I wish I had a dollar for every stupid purchase I’ve made in my life. I’d have quite a stash. Regrettably, my financial faux pas have been remarkable in both quantity and quality. I’ve made some real doozies.
Here’s one: Purchasing on credit an above-ground, 7,000-gallon inflatable swimming pool. On a whim. At a Home and Garden Show. For the kids, of course.
Its à la carte price was bad enough. Adding everything required but not included took it from barely reasonable to absolutely ridiculous.
First, there was a heater and filter. Then, a cover, chemicals, and test kit. We needed search and rescue equipment (this was one monstrosity of a pool) and a few necessary pool toys. Oh, and let’s not forget the cost of eventually getting rid of the albatross.
Let me put it this way: There is not a lively secondary market for this kind of thing. If I’d had the courage to consider the consequences of such a major purchase before making the decision to buy, we could have avoided a five-year industrial-strength headache and saved one huge pile of dough.
I’ve since learned how important it is to keepa simple self-test handy before making a purchase, large or small. A checklist clears away impulsivity and allows good sense to prevail.
The exercise that follows is about facts, not feelings. Feelings are fickle. They trick us. When it comes to making wise financial decisions, feelings cannot be trusted.
Do I need it?
If the honest answer is no and you do not have oodles of discretionary income, case closed. You’ve just saved yourself from a foolish purchase.
Can I afford it?
If you have to go into debt to make the purchase, you cannot afford it. Forget it.
Do I already have something that will do just as well?
An honest assessment of all the stuff you already have could stop you in your tracks. At least think about it!
Am I willing to wait?
Have you ever noticed that you require your children to be patient but rarely put the same requirement on yourself? A false sense of urgency brought on by overwhelming desire—or a sale—can skew your good sense.
Stepping away from the situation for a couple of days has a remarkable way of clearing your mind. If the purchase is right for you today it will still be right a few days from now. You may even find that the so-called “need” for the item will disappear with time.
What are the consequences?
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. What are the exact consequences of going through with this transaction? Don’t cheat on yourself. Don’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer. If you don’t know the true costs, you are not ready to make the decision.
While our inflatable pool fiasco turned out to be one colossal financial disaster, truth be told, that purchase was relatively mild compared to impulsive acquisitions I’ve considered since then. Trust me.
No one is more grateful than I (my husband being a close second) that I’ve learned to first consider the consequences. That simple step has saved me from untold foolish purchases!
Question: Have you ever made a foolish purchase—one you can talk about? You know the routine … share using the comments below!