Ahhh. Look at that thing—sparkly, shiny and BRAND NEW! Yes, I'll take it! But wait… should I buy it?? Asking yourself these 10 questions might just save you a pretty penny!
Okay, we've all been there right? You see something you just. gotta. have. but you're just not sure if buying it is the right thing to do. Maybe it's something small… a new sweater, an expensive pair of shoes, or the newest smartwatch! Small impulse buys can add up fast if you don't take a second to stop and think about whether you should buy it or not!!
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Often times, we spend more time wondering whether the bigger purchases are worth it! Maybe you're looking at buying a new phone, camera or even a car or a house! Whatever it is, use these 10 questions to determine if the purchase is worth it before you buy. Then you'll never suffer from buyer's remorse.
TO BUY OR NOT TO BUY?
Here at Fun Cheap or Free we follow this little thing called the 3-month rule… and by little thing we mean change your financial life thing! Seriously, this rule is a game changer. Following this rule answers a lot of questions AND it applies to any purchase that is outside your immediate budget!
Here's how it works:
Any time you want to make a significant purchase, you must wait 3 whole months before pulling the trigger. Not only does this give you time to make sure you really want it, it also gives you three whole months to save up for said purchase and even find the best deal—hello holiday sales!
We know what you're thinking, though… 3 months!? YES! It's hard at first, but with enough practice this rule will become second nature and delayed gratification will taste so sweet. You may be surprised at how many things you realize you didn't really need after all!
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE
Alright! So what should you ask yourself when you're wondering “Should I buy it?” Let's start with the easy questions!
CAN I AFFORD IT?
The very first question you should ask yourself before making a big purchase is “Can I afford it?” Hold on though, this question is not as simple as it sounds—there's a catch!
- NO, I can't afford it! – If the answer is no, start by saving up for it using any leftover money from your budget. You can also ask for money instead of gifts for your birthday and Christmas. If asking for money isn't your thing, ask for the item you're wanting to purchase! If it's not too big, you may be able to get multiple people to go in on it for you.
- YES, I can afford it! – If the answer is yes—great! But you still have to make sure that the money is coming out of your budget and you're using money that you already have in your bank account. (Told you there was a catch!) Do NOT spend money that you shouldn't because you’re expecting more to be there once you get paid. Seriously… DON'T!
IS THIS A NEED OR A WANT?
Ah, the age-old question… do you really need it or is it just a want? When it comes to need vs. want, we all tend to get a little confused sometimes—especially when it involves something we really have our eyes set on!
To distinguish want from need, ask yourself if you have an item that serves the same purpose. If you do, you probably don't need it and you may want to reconsider the purchase. If you just can't get the item out of your mind, consider selling the other item you already have and using that money to pay for the new one!
Now, if you don't have any other item that serves the same purpose and you determine that it IS an immediate need, make sure that you’re using money that you’ve already saved up or you’re taking that money from somewhere else in your budget. Better yet, do a spending freeze and put that money towards it!
WHAT CAN I CUT FROM THE BUDGET TO MAKE ROOM FOR THIS?
If you can't afford something but you know you really want it or need it, this this is a question you'll want to ask yourself! Is there something extra in the budget now that you are willing to cut to save for your big purchase? Consider sacrificing a few luxuries like eating out, Netflix, gym memberships or magazine subscriptions for your three month waiting period. You can save a TON doing this!
WILL THIS ADD VALUE TO MY LIFE?
Once you determine if and how you can afford an item, now you need to evaluate the value it will bring to your life. Will this item enhance the quality of your life in any way?
There are some purchases that bring value by way of enjoyment and happiness, like a vacation or an experience. There are some that bring value by improving your everyday life, such as health and wellness products. Some purchases can even bring monetary value, like investing in a camera to start a photography business.
Figure out whether or not this thing you want to purchase will truly bring anything positive into your life (be honest!!) and then ask yourself the question, “Should I buy it?”
WILL I ACTUALLY USE THIS ITEM?
How often will I use this item? Does the amount of use justify the purchase price? These are important questions. No matter how good a deal is, buying something you will rarely use is still a waste of money!
HOW LONG WILL THIS ITEM LAST?
While we all love a good, cheap deal, make sure you always do your research to ensure it's a quality item before you buy. You’ll save big in the long run if you spend a little more money on quality upfront. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it's really a better deal. You’ll end up spending double if it breaks and you have to buy another one!
DO I LOVE THE ITEM OR THE PRICE?
Do you really love the item or are your frugal little feet getting swept away by a really enticing deal!? We know—the struggle is SO REAL! Before you let the value sell you, ask yourself if this item will even get use.
IS THIS ITEM MORE THAN I NEED?
Yes, we know you love the car with the extra cargo space, heated seats and panoramic sunroof—the question is do you NEED those things? Could your vehicle need be filled without all the extra bells and whistles?
Sure, those things are nice to have and can definitely add value to your life, but not at the expense of reaching your other financial goals. Stick to your goals now and one day you CAN have all of those things and more!
CAN I BORROW THIS ITEM FROM A FRIEND?
Is this item something you can borrow from a friend when you need it? Maybe you want a power washer so you can occasionally clean the dirt off your back deck. You've figured out how to afford it, asked yourself all the right questions… but wait! You just remembered your friend has one that you can use! Instead of buying your own, put that money toward something else and rent or borrow instead!
AM I GETTING THE BEST DEAL?
If in the end, you do decide to make a purchase, make sure you hunt down the best deal. It's absolutely essential that you never settle. One of our go-to rules is that you can always find it cheaper. Shop holiday sales, garage sales or even Facebook marketplace! You can find some dang good deals if you're willing to look for them. Just make sure that it's a quality deal!
NOW YOU KNOW WHETHER YOU SHOULD BUY IT… OR NOT!
When it comes to making a large purchase, it can be challenging to know if it's right or wrong. With these 10 questions, you will be able to better understand the purchase, your motives for buying and be able to do the right thing for your budget and financial goals!
Not only are these questions crucial to ask before a big personal purchase, they are also a great way to determine whether or not you should buy something for someone else. Teach your kids this principle, too! We guarantee it will save all of you lots of wasted money in the long run!
Now that you've asked yourself all 10 questions and have evaluated the purchase, it's time to ask yourself one final time… Should I buy it?
Let us know what you decided and what your purchase was in the comments below!
While you're here, don't forget to check out Budget Boot Camp! It's a super fun video program that makes budgeting easy!
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