Frugal Living: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything New For Home

published May 10, 2014
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The urge to run to a store and buy a new object when something in your home breaks can be a strong. Or, discovering a need for a new furniture piece or accessory when you find a spot in your home that’s a little too blank can inspire a new purchase. But if you’re trying to save money or just be a smarter consumer, you might want to pause a minute before whipping the credit card out to ask yourself these five questions first before buying anything new for home.

(The obvious) Do I actually need it?
Is there something else you can use instead to get the job done? If you need a new desk, can you use a small side table instead? If you need new art, can you borrow something from another room you’re not using or get creative? If you’re thinking about a new appliance, is it something you actually need (and not just want)? Take time to examine why you think you need an item and you might save yourself from impulsive purchases that while helpful, aren’t vitally needed. Even if the answer seems “yes” at first, give it some time. You might discover after a few days the answer changes to “not really.”

(If something has broken) Can I have my old one repaired? In previous generations, it was standard to have things repaired when they broke, not replaced. And yes, though planned obsolescence is sometimes a real thing, if something in your house breaks — a lamp, a table leg, an appliance — first do the research to see if it something you can attempt to repair or take somewhere to repair (though be sure to price how much it would cost to repair with how much to buy a new one might be).

Is this something I can DIY? Find for free and customize? Buy used and adapt?

In our “want it now!” culture, when a need for an item is first materialized (say, realizing you really need a dresser to store your clothes in instead of just a closet), the easy route is running off to buy a new one. But patience and perseverance can lead to finding a project you might be able to tackle yourself, first, for a lot less money.

Is this something I can rent or borrow instead?

If you need something permanently, this probably won’t work. But if your need is a tool or an appliance for a particular project or task, see if you can rent or borrow from a friend before you go straight to plunking down some dough for something new (that you might only use once). Consider the same if you’re throwing an event and realize you need more chairs or other items.

Will this make my home better (and get me closer to my home vision)?

Don’t let your real home dream purchases get pushed aside because you spend your money on things you might not really need. Keep the focus on what you really want to save and spend your money on, and get creative when other needs arise!

What questions do you ask yourself before buying something new that helps you keep your home’s vision and budget on track?