Welcome back to the long deep dive into questions to ask yourself before making a big purchase. We’ve done an overview. We’ve asked ourselves if we have something similar. And we’ve asked if this needs to be an immediate purchase.
Those questions help avoid impulse purchases, especially. But what about non-impulse purchases? What about those big items you’ve been stewing over buying. You know it’s not something you already own. You know it’s something you want and have waited to buy. What should you ask yourself next?
A year or two ago, I heard a really interesting take on evaluating big purchases: Can you afford to buy it twice?
This makes perfect sense for a luxury want–designer clothing or accessories, an expensive meal out, cute (but pricey) home accessories. When evaluating those purchases, this question forces the shopper to go beyond the basic question of “Will I overdraft if I buy this?” and think more in proportions. You might not overdraft if you buy this item, but will this purchase mean you’ll overdraft on the next one?
More than thinking about the purchases of your future self, think about your savings account. What if, every time you made a big purchase, you add the same amount to a savings account? How quickly would that add up? What would you be able to do with that money?
This question can also make sense for smaller items. Small impulse purchases that are only $5? What if they were $10? Tiny purchases add up quickly because it’s “not that much.” Then suddenly you’ve spent $100 at Target all from $5-10 items. (Hashtag, me last weekend in the Halloween section.)
The goal of talking yourself out of a purchase isn’t really to live a life of deprivation. It’s to channel your purchases so that every one adds to your quality of life without detracting from your financial security and goals. Little impulse purchases can bring you joy. And well-thought out big purchases can be wonderful. It’s just a matter of asking the questions to make the best decisions possible.