You've probably been there: You've succeeded in building up a little in savings and then you see something you can't live without. Before you know it, your rainy-day fund is only a memory.
The next time the urge to splurge hits, avoid making an unnecessary purchase by asking yourself the following questions.
1. Why do I want this item?
Analyzing why you want something quickly can make evident if the purchase is a true need. If you want the item because it's attractive or fun, you don't truly need it. On the other hand, if you require the item for work or to fix something necessary that is broken, then you probably do need it.
2. What will I do with the purchase?
If the purchase is viable, you should have no problem picturing yourself using the item in your daily life. If your vision of how you will use the item is unclear, you can probably do without making the purchase.
3. Is someone pressuring me to buy?
If a friend or sales associate is leaning on you to open up your wallet, that's no reason to say yes. Don't feel bad about declining. It's you, not your friend or the sales associate, who will be stuck with the bill later.
4. Will I have difficulty paying bills if I buy this?
Sometimes knowing in the back of your mind that a purchase will cause a budget shortfall isn't enough. Instead, stop and imagine yourself empty-handed when it comes time to pay a bill. This visual is likely to dampen your buying enthusiasm.
5. Is there something I want even more than this?
Finances are generally finite, so if you buy the item in question now, you may not have enough money to purchase something else more desirable in the future. Avoid spending earmarked funds on an impulse purchase.
6. What if I don't buy the item?
The answer to this question can immediately tell you whether an item is necessary. If an area of your life will suffer without the object, then you maybe you do need to buy it. But if your life will continue without issue, it's best to think twice.
7. Do I already have one of these?
The older models of some things can be just as good as the new ones, and in some cases, the quality may even be better. Clean up and repair the same item if possible, leaving your saving account untapped.
8. Do I own something similar?
So maybe you don't have the same exact pair of shoes, but do you have a similar pair in almost the same color? Along the same lines, many electronic devices perform similar functions, making multiple purchases in this area unnecessary.
9. Can this item be borrowed or rented?
Besides renting books and movies, consider borrowing items from friends. If you need a tux for a special event, do you have a friend the same size who will loan one out for the occasion? The same holds true for tools used for home maintenance tasks. Consider renting what you need from the local hardware store.
10. Is this the first time you'll own one of these items?
We all have our "someday" dream purchases, but if this is an impulse buy and you've never owned one of these items before, the odds are good you don't truly need it.
It's not always easy to ask yourself these questions when an exciting purchase opportunity presents itself. But by doing so, you can avoid seeing your savings disappear with the swipe of a card and the remorse that often follows.
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