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How To Know When To Spend And When To Save

There’s a fine line between being thrifty and being cheap. Similarly, there’s a fine line between making an investment purchase and spending more than necessary. The challenge is to find where those lines are. Here are four tips to help.

Make sure you know what you have

If you only ever declutter when you move house, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up losing track of what you have. That can lead to you making what you think are genuine investment purchases when actually they’re totally unnecessary.

Keeping track of what you have doesn’t mean you have to create an inventory of your entire house. That said, you might want to inventory some parts of it, like your kitchen, or at least your pantry. It can simply mean that you organize your belongings so that you can easily check what you have already before you buy anything else.

Always think about why you’re making a purchase

Knowing what you want from a purchase will guide you to getting the best deal on it. In particular, it’s important to be very specific about your needs versus your wants. It’s also helpful to rank your wants in order of priority. Your needs are genuinely non-negotiable so if something is a need you cannot buy an item without that feature no matter how good the price is.

Your wants, however, are negotiable. In general, you should aim to satisfy your highest-priority wants. They are usually close to being needs and/or likely to become needs in the future. By contrast, your lower priority needs could potentially be set aside if the price was right.

Understand when brands matter

Brands matter when they are legitimate indicators of quality. For example, some brands are famous, at least within their sectors, because they routinely deliver the best products and/or services. Others, however, are famous because they’re very good at marketing themselves. Make sure you’re clear on which it is before you decide whether or not a brand is worth paying for.

If you do decide that it’s worth paying for, then make sure that you get what you’re paying for. The safest way to do this is to buy directly from the brand itself or one of its recommended resellers. If you buy from an independent seller, then check their reputation thoroughly, especially if it’s a private sale.

never cut corners on protection

If something is intended to protect you, buy the best you can afford. It doesn’t matter if it’s suncream, a fire extinguisher, or key person life insurance, go for top quality. If this seems excessive then think about the cost of the worst-case scenario. Then think about the cost of the protection. Looked at that way, the purchase can seem a lot more reasonable.

For completeness, protection is the one area where it’s often entirely justified to pay a premium for convenience. Protection, by definition, is meant to help you through difficult times. It can only do so if you actually use it. For example, suncream will only stop you from getting burned if you actually put it on. If convenience encourages you to protect yourself, then it’s worth the money.

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