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Thursday, June 2, 2011

You are strolling through the shopping mall on a busy Saturday afternoon. As you pass by your favorite store, you see a brand new 42 inch plasma television. It's calling your name. You just received your tax return and you can easily afford this. This is the moment when you should be aware of the questions popping into your head. The idea is to "talk yourself out" of making an impulse shopping purchase.

Most shoppers would ask: Do I need this? Yes. I've always wanted one.
A frugal shopper would ask: Do I need this? No. I already have a television. I always wanted one, but I can wait.

Most shoppers would ask: Can I wait? No. I have the money and now is my chance.
A frugal shopper would ask: Can I wait. Yes. The price will eventually drop in a few months. I will wait until it's on sale.

A frugal shopper would ask: Can I buy this cheaper somewhere else? Most definitely. I will check on Ebay when I get home.

A frugal shopper would ask: Is there an cheaper alternative or product I can buy? Yes. This isn't the only plasma television left in the whole world. What if Consumer Reports rated this the worst plasma television ever? I should do some research first.

A frugal shopper would ask: Is this item extremely and ridiculously cheap? Is this my only chance to buy it at this price? This is the question where I give myself permission sometimes to make a purchase. The point of this exercise is not to deprive yourself of every luxury and every bit of happiness. The point is to make intelligent decisions consistently. If you spend $1000 on a plasma television without thinking twice, you're an idiot. If you come across a 42 inch plasma television for $100 and don't buy it, you are an even bigger idiot.

A frugal shopper would ask: Will this save me time and/or energy? No. It will probably cost me time and energy.

A frugal shopper would ask: Can I MAKE money on this purchase? No.

A frugal shopper would ask: Am I buying this for an emotional reason? (stress, boredom, to impress others)

More questions that will prevent impulse shopping:

Fellow frugal shopper Debbie added more questions:

Why do I want this? Is there some better way to achieve this goal?

Can you make or repair (or find!) something you already have instead of buying this?

Can I make or save money on this purchase? If it is a tool that will allow you to reduce or forego expenditures in the future, it may not make you money but may still be a good investment.

Can I borrow or rent or share or trade for this instead of buying? Or before buying to make sure I'd really use it? I use this tactic for movies on dvd. If I'm going to watch it once, I'll spend $3 at Blockbuster. If I'm going to watch it 100 times, I'll just buy the damn thing.

Will this last? Is this good value for the money? Quality is sometimes more important then price. I would buy a $250 dollar pair of work boots vs. a $50 pair if they will last longer.

Is this well designed or will it drive me nuts after a while? If clothing or furniture, will it fit?

Always keep your receipt. If you fail the 8 question test, you can always make a return.

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Name: Joe
Home: Niagara Falls, New York, United States

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