When you're on a budget, making any purchase can seem daunting. After all, you're trying to save every penny you can, stretch the dollars you spend, and make wise spending choices.
There are a few questions we can ask ourselves to making purchases a bit easier, whether its avoiding an unwise purchase or taking a deep breath in knowing a purchase is a positive decision.
I've compiled a list of 5 questions to help you put some intentional thought and decision-making into your next purchase.
I've also created a flowchart, included in this post, to guide you through them in only a few seconds. And to be honest with you, sometimes I need to pull it out and work through it myself when I'm debating a purchase!
1. Do You Need It? (Or Will You Soon?)
There are needs, and then there are wants. One factor that makes budgeting a little bit easier to stick to is noticing the difference between the two.
This is a fundamental question to start with for the following reasons:
if you don't need something, what are your reasons for considering buying it?
if you don't know the reason, think twice about if you are only buying because it is a good price, etc. without actually having a use for the item
2. Is It a Special Treat for Yourself or a Gift For Someone?
While it is a good start to consider whether an item is a need vs. a want, there are times when we will decide to treat ourselves or another to a certain purchase.
Consider the following when doing so:
treating yourself is fantastic - but make sure the item does hold value to you and is worth what you will be spending
if it is a gift for someone else, ensure it is within what you are comfortable spending
if you are buying it with the intention of using it as a gift in the future (but are unsure currently of for whom/when), try to consider occasions in which you could gift it so it won't be bought and remain unused forever
3. Do You Have a Use for The Item?
This question probably sounds basic, but it can be too easy to buy an item because it is a good price, or because we like it, without actually having a use for the item.
If you're unsure of how you'll use it, ask yourself the following:
are you considering it for yourself? for your home? for work? etc.
again, if you are considering it for a gift - do you have a rough idea of how you'll gift it?
4. Does Another Store Have it For Less or On Sale?
This is my golden rule when shopping: always hunt for a sale! I don't enjoy paying full price. Does anyone? There is something so exciting to me about finding a great deal and stretching a dollar further. A few good sales can really add up over time.
Here are a few things to consider to help your budget have a role in your purchase:
look around at a few stores and compare prices - perhaps one store has a sale going on, or is offering the item on clearance
if the item isn't on sale, will it go on sale in the foreseeable future? Some items tend to go on sale more frequently than others
5. Is it Within Your Budget?
This question is critical. It is so important to think about what your budget is, and ensure a purchase you are considering will fall within that budget. After all, you don't want to buy something on impulse and later regret it. Sales are great, but can't always be found. If you pay full price, will you still be pleased with the item you got?
Having a budget and tracking expenses is a great way to know your spending limits and ensure you're staying on track.
Consider the following when weighing your options:
if the item isn't on sale, does it still fall within your budget?
if the item doesn't fall within your budget, consider if there are any coupons you can use, or if you can purchase online for less
Should You Buy It? A Flowchart
While making a purchase and sticking to a budget can seem like a tough balancing act, asking yourself some simple and thoughtful questions can help you ensure that you are making decisions that will positively benefit you, whatever your needs are.
If you're looking for more ways to cut back on spending, check out these alternatives to expenses that you might not notice are slowly adding up.