who add no value

  6.6.11  plan ahead for big ticket items

  6.6.12  beware of deals “too good to be true”

  6.6.13  sidestep the “bait and switch”

  6.6.14  forgo bells and whistles

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