Tor provides an encrypted connection between you and an exit node - that is all it does - it is a free VPN provided by a few kind souls. This is useful when you are in a public place using WiFi (airport or coffee shop) where you trust the exit node more than the bored geeks next to you.
Tor is also useful when you are behind a restrictive filter and need access to a blocked site and you know that the exit node is on the other side of said filter, such as when you are in a control freak territory, a weird state or a university dorm.
So if you want instant gratification, just use it. If you are a little paranoid, check the IP address of the exit node when you signed in. If you are totally paranoid, get off the web and move into a cave.