Why and When is it Important to Read the Fine Print?

There are two types of people in this world: people who click “I have read and agree to Terms and Conditions” without actually reading them, and liars. (We kid, but we’re pretty sure many of us are guilty.) Although most people don’t have the time nor interest to read the fine print, there are certain circumstances in which you should; if not, you may find yourself in trouble. Here’s why reading the fine print is important, and how doing so could save you time, money, and hassle.

Each time you sign on the dotted line, you’re entering into a binding agreement with another party. This agreement may something as small as downloading a song onto your computer, all the way to larger purchases such as signing a loan or mortgage for your first house. Either way, an agreement is an agreement, and no matter the size, all should be honored and respected the same.

Have a Better Understanding

Reading the fine print before signing or buying anything ensures that you’re aware of and understand all of the provisions of the agreement or product, making you a smarter, more informed consumer. This point becomes especially important when considering medications that can have potentially harmful side effects, where failing to read the fine print can have serious health consequences! Don’t take any chances and assume you know all there is to know about the product before making the decision to buy.

Save Time and Money

While reading the fine print may initially be a time consuming, soul-draining process, it can actually save you valuable time and money—potentially large sums of money. If you’ve ever signed a document such as an agreement for a loan, you’re putting yourself at risk for agreeing to compromise your assets in the event that you do not hold up your end of the agreement. For example, many contracts for loans contain provisions that state the other party can rightfully take whatever money they feel they are reasonably entitled to. Make sure you know exactly what that entails to avoid any surprises down the road!

Protect Yourself Legally

People sign contracts for all sorts of reasons, whether they are opening a bank account, applying for a credit card, purchasing business equipment, or buying a home, car, or health insurance. In theory, every contract’s legal guidelines are designed to protect both parties, though they are often initially skewed to favor the party that presents it. Note that sometimes, contracts may be negotiated on certain points to better reflect and honor the mutual benefits of both parties.

If you’re agreeing to something that contains a lot of technical jargon or complex terms that you don’t quite understand, don’t just write them off as unimportant. Consider hiring an attorney or other legal counsel to decipher what it all means and explain it in terms that make sense to you. This will prevent you from misunderstanding or assuming anything contained in the contract and will save you from getting burned in the future.

Know Your Rights

Of course, at the end of the day, it’s important to know and thoroughly understand your rights before signing anything. You aren’t obligated to sign anything you don’t fully agree with, and should never allow yourself to be pressured or coerced into doing anything you aren’t comfortable with. Reading the fine print in contracts, agreements, and before buying products can save you the headache and hassle of defending or compromising your assets or health in the future.

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