At first glance, the world of consumer finance seems promising. An endless array of products, with nearly all of them promising nearly instant access to significant amounts of money. Its the ultimate version of temptation, but you have to know how to manage it.
That includes knowing the terminology. The world of consumer finance products is full of acronyms and arcane language. You need to know what you’re looking for to make proper use of consumer financial products to improve the quality of life.
Let’s take mortgages. These products often come with some of the most difficult acronyms in the industry, and you can get lost in a hurry. So if you’re looking for a reverse mortgage, for instance, that’s where you need to be direct. Asking a question like “what is a reverse mortgage?” can be a good place to start, but “what are the specifics of your reverse mortgage?” can be a better one.
This leads right into another important area—get explanations that make sense to you. Consumer financial professionals are often trained to explain things in jargon, with the idea that this will lead to sales.
The way to counter this is to keep asking questions. Some of them may seem trivial or annoying, but if you’re looking for a specific product, you need to come away with an exact definition of what you’d be buying and what you’d have to pay for it.
The logical extension of this tactic is to ask about scenarios, both general and specific. “What if” is a great way to begin this process, and you can start with questions as close to the specifics of your situation as you’d like after that. From there you can expand your questions, and doing this will give you a much better idea of what the product is really about.
The good news is that you can get help doing this. There are plenty of sites like the Consumer Financial Protection Board, which offers over 350 questions and answers, which is more than enough to get you started. Going through them and building your own list is a sound tactic, and it will help you get what you want when you purchase consumer financial products.