Making Smart Purchasing Decisions: After Your Purchase
May 11, 2018
Your work as a smart shopper isn’t done when you have your purchase in hand or your subscription to a service begins. Now is the time to organize all the information you need to secure your purchase and protect yourself should what you bought turn out to be a lemon or a bad deal.
Important Details to Remember
You put careful consideration into your purchase and had good reasons for choosing a particular item or service company. Don’t let critical details slip your mind as you’re enjoying what you bought. Remembering the specifics of your purchase helps you keep track of charges, warranties and budget details.
As soon as you make a purchase, take note of:
- The date you bought the item or signed a contract – You’ll need this in the event you need to make a return or file a claim under warranty coverage. If you entered into a service contract, this date sets the starting point of the agreement.
- Details of the seller or vendor – Write down or make a digital file of all contact information relating to the company, store or website from which you made your purchase, including physical location and customer service phone numbers or email addresses.
- The total purchase price or the amount of each recurring payment – Be sure to factor in discounts or rebates when making your calculation so that you have the right numbers should you need to dispute a charge.
- Your chosen method of payment – In a world where plastic prevails, it’s easy to forget where we spend our money. Always record the amount of your purchase when you pay with cash. If you pay by credit or debit card, note which card you use and watch for the transaction on your billing statement.
- Scheduled payments for ongoing services – Keep track of all recurring payments to ensure a billing cycle never takes you by surprise.
Everything you buy comes with some kind of documentation, and these papers or electronic records are what you need in order to keep track of every important detail.
Documents You Never Want to Lose
While it may be tempting to toss what seems like excess paperwork after a purchase is complete, you should always keep specific information on hand. Without it, you may miss out on a discount or be unable to make a return. In the event you have a dispute or question about an item or a charge, you need the paperwork to back up your claim.
Be sure to keep all information relating to:
- Return policies – Know the window of time during which you can return an item, where the return must be made and the form in which you can obtain a refund. - Warranties – Understand the limitations and duration of warranty coverage and the process involved in making a claim. Pay attention to deadlines for submitting any information required to activate the warranty.
- Rebates – As buyers, we often get excited about rebates but forget to submit the paperwork necessary to get our money back. Familiarize yourself with the specifics of applying, write down the date of submission and track the rebate process online if the merchant provides tools to do so.
- Receipts or proof of purchase – This information is often required for returns, rebates and warranties. You need to be able to show what item or service you purchased and how much you paid.
- Sales contracts – When purchasing a service, the contract shows the amount you paid up front, the duration of time the service will be offered and any additional payments you agreed to make. It also helps you keep track of billing cycles for budgeting purposes.
- Email confirmations – Check on the expected ship date and track packages after placing an online order to make sure your item arrives in a timely manner.
- Instruction manuals – You never want to have to scramble for the instructions if you have to troubleshoot problems with an item you purchased.
It’s important to not only retain this detailed information but also organize it in a way designed to make finding exactly what you need as easy as possible.
Keeping Track of the Paperwork
One reason we have a tendency to give up on organization and toss important paperwork in the trash is the difficulty of keeping everything straight after making a few purchases. Before you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the warranties, rebates and receipts from dozens of Christmas presents or a host of items you needed for a business project, establish a system to keep everything orderly using an app or “old school” organization method. Choose a method you find simple and straightforward, and stick with it for each purchase you make in the future.
Purchase Tracking Apps
If you live on your phone, try one of these apps to keep your purchase information close at hand:
- Ibotta for Android and iOS not only helps you find money-saving rebates but also allows you to scan bar codes as you make purchases. You can get your money back via a payout directly through the app once your balance reaches $20.
- Receiptmate for iOS allows you to scan receipts to Evernote for quick access or export payment information as a PDF or Excel file for your physical records.
- Warrantify for Android scans, stores and manages receipts and warranty information. The app alerts you when a warranty is about to run out, and it integrates with Dropbox and Evernote for easier management of all your important documents.
- WarrantyTracker for Android has tools for barcode scanning, taking pictures of receipts and storing warranty deadline information. Enter the serial number and model number of each purchase for more detailed records, and set alerts so that you never miss a rebate deadline or warranty expiry date.
For a more traditional system of organization, try putting your paperwork in:
- A filing cabinet or box – Use separate folders for each purchase, and clearly label the tabs so that you can locate information without hassle.
- A binder – Separate paperwork into sections using plastic dividers with tabs and pockets. Place small papers, such as receipts, in the pockets, and punch holes in full-sized documents to organize them within the sections.
Whether you’ve purchased a product or service, you should be able to enjoy it without worry or “buyer’s remorse.” Getting all your information organized and keeping track of important deadlines prevents unwelcome surprises down the line. If you’re as diligent after making a purchase as you were before and during the buying process, you’ll set yourself up for a positive experience every time.
Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC is a federally registered investment adviser. The information, statements and opinions expressed in this material are provided for general information only, are based on data we believe to be accurate at the time of writing, and are subject to change without notice. This material does not take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs, is not intended as a recommendation to purchase or sell any security, and is not intended as individual or specific advice. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Polaris Greystone Financial Group, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place.
Leave a Comment
Fields with * are required.