Thanks to the perfect storm of back taxes, estimated tax payments and student loans, my husband and I are buckling down on our budget for the foreseeable future. So that means we have to reconsider some purchases that we were hoping to make this year.
We've been working through a list of needs (which, if you're honest with yourself, can be very short) and wants so that we can make more intentional decisions about our upcoming purchases. But how do you know when you should buy?
Sleep on it
This isn’t just about a budget, buy-when-it’s-right reason. Pushing things back also allows you more time to research the product and decide whether or not it’s truly a good fit for you.
Take the time to explore the alternatives and see what your life is like without the item on your list. Here are the three ways I'm auditing my "wishlist" to make sure I'm not making any rash decisions.
1. Take a look at what you already have.
Are you just replacing old things? If you can, repair what you already have. Even if it’s just with duct tape—I have a dust pan that is literally held together by just tape, and it marks $6 that I don’t have to spend on another chunk of plastic.
Don’t buy a new car if your old one is working just fine and still suits your lifestyle. Keep up on maintenance and be conscious of how you treat your belongings, and they’ll serve you much longer.
2. Do what you can with alternatives until you can afford the real thing.
Maybe you invest in a bike before you get a car, or a Ninja before you get a Vitamix. Or maybe you just use the same old $25 blender that you’ve had for years. This gives you a chance to see where the larger purchase will fit into your life. Will the more expensive item be worth the use you'll get out of it?
I've been eyeing DSLR cameras for a few years, but that's a significant chunk of cash. Instead, I’m learning more about how to take good photos on my iPhone. When I can’t get the shot I want, I’ve turned to stock photography. Much cheaper than a $400 camera.
3. Try going without.
I’ve been operating on one pair of sandals for over a year, and have found that I don’t need any other pairs. It was a pretty exciting discovery, since for years I thought you needed a huge shoe closet to get by in life.
More often than not, you don’t truly need something to sustain your life, so going without these things isn’t a huge sacrifice.
So take a moment to think about what’s on your wish list. Can you fix what you already have? Do you own an alternative (or can you buy a cheaper one)? Or be really honest with yourself and ask the big question: can I go without this indefinitely? Or maybe even forever?
If you find that you can divert some of your expenses, it’s never a bad idea to consider other ways you can use your extra wealth: donating to charity, paying down debt, or saving for those big-ticket items like houses or vehicles.
What can you do without?