Did you know that we are faced with over 3,500 images a day to consume? With all of that “mind clutter”, how can you make good purchasing decisions? I’ve got “11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Something”.
Let’s face it, life costs money.
How do you decide when to buy something? What things should you consider before deciding to spend money?
We pay for rent/mortgages, utility bills, transportation, insurance and food for ourselves and our families. Those things are non-negotiable for the most part.
What I’m talking about in this post is the non-essentials of life. Everything from…
- New/newer car
- Upgrade TV, cellphone and computers
- New furniture
- New clothes, shoes, coats, etc.
- Lawn equipment/tools
- New home or property
- Personal care products
- Movies, shows and other entertainment
Can I Afford It?
Too often, people make purchasing decisions based on the money at their disposal.
There might be money in your pocket, in your checking account or on your credit card, but that doesn’t mean you “have the money” or can afford to make a purchase.
The following are “financial bedrocks” that should be in place before you consider spending money on non-essential items.
- You have a steady income.
- All bills are current.
- All credit cards are being paid off every month. If you carry a balance, you don’t have extra money to spend.
- You have enough health insurance to cover (at least) catastrophic events.
- Emergency fund for at least one month’s worth of bills, working towards 6 months worth.
- Savings account for college and/or retirement.
- Can pay cash for the item.
You might be saying to yourself at this point “Well, then it’s going to be a while before I can ‘afford’ anything!”.
Yes, that may be true for you, right now.
Let me share something with you.
Both my husband and myself have been involved in financial arenas and areas of service for decades now. It is absolutely heart-breaking to see the end results of a life lived, without any sort of financial guidance.
People reach retirement age, only to realize that they spent too much money on things they didn’t need and didn’t save enough money to get them to the end of their life comfortably. With a false sense of security, they approach the end of their “earning years” in despair.
People can make “good money” and still wind up in the poor-house when it counts the most….when they come to the end of their earning years.
Not because they aren’t good people. Not because they don’t love their families. Not because they don’t work hard.
Simply because they don’t have a financial plan/budget that they follow for the long-term.
I could go on and on here, but I’ll leave you with this. It doesn’t take an iceberg to sink a tanker.
It takes lots of small leaks, over the long term.
Is This Item a Need or a Want?
Does your survival depend upon it?
Then it isn’t a need…it’s a want.
Needs include shelter, safety, food, water and love.
Yeah, I know, this is a bummer.
But coming to terms with the fact that almost everything that you’re presented with to buy just isn’t necessary, is critical.
What Problem am I Trying to Solve?
When we make plans to purchase something, we are usually trying to solve a problem. So ask yourself…
Why am I wanting to buy this? What am I trying to accomplish?
We stop for fuel for our cars, because we might run out of gas and be stranded. That’s a good decision and one based on need.
Purchasing healthy and sustaining food for your family is also based on need. However, the ice cream and chips are wants.
By asking yourself this question, you may well come to the conclusion that there really is no problem at all and therefore, no purchase needs to be made.
Am I Masking Other Emotions?
Emotional shopping isn’t much different that emotional eating…they both bring comfort.
However, the side effects aren’t any fun at all.
Shopping when bored is another way people get themselves into trouble.
Make a commitment to shop ONLY when there is a legitimate need.
Have I Done the Research?
Quality and durability vary widely these days!
It’s almost a required step to research products before purchasing something, especially when buying on-line and/or a large ticket item.
Always look at the reviews, but do your own snooping on the internet as well.
This will help you to make the best decision when purchasing something.
Is It The Right Season to Buy Something?
Timing is everything.
Especially when it comes to sales cycles!
To everything, there is a season. Smart buyers know that you never want to buy something while it’s in season.
As Spring approaches, all of the new, shiny lawnmowers are introduced…at full price!
This is NOT the time to buy!
Waiting until the lawn mowing season is over is much smarter! The stores are discounting prices on lawn equipment then and are more willing to “make a deal”!
I regularly purchase things off-season.
By anticipating needs, I keep a mental list of what I’m looking for a deal on.
For example, at the end of winter, I might decide that I need to replace my coat for next year. Now that I know that I have a need, I can keep my eyes open for a great “off-season” deal!
Can I Thrift It Rather Than Buy It?
Buying something used can save you a ton of money in your lifetime!
Since we’re discussing coats, one of my favorite purchases is my primary coat for winter. It’s a black Anne Klein coat that was barely worn at Goodwill and I only paid $5! I’ve had it for years and it’s held up great.
Facebook marketplace, E-bay and garage sales are also great places to pick up good deals!
Buying good quality, gently-used clothing can save you a lot of money over the long-term AND it’s eco-friendly!
Can I Borrow It Rather Than Buy?
How often to you plan to use the item?
If you’re only going to use it a few times a year, it doesn’t make sense to pay for an item yourself.
Lawn and garden equipment is an excellent example of where borrowing can be smart! Things like tillers, seeders and tractor attachments can and should be shared by neighbors!
In our last two homes, we’ve had good working relationships with at least one neighbor who was very open to lending and borrowing equipment! Don’t be afraid to lend to responsible people and build that relationship, it can really pay off.
Where Will I Store It?
Stuff takes up space! Asking yourself whether or not you really have the room to store this item makes sense!
You only have so much room in your house and garage!
Don’t just try to figure it out later! It’s a critical part of your decision.
What Will I Do With This Item When I’m Finished With It?
Will you still need this item in 3, 6 or even 12 months?
What will you do with it then?
Having an “exit strategy” for things you buy is important.
Can you sell it for a good price? What’s the resale value? Is there a market for it?
Can It Wait?
There are many reasons to wait to buy something.
These days, it’s quite virtuous to not only wait to buy something tak, but to take the time to save up for it!
Remember when we did that as kids? Saved each week out of our allowance for that item we just had to have?
Why can’t we do that more as adults?
Although it may seem counter-cultural, and it is, there’s no better feeling that some delayed-gratification by paying cash!
I hope these “11 Things to Consider Before Buying Something” help you to make the better purchasing decisions!