We live in a consumption-based society. That is, the economy and, by extension, most businesses depend on individuals to make purchases on a regular basis. Unsurprisingly, the average person is bombarded with ads everywhere they go on the bus, on TV, and within their social-media feeds.
The bad news is that advertising is very effective, and it can coerce people to spend money that they should save instead. To that end, today we’re going to review a process that all but guarantees smart purchase decisions. Ask yourself these four questions the next time you’re about to pull the trigger and buy something:
Do I Need This?
Essential purchases are sometimes difficult to define because no two individuals need the same things to live a happy and fulfilled life. Obviously, some things like groceries, rent, medical consultation are essential across the board. Indeed, you shouldn’t skip a trip to the doctor’s office; no matter what. Whether you’re going for a checkup or you’re experiencing foot pain and need to know the difference between bunions versus gout, don’t ever put off medical assistance.
On the other hand, some items are essential to a person’s self-worth or their job. For example, web designers need a quality computer to ply their trade effectively. Thus, defining “essential” is ultimately up to personal discretion.
Do I Need this Now?
Timeliness is an important factor to consider when making a purchase. Often, individuals buy essential items that they don’t actually need right then and there. If, for instance, your phone works perfectly fine now, it doesn’t make much sense to pay for an unneeded upgrade. Additionally, sometimes people make purchases in expectation because they assume they’ll need a product or service in the future. Yet, typically, it pays to wait and see on that front.
Can I Get This Elsewhere?
The answer to this question is almost always “yes.” Shoppers have more choices than ever before, and it’s usually possible to find cheaper alternatives to common items online and at local retail outlets. It pays to be a savvy consumer and to compare prices from other sources. Remember, paying premiums for brand-name goods can cost you a lot of money over the long-haul.
Can I Afford This?
As we’ve established above, just because you can afford something, it doesn’t mean you should buy it. However, it’s nevertheless key to keep tabs on your financial standing. If at all possible, you should avoid making purchases that put you over budget or worse force you to take on debt for an extended period of time. Doing so could cause you to lose control of your finances. So always be cautious about making big purchases.
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