How to Put Off Big Purchases and Save Money

The best way to save money is just not to spend it. One of the ways to do this effectively is to try to put of purchasing something new as long as possible. This is obvious when it comes to certain things like a car but it’s also the case with things you buy a lot of like clothes and groceries. In an age of planned obsolescence and no repair men that’s getting harder to do, but it’s still possible. If you put off successive purchases of the same thing you’ll eventually get to the stage where you skip one and that money just stays in the bank. So let’s get down to it then you’ll find strategies and some examples of how to employ them.  Ps no Wednesday post this week because I was busy enjoying my birthday!

big purchases
Me and my new car in 2007

Need vs want and going without

This is often a case of keeping up with the jones and in the social media envionment it’s getting harder and harder to resist the getting of things. Do you want or need a laptop, ipad, iPhone and smart watch? Probably not. Full disclosure I have all of those, one was a present one a family member was getting rid of but essentially I don’t really need an iPad, if mine breaks I won’t be replacing it. But… when my old computer was no longer portable I used it for tubby time youtube videos. Do you need a new couch or do you want one? If it smells and you can’t clean it you need a new one. If It’s scratched and you still have the cat, live with it. If it’s ugly, you really only want one. Occasionally I will walk into a house and think, that’s a really ugly couch but I sit on it and forget about it. I have an ugly couch and a scratched chair and the cat that made it that way, so for now it’s staying. If there is a metal bar poking you in the back you REALLY need a new one.

Just because it seems everyone you know has perfect, new matching furniture, a Lexus, pure bred dog, Lululemon pants and an iPhone 7 doesn’t mean you actually need them. PS that list adds up to about $59 000. Replacing 3 key pieces of furniture, a good used Honda, a rescue dog, Walmart pants and a used iPhone 6 adds up to $15 800, wouldn’t you rather have the $ 43 200 especially if none of the money you spent has interest associated with it. That’s more than a college education or if you invest it now, two. The truth is we all need very little to have a great lifestyle.

There will be another clearance sale

Sales really make you mess with your emotions and actions even if you think you’re immune. A great sale messes with your phycology and emotions. It makes it seem that time is limited, once it’s gone its gone and that can actually bring up the emotions of fear and panic and stimulate a fight or flight response and cloud your thinking. The truth of the matter is that no matter how good the deal there is another one around the corner. You might be at a yard sale and the exact 60 inch flat screen you’ve been eyeing is practically being given away. Sure you might miss out but you can look for the same deal and create an alert on an online classified site or even post a wanted add.

But… if your TV is still good and you’ve just decided the next one should be bigger since you’ve moved to a new house, that’s money you didn’t really need to spend at all. Maybe yours would have lasted another 5 years. Maybe by then another even better deal would have come along.

We’re looking for another property maybe to move into, maybe to rent out and we’ve missed out on a few amazing deals so far. Timing so far hasn’t been perfect to pull the plug but it’s something we seriously want to invest in in the near to medium term. Our house is too big for us but very well suited to our lifestyles for now, plus we love it here. Ideally we would do the same thing as we did here again. That is buy a house in impossibly bad condition for an impossibly low price and bring it up to snuff. Occasionally people will really want to unload a property that has been vacant or terribly abused with a structure on it that has become a liability for the cost of the land with a discount to tear down the house. These are not popular among buyers especially if the land isn’t anything special. If you can save the structure with your own labour, deeply discounted building supplies and a few favours owed you’re way, WAY ahead.  The other option is a perfect piece of land to build on, and rent this one out. We’ve missed out or failed to pull the trigger due to timing on a few now but.. the fact that more than a few have come along let’s us know another one is coming. Though as this is an investment in this case, sooner would be better but falling into the trap of the super sale can make you leave reason behind.

Take care of your stuff in they ways that matter

Keep your computer up to date and vacuum out the fan. Don’t download suspicious stuff, get a keyboard protector and install this fan app on your Mac to keep it from running hot. Then you can skip cleaning up your hard drive and getting the sticky crap of the space bar for like a week. My last MacBook lasted 9 years but was done, though it still ran at the end. Do preventative maintenance on your car, wash the salt off and wax it with a professional quality protector on the regular. Then you can skip cleaning out the garbage and shampooing the upholstery until you can’t stand it anymore. My last car just got it’s plate removed, turned 12 and will go onto a proud 4th owner in great running condition with over 300 000 km on it. I would have kept driving it if my mom wasn’t replacing hers. Do your roof before it needs it, replace your hot water heater every 8 years and address those annoying drainage issues at home right away. But you can continue hand washing your dishes because of that broken dishwasher and put off painting for as long as you want. If you’ve got 1000’s of dollars invested in your wardrobe, which you do, hang it to dry.

There are things you have to do to make your stuff last like all the freaking time but other things can be put off for as long as you can stand. Washing your floors obsessively, paining your faded pressure treated deck or installing fancy, trendy, scratchable door knobs only adds to your ongoing costs. Some things need to be done, others can be put off and still others just keep costing you money. PS don’t buy a boat if you can avoid it. That are a kin to a hole in the ocean to which you throw money. But if you do… we build wharfs, install and service moorings, floats, ramps and do shoreline work, call us!

Value the memories in used items

I’m pretty sure our huge antique table and chairs that seats 14 comfortably was payment from a customer who owns an antique shop. It’s been a long time. Sure one end leaf has a slant from a ruckus arm wrestling competition, the chairs turned out to be too dainty for us and the finish is scratched and worn in places but it got that way over many years with many memories. It’s been over filled with people and food on more than a few great nights, once it served Thanksgiving dinner in a power outage, was where honey found out he was going to be a grand dad was where we sat up all night with the neighbour when his house burned and…. No table no matter how nice is going to have that. Chances are it’s not done yet and that’s just since it came to us! I’m really not sure it could look bad enough for me to replace it, a table cloth maybe.

