Thursday, 7 March 2013

New Year’s Resolutions to help Namibian Consumers

First printed in Consumer News Namibia magazine - Jan 2013 edition

At the beginning of every year it is common practice to make New Year’s resolutions. This is a commitment you make to one or more personal goals or objectives, or changing of a bad habit. When a person makes a New Year’s resolution they generally plan to do so for the whole of the year. It is generally accepted that these resolutions will make your life better if you follow them.

Consumer News Magazine offers the following ten resolutions to help you avoid becoming the victim of scams, prevent identity theft and save money in 2013.

1.    1.      Do your research. When making large purchases such as furniture, a car or a house, do some investigation on what various retailers and banks have to offer. It is also a good idea to get quotations from various businesses to be able to compare prices. When buying on credit you should shop around for the cheapest interest rate and beware of hidden costs such as insurance on furniture that you might already have covered under another policy.
2.      Keep your computer and mobile phone safe. Many Namibians are now using online banking as well as the mobile banking offers and should thus take extra care of these items. It is also important to keep your pin codes and account details in a safe place and not together with your phone or computer.
3.      Protect your identity. Tear up documents that might contain sensitive financial information and store all your personal documents such as Identity Document, Passport, Drivers Licence, etc. in a safe place. In addition, check your bank account regularly for payments you might not be aware of.
4.      Get everything in writing. Make sure that when you get a service from a company they put their offer in writing. This will prevent misunderstandings, and protect you if something should go wrong in the transaction.
5.      Don’t share everything on Facebook or Twitter (or other social media). A future employer or possible soul mate can see information you might prefer hidden. Do not post compromising photos, and check that others cannot tag you in photos either. Keep in mind too that the thieves can also use information about when you are on holiday to pay your house an unwelcome visit.
6.      Never send money to someone you do not know. Many scams want you to send them money before you receive your prize or whatever they are offering and one sent, you will not be able to get it back very easily.
7.      Beware of job offers that will let you make “easy money”. Unemployment in Namibia is high and crooks are now targeting the unemployed with job offers, work-at-home schemes or other business opportunities that promises big money for very little work and no experience required. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.
8.      Use a savings account. When you leave money in your savings account, you get interest on this amount. This is not always the case with cheque and credit card accounts.
9.      Budget, budget, budget. Every month you should prepare a budget to show your income, expected expenses and your savings. You must make an effort to follow this budget and you will be surprised how much you save when having a clear understanding of where your money is going.
10.  Nothing is free (except Consumer News Magazine). Beware of cash back or other free offers that encourage you to buy. There is always a price to pay, and you normally find out only later.

If you can stick to your resolutions you will be a much happier, wealthier consumer in 2013.


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