15 Rules To Help You Make Smarter Purchases

How do you decide if a purchase is worth it? Do you look at your monthly expenses and check if it fits your budget? Do you save up and buy the item you want no matter what? Do you decide to skip and wait for a sale or coupon?

It’s always a good idea to have a decision-making system that can help you navigate any shop, online or otherwise, that you decide to visit. If you apply it to every purchase, you’re going to notice significant improvements to your finances and, with a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to keep the fear of missing out at bay.

Today we’re going to look at the splurge, settle and skip plan. We’ll give you a few examples of items you should buy or not. Hopefully, in time, you’ll be able to expand this list to your own likes and needs!

Splurge: Appliances

Dishwashers, stoves, grills, washers, and dryers- we typically expect these items to last at least 5 years, if not more. These items also cost a few thousand dollars, so splurging a little bit to ensure that you get the best quality is a good idea. The last thing you should expect is to have to buy a new one any time soon, so you can rest assured that your investment won’t go to waste.

That being said, looking for opportunities for better deals is also a good idea. For example, try to buy your appliances during Black Friday or Memorial and Labor Day sales. You should shop around before deciding on a big-ticket purchase nonetheless, so timing is key.

Splurge: Meat and Produce

You and your family deserve a good quality meal, so splurging on meat and produce is important for both your health and happiness. If you feel like you should save some money anyway, try to stock up when they’re on sale.

A good idea is to stock up on meat that will expire soon, so it’s reduced, but you don’t have to worry about wasting it. Cooking it on the day you’ve bought it as well as freezing everything else will ensure that you’ll have high-quality lunches and dinners for quite some time.

Splurge: Apparel With a Quality Guarantee

You might feel compelled to buy cheap clothes in order to save money, but since these pieces of apparel will likely break down quickly, you’re actually losing a lot more in the long run.

Aim for apparel with lifetime guarantees or no-hassle return policies. These can last you a lifetime, and on the off chance that something happens to your clothes, you can rest assured that your issues won’t be ignored.

Take Dr. Martens and The North Face, both retailers with a quality guarantee. Outdoor Research and Patagonia are also great choices for those who love the outdoors and like to stay healthy and fit by exercising daily.

You can expect these items to last you a while, they’re fashionable, and you don’t have to worry about swapping out your wardrobe every single season.

Splurge: Designer Denim

Everyone who used to wear cheap jeans exclusively then switched to higher quality ones already knows the difference in quality and wear. You don’t need to shell out $500 for a good pair, but if you aim for something between $100 and $150 you’ll still save a lot more money in the long run.

A lot of retailers have jeans options that might look and feel good for a couple of days and weeks at most, but you’ll never make the most of them. They’re often uncomfortable and badly tailored, the seams don’t seem to last and you’ll be forced to buy a new pair fairly quickly.

Obviously, by splurging on these items you can skip frequent jeans shopping sprees in the future.

Splurge: Beauty Products

You can find a lot of good quality makeup at the drugstore but it’s generally worth looking for even better quality beauty items even if they come with a bigger price tag. These are formulas that come in contact with your skin on a daily basis, so you shouldn’t reach for the cheapest items, not to mention that since they work so well you might not need to use bigger quantities.

This is especially important for those of us with sensitive skin as cheap products can often lead to breakouts and rashes. In turn, we’ll feel compelled to buy even more beauty products that promise to help alleviate our symptoms. It’s just cheaper and makes more sense to splurge a little.

Settle: Convenience Purchases

Saving time can be the reason behind a purchase, whether you’re on the fence between an expensive item or something that is of lower quality. If you have to go out of your way to pick your favorite item up, is it worth the effort?

Say you’re in a grocery store near your home and they don’t have your favorite brand. You’re going to have to go through the checkout, drive away someplace else and start the process of grocery shopping yet again at a different location. This could even lead you to pick up duplicates of some items or pick up certain products because of a deal, something you wouldn’t have done otherwise. So, are you really saving money?

Opt for convenience whenever you can but keep an eye on your expenses and don’t use this as an excuse to splurge on anything and everything in your way.

Settle: Items With a Shorter Lifespan

As we mentioned earlier, we should expect appliances to last more than five years. But what should we do about items with shorter lifespans? If they’re not going to last more than one year, it’s time to settle. You’re going to buy new ones in a few months anyway, so dropping hundreds of dollars for a pair of shoes that you’re going to swap out by the end of the year is simply not smart.

Take exercise clothes too, especially if you’ve decided to lose a lot of weight or bulk up your muscles. If you’re serious about your regime then the clothes you’re buying to start with won’t fit you anymore after a while. That’s why it’s better to simply settle for the cheaper alternatives.

