I’ve written before about how hard it is for me to spend money. Sometimes, however, I just need to. I’ve developed a decision tree to help me and my husband work through our purchases. This series of questions isn’t meant to make a decision for you, just to help you in the decision-making process. While we usually reserve this decision tree for larger purchases, it’s also handy for the smaller stuff too.
Is this a need or a want? There is nothing wrong with having a want, just don’t sacrifice a need for a want.
Do I have enough cash to pay for this? My advice to myself: an elephant on sale for a dime is a great deal, if you have a dime and if you need an elephant.
If I buy this with cash will I be sacrificing elsewhere? Spending $100 on a nice dinner out is awesome, but not if it means we have to eat ramen noodles for a week afterward.
If I buy this on credit can I pay it off before it accrues interest? Very, very few things are worth going into debt for but there are instances when it’s necessary. Credit itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just know what you’re getting into before you get into it.
Can I buy this elsewhere for less? Used? Refurbished? Shiny & new is fun but older and cheaper is often better.
Can I borrow, rent, make or substitute something else for this item? This is especially true of tools, big machines, and party ware. If you need something for a one-time job or event, buying the item is rarely the best idea.
Have I calculated how long I would have to work to pay for this item? I once had a fancy coffee addiction. I also had a job I hated. As I was in line for a tall mocha-latte-chinno I calculated that I would have to work 25 minutes, at a job that I loathed, just to pay for that coffee. So not worth it.
Have I asked someone for their advice or opinion on this purchase? Sometimes it helps to talk to someone who isn’t affected by the purchase.
What would happen if I waited a week to buy this? A month? A year? How drastically will your life change without buying this item?