10 questions to ask before buying anything

We know that spending can cause disagreements.

He wants this, she wants that.

He doesn’t mind using credit, she hates owing anything.

And the list goes on.

I am a saver by nature, and while my husband finds good deals, he also spends more often than I do. To be fair, if I didn’t always have a toddler in tow I would be far more tempted to pop in and out of stores. Wrestling jackets and having “I do it” seat belt fights makes a mom think carefully about shopping.

When circumstances made our financial situation tight, my hubby scored big points with this frugal mama. He asked me to create a spending checklist that he could look at before making purchases. Sweet, right?

Here is our checklist of items to consider before spending. Revise our list, or add your own to get you started.

10 questions to ask before buying anything

questions to askDo I know there is still room in the budget category?

We faithfully use our budget binder to record all purchases. We get a bit off track if we shop impulsively without checking how much money is left in a particular category.

If it is not in the budget, can I save up for it first?

This is where we really differ as spenders. I enjoy the challenge of saving up for bigger purchases so we don’t go over the budget amount. So if I want a $100 item, I will save my “fun money” until I can afford it. Almost always.

Can I find another option from what I already own?

This might be my favorite question out of all of them. The best way for this to work is if you sit down monthly and list the major purchases you need to make for the month. Then get creative together and try to find solutions from items already in your home.

Can I pay cash only?

The only way the cash envelope system will work is if you are committed to only pay cash for items. This tip is intentionally inconvenient. That’s one of the reasons why it works so well. Leave the debit card at home and only keep one credit card for emergencies. {NOTE: A sale on Lulu Lemon pants does not count as an emergency}

If I walk away, will I have great regrets?

It helps to assess how important something is to us before we buy it. Use the opposite strategy by considering your feelings if you don’t buy the item.

Could I avoid this purchase for something more meaningful later?

It is easy to spend $100 in smaller purchases. A few $10 and a couple of $20, and a full $100 is gone. This question helps us be intentional about spending every dollar. It reminds us that more meaningful purchases are…more meaningful.

Can I leave it for 24 hours to ponder?

The “cooling off” period can work wonders for impulse shopping. If possible, leave an item and ponder it for 24 hours. At least walk out of the store to consider the purchase in a different environment. This also works well for online purchases; save items in your “shopping bag” and walk away. Chances are they will not have the same appeal in an hour or two.

Will my spouse raise an eyebrow when I bring it home?

If all else fails, picturing a less-than-optimistic response from a spouse might help you walk away from an unnecessary purchase.

What are my reasons for shopping?

Am I trying to keep up with the Joneses? Am I upset about something? Using shopping on retail therapy, or to focus on appearances rarely ends well.

Do I already have enough of it in the stockpile to survive a natural disaster?

This is especially for the stockpilers out there. Sometimes we need to walk away from deals when we already have an excess and when the budget is tight for a season.

Asking some (or all) of these questions can help curb our spending impulse. Pick a few favourites and even go through a quick mental checklist the next time you are pondering a purchase.

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