If you want to achieve financial independence, it’s important to be strategic about the purchases you make. As a society, we are ultra-focused on consumption as we see hundreds of ads in our daily lives and it can be difficult to distinguish purchases you want actually want to make and impulse buys. Asking yourself key questions before buying something can help limit your purchases and keep you focused on your financial goals.
So, what should you ask yourself before buying something? Check out these 7 essential questions to ask yourself before buying something.
Question 1: Is this purchase something I actually need?
The first question to ask yourself before buying something is if you actually need it. Prioritize your needs vs. wants and only buy what you need, especially if you’re just beginning your financial independence journey. If you need to purchase something, then look to your budget and assess what you need to be able to do to purchase it.
If you are wanting to buy something solely because you want it, then continue reading below to see if the purchase actually makes sense.
See related: Budgeting Tips for Beginners
Question 2: Will this purchase help me meet my goals?
One question to ask yourself is whether this purchase will help you meet your goals. For example, if you want to save more money for a wedding in the next six months, it might not be worth spending that extra money on an expensive item or going on lavish vacations. If you know you are going to be making large purchases in the near-term future, it may be better to save towards those goals.
Your goals may not just involve short term time frames, they may be lifelong goals like paying off debt or saving enough money to retire. In these cases, it’s best to set up a budget that incorporates some monthly amount for more frivolous purchases so you can still enjoy life but within boundaries you set.
Asking yourself whether this purchase will help meet your goals is an important question to ask yourself before any purchase.
See related: 7 Financial Goals to Grow Your Wealth
Question 3: What’s the cost of owning and maintaining this item?
Is the purchase you want to make a one-time buy or is it going to cost you money to own and maintain it? An obvious example is if you buy a brand new car or house, there is going to be monthly costs like insurance and property taxes that come along with owning the item.
There are also sneakier purchases that will come with additional costs you don’t intend like gaming systems, subscription boxes, or new hobby purchases. Many of these come with add ons that you’ll end up wanting to buy in the long road that will increase the overall total of your original purchase.
If it’s a purchase for something like concert tickets or home decorating accessories, then you can assess the purchase as a one-time buy. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that you’re capturing the total cost of the purchase.
Question 4: Am I getting a good deal on it relative to its quality and performance?
It’s important to assess a potential purchase’s quality and performance before buying. Doing so will help you avoid future problems, such as the item not working properly or being unable to fulfill its intended purpose. And ultimately, it will help you from wasting money on an item that wasn’t worth it to begin with.
For example, if you buy an expensive pair of running shoes only to find out they are uncomfortable and won’t last long before falling apart, it’s safe to say that your money would have been better spent on a different pair of shoes that better suit your needs.
In addition, assessing an item’s quality and performance before purchasing it helps you avoid wasting money by buying something inferior or defective as well as not being able to use the product for its intended purpose. Do your research and make sure if you’re going to make a purchase it’s worth the money you’re spending.
Question 5: Can I really afford it?
Before buying something, it is important to ask yourself if you can really afford it. Here are a few things to consider.
Consider debt you already have
If you already have debt such as a student loan, credit card debt or car payment you will want to make sure that this purchase won’t add more stress and burden on your finances. If the item is expensive enough, it could push you into further financial distress if not handled properly.
Are you already struggling to meet monthly payments?
If you’re struggling to meet the monthly payments, you’re going to want to hold off until those are paid in full before adding any additional financial stress.
Do you have money in your budget this month?
You should make sure that if you plan on making a new purchase there is enough room in your budget to absorb the costs. If the purchase is more than your budget allows, consider saving up money over multiple months until you can afford the purchase.
Do you have your emergency fund fully stocked?
Before making purchases, you want, make sure you are adding sufficient funds to your emergency fund. This will keep you out of trouble financially in the long run and is well worth the wait when considering impulse or frivolous purchases.
Question 6: How often will I use it?
How often will you actually use the item you’re considering purchasing? If it’s something that will be used daily, then it may be worth the buy. However, if the answer is “it depends”, then it’s worth taking a second look at whether the purchase is actually needed.
The lower the frequency of usage for an item, the more it will cost per use.
Question 7: Can I borrow it?
If you aren’t planning on using the item many times or long term, then it may make sense to not purchase the product at all but rather borrow or rent it.
For example, if you’re considering purchasing a lawn mower because yours broke down and now needs repairs (or simply won’t start), think about whether there are other ways around having one like renting one or borrowing one from a friend.
This can come into handy with baby items. Many couples spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on baby items only to use them for a few months or a year at most. Check with friends and see if you can borrow items, they may have in storage to save on costs.
Why should you ask yourself questions before you buy something?
If you’re trying to reach a big monetary goal or achieve financial independence, then it’s important to think critically before you make any purchases. Separate your wants vs. needs and assess how these purchases will affect your overall financial journey.
If you like to buy fun things like video games or knick knacks, then incorporate these purchases into a monthly budget so that you can better control those spending habits.
What are your options if you do decide to buy?
If you do decide you want to make a purchase then consider the below actions to make sure you’re getting the best deals.
Find relevant coupons
Are there any coupons or discounts available for your purchase? Use sites like Rakuten to find relevant coupons and deals.
Negotiate a better price
If you’re shopping around at different retailers, then it’s worth asking if they can beat the competitor’s prices with their own discount offers. Some stores will offer an even lower price as long as you ask about
Does paying cash for it make it cheaper?
Does paying cash for an item make it more expensive than if you were to finance the purchase? If so, then consider using a credit card with rewards and pay off that balance in full each month.
Some retailers will lower the price if you can pay all cash. If that’s the case then save up until you can afford the purchase in full.
Wait one week before you make your purchase
The final step you should take before buying something is wait one week (30 days is better if possible!). If you still want the item in a week and you can make it work within your budget then go for it. Because many of the purchases we want to make are impulse buys or driven by marketing, if you wait a week, you will find that the moment has passed and you no longer want the item.
This works especially well when you’re shopping in stores and see something you think you absolutely need. Many times, if you don’t buy it at the exact moment you’re there in the store, you’ll never return to buy it!
It’s important to think critically and ask yourself questions before making a purchase. This will prevent you from buying things impulsively and help you reach your financial goals!
Waiting one week or longer after seeing something in a store will help reduce impulse purchases and keep you on track. If you do end up making a purchase, don’t forget to use coupons, negotiate better prices, and if possible, pay cash for the item (if that is more cost effective).
See related: 45 Easy Ways to Save Money
See related: Clever Fox Budget Planner and Expense Tracker