Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Evaluate Before You Buy

#13 Saving Money Tip - Evaluate Your Potential Purchase Before You Buy. How many times do you walk into a store and see something you like and buy it without really giving thought to whether you need it or not? This is an easy way to spend money unnecesarily.

Instead, take careful consideration before you purchase a product. Ask yourself these 4 questions:

--Do I need this?
--How badly do I need it?
--Can I do without it for a little while?
--Can I use something else instead?

It's very easy to see beautiful new shoes in the store and throw them in the cart or to do the same with a pretty handbag, a -t-shirt, a picture, or even cup of coffee. But if you are trying to save money then ask yourself if these items are really necessary or would the x number of dollars you are spending on it be better off in your bank or paying off a debt? I'm betting that 9 times out of 10 the things you are buying are wants and not needs. And if you are trying to save money then you should only be purchasing needs.

Let's go through one example and see how we can save some money. In the original scenario, you see a pair of black shoes in the store that would look great for you to wear to your cousin's wedding. They cost $50. You "need" these shoes for a special occasion so you throw them in your cart and pay for them. Now suppose you take my advice and question yourself before you throw them in the cart. Do you need these shoes? Yes, you need them to wear to a wedding. Do you really need these shoes? Not really, but you want them. Can I do without them for a little while? Well, yes, the wedding isn't for another month and I might find cheaper shoes before then. Is there something else you can use instead? Well, yes, I have black shoes at home that I can wear but they're boring. (But by wearing them, you will be $50 richer.)

In this scenario, you realize that you really didn't need these $50 shoes. You can wait and find shoes for a cheaper price or even better wear shoes you have at home. (They're all going to be looking at the bride anyay).

If you do this with all items you purchase, you will find yourself with more money in your pocket and fewer unnecessary things in your home.

In Real Life (IRL) - Ever since I was young, I was careful with money. I don't know if I inherited this trait from my dad or learned it from him. But it's always been there. When our parents would give us some money to spend such as at a fair, my sister would spend hers right away. I wouldn't. I'd always want to save all of it or at least most of it.

When I got older and had limited funds from my job, I tried to put as much away in savings as possible. That's when I started evaluating each item I bought. Did I really need to buy a picture for my room? Could I use something else I already have at home instead of this new item? Do I really need another CD, DVD, book? Can I get them cheaper elsewhere (borrow from a friend, library, etc.)?

Here is an example of some spending I didn't do. One weekend some friends of mine and I wanted to go on a camping trip. Unfortunately, none of us owned a tent. We didn't know if this would be a long-term interest of ours or just a one-time event. So instead of buying a tent, I looked into renting one. We were able to rent two tents for $30. Since there were 4 of us it only cost us $7.50 each and gave us a place to stay for a weekend away. If one of us bought one, we would have had to shell out $60 or so. Now of course if this became an annual trip or an interest of ours, then buying would have made sense in the long-term, but for a one-time trip, we were able to find a cheaper alternative.
I remember deciding whether I should really buy a comforter for my bedroom. It was very pretty and I was sick of my old one. But after thinking it over, I realized I really didn't need
the comforter and I could do without it. So I didn't buy one at all.
Now I do think that some people can take this overboard and never buy anything again, which probably isn't healthy, although it will put a lot of money in your pockets. But if you are trying to save some money, then do as I do and make sure it's something you really need before you buy. You'll be glad you did. Ask yourself the four questions before you buy and you will cut back on a lot of unnecessary purchases.

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