Do you find yourself online shopping at night for entertainment? Do you go into Target and walk out spending $200 more than you planned? Then this blog post is for you.
Before you buy that new shirt, home décor piece, or random Amazon purchase, these 20 questions will help you determine whether you should spend money or not.
Be sure to grab your printable of the 20 questions to put on your fridge or keep in your bag when temptation strikes.
1. Is this the first time I am seeing this item?
If you are just seeing this item today, then it’s time to pause before adding it to your online or in-store shopping cart.
If you haven’t been seeking this item out for awhile, then it is definitely an impulse buy.
2. Is this something I need?
Before you say yes to this question, let’s define the difference between a want and a need.
A need is something that is necessary to live and function. A want is something that can improve your quality of life. Examples of needs are food, a few pieces clothing, shelter and medical care. Wants are pretty much everything else.
3. How have I lived my life without it so far?
Unless this item is a legitimate need, chances are, you’ve been doing just fine without it.
4. Is it budgeted for?
Sticking to your budget is so important when it comes to frugality and reaching your financial goals.
If this item is not budgeted for, then it is a no-go.
5. Do I already have something that could serve the same purpose?
This is a great opportunity to see what items you already own that are similar before buying the same type of item.
6. Can I borrow this?
Instead of buying something new, first see if you can borrow it from a friend or family member.
Then, see what resources are available in your community.
Do you have a local library? If the answer is yes, it’s a great idea to stop by and see everything it has to offer.
Libraries have much more than just books you can borrow. I have heard of libraries that let you check out puzzles, video game consoles, power tools, appliances, and even gardening tools.
7. Can I get it for free?
You would not believe how many things you can get for free with a little bit of effort.
People give away stuff ALL THE TIME. You just have to be looking for it.
Here are some places to look for free stuff:
- Facebook marketplace
- No-buy Facebook groups
- Free sample websites
- Apartment trash areas and the curb in front of people’s homes
My best tip is to shop the freebie section on Facebook marketplace instead of shopping retailers’ websites. You never know what you’ll find for absolutely free!
8. Can I find it used for a fraction of the price?
If you have established that this item is a need, then consider buying it used.
Check local thrift stores, used marketplaces, and even see if you have a friend, family member, or neighbor who is looking to sell the item for a big discount.
9. Can I make it instead of buying it new?
Did you know that there are thousands of videos on YouTube that will teach you how to make things?
Check YouTube and see if it is possible (and affordable) to make the item yourself.
10. Will it serve more than one purpose?
11. Is it made well enough to last a useful amount of time?
Being frugal doesn’t always mean buying the cheapest things all the time.
For the things you need, investing in a product that will last a very long time is often a better value for your money.
For example, if you’re on your feet a lot for work or in your daily life, you would want to invest in a quality pair of walking shoes.
If you are not sure that the item you’re considering purchasing is going to last, a lot more research needs to be done.
12. Will it be easy and cost-effective to clean and maintain?
This is a big one. If maintaining the item outways the benefits of owning it, then you are likely going to regret the purchase.
13. Will it require excessive energy to use?
14. Am I wanting to buy it just because it's on sale?
Don’t let sales prices be the main deciding factor to buy something. Most everything is on sale once a year or even more.
You can do a Google search to learn what months certain items typically go on sale.
Make sure you have done your research and can afford to buy it first.
15. Is there a place in my home for it?
This one is so important! If you can’t think of the exact place this item can comfortably fit, then it should not enter your home.
16. Can I recycle or compost it when I'm done with it?
17. How many hours wilI have to work to buy this?
Do you know how much you make an hour? This is a great opportunity to calculate how many hours you’d have to work to pay for this item.
18. Will I regret this purchase when my bills are due?
All of the impulsive buys add up. Will you be ok with adding this purchase to the dozens of other purchases on your credit or debt card?
Or will you look back and wish you had bought less junk so you could pay your bill?
19. Will buying this help me reach my financial goals?
As we reach the end of these questions, take a moment to think about what your financial goals are.
Are you trying to get out of debt? Stop living paycheck-to-paycheck? Maybe you just want a little more money to invest or start saving for retirement?
Whatever your goals are, think about how purchases like this one have impacted you financially in the past.
Will this purchase make reaching your financial goals easier or harder?
20. If I'm still not sure, can I wait a month before deciding to buy it?
You should never have to feel pressured into buying something.
Waiting 30 days to purchase the item will give you enough time to do your research and see if you can borrow it, get it for free, or decide if you actually want it in the first place.