Life is trying to get back to normal. As the COVID-19 numbers drop, more retail stores are reopening, which is a great sign for our economy, but may not be as good for your pocketbook. Try to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of things getting back to ‘normal,’ and be mindful of your spending.
Before you shop, ask yourself the following questions.
Is this an Impulse Buy?
Are you shopping with a list? If you are, is the item you’re holding or that you ‘need to buy’ on your list? If not, it’s an impulse buy. Even if you don’t have a list, but you look at things you don’t need or didn’t intend to buy; it’s an impulse buy.
Rather than buying without thinking, give yourself 48 hours. Leave the store or close your web browser without buying the product. After 48 hours, if you’re still thinking about the item, maybe it’s something worth buying. Chances are though, if it was an impulse buy, you won’t even think about it again.
Is it in the Budget?
If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s to live on a budget and prepare for emergencies. Now more than ever we need a budget. Create your budget and stick to it. Make sure you include room for spending in it – don’t make yourself sacrifice so much that you spend out of anger but keep it reasonable.
If you want to buy something that isn’t in your budget, figure out how much you have to save each pay period to buy it. Looking at it from that perspective may change your mind or at least make you work hard to get what you want.
How Often Will I Use It?
The excitement of buying something new is just that, excitement. Think realistically, though. How often will you use the product? Is it something you want because of the novelty? Will it wear off quickly or is it something you’ll genuinely use? Do you want it because it’s trendy or because it’s something you’ve wanted for a long time and now you can get it?
Is it Worth the Investment?
Is the money you put into the item worth it? Will it last long enough to make the investment worth it, or is it a one-and-done product? We have to be careful where we spend our dollars today, especially since everyone should be saving money in their emergency fund, just in case we experience another round of what the economy experienced this time around with COVID-19.
We know it’s exciting that the stores are opening again. We are just as excited, but keeping your spending under control is important. Ask yourself the questions and really listen to the answers. If nothing else, give yourself time before you make a purchase. You’ll likely find that you spend a lot less when you sit on the decision rather than acting on an impulse. In the end, you’ll have a larger emergency fund and less stress in your life.