When it comes to personal finances, one thing that is very important is that your finances are truly personalized. The reason that so many folks fall off the wagon when it comes to getting their finances cleaned up is that they try to use a system that does not work for them. One example of this is that some folks will go and download a budget from some finance guru and try to follow it to a “T” without considering whether or not it is a great fit for them and their lifestyle. Then the fatigue of failing to stay in the budget and getting discouraged eventually makes them give up altogether.
There is not one perfect path to financial wellness, but rather many paths that can be helpful for different people in different seasons of their lives. One thing we want to cover is how you can enhance both your mental and financial health by coming up with a series of questions to ask yourself before making a purchase. Do not worry, this is not going to be a fifteen-step plan that is impossible to follow, but rather you will find some guidelines on how to build a great question-asking practice that is personal to you and your financial goals.
A quick way to decide whether or not to go through with a purchase can be to ask yourself whether or not you have budgeted for the purchase. Of course, this will not make sense for every single purchase you make (if you get a parking ticket, you need to pay that bad boy whether you planned for it or not). We are not talking about anything complex here, but really by budgeting we simply mean you have decided how much money you are able to spend on different categories ahead of time. You have lots of flexibility in how you decide to go about making that budget, but it can be super helpful in the decision-making process.
One of the absolute best parts of setting up a budget is that it can take out so much guesswork for you, and thus it can help you get rid of buyer’s remorse. For example, if you decide that you want to give yourself a budget of $50 per month for entertainment and you have not used any of it yet, you do not have to feel guilty about going to a movie with friends because you have already budgeted for it. Now you get to go enjoy the film and your friends without feeling nervous about overspending.
Another great question to ask yourself is whether or not right now is the best time to make this purchase. We can get ourselves into trouble whenever we impulse buy things without checking our motivation and asking the question, “Do I need this right now?” Taking a step back from the situation to question yourself can help you see the bigger picture of your finances and your goals.
Often, we can let our excitement or even our fear of scarcity lead us to purchase things with a false sense of urgency. You can choose different questions to fit your personality when it comes to this area. Maybe for you, you know that you can excitedly buy things to get a quick “high” and you need to ask yourself, “Can I wait a day to buy this? Will I be this excited tomorrow?” Other people might have a scarcity mindset that causes them to think, “if I do not buy this right now, I will not get the opportunity again.” For those folks, it could be more helpful to ask yourself a question like, “Will I really be missing an opportunity if I don’t buy this right now?”
Finally, we love asking the question “could I get creative?” This could mean a lot of different things based on your situation. Depending on what it is you are thinking of purchasing, you may want to run through a list of questions like:
The other side of getting creative is to make sure you are setting yourself up for success based on the ways you are most tempted to purchase things you may regret. This might mean that you wrap a post-it note around your credit card that says “Do I really need this?” It could also mean you stop saving your payment information on your favorite online shops so that you have to be more mindful of actively purchasing items when you really do want them.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that you are asking yourself personalized questions to help you reach your own personalized financial goals. You can do this!