5 Needs vs. Wants To be a smart consumer you have to be able to differentiate between needs and wants. Needs are things that are necessary in your life, such as food, clothes, and shelter. Wants are things you don't have to have—they are things you would just like to have, things such as a TV, new cell phone, or concert tickets. Of course, businesses work hard to convince you that you don't just want what they are selling, you need it. Smart consumers are aware of these sales tactics and don't allow them to influence their spending decisions. So, before you spend your hard earned dollars, ask yourself, "Is this some- thing I need?" If it's not, make sure that you're being selective, and that you are spending your money on things that are really important to you. Spending tips u If you're not sure whether you should buy something, wait a day or two and see how you feel. Waiting helps eliminate bad decisions and impulse buying. u Beware of purchases that have extravagant shipping and han- dling charges, or that have additional charges for things such as technical support. Companies use tactics such as these to hide the actual cost of their products or services. u Don't purchase extended warranties. Businesses love you to buy these, but they are seldom a good deal for the customer. u Do your research. Do some comparison shopping, read cus- tomer reviews, and check out Consumer Reports' website. u Read the fine print before signing any contract. You don't want to find out a year from now that you signed a five-year agree- ment for something you no longer want. Be a Smart Consumer