Just a few of the occasions around our table

If your not a sentimental person one, I don’t understand you and two try to cultivate some of that in yourself. What are you saving in a fire, if you get the chance? Chances are it’s family heirlooms, pictures and pets. Even if those objects have some value that’s not the reason you’re going back in. Try to remember that when you’re pulling out your visa.

Make it clear you’ll buy/accept things from people who take care of their stuff

My mom and my stepdad are both incredibly generous and conscientious people who take amazing care of their stuff, even better than me. Thats where my last two cars came from and this computer, one car I paid for since he wasn’t my step dad yet. I’m grateful that they are way too generous but would have bought that stuff from them too. Make it clear to your neat freak, contentious friends and family that you want the first right of refusal when they go to sell their electronics, homes and cars. You might have a friend that’s always replacing their car, computer or phone long before they need to and taking care of it. Let them know you’ll match the dealer’s offer when it’s time to trade up next.

Pick your big number

Mine is round about $150. Past this amount take a purchase seriously. I might try to put it off, find something used, make sure I buy a good one by researching or wait for a good sale. I’m at least going to slow down and think about it.  The lower the number you pick the more you save in the long term. That might seem like a big number or a small number but either way here’s how I arrived at it:

  • It’s three months insurance
  • My share of the utilities for a month
  • About 1/3 of a mortgage payment
  • More than I make in an average day
  • Groceries for about 2 weeks

Buy the best quality stuff you can, research it, save for it early

If you’re typing on a 9 year old computer or driving a 12 year old car you already know you’re on borrowed time. Chances are you already know that. Count your blessings and start stashing money away for it now before you need it. I could do better at this myself, what I need to do is open a second bank account just for that. You can go a bit further too, you could take access away from it on your debit card. It could be a cash jar or one friend even gave it to me for safe keeping. That way you can at least avoid putting all of it on credit.

For big stuff like furniture, electronics, workout equipment and lots of other stuff buy the best stuff you can and take your time to research it. Ideally start researching before you need to shop to replace it. For a car you might look up the JD Power initial quality ratings, resale vale and cost of ownership, consumer reports is a great place to start. For electronics read lots of online reviews from tech sites and even the aggregate ratings on amazon. Make sure you know what features you want and can live without. I got a new SUP (stand up paddle board) for my birthday and even though it caused the tiniest bit of friction between us I made sure we slowed down a step, and taking some of the fun out of it for honey, looked into it a bit and picked the one that would work best for me. The shorter, wider one not the ‘great big’ one he had picked out.

The better quality stuff you buy the longer it will last and a lot of the time you get what you pay for. If you get an extra three years out of a Mac that costs $1000 rather than four years total out of a $600 PC is it worth it? While you’ll pay $150 per year for the PC and $140 per year for the Mac. If you buy a Small Chevy for $16 000 that you sell 5 years later for $3000 that costs $2600 per year. If you bought a Toyota for $22 000 that you drove for 10 years and sold for $2000 that one is only $2000 per year. Quality pays off in the long run and sometimes its just a matter of not buying the wrong $60 printer.

Do the same for small things in big categories

Groceries, the power bill, clothes, gas and beauty. None of these are high ticket items but they add up due to frequency and quantity. Try as much as possible to take these bit category cash eaters seriously too. Can you let go of cable, lower the heat and A/C, line dry or cook more? You can’t put off buying groceries or paying the power bill for very long at all but there are options.  One is a grocery bill diet. Essentially you try to go a certain amount of time without buying groceries and eating down your stocks while making do with what you have. Sure you might have to run to the store for must haves, coffee, tea, near beer and cream here. But you’d be surprised how long you can go. This happens at our house right after unexpected car repairs. Check out this post about women in particular (and men to really) being more financially reasonable day to day and the impact that can have in the long term.

Fix what you can

Admittedly this is getting harder since with planned obsolescence things just aren’t built like they used to be. Plus the local fix it guy has often been put out of business by consumer culture. There are still some options though. Refinish a table, recover an ugly couch, replace your MacBook battery like this ballsy lady, order parts on eBay or check the yellow pages or online classifieds for repair guys. Usually if you’ve spent a decent amount of money on something like a phone, appliance or car there is a guy, dude or scrapyard to get it fixed. Ask your seller, the places that say no we don’t do that or your co-workers if they know some dude that does that. Then make sure you save dude’s contact, your crap is old it might break again.

Refuse to buy anything you don’t love and replace retail therapy in your life

If you’re still shopping to pass time, boost your mood or as a social outing you need to cut it out. In fact you need a seed change in how you think in regard to the value of objects. They are not mostly there to fill your time, your space or to be collected for collecting’s sake. I’m not saying you NEED to love, cherish and use every object you own every day. But so often you buy something because you need pick me up, it’s good enough or the price was right. Stop doing that as much as possible. There’s nothing wrong with that but there is also no reason to get rid of each and every object that doesn’t fill you with joy either. Just decide that unless an object is perfect for you, you won’t buy it, especially if it’s over that magical number you picked earlier. If you’re ‘a shopper’ you need to find something else to fill that hole. I’ve been there the summer my dad died we were at the mall three or four days a week and it got us through, and tripled the size of my wardrobe. If this applies to you be careful about what drives you to shop. Lurking on fashion Instagram accounts or beauty you tube channels can drive you to endless consumerism to your detriment.

Putting off purchases leads to savings in the long term. What purchases have you been able to put off and for how long?




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