So you are looking at making a big purchase? You feel some jitters maybe. You wonder if it’s ok to make the purchase or not. But how do you know if it’s wise to move forward with buying the item? Do you just impulse and say why not you only live once? Do you go back and do some more analysis? Do you buy it but then wonder if you did the right thing? Here are 7 questions you can ask to make sure you are making a wise decision?
Can you buy it with cash?
Do you have enough cash to buy the item or will you have to borrow the money? If you can’t buy the item with cash, you would probably be wise to save up until you can. Our great grandparents and grandparents had this weird idea that if you couldn’t pay cash for something that meant you couldn’t afford it. Somewhere in the last 50 years though we lost that belief as a tidal wave of plastic has convinced us we can have anything we want anytime we want.
There are a couple of benefits to using cash.
- Cash allows you to enjoy the item you purchased more because you don’t have months of payments hanging over your head.
- Cash makes you think differently about your purchases. Many studies have shown that spending cash triggers the pain centers of the brain in a way swiping plastic does not. Using cash will help you prioritize if you really do want the item enough to part with those Uncle Benjamins.
How often will you use it?
Is this an item you use every day? Or is this something you use rarely? Is it worth spending $500 on a new roto tiller if you will use it for about 2 hours tilling your small garden and then it will sit in your garage the rest of the year? Chances are you’d be much better off simply renting one when you need it.
Will you still want it tomorrow, or better yet next week?
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received regarding purchases is to simply sleep on it. Many times I’ve been in a store convinced I absolutely have to have that special item. Somehow though I managed to display enough discipline to wait just a couple of days before I made the purchase. It’s amazing how often a couple of days later I wonder why I even wanted that item.
We get the adrenaline flowing when we think about buying something we think we want. It can often fool us into thinking we really “need” something that is only a want. By giving it a day or two for that adrenaline to subside we can decide how much we really want it.
But it might be gone if I don’t buy it now!! If it is, take it as a sign you weren’t supposed to buy it anyway.
Consider why you really want it?
Why do you really want to buy it? Are you feeling a little depressed and it will make you happy? Is it a legitimate need? Did you accomplish something and you want to reward yourself? Had a difficult day and you want to forget about it? Sometimes purchases are for things we really need (or wants if they are in our budget are fine too.) But sometimes purchases are really a way we medicate our emotions. We are feeling sad, lonely, scared, depressed, or upset and we buy to make ourselves feel better. While this may work in the short-term, in the long-term it is not a solution to our problems, and it may make us feel worse when the bills start to come in.
Have you talked to your spouse?
If you are married, is your spouse on board with you making the purchase? You need to define as a couple what constitutes a large purchase and neither of you should purchase an item over that amount unless you are in agreement. That doesn’t mean you need to get permission to buy a pack of gum at the check out line, but it also means that you don’t come home with a bass boat and say, “Hi honey, look what I bought!”
Have you researched it?
Have you taken the time to research your purchase? Or are you impulse buying the first item you see? Our tendency is to get caught up in the emotion of the purchase and be tempted to buy the first thing that catches our eye, but that may not be wise. Slowing down to do a little bit of research first may get you a much better deal and save you a whole lot of regret later on.
Have you prayed about it
I list this last but it probably should be first. Especially when making a large purchase, spend some time praying about it. Ask God if you are to buy the item. Ask him to guide you to the right item. Take some time to get a sense of whether you feel like you should be buying this item or not. Remember God owns it all and we are simply managers of what he has given us. That does not mean that he doesn’t want you to have nice stuff. It might be that he wants you to use the money you’d use on the purchase on something else. It might mean that He wants you to have the item, but just not now, or He wants to provide it in a different way. Or you might sense He wants you to have it right now. But you won’t know that without asking.
Make purchases that are a blessing
There’s nothing wrong with having some nice stuff. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying purchasing an item you have worked and saved a long time for. You want your purchases though to be a blessing, not something that you later regret. If you take the time to ask these 7 questions, chances are that purchase will be a blessing you will enjoy.