This time of year, we are bombarded by “Black Friday” sales and “massive markdowns.” Everybody loves a good deal, right?
Well, that depends. If you are able to get 50% off an item that you truly need and were already going to buy, then that is a good deal. If you purchase an item for 50% off just because it is 50% off, then that is foolish, extravagant spending.
With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you buy something:
1. Do I really need it?
There are only a few things that we truly need. Shelter, transportation, nourishing food, basic clothing, and recreation. Everything else is luxury. Be honest with yourself about what is a need and what is a luxury.
Of course, there is a spectrum of extravagance here. You might need a reliable $5000 car, but do you need a $25,000 new car? You might need a few shirts to wear to work, but do you need 50 shirts? A smart phone might be necessary to stay in touch with your work contacts, but do you really need the new iPhone X? Or will the iPhone 5 work just fine?
Just because something new and exciting is on sale does not mean that you need it.
2. Was I going to buy it anyway?
If your hard drive crashed and your computer is worthless, then you probably need a new computer. If you were going to buy another computer anyway, and there’s a great deal on a new computer at the upcoming Black Friday sale, then go for it. However, if your computer is working fine, then ignore the sales.
Similarly, if you snapped a ski in half during last year’s backcountry season and you need a new pair of skis to enjoy the season, then go look for deals. If your skis are working fine, then let them ride another year.
Don’t go looking for things that you might need. If you need it, you’ll know.
3. Do I have enough money?
The goal is to buy nothing
Don’t go looking for things to buy just because they are advertised and on sale. If you need it, can afford it, and were going to buy it anyways then go ahead and pull the trigger. Otherwise, buy nothing. Your freedom depends on cautious, intelligent, prudent spending.
Remember, It’s Not About the Money; It’s About the Freedom