Key terms for your Buy Smart project

Buy Smart Competition

This page lists the key terms you may come across as you research your project for the Buy Smart Competition.

These meanings are general and provided to help you with your Buy Smart project; they are not the legislative definitions.


  • Business

    A person or organisation that regularly offers products or services in exchange for money or other commercial gains.

  • Consumer

    A person who buys a product or service to use in their private life (rather than to sell through their business).

  • Marketplace

    An arena where businesses and consumers buy and sell products and/or services. This can be a literal location (whether physical or online) or used in a more figurative sense, such as 'the Queensland marketplace'.

  • Shopping

    The act of obtaining products or services in exchange for money. This could be done in a store, online or in any other way.

Shopping around and choosing a product

  • Needs
  • Products or services that contribute to a person's survival. Food, clothing and shelter are humans' primary needs. Depending on a person's circumstances, other things may be classified as needs. For example, things associated with education, like uniforms and school books for people aged between 5 and 18 are needs, or a phone for a person with a medical condition is a need.

  • Opportunity cost
  • The value or benefit of various alternate options that a person loses or sacrifices when deciding on a specific option. For example, not going to the movies in order to afford a trip to a theme park.

  • Priority
  • The position of a purchase in a consumer's order of importance at a point in time, considering the usefulness and urgency of that purchase in meeting a need or a want.

  • Products (goods)
  • A physical item (including something in a digital format) that somebody can buy. Examples might include groceries, clothes, music downloads and even pets.

  • Service
  • A task, activity or specialised advice that a person or business offers for payment. Some examples might include plumbing, babysitting or tutoring sessions.

  • Unit price
  • The price of a product relative to a standard unit of measurement that helps consumers compare prices and find the best value for money. For example, comparing bottles of milk based on cost per litre.

  • Value
  • A product or service's worth in the opinion of a potential buyer, usually considered relative to the monetary cost of that item or service. Value can be influenced by concrete factors—such as quality or quantity of items—as well as by intangible factors—such as scarcity or desirability.

  • Wants
  • Products or services that people buy to satisfy their interests or to entertain themselves. Some examples might include games, junk food or movie tickets.

Making a purchase

  • Book up
  • An informal short-term credit arrangement offered by stores and traders, allowing consumers to receive products now and pay for them later. This type of arrangement is usually more popular in the rural and regional areas of Australia.

    See also: Finance plan.

  • Buy now, pay later
  • An online payment method that allows a consumer to pay for a purchase through interest-free instalments for a set period after receiving it. If the product is not paid off in the set period, then interest, fees and charges are payable.

  • Contract (plan)
  • An agreement—usually in writing—with details about a transaction, such as paying money to receive a service. It is important to read and understand them, especially if there's no opportunity to negotiate the terms and conditions.

  • Credit
  • A system that lets people pay for products or services by borrowing money and paying it back over time, often with interest or fees. It can include a bank loan, using a credit card, or in-store finance options.

  • Debit
  • Money being removed from a bank account as a payment. A direct debit sets up a regular withdrawal from a bank account for an ongoing purchase (e.g. a monthly phone bill) and a debit card gives access to bank accounts via ATM and EFTPOS facilities.

  • Fee
  • A single payment made for a service. This might include a payment associated with a system of credit and debt.

  • Finance plan (in-store finance)
  • A system put in place for managing payments—such as by paying in regular instalments—after you have agreed to purchase on credit and have accepted the product or received the service.

    See also: Book up.

  • Terms and conditions
  • The details in a contract or agreement that each party must agree to and obey. Sometimes—like with a mobile phone plan—a consumer can't negotiate and must accept them in full (often called 'standard form' contracts). It's important to read and understand the details of terms and conditions before accepting them.

Online shopping

  • Blockchain
  • A data storage, exchange and validation technology used with digital currency or cryptocurrency. It has been described as a digital or electronic ledger. The blocks contain unique data and connect to each other in a digital chain algorithm. It claims to be a secure and trustworthy way of making transactions because the data are not stored by a central authority. Instead, a copy is stored by each user running Blockchain software and connected to a Blockchain network.

