Questions that Smart Spenders Ask Before Making a Purchase
Smart spenders understand the importance of financial prudence. They’ve mastered the art of asking two critical questions before making any purchase: “Do I really want this?” and “What is the purpose of buying this?” These quotations help define needs versus wants and prevent impulsive shopping. Beyond these, smart spenders ask themselves additional questions to further assure their purchasing decision aligns with their financial goals.
We’re going to take a look at some of these questions. We’ll dig into what exactly what questions to ask, why those questions are important, and what can happen if you’re potentially ignoring them.
Do I Really Want This?
One of the first questions you should ask yourself before buying something is, “Do I really need this?” This question serves as a basic cornerstone for helping you understand the difference between wants and needs and purely impulsive desires. It’s not uncommon to feel that initial spark of excitement when you think of getting something new. Whether it’s a new tech gadget, a new pair of shoes, or some nearly essential piece of decor or flair, the allure and temptation of the new and unknown are powerful.
However, asking this question requires a pause. It requires that you consider what lies beyond the initial thrill of acquisition. Is it the item that you’re attracted to, or is it the excitement of its novelty or trendiness? If that thrill fades quickly, it’s a good indication of a more fleeting desire rather than a true need. Taking the time to ask, “Do I really want this?” helps to prevent regrettable purchases, fostering better spending habits and promoting financial health.
What is the Purpose of buying this?
Another critical consideration for smart spenders is understanding the purpose of a particular purchase. Before you buy anything, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of buying this?” Is the item meant to serve a specific function, or does it fulfill a specific need? If so, will it add value to your life, save you time or money in the long run, or solve a problem?
For example, if you’re thinking about buying a new vacuum, is it because your current one is getting old, requiring frequent repair, and just not working as it used to, or is it because you’ve been attracted by the newer model’s design or advertising? In a situation like this, having a clear understanding of the purpose behind your decision can help you rationalize your purchase and prevent impulse buying.
On the other hand, the purpose of a purchase may not always be practical. Sometimes, the purpose may be to acquire a luxury item that simply brings joy or enhances your comfort. If you can afford it without straining your budget, such purchases can also be justified. The key lies in understanding the underlying purpose and making sure it aligns with your financial goals and circumstances.
Do I already have something similar?
Before making a purchase, you should also consider whether or not you already own something similar. One of the fundamental principles of wise spending is not accumulating unnecessary or redundant items. Determining if you already own something similar, therefore, is a critical consideration, particularly for larger or more significant expenses.
In our highly consumer-driven society, it’s remarkably easy to gather multiple duplicate items, especially when all of the latest models and variations have features and technology that are often marketed as “must-have” items for anyone serious. Take the time to reflect on your current belongings and whether the new item or gear is enough of an improvement to justify the cost. Eventually, you will be able to direct your spending to areas where you can start to see yourself fostering more mindful and efficient use of your resources.
Should I Buy it on Cash or Card?
Another question that smart spenders must become used to asking is, “Should I buy it on cash or card?” The right answer for you will depend on your overall financial condition, the general nature of the purchase, and the potential benefits
If you have sufficient funding, paying cash can be a good option, as it allows you to feel the impact of the purchase immediately, which can curb overspending. It also keeps you out of debt. However, if you’re looking at a substantial purchase, a credit card might be advantageous due to the rewards, protections, and extended warranties they often offer.
That said, it’s incredibly important to acknowledge the role that credit cards can play. Credit cards can encourage overspending and potentially lead to debt if not managed responsibly. So, while the allure of rewards and cashback is enticing, the decision should hinge on your ability to repay within the billing cycle to avoid interest charges. The interest rates on some cards are why many people face significant challenges in getting or staying out of debt. By asking this question, you can determine the payment method that best suits your financial strategy and minimizes potential risks.
Should I Look for a Better Deal anywhere else?
In today’s digital world, price comparison has never been easier. As a smart spender, you should always ask yourself, “Should I look for a better deal anywhere else?” before committing to a purchase. Many times, a quick online search can lead you to a cheaper alternative, a sale, or a retailer offering the same product at a discounted rate.
Price is not the only factor to consider when looking for a better deal. Check for potential trade-offs such as product quality, warranty, customer service, and shipping costs. A low price with poor customer service or high shipping costs may not necessarily be the best deal. It’s also worth considering any loyalty points or cashback offers you may receive from specific retailers. Shopping around can save you money and ensure you’re getting the most value for your purchase.
Looking for alternate methods of acquisition or sources for something you want is a powerful tool for smart spenders. Always explore different avenues before making a purchase. Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or specialty e-stores often offer competitive prices. Don’t forget about local thrift stores or garage sales, where you can find gently used items for a fraction of the original cost in a much more local and readily accessible state. In that same vein, leveraging local online classified ads, swap groups & events, or even resale apps like Marketplace, LetGo, and more can have incredibly good deals on the things you’re looking for. Effectively blending online and in-person shopping opportunities can lead to significant savings.
Do I need this Right Now or can I Wait for a few more months?
Finally, considering when you plan to make your purchase can have significant results on how much you spend. Ask yourself, “Do I need this right now, or can I wait for a few more months?” Certain items may be subject to seasonal price fluctuations, sales, or discounts. For instance, if you’re contemplating a large purchase like a new TV or appliance, waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales could result in substantial savings.
Those sales are not all that common, however, and waiting for just the right sale can take a year or so. Beyond sale cycles, waiting can also give you more time to save for the item, reducing the financial strain of the purchase. It also allows you to further contemplate the need for the item – if after a few months, you still feel the need for it, then it’s more likely a legitimate need rather than a fleeting desire. As always, smart spending isn’t just about what you spend on but also when you choose to spend.