8 Questions To Consider Before Overspending

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By guest writer Julie Bawden-Davis

You’ve succeeded in saving up a little nest egg and you are feeling rather proud, until you find yourself at the mall or browsing on your computer and it hits—the urge to splurge. Within mere minutes, you’ve squandered your savings or maxed out your credit card. Then, not long after, a raging spending hangover hits.

The next time the urge to splurge visits, stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself the following questions before overspending. You’re likely to walk away with a wallet full of money rather than regrets.

1. Why this item right now?

Do you really need the item you are about to buy or is it just a whim? If you’ve required such an item on several occasions in the recent past and this appears to be a good time to buy it, then it may be a valid purchase. On the other hand, if your answer is “because it’s shiny” then you’re talking splurge.

2. Do I have a duplicate or something similar?

Do you shop online a lot? If so, it’s easy to forget if you already have an item. Buying something just because it’s newer or cleaner is no good reason to spend hard-earned savings. Make necessary repairs or clean up the old item and pat yourself on the back for saving your nest egg.

3. What will happen if I don’t make the purchase?

Will anything negative happen if you don’t make the purchase? Will you fall behind at work as a result or not have what you need to complete a project? These are likely good reasons to pull out your debit card. On the other hand, if your answer is that absolutely nothing will happen, except that you’ll save money, walk away.

4. How will this item fit into my daily life?

If an item is truly a necessary purchase, it will be readily obvious how you will use it. You should be able to immediately visualize yourself taking advantage of the object. And it should figure fairly prominently in your life. If not, you should reconsider your decision.

5. Have I ever owned one of these before?

If you have a track record with a particular item—like running shoes for participating in marathons—there’s a good chance you’ll make good use of the purchase. But if this is something you’ve never owned or hadn’t even thought about owning, it’s most likely a splurge or a meaningless flashy purchase.

6. Do I want something else even more?

Will buying this item mean you won’t have enough money in your budget to purchase something that you want or need even more? Have you been building your savings for something important? Avoid sacrificing something you’ve been dreaming about for a passing temptation.

7. Can the item be rented or borrowed?

Is this something you’re going to use once, like a movie, book or tux to attend a friend’s wedding? Check out how much money you’ll save by renting the item instead. Or maybe you are scheduled to attend a formal event and need a cute cocktail dress. Does your best friend have something you can borrow instead?

8. Is buying this going to make it hard to pay my bills?

The bottom line is that no item is necessary if it means not being able to meet your financial obligations. Turn around and walk out of the store or hit the x on your browser. Chances are you’ll soon forget that “must have” purchase, especially if not buying it will keep your bills paid.

It’s not easy to say no to retail therapy—especially when a tempting purchase starts “winking” at you. But if you stop and ask yourself these questions, you’re more likely to say “no, thank you” and save your savings.

About the Author: Julie Bawden-Davis is a is a writer, speaker and website publisher, who since 1985 has written for a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, The Los Angeles Times and Credit Sesame. She enjoys seeing how far she can stretch a dollar and blogging about penny-pinching tips on SuperMoney.com.

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