Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (561 words)

5 Questions to Ask Before You Bu

How much thought do you give purchase decisions? Are they deliberate or impulsive? How you spend money, even on the seemingly insignificant day-to-day things, has a big impact on your entire financial life.

Have you ever wondered why some of your friends or relatives are always broke, even though they seem to make a lot of money? Or others who don’t have the highest income have fewer money problems?

Being financially responsible means thinking through your purchases, assuring yourself that the purchase makes sense and that you can afford it before you proceed. Here are five questions to ask yourself before making a specific purchase.

Do you need it? Needing an item is a good reason to buy it. But, it’s important to be sure that you’re not confusing wants and needs. Your “needs” are the items you must have to survive. Many unwise purchase decisions are made when we convince ourselves that we need something that we really only want really badly. When you’re making a purchase, consider what would happen if you didn’t buy the item. If you can live without it, you don't need it and that's often a good reason not to buy it.

Can you afford it? Being able to afford an item isn’t just about having the cash (or checking account funds) available to pay for it right now. If you have $6,000 in your checking account and $6,000 of bills to pay this month, you can’t necessarily afford anything outside of what you’re already obligated to pay. Before you take on new financial responsibilities, especially recurring ones, consider the responsibilities you already have.

What will it cost you? Every item you purchase will have a monetary cost and you'll have to part with that amount of cash. But, if you put it on a credit card and pay the balance off over several months, you’ll have to pay interest on that purchase. So that's an additional cost. You might have to give up something for that item or incur ongoing maintenance costs. For example, if you purchase a Blu-Ray DVD player, you’ll start purchasing Blu-Ray DVDs, which are more expensive than standard discs.

What are the benefits of the purchase? The time or money savings a purchase gives you in the long run may be well worth the short-term costs. Think about what you gain from making a purchase. If it’s hard to come up with benefits from a purchase, you may need to rethink it.

Can you save money on this item? You may find the same or similar lower-priced item at another store. Have you checked? Did you look for coupons or deals before you started shopping? It’s not always worth the time and effort to shop for coupons, especially for low-priced items or those that rarely go on sale. However, for more expensive items, like clothing, furniture, and electronics, you definitely want to shop around, look for discounts on the internet, and watch the store’s sale cycles.

Money doesn’t come easily for most of us. Neither should we let it go so easily. Think through your purchases. Make sure you need it, can afford it, are getting the best price, and will receive good benefit from items before you finalize your purchase. Thankfully, you can take most things back to the store if you later realize your purchase was a mistake.
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Tuesday, 05 March 2024

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