The amount of bearing a product has on your life should increase proportionally to how much forethought you put into buying it. Nobody needs to lose any sleep over whether they could have bought jeans for less money elsewhere in the mall, or cheaper salmon at the grocer down the street.
It's a bit of a different story with the products on this list. These are the things that you should be experiencing some (healthy) anxiety over; the things that could have far-reaching implications for years to come.
Without further ado, here are four big financial decisions you need to compare prices for.
Of course this is where Insurance Hunter's list would begin! What else did you expect?
But in all seriousness, insurance—be it home, auto, travel, or something else entirely—is a product that is best sought out using comparison shopping. Insurers may assess personal details and risk factors quite differently. Or they could be offering different sets of discounts, which have the potential to drastically alter the premiums you pay.
Accounting for all of these differences would be a Sisyphean task if not for the gift of comparison shopping. By consulting a comparison shopping tool, consumers can save the data sifting to the computers and get their optimal quote just seconds after filling out an online form.
Ideally, insurance is the sort of choice you want to be locked into for a long time. Obviously the feasibility of that will depend on how much the company's prices go up and how much it rewards you for your loyalty, but during the shopping stage, it's good to go into things with the mindset that you will be sticking there for a while.
Don't make that choice lightly. Comparison shop!
The reason it is absolutely paramount to nail your car purchase is that cars are like a ticking clock in terms of value. The second cars leave the lot, they become far less valuable than they were when they entered it. With bad financing, you could end up paying through the nose for that car long after it loses any and all value.
Even if you visit a dealership and have a love-at-first-sight moment with a vehicle, it's still worth it to comparison shop and see if you can find it at a cheaper price elsewhere—or at least find a more agreeable financing arrangement.
There are lots of trusted websites that will help you assess a car's present value. After using that as a baseline, the key is then to search for the best offer using all available methods: visiting dealerships, checking peer-to-peer sales sites, etc.
Keep in mind that the time of year—or even month—it is could factor into things. Don't sleep on any detail when you're doing car price comparisons.
Homes are such big investments that people often allow themselves to swallow a bit more debt than they had hoped to going in. While that may be unavoidable in certain markets, it doesn't mean you should be blindly willing to accept a big price tag because it seems like a place worth shelling out for.
Before entering any sort of serious housing negotiation, do your homework and know exactly where both you and the market stand. Get a sense of all your options by scouring listings in various neighbourhoods and other cities (even if you're not considering moving elsewhere, it's good for reference).
Comparing prices could make the difference between finishing mortgage payments in 20 years or finishing them in 23 years.
4. Credit Cards
Credit cards may not seem as intuitive as some of the other options on this list. In fact, for a lot of people, getting a credit card doesn't even come with a conventional price tag; it's simply a means to spend money on other things.
But that would be discounting the other ways in which a credit card can serve as an expenditure or capital creator in and of itself. Lots of credit cards have annual fees, which open the doors for special perks or better-than-usual rewards offers. Credit cards also have differing interest rates, advance rates, and penalties, which could quickly usher in a hefty price tag if the card is mismanaged.
So as much as a credit card isn't likely to drain your bank account in the same way that a home will, it still has a significant enough impact on your financial livelihood that its worth comparing details for.