Decide if it’s a necessary item or a discretionary item-
All the things that we buy fall under two categories, necessary items and discretionary items i.e the needs and the wants. So, before purchasing anything ask yourself this question- is it necessary or discretionary? Do I really need it or is it a want that I can do without?
Delay a purchase-
You can save money when you delay or postpone a purchase in pursuit of a better deal. You can use the time while you’re waiting to look for a better deal. Recently I bought a Bissell OnePass vacuum cleaner. It was on sale for $99 (originally $159) at Kohl’s but the local store was out of stock. I decided to wait instead of using their kiosk to order it from online. I ended up buying a similar one from Amazon for $64. This was by far the best vacuum that we had used.
Be flexible with your choices-
The more flexible you are with your choices the more you will be able to save. It’s cheaper to find a top with floral patterns than to find a beige top with pink and purple flowers. A Mineral Fusion lip tint does the same or better job at a fraction of a cost than a Clinique lip pencil.
Choose a frugal option-
A frugal substitute can be found on either categories, be it a necessary item or a discretionary one. For example, rice can be a necessity for you and it’s available in a variety of options. Choose the one that fits your budget. Choosing a frugal option for a necessary item important, specially if it’s something you buy regularly as it will help you save consistently. For example, we use basmati rice pretty frequently and prefer the brand Royal over Zebra as the difference is about $15 for a 40 lb bag.
Some items are that you rarely use can be borrowed from a friend or a neighbor. Buying it would be a better idea if you find yourself borrowing it too often or it stays with you longer than the owner of the item. If you do borrow something, make sure you take good care of it and return it on time. You can borrow books and media from the library that won’t cost you anything. Remember to return your items on time to avoid paying late fees.
Buying something pre owned condition can save you a lot of money. You can find almost anything used in a consignment shop, online or brick and mortar thrift store or at yard sales. It takes time to be a savvy shopper when you’re a bargain hunter. I paid $1 once for a waffle maker from a yard sale and spent more money on dish detergent to scrub it clean. But it was a lesson that helped me to be more careful now when I buy used things. And be mindful, don’t buy too many used things just because they are dirt cheap, it can add up quickly and end up being a not so frugal purchase anymore. Specially when it comes to used clothes, toys, books etc.
Find two or more options-
Try your best to avoid “narrowing your option” when it comes to purchasing something. Take time to find at least two choices and go with the one that is right for you. If you find a pair of pants that fits you well, look for another that fits you similarly or better. You feel despondent when you are stuck with one option and more likely to make a money mistake.
See in reality, not emotionally-
You are more susceptible to an impulsive purchase if you attach emotions to an item. So zoom out and look at it realistically. A gorgeous bracelet that would go with anything can really be a silver infinity bracelet and may not even be complementing on you. Also, the furniture that worked for your grandma may not suit your lifes in an apartment with 4 little kids. Nostalgia can play tricks on your mind, be aware of it when you’re about to make a purchase.
Know the challenges and opportunities of your decisions
You can’t buy impulsively and save money too. So if it’s a purse that you’d decided to have, ask yourself where else can I use this money? Do I want instant gratification or delayed contentment in the long-term? Am I willing to take the financial responsibility that comes with this purchase? These questions will help you to make the right decision so you can avoid feeling like a victim later.
A bonus tip-
Pray istikhara when you’re not sure if you should buy something or not, or if you’re torn between a few options and unsure which option is best for you. This prayers has always provided me the guidance I needed. I would even ask Allah(swt) to help me select something if I am at a store and didn’t get to pray about it. Allah(swt) has always been there for me as He has the best and the most knowledge about everything.
The more you will use these tactics before making a purchase the more making the right decision will become a second nature to you.