What to think about before making a purchase

Before making a purchase that is outside of essentials (transportation, food, medical etc.) ask yourself a few questions to get at the root of why you want to buy this.

More than just saving money, being more intentional about spending means you only bring things you truly want, need, will fit, and will be useful into your home. It also means that you are more conscious of where your money is going.

Thinking before buying means you take a step back and consider how the purchase will affect you individually and a wider community. 

Whether you are making a physical purchase or spending money on an experience take the time to think about how it fits into your life.

Do I need this?

Not everything you buy has to be something you actually need, such as a new washer because yours broke. But, be honest with yourself about what this will bring to your life.

Buying something just because you like it and have the money for it is completely OK, as long as you are comfortable with that decision.


Do I need this new pair of boots?

Living in a place that’s cold I do wear a lot of boots, but I already own multiple pairs. I want this particular pair because I like how it looks. I’m going to bookmark the page and check back for sales.

Do I have anything like this?

If you don’t know off the top of your head if you already have something similar, consider holding off your purchase until you look more into what you already own.

Sometimes going through what we currently own can make it easier to say no to something. It can also make it clear that a purchase can fill a gap.

If you already have something like what you are looking to buy, put into words if and how this product is different. In order to justify your purchase you may try to convince yourself that this new item is different enough. Come up with the specific reasons why it is different.


Do I have anything like this garlic press?

I don’t currently own anything that helps me cut garlic, I’ve just been using a knife which works but takes time. I’ve been on the hunt for a garlic press and this is a good brand. I already know that I make a lot of dishes with garlic so I feel confident that this tool will be used, I’m going to buy it.

Where will I keep it or store it?

If what you’re buying is a physical object, you’re going to need to keep it or store it somewhere. No matter how big or small it is you will need to find or make a place to put it.

Think in specific terms of exactly where you will put it, not just “in the bathroom” or “in the pantry”. What you bring into your house will take up space, is this an item you want taking up space in your house? 

As you are thinking of where you will put something you may think of where you store similar items. This can help you further think about if this purchase is needed. If you’re storing your new item with lots of other similar items, is this really needed?


Where will I keep these end tables?

I found two end tables that would fit great with the furniture I already have. But, I don’t have any room for them. I would like to replace the tables in the living room, but I don’t want to purchase anything until those are gone. I’m going to list my current end tables for sale and once they are gone I will put that money towards these new tables I want.

Am I just looking for something to spend money on?

Maybe you’ve have a good day or a bad day, maybe you’ve received exciting news or disappointing news. Any of those things may make you want to go and spend money on something.

If you find something you like and want to buy you can easily come up with a justification for buying it. But be honest with yourself if this specific item is something you want or you just want something.

Maybe you want to buy something because you’re bored or putting off something else you should be doing. It may be that you’re not interested in the specific item you are looking to buy, it was just convenient and caught your eye.


Am I just looking for something to spend money on after hearing I didn’t get a job I interviewed for?

This news suck so now I want to do something to lift my spirits. I’m looking at cabins to rent so I can go have a weekend in the woods. After getting the bad news I wanted to do something for myself. I hadn’t planned on this trip, but I have the money and I think it will be good for me to get away, I’m going to book the cabin.

Do I like the idea more than actually owning or doing this?

Whether you have been inspired by social media or it’s something you’ve always been passionate about, sometimes it’s the idea of something we want and not the actual thing.

Think about whether the item or experience fits in with your life and what you want to do. Are you actually interested or do you just want pictures for social media?

It’s important to differentiate between true you and fantasy you. Fantasy you may want to try out van life or buy fancy cookware. True you may hate the idea of living in such a small home or not actually cook enough to justify spending top dollar on pots and pants.


Do I like the idea of this designer purse more than actually owning it?

I’ve wanted this purse for a long time and have been saving up for it. Now that I have the money I’m hesitant to actually make the purchase. I’m worried I won’t end up using it much because I’ll be worried about damaging it. I don’t want to drop this much money on something I am not completely sure about. I’m going to hold off on this purchase until I do some more research and also look into a used purse instead of new.

How many hours would you need to work to buy it?

When considering the price of something, especially something you may want but not need, think about how many hours of work it would take to pay for it.

A cheap item that won’t last long may take a few hours of work for you to be able to afford and you need to decide if it is worth it to you.


How many hours would I need to work to buy these earrings?

The earring I want to buy are $90. I currently make $15 per hour, so it would take me six hours to pay for these earrings, and that’s not including tax. I really like them, but I’m not sure it’s worth almost a whole day’s worth of pay. I’m going to hold off on buying them for now.

Is this a company I want to support?

It is a privilege to even ask this question. Not everyone has the time to research companies, means to access those companies, or money to spend more on something sustainably or ethically produced.

But if you have the ability, I encourage you to be mindful of where you put your money. The money you spend supports the companies from which you buy. They in turn can use your money to support, or not support, their workers, the environment, and social causes.

You may be able to get a deal on an item, but there are reasons it’s so cheap. It is powerful and important to put your money behind companies that have views  that align with yours.

But you also need to be realistic about how much money you have and how much you can spend on certain things. Maybe right now you are not able to spend more on clothes that are ethically sourced, but in the meantime you can shop second hand, do research into companies, or just reduce your spending in general.

The goal isn’t to only buy from certain companies or to completely not buy anything form others, but to be more aware of where your money is going.

Sometimes it can be easy to talk yourself out of an item when the company selling it has different values than you.


Is this clothing company one that I want to support?

I’ve been researching this company to better understand how their products are made, how staff are paid, and how they ship their products to customers. I feel good about putting my money behind this company. They are very transparent about what they do and are aware of how their choices affect their workers, customers, and the environment.

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