Buying a new car or planning a dream vacation are major milestones in many people’s lives, and the fulfillment they bring often justifies the price tag. Big purchases shouldn’t be made impulsively, though. One regrettable spending spree can affect your budget, credit score, and financial security for many years to come. Mental Floss and Discover have teamed up to create this list of questions you should ask yourself before you splurge.
Is this a need or a want?
When it comes to making large financial decisions, it’s important to ask yourself honestly: is this purchase a necessity or a nice-to-have? Once you’ve made that distinction, you’ll be able to properly gauge the importance of this purchase.
How long will it take to pay off?
Once you’ve determined whether this purchase is a need or a want, you’ll have to figure out how to go about paying for it. Ask yourself how much you’re willing to spend and how long you’re willing to make payments for.
What are the maintenance requirements and costs of upkeep?
You may have enough cash to buy a hot tub upfront, but are you willing to keep paying for it month after month? In this particular example, you’d need to factor in the cost of filters, chemicals, and increases to your monthly electric bill, along with the cost of replacing the water regularly. Some purchases not only come with additional fees, but they also demand your time and attention—which is perhaps most valuable of all.
Is there a better time to buy this item?
Certain items go on sale at different times of the year. For example, September is the best time to buy furniture, and electronics are often marked down in December and January. And if you have your eye on a certain model of car, it may go on sale when the brand releases a new model. This often occurs in October.
Is there a cheaper alternative?
This is where research comes in handy. Look online and in stores to see which brands have the best deals. Keep in mind that online retailers don’t always offer the best value. You may also want to consider buying used. Check out online marketplaces, public auctions, or your local thrift store to see if you can find the item you want at a discount.
Is there a way to receive rewards for this purchase?
If you have rewards credit cards, it may be worthwhile to figure out how much cashback you’ll get for this purchase. The Discover it card has great rewards—including Cashback Match—and all with no annual fee.
When going ahead with any expensive purchase, it’s important to use a credit card that will work for you. The Discover it card automatically matches the cash back you earn, dollar for dollar, at the end of your first year. Learn more at Discover.