Splurge Smarter: What to Consider Before Spending Your Money
When it comes to saving money, so-called “splurging” may very well seem like the ultimate enemy. I assume that, when most people think of what it means to splurge, it mostly involves spending hard-earned money on foolish things you don’t need thanks to some random impulse you have. While that may be partially true, I actually think of it a bit differently. To me, splurges aren’t defined by last-minute decision making but by that other half of the equation: spending on something you might not really need. However, what fun is life if you only stick to necessities?
With that in mind, I believe there is a way to splurge smartly. What do I mean by that? Let’s take a look at a few ways you can spend your money on what you want and (hopefully) still feel good about it:
7 Tips for Making Financially Responsible Splurges
Delay your purchase
As I explained, splurges don’t need to be impulsive. In fact, oftentimes, making efforts to delay your purchase can help you spend smarter. For one, by stepping away and giving yourself time to better consider a potential transaction, you may realize that you don’t actually want the item in question as much as you once thought you did. Similarly, by going through some of the other steps we’ll discuss in a moment, you might just find a more suitable option. But, even if you don’t do anything else on this list, simply pausing and waiting a day or two before pulling the trigger on a purchase can make a big difference.
Check apps, sales, etc.
One of the biggest problems with making impulsive purchases is that you may have been able to find a better deal. This is ironic seeing as sales pricing is often one of the sneaky tools retailers use to instill that sense of urgency in shoppers. Alas, before being swayed, take at least a few moments to see if the deal you’re getting is really a deal at all.
In this past, I’ve written about several cash back apps you can try — from Dosh to Rakuten and beyond. On top of that, your credit card issuers might also have special offers available to you that can help you save. Finally, while many shoppers now make a habit of checking Amazon for items they’re considering buying in-store, I’d recommend going one step further and try the tool CamelCamelCamel.com to not only see how much the item is currently selling for but also how low the price can go.
When making your decision about whether or not to buy something, don’t just focus on the price — consider the quality as well. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to just spend $20 on a fluke, but you may be better off upping it to $50 in order to get something that’s going to last. But how will you know what’s actually quality and worth the extra cost? That’s where our next tip comes in.
Do your research
Between the time I have the inkling that I might want to buy something and the time I actually make the purchase, I may have read a handful of articles and watched a dozen or more videos. Of course, this ratio only goes up with the cost of the item. So, when I recently determined that I desired an iPad Pro, I spent the better part of a weekend binging review videos on the product. However, all of this research paid off as I was able to confirm exactly what set-up I wanted and that the purchase made sense for me.
Obviously one of my favorite places to look to for insights and reviews is YouTube. While review articles can certainly be helpful, being able to see someone getting hands-on with the product and showing it in action adds another level in my view. Incidentally, I’ve also found that these searches occasionally lead me to reviewers I want to follow for future decisions (although paying too close attention to their channel can occasionally lead to further temptation).
Something to note when it comes to reviews of any kind is to pay close attention and watch out for a few things. First, if they sound overly optimistic, that may be because they’re being sponsored or otherwise supported by the company behind the item. Also, be sure to not only consider what their overall impressions and opinions were about a given product but, more importantly, also take notice of what features they discuss that either appeal or don’t appeal to you. Remember: just because an item is fantastic on the whole doesn’t mean it makes sense for you. Thus, don’t let yourself be too swayed by glowing reviews and, instead, dive into the details.
Consider your “ROI”
Speaking of YouTube, I’ve always been slightly jealous of popular tech reviewers who can justify the purchase of pretty much any new gadget because, with the ad revenue they’ll earn from YouTube, they’ll more than be able to cover the cost. That said, even if you are just an everyday consumer, there can still be value in calculating your expected “ROI” when it comes to making a major purchase.
If you’re not familiar, “ROI” is short for “return on investment.” In other words, what fiscal benefits (if any) will you gain from your splurge? Going back to my new iPad, productivity was a big factor in calculating my purchase ROI. Should this new device allow me to edit my videos faster, those time savings can add up and turn into monetary savings. Thus, the decision to go ahead and make the purchase was easier to swallow.
Some other potential examples of applying the ROI concept to your purchase could include improving efficiency, minimizing upkeep costs, energy savings, etc. Basically, as long as you’re realistic about how a purchase could benefit your work and your money, you’ll likely be headed in a smart direction.
Set a target price
One of my tried and true splurge strategies is to set what I call a price target. Armed with the info garnered from my research, I’ll determine just how much I’d be willing to pay for a given item. Then, if it hits or falls below that threshold (and I still want it), I buy it. If it doesn’t, then c’est la vie. Sure, it’s a simple trick but it’s made it so that, when I do allow myself to splurge, I feel really good about the results.
Cash in your rewards
Last but not least, if you’re convinced that your purchase is sound but are still a bit wary about shelling out cash, it may be worth looking to any rewards you have saved up. Personally, I love the feeling of using my Discover rewards when shopping on Amazon and zeroing out my grand total. Even if you can’t get such instant gratification, your card issuer may allow you to redeem your cashback balance as a credit when your statement hits. Looking beyond credit cards, perhaps you have a gift card or loyalty discount somewhere that you can tap for this moment. In my view, anything else you can save after pulling out all of your other tricks is just icing on the cake.
In contrast to what you may have heard, splurging doesn’t need to be something that makes you feel bad or fills you with buyer’s remorse. That said, to prevent these side effects, you’ll likely want to take a few steps to ensure that you’re making the best possible purchase. From taking your time and doing your research to exploring additional deals and perhaps even tapping your rewards, with any luck, these simple tips will allow you to splurge smarter and make the most of your fun money.
Also published on Medium.