Save More: Buy What You Need Versus What You Can Affordposted by Andrea | 04/7/2017
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve had the luxury of watching HGTV for the past month due to Dave’s Sling TV membership he purchased to watch March Madness.
I always get so excited to watch HGTV… but honestly, after 2-3 weeks, my cravings are sufficed and I’m ready to go back to my normal life of almost never watching TV (Netflix) after the kids are in bed.
I quickly tire of the same-old, same-old scenarios:
- It looks like you’ve been pre-approved for a max budget of $xxx,xxx.
- Let’s look at 3 different houses.
- The first 2 come in under budget but aren’t “perfect”.
- This next house is over your budget but it has EVERYTHING you want.
- OK, let’s go with the house you can NOT afford so you get EVERYTHING you want.
Dave and I sit and stare in awe as these people (many of which are our age with young families) are burdened with gigantic mortgages and additional mortgage insurance because they can’t even pay the 20% down-payment on the house that was over their max budget… but is just so “perfect”.
What’s the point of having a “max budget” if you are going to spend more than that amount anyway?
Just think how much money these people could save if they focused on simply buying what they NEEDED in a house versus all the things they wanted?
Now, obviously that’s somewhat of an extreme example — but the concept holds true for so many different areas of our lives.
- Yes, maybe you can afford another pair of jeans… but do you really NEED it?
- Yes, maybe you can afford to buy your child that toy, game, techie thing, etc… but do they really NEED it?
- Yes, maybe you can afford to go on a super fancy vacation… but do you really NEED a super fancy vacation?
- Yes, maybe you can afford to buy a brand new car off the lot… but do you really NEED a brand new car?
Of course, we wouldn’t have very full lives if we ONLY allowed ourselves to buy exactly what we needed to survive and nothing more. It’s fun to splurge a little every now and then, it’s exciting to try something new “just because”, and it can be a special treat to do or buy something we might not normally do or buy.
But I do think we (myself included) could all save a lot of money if we simply stopped to ask “Do I NEED this?” versus “Can I AFFORD this?”
I would hope that if we can’t afford something, we would turn away immediately… but even if we CAN afford something, I don’t think that necessarily means we need it and should buy it.
Does that make sense?
So often, our society obsesses over what we can “afford” that we forget to think about the fact that we most likely NEED far less than we can actually AFFORD.
We save so we can “afford” a bigger house or nicer car. We invest so we can “afford” a better retirement. We accept a promotion at work so we can “afford” to send our kids to a private college or go on fancy vacation.
Even many of the frugal, money-saving blogs talk frequently about not spending more than you can “afford” — but there are so many situations (at least in my own life) when I think “good grief, I totally do not NEED this, even though I can easily afford to buy it.”
Again, I want to reiterate that I do NOT think we should deprive ourselves of every nicety and fun “extra”, but I do think we could all pad our savings account a bit more and simplify our lives if we stopped to evaluate our actual needs versus what we can afford to buy.