Updated: June 1, 2023
There’s no debate on how we should prioritize our necessities to make sure that we first spend on our NEEDS before our WANTS.
After successfully budgeting for our necessary expenses, it feels good to have money left for the non-essential stuff – things that are simply nice to have, especially if it’s something that we’ve wanted for some time already.
These are called discretionary expenses. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about spending your money on them.
However, it’s still important to be prudent about our purchases. You don’t want to regret a bad purchase or suffer from buyer’s remorse. Because, after all, that is still your hard-earned money that went to waste.
So how do you know if a non-essential item is worth buying or if it’s better just to skip it and spend your money on something else?
Here are five questions to ask yourself that can help you decide.
1. Can I really afford it?
Go back to your budget and check if all your needs are, indeed, already covered.
Think about your upcoming necessary expenses. Consider the next few weeks, up to the next couple of months, to ensure that you’re not forgetting anything important.
2. How will this bring value to your life?
You need to have a good reason why you want to buy the item, and it should not be just because you want it or you like it.
Think about its utility and purpose. Is it going to be useful to you? Do you see yourself using it often? If you’re unsure, then maybe you can borrow from someone first and see if it’s something you’d actually want to have.
Early this year, I wanted to buy a mechanical keyboard, but I wasn’t sure if I’d really like using one. So, I borrowed my friend’s first, and then after a week, I did enjoy its utility, so I eventually bought one for myself.
Avoid accumulating useless stuff. You don’t want clutter to build up in your home because studies show that it affects one’s productivity and mental health.
3. Is it durable?
Even if it’s non-essential, you don’t want to keep buying something because it keeps breaking.
Moreover, buying a brand or model that’s durable makes it possible to resell the item once you no longer want it.
4. Are you buying this on impulse?
Even if you can afford it, it’s never a good idea to buy something on impulse. Because you could be missing out on a better deal somewhere, or you’re simply after the retail therapy and not the actual item itself.
My rule is to give myself a few days, sometimes up to a month, before buying anything unnecessary.
Even if the item is on sale, I still give myself time before I buy the item. I’d walk around the mall and check other stores or grab a snack first. This allows my mind to really consider if it’s worth buying.
On several occasions, I actually ended up deciding against the purchase because I realized that it would be a frivolous expense.
5. Is there something else that I want to buy instead?
Lastly, think about all the things you want to buy. Consider that perhaps, it’s better just to save your money now and use it for something else in the future — another item that you’ve also been wanting to buy.
Remember that when you say YES to a purchase today, you’re also saying NO to something you could buy tomorrow. So, make sure that you won’t regret spending on that item when you realize there was something better you could’ve bought.
And those are the five questions you need to ask before buying something you want. Do you have other tips? Let me know in the comments section.
Do you want a more extensive test? Then there are 12 questions you can ask.
What to do next: Click here to subscribe to our FREE newsletter.