We all do it. We enter a store looking for one or two items and end up leaving with way more than we intended. This not only hurts our wallets but can lead to owning too many things. I’ve developed four questions that I ask myself whenever I start to divert from my shopping list, so I only go home with things that I actually need and can afford.
1. Do I need this item?
This is pretty simple, is this item something you need or something you want. Toilet paper and lettuce could be things you need. On sale wrapping paper or a cute pencil holder could be things you only want. I use this question to gauge if it’s something I forgot to put on my list or a passing fancy.
2. Have I been wanting to buy this for a while?
Have you been wanting to buy a new bathmat for months and you just found one on sale? Maybe this is the time to finally buy it. But you haven’t been thinking about buying that glassware set, in fact, you don’t really need new glasses. Skip it, even if it’s on sale. This gives you the freedom to take up low prices, but only on items that will actually help you.
3. Do I have the money for this?
This is the big one: can you afford it? Even if it is something you need and it’s on sale, you can still not have enough money at the moment to buy it. This is particularly true for pricier items. However, if you check out the price and realize you have that extra money in the budget, go for it!
4. Will I (or my spouse) be disappointed I bought this in a few days?
Even if you answer yes to the first three questions, you can still say no to this one. Maybe you have been craving a new video game and you just found one you’ve been wanting to play on sale! Then you remember that your spouse has been complaining about needing new work shirts. Sure, there might be yeses to the first three questions, but you know your spouse will be disappointed to wait another paycheck before getting new clothes. So you pass on the offer.
Only you can answer these questions truthfully and use them to help your spending habits. Usually, I only get to the first question and put the item back. Remember, there will be a time when you will have more disposable income, but until then, learn to recognize the difference between what you want, what you need, and what you can afford.
What are some of your tricks to curb your spending? Do these questions help you?