I can buy it, but can I afford it. Sounds pretty simple right? It is!
This last year has been a very educational year for me in terms of finances and managing my money. Every day I am improving and I am further along than I ever thought I could be. I’m actually really enjoying learning everything there is to know about personal finance especially when it comes to my bad habits.
Since starting my landscaping business which is a passion of mine, earning extra money has been an eye opener for me. I have also been able to engage in a few money conversations and actually feel comfortable having an idea of what I am talking about. One of those conversations happened just this past weekend.
What Can You Afford?
I have always enjoyed talking with my one Uncle and this time we talked about money! I loved it! Even more I loved what he shared with me. He mentioned that when he talks finances with people he always brings up the phrase…. ‘I can buy it, but can I afford it’? These were just the words I needed to hear. Simple and easy to say to myself, which I will…over and over again.
I’ve got money in my pocket, sure I can afford it.
Let’s look at a scenario together shall we? So, I walk into a grocery store to buy a bag of milk and I have a $5.00 bill in my pocket and the cost of the milk is $3.99. On my way into the store I see a display of my favourite chocolate bars, I love Mars bars! They are on sale for $1.00. Wow, what a great price I think to myself. I have $5.00 in my pocket, I can buy one! We all know chocolate is a taxable purchase which will bring the total to $1.13.
So after I buy the chocolate bar I am left with $3.87. What did I actually come in here for I ask myself? Oh yes a bag of milk….oops the bag of milk costs $3.99 and now I only have $3.87. So moral of the story here is yes because I had $5.00 in my pocket I could buy the chocolate bar but could I afford it? No!
Now I am leaving the store without what I originally went in for, the milk. I cannot afford the milk now because of an impulse purchase that I really didn’t need. This is just an example to explain the idea behind what my Uncle had to say.
Adjusting The Budget
An extreme example of this might be, say you have $30,000 in your bank account, does that mean you can afford to go down to the dealership and pay cash for a new car? What in your budget have you sacrificed to buy that car? How much are you going to have to adjust your budget for buying something that you really couldn’t afford?
Going in and out of multiple stores for my job challenges my ability to say no to impulse purchases. I usually take advantage of this opportunity to do my grocery shopping kid-free. Those with kids will agree that grocery shopping can easily get more expensive when bringing the kids in the store.
But….being I am in the stores so often it can be easy to walk past a really great sale and convince myself that I need that product when really I could have done without. If you pick up an item and you look at it and tell yourself, ‘I can’t buy it’, likely you shouldn’t be. Listen to yourself more often and you might just save a bundle.
Having the money in my wallet or my bank account allowed me to be able to buy it but it wasn’t in my grocery budget. I do now. Now it has to come out of somewhere else in my budget, so really I couldn’t afford to buy it. This phrase will continually pop into my head every time I am in stores now.
I am preparing to join the Grocery Game Challenge on June 1st , I promise I’m in! Saying this over and over to myself is going to help me stick to my weekly/monthly grocery budget. It is now. I am also starting to enforce ‘no-shopping days’ when I go to work to help me from spending money I don’t need to spend.
After working outside all day yesterday in the garden I had a handful of stuff going into the house. I set my sunglasses on the step in the garage so I could open the door.
I forgot about them until this morning when I stepped into the garage to throw out some garbage and stepped on them, breaking them to pieces instantly. Smart that was, now it’s going to cost me money to replace them.
I do not leave my house without sunglasses, even on a dull day. I find myself wearing them as I seem to get more headaches if I don’t have them on. After I finished work today I stopped in at Ardene’s to buy a new pair of sunglasses.
I usually buy my sunglasses there because they always have a deal, usually either 2 or 3 pairs for $15. Today’s deal was 2/$15. I picked out one pair then continued to look for another.
Ask Yourself This…….
Then I stopped and thought to myself….I was not planning on having to buy one pair of sunglasses, let alone two. If bought individually each pair cost $8.50. In the past I wouldn’t have even thought twice and grabbed two pairs, but in this case being an unexpected purchase saving myself $2.00 by buying two pairs wasn’t worth spending another $6.50.
I reminded myself that yes I could buy two pairs but really I couldn’t afford two. Buying one pair was already something I would have to take money from somewhere else in my budget. I could justify one pair as I need them, but not a second pair.
Every time that I see a multi-buy discount now I will stop and think it out again. Do I really need to buy the second one and is the deal really something that I can afford? If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
What I can afford is patience….
I do occasionally shop for clothes and fun things for myself and the kids, although the majority of my impulse spending is on groceries. I am not the person who has to have every new gadget on the market.
I’m also not someone who will spend $100 on a pair of jeans. I also can’t afford to. When I do buy something for myself I don’t like to feel uneasy about how much I’ve spent. I’ve learned to have a good amount of patience for the things I need to purchase but haven’t saved the money up for yet.
I Love My Job
Working in a retail environment for a few years, I have learned lots about how companies strive to achieve top sales. I work on behalf of multiple companies as an in-store marketing representative. Part of my job includes working with the store to maximize sales and secure optimal placement of their products and advertising materials and displays in-store.
My job is to market products to maximize sales and I understand the reasoning behind why manufacturers want their product seen. I also know that as a consumer I have the right to make informed decisions whether the product is in my face or hiding on a shelf. Alternatively I might decide to buy something the day the product is released, or wait a few weeks/months until the price drops significantly.
It’s a pretty simple concept even though many find difficulty with it like I have in the past. Having it said to me and being a catchy, simple phrase really stuck in my head, and it just makes sense to me. I’m working so hard sticking to my budget so why do I want to throw my budget out the window just to buy something I really can’t afford?
How do you avoid buying things you can’t afford?
Post Contribution By:
Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.
Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.
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