Wondering if you should buy something now or think about it? You’ve come to the right place. Here are three questions to ask yourself before you make a purchase—especially a big and expensive one that you (or your wallet) might regret in the future.
1 – Can I afford it?
The first question you should always ask yourself before you make a purchase is: can I afford it? This, of course, requires you to know what you can and cannot afford—and have an already-established budget in place.
In a past blog post, 5 steps to keeping track of your expenses, we discussed the need to download your monthly statements, categorize your spending, set up a budget, review your ideal budget to your actual spending habits, and adjust your spending and income accordingly.
Based on the 50-30-20 budget rule (50% of your income goes to essentials, 30% to lifestyle, and 20% to savings and investments), ask yourself where this expenditure fits in.
Can you afford to make this purchase?
2 – Do I need it or want it?
If you can’t afford to make this purchase, ask yourself if you need it or if you want it. If the first, it may be an essential purchase and perhaps you could research, plan ahead, and save up for it. Best practice for a healthy, sustainable financial future is to save up for purchases, rather than paying them off later with interest. If you merely want the item, ask yourself why—and move on to question number three.
We’re in the midst of an interesting time where people are beginning to take note of what they need and want in life when it comes to material goods. Marie Kondo, for example, asks her followers to take stock of what they already have. She encourages people to examine each and every material item in our homes and ask ourselves if it “sparks joy.” This simple act reminds us of all that we already have and all of the purchases we’ve made that don’t “spark joy.”
3 – How will you feel about it in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?
Business Insider posted three questions to ask yourself before you make a purchase, making them time-based. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself how you’ll feel about it in 10 minutes. Oftentimes, we feel pressure to buy something in a store or around our peers. However, that pressure is often eliminated after we leave the brick-and-mortar store, take the item home, or purchase something alone and online. Consider how you will feel about that purchase in 10 months and 10 years time.
This is where quality may come into play too—to help you avoid supporting fast fashion and impulse buying low-quality goods that won’t even last 10 years, let alone 10 months.
If you can afford to make the purchase, you truly want or need the item, and you believe that you will cherish it 10 years time, you’ve passed the test. Go ahead and purchase the item. It may seem like a lot to consider, but establishing good buying habits is essential to maintaining healthy personal finances.
If you can’t afford to make the purchase, you don’t need the item, and you think you might regret it (or forget about it) in the near future, perhaps you should avoid buying it. If, in a few days time, you still wish you bought it, start saving up and reward yourself soon.