Updated: Jun 5, 2019
We all make purchases, big and small, sometimes every day. From a takeway coffee on the way to work to a carefully researched new piece of furniture. However it can be easy to slip into auto-pilot mode, not really considering what you’re about to buy. Although this may not have a big impact in the short term, over time you can end up spending a lot more than you’d like and have a houseful of ‘stuff’.
Here are some easy questions to ask yourself before making a purchase, looking at both the emotional and financial side of the transaction.
This can be the harder side to fight, and can often come down to your heart leading your head.
How will this item make me feel?
Think about the short term gratification of buying that item but also the long term feeling too. Whilst you may think that you really really need to buy that chocolate ice-cream, will you regret it afterwards and be cross at yourself for breaking your healthy eating plan?
Does this item fit with my long term goals?
This is much more relevant to larger purchases and is about considering whether what you’re buying fits with the lifestyle that you desire. Perhaps you’re buying another pair of black trousers because that’s what you always wear, but really you long to wear brighter colours and patterns. Don’t stick within your comfort zone if you’re desperate to break out of it!
Can I afford it?
This should be your default question before any purchase, but often gets overlooked in the heat of the moment or for a small purchase. Have you ever stopped and worked out the weekly or monthly cost of your daily coffee or takeaway lunch? Those small amounts add up very quickly!
Think about whether buying this one thing means that you won’t be able to buy something else, what’s the sacrifice that you’re making? Also, consider any savings goals or bigger items that you’re saving for.
Am I buying this because it’s reduced?
Many shops seem to have sales on all year round, as well as special offers and discounts. These can be very enticing and it feels like you’re getting a real bargain. However, you need to consider whether you would have bought the item if it hadn’t been on sale. This also applies to ‘I’ll buy it to put away for later’, especially for children’s clothes! Think about all of the reasons why buying clothes for next summer might be inappropriate – can you determine now what size your child will be? What if there’s a heatwave / monsoon? Will you put them away and forget about them, until it’s too late?
What’s the cost per use?
This is linked to the affordability question. Ask yourself how often you are going to use (or wear) an item, and therefore what’s the cost per use. Compare this to other items. That cashmere jumper may feel beautiful to touch, but if you’re going to be too scared to wear it, it’ll prove to be very expensive. The same goes for single use items, such as special occasion wear or costumes. Does a friend or family member have something you could borrow instead?
It may make you feel like a bit of a killjoy to start off with, but questioning purchases before you make them can be really beneficial in the long run. Not only will you hopefully save some money, but you’ll also save the heartache of decluttering all those sale items.
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