Every store you visit is going to be designed in a manner to suck every possible dollar out of you. That means big flashy signs, product at the registers, buy-one-get-one-free sales, etc.. The most important thing you can do prior to making any purchase is taking a few minutes to determine if it is really worth buying. Don't buy on impulse. Not only will you be buying things you don't need and wasting your hard earned money, but you'll be teaching your kids that spending excessively is OK.

Below are some tips that will help you determine if the item being considered for purchase is really worth buying.

Do you need it or want it? Can you live without it?
Many purchases are necessary and vital for survival. For example, toothpaste, soap, food are a few of life's essentials. However, stuff like clothes, electronics, jewelry, etc, are usually discretionary items. Therefore, if you are not needing an item you are contemplating buying, it is probably smart to not purchase it.

What purpose does it serve?
I once bought a fancy bowl that I intended on using when I have guests over for dinner. However, to-date I have never used it...and I have people over all the time! It has done nothing but collect dust and taken up space in my pantry. Totally of no use.

Will it ever actually be used?
My mother likes to shop. A few years ago she asked me to come by and help her clean out her closets. When all was said and done, we had at least 20 big shopping bags filled with brand new clothes, still with tags, never worn. You may be reading this and saying to yourself, 'I would never buy clothes and then not wear them!'. But the important thing to do is think about what you like to spend your money on. Think about it...have you purchased a movie and never watched it? Or a book that never got read? Do you have a piece of exercise equipment that turned into a clothes hanger? I think you get the idea :)

Is this a passing fad?
Clothes are the best example of passing fads. Why are you even thinking about paying $200 for a new shirt that will likely not be in style anymore in six months? I know someone that purchased 3 pairs of Ugg boots only to have them sit in their closet as a result of them no longer being fashionable. Don't feed into the craziness of passing fads!

Are you considering buying something to compete?
If you are only make a purchase to impress your friends or neighbors, don't...especially if that purchase is beyond your means. You don't want to overspend on something just so that you are an owner of that specific brand. For example, what makes a Lexus SUV better than an Acura? Is it safer? Lots of times you are merely paying more just for the name. Visit Consumer Reports to ensure that any high ticket item you are thinking about buying is worth it's price.  Don't fall into that trap/pressure of buying to compete with your neighbors. It is possible that they can't even afford what they are purchasing and are merely doing so to compete with you!

When you really want it?
Spending on yourself is OK. We all need to treat ourselves once in a while. But it is still important to consider the tips above as well as evaluating if your self-indulgence is really something you want.

Related Reading:  
Money Saving Tips
Surviving an Economic Crisis

Tips for Changing Spending Habits
Controlling Spending





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