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The value of comparison shopping

Want some free money?

Comparison shop before your next major purchase. A few minutes of research could save you hundreds of dollars in cold, hard cash.

"You effectively pay yourself $1 to $9 per minute in time spent shopping around," says Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for Consumer Federation of America.

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"You can pay yourself far more in time spent shopping around than you get paid in your job. And on top of that, it's tax-free."

Most major products and services come with a range of prices. Shop around and there's a good chance you'll uncover a lower price for the exact item or service you're looking for.

By comparison shopping, you get what you want for less and more green stays in your wallet. And it takes maybe 15 or 20 minutes of your time.

Save $100s in minutes
Not convinced? Just look at the savings uncovered in a recent shopping survey by the Consumer Literacy Consortium.

Thirty-seven Virginia Tech University students were armed with telephones and asked to get three price quotes on each of the following items: a rental car, a color TV and two separate round-trip airline tickets.

"It's the old, 'let your fingers do the walking,'" Gillis says.

The students saved $139 on a round-trip airline ticket from Houston to Los Angeles; $125 on a round-trip airline ticket from Washington, D.C., to Chicago; $100 on a color TV and $26 on a two-day car rental. And no item took more than 21 minutes to research.

Next time you're tempted to rush out and make a major purchase, think about the cash you could save with just a few minutes of research.

"If someone were to say to you while you were making the decision, here's $100, but you'll have to take 15 minutes to earn it, who wouldn't take it?" Gillis asks.

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-- Updated: June 23, 2004

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