Should I buy it or not? We all have asked us this question at least once, or more commonly, ask ourselves weekly. This is why I developed an easy to follow flowchart that makes the decision for you. The Should I Buy It? flowchart prevents you from wasting money on things you do not need and encourages you to buy those that add value to your life. The chart is especially helpful if you are prone to making impulse purchases and want to learn how to live frugally. You can carry a copy of it with you and consult it before buying anything.
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Should I buy it? flowchart
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Should I Buy It? flowchart explanation
Questions 1-3: the easy bit
In the first question, the flowchart will ask you whether you can borrow the item from a friend. While this seems pretty self-explanatory, there are a few difficult cases. For example, you can easily borrow a lawn mower or tools such as a hammer. Items that are necessary for certain things, but are not frequently used. Borrowing a TV, for example, is much more difficult. Unless your friend has a spare TV they absolutely do not need, they are likely to want the TV back quickly. Items that are frequently used cannot generally be borrowed without inconveniencing a friend. In this case, proceed to question 2.
Question 2 will ask you whether you already possess a similar item that can fulfill the job of the object you wish to buy. How similar the item has to be, depends on you. For example, looking at handbags, there are tons of different designs yet they all have the same purpose, to carry something and perhaps to be a fashionable accessory. In terms of carrying ability, you could group similarly sized bags together. In terms of fashion, you could group similar colours together. For me, I just group all the bags together.
It also has to be considered that there are certain items of which it is essential to have more than one. For example, pants… In this case, ask yourself whether you have a sufficient number and in case you do not, proceed to question 3.
Questions 4-9: within spending allowance
This is where the Should I Buy It? flowchart becomes slightly more complicated. First, let us assume the item falls within your spending allowance and follow the left branch.
Question 4 will ask you whether you need the item you wish to buy. “Need” is defined as you have an immediate use for the item and not having compromises your survival, your regular life or convenience.
If you do not feel you need the item, proceed to question 5 and ask yourself whether you are buying the item for yourself or somebody else. Needless to say, you should not buy an item for yourself if you do not need it or it is for someone else but does not do any good (question 6).
Now let us assume you really need the item you wish to buy. Question 7 will ask you whether you feel positive about the item. Listen to your gut feeling. Even if you cannot point your finger on it now, if you feel negative or concerned about buying something, do not buy it. Try to find out why you feel this way and, if appropriate, identify an alternative and start again.
Question 8 looks at the urgency of the issue and encourages you to prioritise. You should not buy a new handbag if your car just broke down, your fridge fell apart or your roof is leaking. Prioritise purchases that immediately have a major impact on your quality of life over those that are minor. If there is anything you need more urgently, check that you can afford to buy both items (question 9).
Questions 10-11: not within spending allowance
Here, we go back a step and look at items that may fall outside your spending allowance. Question 10 will ask you whether you can make ends meet for the month you are looking to buy the item. Clearly, if you otherwise cannot afford food and shelter, do not buy the item. Ideally, you should have an emergency fund (or rainy day fund) from which you can take the money.
If you have sufficient money, proceed to question 11 which will investigate whether the item you wish to buy is essential. “Essential” means necessary to maintain your quality of life. This comprises items already mentioned early, such as broken fridges, leaking roofs, as well as items you need for work, for example, a car to commute.
Question 12: comparision
Before you buy, the flowchart will ask you whether the item you wish to buy is the best choice in regards to price and quality. If possible, look at price-comparison websites, and check for cashback, discounts, and coupons. Prices also usually depend on the quality of the product. If the item you wish to buy is one that you intend to use frequently, you may want to opt for slightly higher quality so it lasts longer. If you plan to use the item infrequently, average quality should do.
The Should I buy It? flowchart is just a guide
Please keep in mind that there are times when the Should I Buy It? flowchart will be wrong. The decision on whether to buy something or save your money instead is complicated and may depend on a number of factors. This guide attempts to simplify this complex decision to aid in everyday situations. The flowchart has the potential to save you from impulse buying and unwise decisions, but its success rate also depends on the user. Make sure you are always honest with yourself as otherwise, the Should I Buy It? flowchart will be useless.
If you are using this flowchart, please let me know what you think of it. Based on your feedback, I may modify the Should I Buy It? flowchart to be even more accurate and helpful. Either way, I sincerely hope my flowchart will help you to save money and spend mindfully. You can also find out more about frugal living and mindful spending here.
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