I am currently considering a few expensive purchases. I am looking at a new flat screen HDTV to replace my old analog TV. I am considering Lasik eye surgery. I am considering a new road bike. I like nice things and experiences, and I am happy to spend the money if it is something I will really enjoy.
However, I can’t just go out and spend $500 on a TV without thinking twice. I cannot justify spending nearly $2000 on my eyes when I still have about $13,700 in student loans. I surely will not spend $800 on a bike when I have one that works just fine and I have other priorities.
The keys to making expensive purchases are to be able to afford what you buy and be sure it is what you really want.
Be able to afford what you buy
This is pretty self explanitory and obvious to many of us, but a lot of people go out and buy new things on credit that they really can’t afford. A $500 TV can cost thousands if you buy it on a credit card and only make minimum payments. I don’t even want to think about the cost of Lasik on a credit card over 10%.
If you have a big purchase in mind, save up ahead of time. I will still buy everything on my card to get my 2% cash back, but I will pay it off in full the same month. To save, you may want to put a certain amount in a savings account every month or just let your checking account grow if you have the will power to avoid spending. You can set up a goal with Mint.com
Make sure it is what you really want
Buyers remorse is a bad feeling. When you buy something that you didn’t really need or want, you will probably regret it later. If I buy something that costs more than $100, I always sit on it for a day or two to make sure I really want it. For bigger purchases, like the TV, I wait a month or more. If you still want it after a waiting period, go for it!
If you are in debt, don’t be stupid. Pay your loans off before you go buy a luxury item. If you want a bunch of expensive things, it is a good idea to decide which is most important and slowly work your way down the list.
How do you prepare for a big purchase? What are your steps and criteria? Please give your thoughts in the comments.