As summer is just around the corner, are you thinking about that next purchase to make summertime even more fun? Are your thoughts more of a want than a need? Maybe it is time to answer a few more questions before you buy.
- Is it a simple desire I can do without or is it important and necessary to my life?
This question can get a little touchy. Wants are very good things when they support your life dreams and goals; and encourage healthy relationships. We all experience spontaneous thoughts every day as we see something in the store window getting our attention. You may even consider purchasing it, thinking the cost minimal in your view and won’t hurt the checkbook balance much. Yet, your answer to the next question may offer insight into your motives.
- How does this item fit my personal, professional, and life goals?
This is where you take time to write down your top five goals for your personal and professional life. How is this potential purchase an investment in your values, dreams, and goals? What details do you know about this potential purchase—type, model/features, cost, planning/preparation work, care requirements? Whether it is a car, home, or a pair of shoes, establish the routine of reflecting on any purchase, small or large, based on these five questions. The next question is a reality check.
- Do I have the money to pay for it and take care of it?
One of the most common ways we avoid this question is by simply saying to ourselves, “I can handle this with a payment plan over time.” We make all kinds of assumptions in the moment without honestly assessing our budget and payment we are already making for the next several years. How about digging deeper into your overall money management realities. That will bring you to the next question.
- Am I willing to give up something else in order to get it?
Let’s suppose you decided the purchase is important to you and fits well enough into your personal life goals. You also did your homework for the specific item— type, model/features, cost, planning/preparation work, care requirements. Yes, let’s accept maintenance does involve cost possibly with related equipment and supplies to keep the item working and extending its life. You will also be committing yourself to the time needed in its maintenance. Hopefully, this will help you get beyond the romance of owning that item to getting real with the care needed mixed with your lack of time or motivation. Will that possession steal precious time with your family and friends? Will the item become not as important and drain your joy in daily living? If there is a hesitation in any of these areas, question five will help wrap it up in a doable plan.
- Am I willing to wait and create a SMART plan to purchase it later?
Are you ready to define how important your purchase is to your life by the commitment you make to plan it out the SMART way? As you reflect on this question, you will be more clearly know what a want is, as well as a need. Again, both have a place in your life. Let’s look at the first part of the question, “Am I willing to wait?” What does it feel like when you ask yourself to wait? Are you content in waiting for a few weeks, months? What about a year or two, or ten?
Does contentment swiftly disappear with having to wait a longer time? In waiting you just may find yourself less enamored in that precious possession you were so intent on purchasing. There’s nothing like letting time pass to get a handle on your want or need. Once waiting is settled, it is time to create a SMART plan to purchase later.
What is SMART? This acronym basically guides you through the steps toward making a wiser decision in any purchase. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable/actionable, Realistic/relevant, and Time-phased/time-oriented.