Stop spending money by asking yourself these important questions.
You may or may not believe this, but….it’s true….I am a recovered shopaholic. I use to go shopping every single day, buying everything and anything that caught my eye. After years of money mistakes, I finally began to change my ways. It took time, a lot of ups and downs, but I was able to overcome that shopping addiction. A lot of the change came from learning to ask myself some important questions before spending any money. These questions have made a huge impact on my life and spending habits, and I think they can help you too!
Asking yourself these important questions before spending money gives you time to pause and reflect so that you can make the best decisions for you and your finances.
Below are the questions I recommend you ask yourself before making a purchase. Let me know if there are any other questions that you would add to this list!
1. Do I need this?
The first question you should always ask yourself before making a purchase is, “Do I need this?” Now, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with buying things that we want, as a matter of fact it’s healthy to buy your wants occasionally. But, if you are trying to cut back on spending money, it’s important to truly focus on buying your needs.
So, what is a need?
Needs are the items you absolutely have to have in order to live and survive each day. Things like, shelter, food, transportation, etc. will usually fall under the need category.
If you determine that you don’t need the item, maybe consider starting a sinking fund so that you can come back and by it another time.
2. Can I afford this?
The next question to ask yourself before spending money is, “Can I afford this?” Look through your budget to determine if you have enough money saved and available to make the purchase. If you will have to make the purchase using a credit card, then it is probably not a wise time to buy it.
Instead, make a sinking fund (which is like a savings plan) in your budget so that you can save up enough cash to purchase the item down the road. Saying “no” in the moment, doesn’t always mean saying “no” forever.
- Related: How to Make a Zero Based Budget
3. Will I love/use this for years?
Always consider the long term investment when you are spending money, if you are going to spend money on something, it should be something that you will love and use for years to come.
True, most purchases will bring instant joy, but not all of them will keep you happy for much longer than that.
I’ve found that when I stop and think about how long I will actually enjoy something, I’m able to make much better spending decisions.
4. Will buying this bring me closer to or further away from my big goals?
One of the questions that helps me the very most when I’m considering whether to make a purchase or not is to ask myself if buying the item will bring me closer to my big life goals or further away from my big goals.
I have big goals for my future, like I’m sure you do as well. I want to help my husband retire early, pay cash for my kids to go to college, and provide an inheritance to my children.
When I am considering buying something I will usually ask myself something like, “Would I rather buy this TV or use that money to help me get closer to my goals?” This question always helps me remember the big picture and puts everything into perspective.
Sometimes, you might rather buy the TV (or whatever it might be), and that’s ok! But, always give yourself that moment to reflect on your goals before spending money.
5. Could I buy this item for a lower price?
Maybe you have found something that you truly need/want/love more than anything, and are positive that you want to buy it. Ok! Go for it (as long as it’s in budget!) But, before buying, take a few minutes to brainstorm some ways that you could buy that same product for less (because we all like more for less….right???). For example, you might be able to:
- Buy it cheaper at a different store
- Barter for the item to get the price lowered
- Borrow something similar from a friend
- Buy it gently used on Facebook marketplace or a thrift store
- Use a cashback app or store rewards program
- Wait to purchase it when it goes on sale
- Repurpose something you already own to be similar
The extra work it will take to find a lower price is always worth the extra effort for me!
- Related: How To Negotiate Your Bills
6. How often will I use this?
Be honest with yourself about how often you will actually use the item you want to buy. Will it only be used a couple of times and then sit at the bottom of your closet? Or will it be pulled out over and over for many years to come?
A few years ago I was POSITIVE that I wanted to buy a rice cooker. We eat a lot of rice, so I thought if I had a fancy-schmancy cooker then it would make my life much easier.
Well. I was wrong.
As it turns out, I like the rice cooked over the stove much more than rice from a rice cooker (whodathunk!?).
So, the rice cooker sat in my pantry for years, until I finally donated it.
If I would have taken a little bit more time to think about whether I would actually change my regular routine and get out an extra appliance to make rice, I probably would have realized that this is an item that wouldn’t be used very often. And, I would have saved myself some money.
7. How am I feeling right now?
Take a minute to reflect on what emotions you are feeling in the moment. Try to determine if any of those emotions are the cause of you wanting to spend money. Many times we will spend money because we are bored, hungry, stressed, or anything in between.
If you emotional spending is a common occurrence in your life, make sure to read my article: How To Stop Emotional Spending for a few tips on overcoming this problem!
Once you focus on the emotion you are feeling in that moment, you will be able to decide if it’s your emotions telling you to make the purchase….or your logic. I recommend making purchases based on logic!
8. Could I use this money for something else?
Another important question to ask before spending money is, “Could I use this money for something else?” It’s always important to be aware of your current needs so that you will know if you need to be spending your money on something else.
- Do you have debt you need to pay off?
- Have you been contributing to retirement?
- Are your sinking funds full?
These might (not always, but might) be better uses for that money….rather than what you want to buy at the store.
Taking the extra time to ask yourself a few questions, instead of instantly buying the first thing that catches your eye will save you a lot of money. I know it has saved me time and time again! Be thoughtful with your spending, consider each purchase, and make the decisions that will best help you now and in the future.
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Make sure you ask yourself these questions before spending money!