I've already made every imaginable mistake so that you don't have to.

Site Layout

Man in golf cart surveying the links.
Photo Credit: pexels.com Jopwell

Read First > Site Layout >

Each page on the site will have the site's menu, a graphic, and then the page's text content.
The graphic will sometimes be clearly related to the topic of the page, but other times it will relate to another meaning of the topic or even an abbreviation of the topic.
On many of the site's that you visit, the graphics are much larger.
My initial vision with this website was to keep graphics small to help conserve bandwidth for people using mobile devices.
The events of 2020 have meant a lower percentage of visitors on mobile devices than during 2019, so I may eventually reevaluate my vision for trying to conserve bandwidth.
The site is divided into six main sections:

  1. Read First
    Contains basic information about this site.
    You can navigate to this section by typing https://therationalconsumer.com in your web browser.
    Alternatively if you have a relatively modern browser, to be redirected here with fewer keystrokes, just enter trc.credit in your browser's address box.
    Browser Address
    Not trc.com
    Not trc.net
    Not trc.org
    Not trc.horse
    Ok trc.horse actually will get you to this site too.
    Sure. Why not.
    It was available, so I registered it.
    Hopefully Old Town Road will still be in the Hit Parade when you are reading this.
    If not, I am sure you will be able to find it on YouTube.
    Spoiler alert: The letters trc are short for The Rational Consumer.

  2. Car Shopping
    Pages related to buying an automobile.
    One of my friends that was reviewing the Automotive section said it was unclear to him why I had covered dealership pay plans.
    Fair enough.
    Let me explain.
    When you shop at a store such as Safeway, Stop & Shop, Target, or Winn-Dixie, the compensation of the staff serving you is independent of what you bought, how much you paid for it, and how you paid for it.
    That is NOT the case at the overwhelming majority of automotive dealerships.
    To make matters worse, at an auto dealership the more dubious the benefit of a given add-on, the greater its profit margin is likely to be.
    If Costco offers to fill new tires that you purchased there with nitrogen for free, great.
    However, if an auto dealership attempts to charge you for that same service when you are in the midst of negotiating buying a vehicle, strongly consider signing your name to nothing and immediately getting out of there.
    Think back to high school science class.
    Unless you are being treated for a medical condition or are part of a SCUBA team, the air you are breathing right now is just a little under 80% nitrogen already.
    There may be some value in replacing the approximate 20% of the air in the tire that is not nitrogen with nitrogen, but that value is a whole lot closer to Costco free than whatever the dealership is trying to charge you.
    Even if you were to pay for the service, the dealership may or may not actually do anything.
    You are almost certainly not going to check.
    If you did what would you find?
    You would find that the tires are mostly ( remember a little less than 80 percent? ) filled with nitrogen, because that is how that car and almost every other car came from the factory.

  3. Credit
    Pages related to credit.
    Depending on my available time, this section may read like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, except with credit products.
    Hopefully you are not financing the cost of streaming videos, car rentals, hotel stays, or airline tickets on a credit card, but try purchasing any one of those without a credit card and tell me just exactly how convenient that is.

  4. Travel
    Pages related to the travel industry.
    When I originally had the idea for this website I had intended to have a significant focus on travel.
    The reason?
    Many financial institutions had introduced travel related credit cards that brought travel perks to the masses.
    But then that widespread introduction of travel related credit cards caused those perks to then become unavailable almost as quickly.
    For example, not so many years ago in the United States Priority Pass memberships were generally either purchased as standalone products or included as part of American Express Platinum card memberships.
    Today many credit card products include a Priority Pass membership.
    Lounges cannot accommodate all those members so in the United States the number of lounges that accept Priority Pass is shrinking.
    The remaining edge case where Priority Pass may have value is outside the United States where travelers are competing with fewer other U.S. based travelers.
    As such, the site will still have some coverage of travel related topics but it will focus more on evergreen topics such as buying a car.

  5. More
    If it is not Read First, not Car Shopping, not Credit, not Travel, and not the Glossary, then it is... More.

  6. Glossary
    List of terms relevant to consumer finance or material decisions as a consumer.
    If you read through the glossary start to finish and all you learn is one new concept, well that is one thing you did not know before.
    My goal is to keep the list short enough such that you can scroll through it without a lot of effort.
    We'll see how that goes.
    In some cases I may keep a definition short then direct you to another page on the site for greater detail.