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52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Is this really a good deal? {Week 32}

4 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Purchasing Anything

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

This week’s tip is so simple, but it can be extremely effective in helping you save at least $100 per year, if not more.

Before purchasing anything, ask yourself: Is this really a good deal? As I’ve often said, just because something is a great bargain, it doesn’t mean it’s a great deal for you.

Here are four questions to help you think through whether a purchase is a good deal for you:

1. Can I afford this?

If you can’t afford to buy something, it’s not a good deal — no matter how low the price. Period. You don’t need to go onto questions two, three, and four as you’ve already answered the question: don’t buy whatever it is you’re contemplating because you don’t have the money for it.

If it’s something you really want or need, wait and find a way to save extra money to pay for it. I promise it will be much more fulfilling to pay cash in full for something then to have to deal with a credit card bill that you can’t pay down the road.

2. Do I need this?

If your budget is really tight, train yourself to think in terms of need not want. This doesn’t mean, “Will this make my life easier?” Or, “Will this make me happy?” We’re thinking solely in terms of the question, “Can I live without this?” In most cases, you can probably live without the item.

This doesn’t mean you should never buy an item unless it’s an absolute necessity, but it does mean you should be aware of whether or not you can live without something when you’re contemplating whether something is a good deal.

3. Can I get a better deal elsewhere?

In many, many cases, there’s a way to find a better deal. Be it by buying used, asking for a discount, ordering online with a discount code, or waiting for a better sale.

Do your research and don’t just fall for a supposed great deal unless you know it truly is a great deal.

4. Can I use something I already have?

Instead of going out and shopping for new clothes, go through your closet and see what new outfit combinations you can come up with. Instead of buying a new appliance, see if you can fix your old one. Instead of purchasing a new couch, investigate the possibility of re-upholstering the one you already have.

See if there’s a way to make do with what you already have before rushing off to purchase that “great deal”. It’s almost always less expensive to use what you already have than to buy something new.

What questions do you ask yourself before you buy something?

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  • Jessica says:

    “What will this replace?”
    “Is there a place for this?”
    “Would I trade x hours of my life for it?” (the amount of money I earn per hour so how long I’d have to work to pay for it)
    “What will I give up that I have now, in order to bring this into my home?”

    • Jennifer says:

      Will this help me meet my financial goals? Does this get me closer, or further away, from my current savings goals?

  • Katie says:

    I often have to ask myself: is this worth my time?

    A lot of the free photo prints or photo books, for example, are a great deal, but would require me to upload a bunch of my photos first. If I wasn’t planning to do this anyway, and I have babies at my feet ready to play, it isn’t worth the time at that time. Another deal will come, another day.

    If I have to drive out to a store I don’t normally go to and they may not even have the deal in stock, it often isn’t worth my time and the time of my little ones.

    This question helps me say no to lots of deals that aren’t great deals for me.

  • Helena says:

    I also ask what is it’s impact on the environment?

    Not just the item itself, but also it’s packaging. If it’s in recyclable packaging and very minimal packaging then ok, but I have put toys, household gadgets, etc. back on the shelves because their packaging was just wasteful or had those plastic clear “blister” containers that are so common nowadays but not easily recycled. This goes for food too. Instead of buying pre-packaged lettuce in plastic bags or containers, I buy loose lettuce and put them in my own nylon mesh bags that I have had for years and reuse.

    If it’s non-recyclable, or something I know won’t last for a long time in my family then it also goes back on the shelf.

  • Mel says:

    Kind of along with # 3, I check before making a big purchase. You can search for an item, like a kindle fire, and see what deals have come up over the past few months. That can help determine if the current deal is really a good deal, or if you should wait for a better offer.

  • Shay J says:

    I always ask myself :

    If it is a piece of clothing does it go with at least 3 other pieces in my wardrobe?
    Furniture: Does it suite my needs now and will it be excessive to my needs in the future.

    Is this a want or a need?

    If it is a want then what am I going to do with it and how much pleasure will it bring me in the long term.

