The First 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything

by Shawanda Greene

Post image for The First 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything

Okay, there are actually 10 questions you should ask yourself before buying anything. This here’s a two parter. To the novice frugalite, it may seem like a lot. But once you hone the art of not spending money (or parting with as little as possible), these questions automatically answer themselves.

1. Do I need it?

Big spending on wants masquerading as necessities is a fast and easy way to end up broke. The cornerstone of any good spending plan involves properly distinguishing between the two. Simply put, don’t buy what you don’t need.

However, we still get into trouble when we overspend on needs that arise out of wants. For example, in order to progress in your career, you may need to acquire additional education or advanced certification. You don’t need to take classes at Pretentious Private University in order to achieve your objectives. There are generally state schools, even community colleges, that offer the education required that’ll get you to the next level in your field.

We can also strain our finances by buying the things we need but already own. Food immediately comes to mind. Just recently I needed nutmeg to make a sweet potato pie. As soon as I got home, I discovered I had some already. Although I’m getting better, this is an area I’ve struggled in since assuming the responsibility of buying groceries for myself over a decade ago.

2. Do I want it?

There are many things we really do want. But only for a teeny tiny moment in time. Refrain from purchasing within that window, and I gar-on-tee you’ll save a heap of money. Sometimes all it takes is waiting for the retail rush to wear off.

If you’re reading this from home, a short visual survey of whatever room you’re in will likely turn up several items that make you ask yourself a most unparliamentary question: “WTF was I thinking when I bought dis ish?!”

I’ve heard you should wait at least 24 hours before deciding whether you want something or not. Some people suggest 3 days. I think it depends on your financial situation. The more expensive an item is with respect to your income and net worth, the longer you should take before buying it.

—-Article continues after advertisement—-

3. Will I use it?

There may be a product you’ve wanted for months, years even. You’ve researched it. You’re obsessed with it. You know you want it.  None of that is worth a hill of beans if you never use it! I had a coffee maker I owned for years that was never used to brew even a single cup of coffee.

You may be thinking you don’t know whether you’ll use a particular item until you buy it. Just look at how/if you’re using similar products. So, that new bread maker you’ve been drooling over will likely meet the same fate as the ice cream maker that’s spent the last 7 years dry rotting in your basement.

4. Can it wait?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting stuff. It’s just that you may not be able to have everything you want all at once. A little patience goes a long way. Sites such as Shop It To Me alert you when apparel from your favorite brands go on sale. Savvy Circle sends you an e-mail notification when specific items you’ve chosen are marked down. You can setup deal alerts on Slickdeals.net using keywords for merchandise you’re looking to buy.

Even Craigslist has gotten in on the “wait to save” action. Conduct a Craigslist search as you normally would, then subscribe to the search results’ RSS feed to easily view new postings.

Who knows? You might wait so long for an item to go on sale, you discover you don’t want it after all. (Refer back to question 2.)

Enter Your Name and Email Below and Click

5. Can I get it for free?

Freecycle and Craigslist are the most popular sites for snagging free swag. There’s also Craiglook if you’re willing to search a bit outside your local area.

Don’t forget family and friends. Other people’s inability to control their spending habits can be your gain. I learned a colleague replaced his flat panel monitor with a higher end version, and politely asked for the item he no longer wanted. I now have it and don’t use it, but at least I didn’t spend any money on it. Win/Win.

Don’t be offended when hoarders refuse to come off the goods. They can’t help it. I find these types can’t stand the idea of giving you something they might use in the decades to come. Let’s love them just the same.

Check out The Last 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything.

What money mistakes have you made because you didn’t ask yourself these questions?

This article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance: Parts-of-speech abuse edition! Check out the other articles at Mighty Bargain Hunter.

Did you enjoy this article?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Sign up for our weekly newsletter to receive exclusive wealth building tips and a FREE ebook, Curb Your Consumerism: 75 Secret Strategies to Waste Less, Live Well, and Save More Money.

Free copy of Curb Your Consumerism: 75 Secret Strategies to Waste Less, Live Well, and Save More Money
Exclusive wealth building tips delivered directly to your inbox
We will NEVER send you spam
Enter your name and email below to get INSTANT ACCESS to my free eBook and weekly newsletter!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob Saint Clare December 16, 2009 at 6:04 AM

Specifically on #4 (can it wait?) and #5 (Can I get it for free?), we've built Tink O Matic (http://www.tinkomatic.com); a free web tool that allows you to search multiple classifieds sites (incl craigslist), save your search, and monitor them over time.
So if you can't find what you're looking for at a good price -or have the patience to wait for an even better deal- you can just check back for new results without having to re-type your searches every day.


Shawanda December 16, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Schmoly! I hadn't heard of Tink O Matic. Thanks for sharing the new resource, Bob!