  • Passphrase
  • A complex combination of letters, numbers and special characters individuals can use to access their devices or accounts. A passphrase works like a password, but typically combines multiple words in a way that's easy to remember, but harder to crack.

  • Review
  • A published article or comment reflecting a person's experiences in dealing with a business, product or service. This often includes a system of rating, such as awarding a number of ‘stars’ between 0 and 5.

  • Secure payment
  • A way of paying money online that offers higher levels of protection against fraud as well as options for disputing a transaction. Some examples include credit cards and reputable third-party payment services (such as PayPal).

  • Secure webpage
  • A type of webpage with extra levels of security encryption for people to handle money or other sensitive data, such as personal information. A secure webpage starts with 'https://' and/or features the symbol of a closed padlock. Note: Some web browsers hide the 'http://' or 'https://' as a default option.

  • URL
  • This stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the unique address of a web page or other resource on the internet (typically starting with 'http://' or 'https://').

Scam awareness

  • Financial information
  • Identifying information used to access a person's bank account or line of credit, including account numbers, customer ID, debit or credit card numbers and passwords.

  • Identity theft
  • A type of fraud that involves using someone else's identity to steal money or gain other benefits.

  • Personal details
  • Identifying information about an individual person, such as their name, date of birth, image, driver's licence, passport details, address and/or contact information.

  • Scam
  • A scheme designed to make money by dishonest methods, such as tricking people into handing over money, bank details or personal information.

Consumer rights

  • Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
  • The national consumer protection and fair trading law that governs the way businesses can operate and sets out their obligations to consumers. The ACL is enforced in Queensland law through the Fair Trading Act 1989.

  • Change of mind
  • Any reason for returning a product that's not related to a fault or consumer guarantee issue (e.g. unwanted gifts or finding products cheaper elsewhere).

  • Consumer guarantees
  • A group of rights contained in the Australian Consumer Law that apply whenever consumers buy a product or service in Australia. These rights protect your interests if you buy a product or service that does not do what it's meant to do.

  • Consumer rights
  • A way of looking after consumer entitlements to be treated with fairness and honesty when consumers buy products or services. In Australia, this is made through legislation such as the Australian Consumer Law.

  • Fault (failure)
  • A type of problem that would cause a product or service to fail to meet a consumer guarantee.

  • Recall
  • A process where an item is removed from circulation due to a safety risk and consumers who have purchased the item are strongly advised to return the item for a refund.

  • Refund
  • Money repaid to a customer (in part or in full) after they return a product or aren't satisfied with a service.

  • Remedy
  • A solution that a business might provide to fix a customer's problem. This may include a refund, repair, replacement or repeat service.

  • Returns policy
  • A set of conditions that a business uses to decide when, why and how they will allow customers to return unwanted products. If a store has a returns policy, they must still follow the Australian Consumer Law.

Budgeting and finance

  • Asset
  • An item that a person owns and can sell for money.

  • Budget
  • A document to help you plan your finances by recording details of your income, expenditure and saving goals.

    Also: The act of making this kind of plan.

  • Cryptocurrency
  • A type of digital asset that doesn't exist physically as coins or notes, but as digital tokens stored in a ‘wallet’. These digital tokens rely on technology, such as blockchain, for security and other features. Crypto doesn't have a fixed value set by law and its value can go up or down rapidly.

  • Debt
  • An amount of money owed by one party to another, such as money owed on a loan. Too much debt can cause serious financial trouble.

  • Expense (spending)
  • An amount of money owed by one party to another (e.g. money owed on a loan). Too much debt can cause serious financial trouble.

  • Financial capability (financial literacy)
  • A person's ability to work with and understand money.

  • Income
  • The money that a person earns or receives (e.g. from having a job or receiving pocket money). This money can be added up and recorded in your budget.

  • Interest
  • An amount of money paid by one party to another, usually in regular instalments. For example, the extra amount that a consumer pays when repaying a loan or the amount a bank pays to a consumer on a savings account. This is usually shown as a percentage.

  • Investment
  • An asset bought with the aim of producing an income and/or increasing in value over time.

  • Savings
  • The amount of money a person has left over from their income once they have paid their expenses.

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