Just because I am a Fee-Only Financial Planner doesn’t make me immune to the same consumer temptations as everyone else. I rarely buy anything spontaneously, but that’s only because I have deducted what I am tempted by to this essential (for me) question:
“What’s The Tradeoff?”
I no longer have to scrimp and save and agonize over buying a cup of coffee (although I sometimes still do if the coffeee turns out to be $4!), but I do pause and ask myself, when I have stumbled across something I really want and wasn’t planning on buying, “What’s The Tradeoff?”.
Sometimes that’s real easy to answer and reconcile with. Other times not so much, and I wrestle with ‘yes/no/yes/no’ or with ‘am I buying this to impress someone or be someone I am not?’, which of course is sometimes the underlying motivation, and just reinforces for me the Marketing people for the product did a good job!
I’d like to think I have completely mastered this, but really the key way I have mastered it is by avoiding the stores that tempt me the most.
And, whenever I do succumb to an impulsive purchase that I hadn’t planned on, I focus on the value and enjoyment it will bring me. I also commit to the purchase for a minimum number of years, to make sure I get my money’s worth.
My favorite kinds of purchases?
The ones that I eagerly anticipate, set money aside for, and look forward to making.
I approach those purchases with purpose and intent, which helps me not feel like I made an impulse purchase without thinking through the consequences to my financial goals.
Being first committed to my savings goals and viewing them as non-negotiables also definitely helps, because I can realize that hey, I am still on track to reach those goals that the savings represent.