Often when shopping – especially online 🙈 we can have a tendency to make some spur-of-the-moment decisions that might be regretted later. Especially when there are heaps of sales on, we can trick our brains into thinking that we’re getting a good deal – then we end up with something we might not actually need or use. Over the holiday season, spending can easily get out of control and our rational thinking sometimes goes out the window.
When considering a big purchase, besides “can I afford this?”, there are a few other things you could ask yourself. For example, how long will it last you? Does it come with warranty? What happens if you lose it? Depending on what you’re buying, here are some questions to consider before you dish out some serious cash.
1. Why am I really buying this?
The first question you want to ask yourself, especially for a big purchase, is why do you need to buy this? Is this item something you want or something you need?
If you don’t absolutely need it, then it's worth considering if you need to buy it then and there. For some, writing down a list of pros and cons can help them sort through whether the purchase is a need or just a want.
Taking some time to think it through and learn more about the purchase can bring some clarity on whether it is worth the investment or if it’s just an impulse buy. This is because your rational self can kick back into gear with time and can help you make more reasoned decisions.
If this purchase is a gift for someone else, it’s worth considering whether it's something that person will use and appreciate.
2. Can I find a lower cost option or alternative?
Have you done your research? There’s a chance you might find a good quality used version being sold for less on social media or an online marketplace if you do a little digging. Alternatively, you could consider borrowing it from someone else?
For some purchases like electronics and household goods, if you don’t need them right now, it may be worth waiting for them to go on sale – especially towards the end of the year as most large retailers have sales over the holidays.
3. Does it come with a warranty or after purchase support?
For purchases that you expect to last a long time, you might want to take into consideration whether the item has a warranty and if there is after sales support available. Have you considered if something goes wrong, or what’s involved if you need support setting up or installing the item? Are these services already included in the cost?
These are important questions to consider and might set one retailer apart from another.
4. What will I get out of this purchase?
Try to think about what you’re really getting out of the purchase. Is it personal satisfaction? Is it seeing your loved one light up with happiness? Is it an investment for your future and something that will last you a long time? Or will you need to fork out more dollars down the line for replacement parts? These are all questions to ask yourself before making the purchase.
If you’re struggling to answer it, you can consider that a telling sign it might not be the best decision.
5. What other things could I put this money towards?
Our rational self can also kick-in when we think about what future goals this money could be put towards. We have a tendency to get caught up in short-term gratification and get lost in the excitement of a new purchase, which can mean we forget about other long-term goals we are saving towards.
So the next time you’re making a big purchase, whether it's for yourself or a gift for a loved one, this checklist is a good starting point to help you make smarter, more informed, and rational decisions.
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