Carla December 16, 2009 at 5:45 PM

These are really good questions to ask yourself. In terms of wants, if I don't fall in love with it the moment I see it or try it on, I usually don't really want it. I shouldn't have to be talked into getting it. Then my next step is asking myself I will actually use it. How, when and where. That alone has prevented me from buying a lot!

I have purchased craft items that I never used. It wasn't a large amount of money, but they did take up space – sometimes for years. Eventually I either sold them, gave some things away (like fabric) and the rest I mustered up the energy to do something with them! I'm still in the process now.


Shawanda December 18, 2009 at 3:53 AM

Ha! I have an extra Ikea frame I need to buy fabric for in order to use. When it comes to crafts, it seems you have to work on them immediately or you never get around to using them. Actually, I think that's most things.

The one craft tool I think I'll actually get my money's worth out of is a latch hook I bought from Michaels a couple days ago. With a 40% off coupon, it only cost me like a $1.50. I've already used it to tighten my locks once. Worked masterfully. It took a while, but it saved me $95.


Christina December 17, 2009 at 4:02 AM

I guess I always tend to forget to ask myself if I will use the item that I think I needed and really wanted…maybe I did…but then I still end up not using it…kind a confusing but that's reality. We all think we needed or wanted something, sometime we know it could but then…anyway, I guess it's more of imposing discipline with your buying behavior and ask yourself the following question posted in this article.


jessica December 17, 2009 at 5:59 AM

Thanks for all the cool links. I didn't know about shop it to me. That sounds like something I might like. I'm pretty good at putting purchases off for a later date. To the point that I've been saying just a few more months on a new tv for over a year to my husband! I just can't stand getting a new one when our huge 20 year old tv works! Oh well :)


Shawanda December 18, 2009 at 3:58 AM

Twenty years old?! That's some television. They don't make 'em like they used to.

I can't blame you. It doesn't look like I'll be upgrading my ridiculously heavy tube television anytime soon. I got it off Freecycle. Now that Glee won't be back on until April, I probably won't use it for much more than the occasional DVD.


Deb January 11, 2010 at 8:50 AM

Do I *need* it is a really good question to ask oneself – especially when given the fact that we Americans typically only regularly use 1% of the things we buy ( I think I saw that info in the online film "The Story of Stuff" – which everyone should Google and watch immediately).

Americans also typically waste up to 14% of their food. If your family spends $450 a month on groceries & waste 14% – that means $63 is going straight into the garbage each month. $756 a year!

The other day, I organized my haircare products, and much to my horror realized that I have a shelf FULL of shampoos, gels, and other products. Now that it's organized, I know I won't have to spend another dime on hair care products for many months. Did you know that Americans spend over $17 million a year purchasing items to replace ones that they've lost or misplaced due to disorganization & clutter?

Love the links, and am bookmarking Tipomatic right now!


Shawanda Greene January 11, 2010 at 8:14 PM

I LOOOOVE The Story of Stuff! I know I’ve linked to it in a blog post. Just can’t remember which one(s).

And I’ll tell you something else, I did not know Americans spend over $17 million buying crap they already have. I should’ve know disorganization was an epidemic in this country. I’m trying to do my part to reduce the collective waste.

I really need to resolve to be more organized in 2010. I’ve already started with a coupon binder. Lack of organization is the primary reason I rarely use grocery coupons. If I get myself a system going, then it won’t be so painful and time consuming…I’m hoping.

Thanks for the facts!


Penny Stock Blog January 26, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Great advice when ever your considering a purchase.


pt bestProfit December 24, 2016 at 9:50 PM

Thanks on your marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading
it, you can be a great author. I will make certain to
bookmark your blog and will eventually come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice morning!
pt bestProfit recently posted..pt bestProfitMy Profile


Solid Gold Berjangka December 28, 2016 at 10:10 PM

Very good info. Lucky me I came across your website
by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve saved it for later!
Solid Gold Berjangka recently posted..Solid Gold BerjangkaMy Profile


best profit December 31, 2016 at 4:44 AM

Really great visual appeal on this web site,
I’d value it 10.
best profit recently posted..best profitMy Profile


rifan financindo January 18, 2017 at 12:45 PM

Thank you for helping out, superb information.
rifan financindo recently posted..rifan financindoMy Profile


funny August 26, 2017 at 4:50 AM

Even though it doesn’t permit buttons before or after your site content,
you will find the opportunity to utilize the floating bar around the left-hand side.
There is a many methods whereby money can be made through niche blogs.

Your personal interest, animosity and other reasoning for writing your blog is essential but to get effective you have to communicate it
for a readers without giving the look of somebody
that is a few cards lacking a deck.
funny recently posted..funnyMy Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 13 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

Page 1 of 11