I Can Buy It, But Can I Afford It?

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.

I can buy it but can I afford it

Spending Money To Avoid Debt Using Reasoning 

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 about 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, 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?


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 Your Budget For Sacrifices

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 did you 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.

Parents will agree that grocery shopping can get more expensive when bringing the kids into the store.

However, since I am in the stores 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 it.

If you pick up an item and you look at it and think to yourself, ‘I can’t buy it‘, likely you shouldn’t be.

Listen to yourself often and you might just save a bundle of cash.

Having money in my wallet or my bank account allowed me to be able to buy it but it wasn’t in my grocery budget.

Now the money has come from 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.

Repeating this to myself is going to help me stick to my weekly/monthly grocery budget.

What works for me might not work for you but it’s always worth a try if you struggle with spending too much.

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.

Multi-Buy Purchases Are Not Always A Deal

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.

Unfortunately, I forgot about them until this morning when I stepped into the garage to throw out some garbage. You guessed correctly if you said that I stepped on them, breaking them into 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.

When I’m wearing sunglasses I don’t get as many headaches as I do without 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.

Can I Afford It? Talk To Yourself.

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 need to buy the second pair and is the deal something that I can afford?

If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

What I can afford is patience…

Occasionally I 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. Rightfully so as I 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.

Marketing To Consumers

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 as I have in the past.

Having it said to me I found that the catchy, simple phrase stuck in my head. It just makes sense to me.

I’m working so hard sticking to my budget and I’ll continue to do so until I reach my goals.

Why would I want to throw my budget out the window just to buy something I really can’t afford?

Discussion: How do you avoid buying things you can’t afford?

Leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to reply.

Post Contribution By: Katrina B.


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  1. I have to ask myself, can afford the space that it takes up? I have a little tiny house, 652 square feet. We have 2 adults, 2 huge 6ft tall teenage boys and 3 dogs that live in this space. Can I afford to store it? What purpose will it serve? Can I use it for more than one thing? Will it make my life easier or will I have to dust it, feed it, care for it? The answer is often that what ever the thing is doesn’t meet my criteria.

    1. That’s about how big my house was in the UK so I know what you are living in and had to face the same challenges. When I lived in my house I really had to ask myself lots of questions like you pose. I didn’t have a basement either. Do you have a basement?

  2. Great article, I know a lot of people who have this issue, they buy stuff just for the pure fact that they have the money in their pocket then when they get in a pinch it seems as if they think it’s someone else fault but fail to realize that they can’t take responsibility for their own financial situations.

  3. Some stores that offer multi-buy discounts do not always offer the products for the 50/50 price for example 2/$5 or $2.99 each….so do I spend the extra $2.00 to save $1.00? Not anymore!!! No more setting my sunglasses down on a step either! Thanks Jeremy for taking the time to read 🙂

  4. This line is so simple, yet powerful! I will definitely be repeating “I can buy it, but can I afford it?” now, especially when it comes to those impulse purchases!

  5. I avoid buying things I could afford, but don’t need, by having specific budget goals that my husband and I review every few weeks. At the end of the week I really want left-over money so I can reach our savings goal by 12/31! So, by taking it week by week I find that I can keep focus. Every dollar does count!

    1. Good luck and I hope you reach your end of savings goal! I’m saving up for a much needed vacation this summer so this is my big motivation at the moment

  6. “I can buy it, but can I afford it?” I love that line and all too many miss that simple issue. I think it really does come down to a spending issue at the end of the day. Meaning, just because I “can” buy something does not mean that it’s in my best interest to do so. It’s like people who allocate X number of dollars to spend on something like eating out. Sure, they can “afford” to spend that whole amount but it does not mean that they should spend it all each month. It requires a proper balance to make sure you do not use the mentality to enable pointless spending.

  7. Super article Katrina!!!! Definitely food for thought and something that every one needs to keep in mind. A good deal is only a good deal if you have a use for the product and will use or consume in a reasonable time frame. Also something to think about when you are stockpiling groceries. Will you use the product before it expires and when is it likely to come up on sale again. Thanks for the excellent article!!!

  8. That’s a great phrase, Katrina. I think it’s so important that we have a little trigger like that to help us slow down and think about whether we really need something or not. I can almost always find something extra I want at the store, but for me, it’s thinking about my goals and the thought of disappointing my daughters by not being able to go on a promised trip that helps me put unneeded things back on the shelf. Great post!

    1. I thought the same thing the second my Uncle said it to me! I am saving up for a great vacation this summer so using this is going to help me alot, I do not want to have to cancel our trip because of unnecessary purchases that I couldn’t afford.

  9. I used to buy a lot of stuff because I could afford it, so we had a big stockpile and quite a lot of food waste. There are no reasons to justify waste, even though it is not a big dent in the budget, it is still money you earned for nothing.

    1. Food waste is something I have been very aware of this last while. If I don’t know for sure I will use something I won’t buy it. Thank for stopping in Pauline 🙂

  10. Great post Katrina – it’s always hard to stop and think about these kinds of things! I try just not to bring my wallet along with me if I know I’ll be tempted to buy things I don’t need/can’t afford! 🙂

    1. Part of stopping myself from shopping while in stores for work is doing just that, not bringing my wallet with me. If I don’t have my money I can’t spend it on things I didn’t plan for!

  11. That’s a great question. I’m pretty bad about this as I constantly go over budget with say my grocery allowance, but then I purchase “extras” that I don’t really need like dark chocolate. Other things I’m really good about like clothes. I don’t spend that much on stuff like that and it doesn’t really bother me that I don’t have the latest trends. For me it’s just a work in progress…I try to adjust slowly for the better as I go.

    1. I have a ways to go myself still, stopping to think about my purchases is going a long way. Even on a planned shopping trip I have found myself putting some things back before I checkout, somethings I think I need sometimes I really don’t.

  12. Wow I need to start remembering this. I’m generally good about it when I walk into the grocery store and see a 2/$5 deal or something. If the original price was $3 then it becomes $2.50 at the register even if you only buy 1. I start to think, I don’t need 2 family sized boxes of wheat thins or whatever the item is, this one box will last me for a month. Sorry to hear about your sunglasses! That’s always a horrible way for them to go.

    1. Some stores that offer multi-buy discounts do not always offer the products for the 50/50 price for example 2/$5 or $2.99 each….so do I spend the extra $2.00 to save $1.00? Not anymore!!! No more setting my sunglasses down on a step either! Thanks Jeremy for taking the time to read

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