plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

November 12, 2008

evaluating choices before buying

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , — plonkee @ 1:24 pm

Very occasionally at work I’m called upon to evaluate tender submissions. In an effort to be fair and impartial, we usually have a scoring spreadsheet, mark each tender against the spreadsheet, add up the scores and then negotiate with the top scoring organisation.

In real life (as opposed to work life) I’m not that organised, nor do I have a particular need to be fair or impartial. Generally, at most, I read around on a service or product that I want to buy, and get a gut feel for the best. Or, if there is no *best* I pick the cheapest one that has the features I’m looking for. The following three examples show how I normally work.

the fridge

About 18 months ago, I bought a new fridge. I decided that it had to:

  • be white – to go with the kitchen
  • have an icebox – I have no other freezer
  • have glass shelves – easier to clean
  • be A rated for energy – eco-friendly and cheaper to run
  • be 55cm wide – to fit in the fridge space

All of these requirements were non-negotiable and nothing else was of interest. I simply picked the cheapest fridge from Argos (reputable supplier) that fit the bill.

the netbook

When I bought my netbook, I just read some reviews (something like 10 best netbooks) on the internet, found which two or three where in my budget, went to the local big box computer store and picked the one they had in stock. I ended up with a navy blue Acer Inspire One which is perfectly ok except the wireless network card (or whatever it is) is prone to overheating and the battery only lasts 2 hours.

the house

When I bought my house, I only looked at places that were feasible – in my price range, with enough room, and not requiring complete gutting – and bought the one that I fell in love with.

being methodical

Part of the reason that we try to be fair and impartial on tender scoring at work is so that we get the best deal. And the spreadsheets and scores do help keep a track of which feature goes with which item and you can get a better idea of where you want to make a trade-off between features, or between features and cost.

I’m permanently on the look out for new luggage. What I want is a bag that can be carried as a backpack, opens out as fully as a suitcase does, with at least 2 compartments (one for clothes, one for laptop/work), will last for a while, comes in a colour other than black, with a bright/light coloured interior, that’s large enough to fit all the business clothes I need for a 3 day trip, or the casual clothes I need for a week, but definitely small enough to fit as carry on without hassle.

I’m willing to spend a couple of hundred pounds, and I’m expecting that I might have to compromise on some of the features. So, I’m going to set up a spreadsheet with all the criteria listed, plus room for any features that I either like or dislike. Then as I search for the perfect(-ish) luggage I can make sure I make the best choice.

Do you shop objectively? Or do you go for gut feel?

Similar Posts:

If you like what you're reading, why not leave a comment below, subscribe to my feed, or check out some of my best posts.

Powered by WordPress