Settle: Items That Are Consumed Quickly

Why pay top dollar for items that you’re going to consume at record-breaking speeds? Towels, napkins, shampoo, soap, paper towels, and other such personal care items can get expensive, especially when they come with ‘added bonuses’ like extra layers of paper, fragrances, fancy packaging, and so on and so forth.

If you can buy cheaper variants in bulk, especially at Costco or other warehouse clubs, go for it.

That being said if you find that certain variants last you longer, you might want to experiment with purchasing them for a few months, but don’t allow yourself to get lured in with details that really shouldn’t matter. For example, why buy shampoo with tons of magical ingredients that you know won’t make a difference? However, buying higher quality toiler paper that’ll last you longer might be a good idea.

Settle: Trendy Items

Keeping up with the Joneses!? Why? There is no reason for you to base your purchases on someone else’s needs out of the fear of missing out.

Trends come and go, so purchasing accessories and brand-name apparel just to be seen as fashionable and in the know is a waste of money. Remember, these are things you might not even touch again if you’re buying them for the fad alone.

You can easily purchase similar looking items in the same style from cheaper brands. It’ll look like you’re keeping up with trends without breaking the bank. Definitely, definitely settle!

Settle: Air Travel

If you’re traveling with children then buying more expensive plane tickets in order to gain more comfortable departure and arrival times, including for layovers, might be worth the money.

On the other hand, if you don’t have to worry about the comfort of kids on your trip then you should settle for cheaper options even if they mean very early or extremely late flights.

This can also be beneficial if you want to spend more money on accommodations and other expenses at your destination. A cheaper flight means you can spend a little extra on going out, tour guides, and souvenirs.

Skip: Cheap Toys

Toys for children or grandchildren can take up a huge chunk of your monthly budget if you’re not careful. If they’re made out of cheap plastic you can expect them to break easily, meaning the kids will come right back and ask you for more.

Buying durable toys that will last longer is the way to go, especially when it comes to building sets that help with creativity. These may often come with a heftier price tag, but when you consider the alternative, it’ll start making a lot more sense to skip on cheap toys altogether.

Skip: Expensive Equipment That Won’t Be Used Often

In a spur of creativity, you might want to take on a project that requires you to have certain expensive tools on hand. Unless this project is tied to your profession or a hobby, you shouldn’t go out and buy expensive equipment. For a one time use, it’s simply not worth it, even if you think you’ll use them at a later date so it’ll be ‘worth it’. You’re not fooling anyone!

Nowadays you can flat out rent equipment instead, saving hundreds of dollars in the process. You’ll finish your project without spending crazy amounts of money on stuff that’ll most likely collect dust in your attic, basement, or garage.

Skip: Full-Priced Apparel You’ll Rarely Wear

Apparel that you’re buying for special occasions should never be bought at full price. You might end up wearing that sky jacket, dress, or fancy three-piece suit just once, so why go over budget?

In terms of seasonal wear, try to purchase them out of season when you can often get 50% off deals, or even more if you’re lucky. Then and only then can you justify buying something that you won’t get much use out of.

Fancier clothes also don’t have to be crazy expensive. If you’ve just received an invitation to a wedding and think you can’t show up with anything other than name-brand apparel, ask yourself why. Are people really going to check where you’ve bought your clothes from? Skip!

Skip: Extended Warranties

Every sales representative under the sun will try to sell you extended warranties for big-ticket items. It might sound like you’re getting a great deal, especially since you’d like these appliances to last for as long as possible.

But according to Consumer Reports, there’s no use in paying extra. What are the chances of your appliance needing repairs during the extended warranty period? On top of that, did you know that the cost of repairs is typically lower than the cost of the warranty?

Stick to your guns no matter how good of a sales pitch you’re given and save big by not giving into fear.

Skip: Anything That’s Overpriced

You need to start learning about which items are overpriced and which aren’t. Plenty of things fit into this category including apparel, clothes, fancy handbags, jewelry, even homes.

The trick is to keep an eye out for cheaper alternatives in order to get used to the idea that bigger and more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

If something feels overpriced, a good idea is to avoid buying it out of impulse. Give yourself some time to sit on it and research other options. You’ll be surprised by how much money you can save.

When You Should Splurge, Settle or Skip

These are values that you can apply whenever you’re ready to swipe your card or open up your wallet to pay with cash. Ask yourself, what are you really getting for that price tag? When will you have to buy a similar, if not the same item twice?

By looking at all these variables you can start applying the splurge, settle, and skip method to your own preferences. And that’s the key! What works for other people might not work for you at all. Just because you’d prefer to buy more expensive skincare items doesn’t mean someone else would.

After a few months of being really mindful of everything in your basket, virtual or otherwise, you’ll start to get used to saving money through this method! In no time, it’ll feel like second nature.


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