    NEED: What do I need it for, what is going to come out of my house to accommodate this (I have a one in one out rule with the obvious exceptions)

    Can I achieve the same with this need with something else (so not costing me money)

  • Victoria says:

    My husband and I both have a key tag on our key chains from the book “Enough” by Adam Hamilton on one side it says “Contentment” on the other side it says “Lord help me to be grateful for what I have, to remember that I don’t need most of what I want and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity” . Reading that tag has helped me personally walk away from more than a few items. It is also a great book!

  • Lana says:

    One thought about appliances is the cost to run an old refrigerator. We had a 25 year old refrigerator in our garage that died many months ago. Our utility bill immediately dropped $30 a month. Last week we purchased a new refrigerator and it is estimated to cost only $53 a year to run. It would not have taken long to recoup money spent for a new refrigerator and then be saving us money every month. We used to go to church with a man who replaced their refrigerator every 5 years because of the energy savings and now I see that he was right to do that.

    • shelly says:

      That’s the same principle my grandparents used. They would build a new home, live in it approx 10 years so just when things needed to be replaced (roof, garage door, carpet, etc.) they’d move to another new home. So everything was always under warranty! And they never lost money doing it this way 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    I ask : Is this likely the very last time I will ever see (insert item) on sale? Once you put it that way it’s a lot easier to walk away.

    Is this the last time I’ll ever see a black cardigan on sale?
    Is this the last time I’ll ever see a tablet on sale?
    Is this the last time I’ll see a useless doodad at a yardsale ever in my life? (my weakness)

  • Lori in NC says:

    Can I borrow this item from someone? Do I know someone who might be donating this item?

    For example, my daughter had outgrown her bike, even with the seat all the way up (used it ages 4 – 9!) So I emailed a few friends to see if they had or knew of someone who wanted to pass along or sell a bike (20″, I think I asked). And very quickly I got a response that a friend’s daughter’s bike was just sitting in the corner of their garage and she had outgrown it and we could have it – free! Yay! I gave the girl some strawberry shampoo and fresh strawberries from the grocery (because she loves them) as thanks – and we were very grateful.

  • Stephanie says:

    I ask myself is it costing us money NOT to own it? If laundry is being washed every day because the kids have two pair of pants that fit then we are wasting water and energy so a few more pieces of clothing from a thrift store could be a good idea. We ask this question for small and large purchases- usually we end up not buying the thing we thought we needed. Even if we we do decide to go through with the purchase, having to think about it is a fine idea.

  • Esther says:

    Ask yourself:

    Can I get this for free from someone? Look on Craigslist, and put a shout-out on Facebook that you need that item — someone might have one they can give you!

    Can I put off buying this item? See if you can get along without it for a while longer. You might end up not needing it or finding it cheap (or free!) later on.

  • Cate R. says:

    I’m glad this angle is being discussed. This is a really hard one. It’s easy to allow myself to fall for the luring tricks that businesses play… for example, sometimes I see clearance tags and they cause a knee-jerk reaction of interest and excitement, then when I look at the actually amount of savings, it’s not even very good. Or sometimes there’s an item I really want and it’s on a good sale, but we simply can’t afford it. That happened to me once with a really cute outdoor bench from Target that was already on my Pinterest board! Seeing it for such a low price felt like destiny. I was practically having a tantrum about not being able to get it.

  • Amanda H. says:

    I always try to ask myself is there a similar item at Goodwill/Thrift store for much less?

  • I would ask also: will this have any consequences? In example I might buy somenthing for a cheaper price, but being low quality (e.g. a lot of trans fat) might have consequences on my health, and increased bills

  • Dierdre says:

    I always put a 24 hour moratorium on pricey items. Usually by the end of the 24 hours, I’ve lost the desire to purchase the item, or have realized that I do need the item.

    This rule has saved me from a lot of stupid purchases!

  • Sally McCreary says:

    Don’t be afraid of the your local mall! As you walk around, there are vendors who are eager to give you a demonstration on their products. Take advantage of them! I had my hair straightened by one vendor(nume), & a free facial done by “bella terra”! All on my wedding day before heading to the courthouse!

    • Sally McCreary says:

      It may not be a necessity, but we all work hard for our money& sometimes it’s worth the extra expense.

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