When you’re a deal hunter like I am, it’s very easy to get caught up in the bottom line of the item you want to buy.
But if you really want to save money, you should know all the costs before you buy.
You see, that rock-bottom steal of a deal will almost always cost you more than you think. Everything you buy has some kind of maintenance cost. You must use it, store it, maintain it, repair it, and replace it. That’s why it’s so important to consider whether the overall cost of the item is worth the discount price tag. You don’t want to score a great deal only to find out that it will cost you much more money to own it and take care of it.
I remember one particular year we bought a new video game system at a great price. But then, we needed a new HDMI cord to connect it to our television. And then we needed additional controllers. And of course, we needed lots of games to play. The controllers liked to eat batteries, so we constantly had to buy more of them. That great deal on the video game system ended up being a constant money drain.
These types of money drains can be anywhere – from the cars and homes we buy to our clothing and coffee makers.
It’s far better for your wallet if you know all the costs before you buy. I’ve got some guidelines that will help.
If you are buying clothing, consider these things:
- Is the item trendy or classic? Will this still be fashionable in six months?
- How do you care for this item of clothing? Is it machine washable or is it dry clean only? Does it need to be ironed?
- Does it fit properly now? Or does it need it alterations?
- How is the item constructed? Will the fabric survive numerous washings? Are there spare buttons? Do the zippers work well? Will these shoes feel comfortable for more than 10 minutes?
Sure, that new blouse may be a great buy, but if it will be out of style by next season, doesn’t feel awesome when you try it on and comes with a spendy dry cleaning bill, just put it back on the rack and walk away.
If you are buying books, music or DVDs, consider:
- Will I read, listen, or watch this item over and over again, or just once?
- How much shelf space to I have to devote to these items?
I love a good book bargain as much as the next person, but if it’s a quick read you only look at once, it’s just going to take up space. And if you are considering moving any time soon, that book collection can be cumbersome and expensive to move. Consider looking for free reading materials online or heading to your local library instead.
If you are buying toys, electronics or other gadgets, ask yourself:
- Does it require batteries? Can it use rechargeable batteries?
- What kind of warranty does this item have?
- Does this item seem particularly fragile? What happens if I drop it?
- Does it have small parts that are easy to lose?
- Does this require any refills to continue to use?
- What type of maintenance does this item require?
- Do I need (or will I want to) buy accessories for this?
- Have I read the reviews on this item? Do other people think this is a quality item? Or will it need repairs or replacement?
If you’ve ever bought a new phone, you know that this one purchase quickly spirals into a bigger expense than you planned. Screen protectors, cute protective cases, car chargers, and other gadgets can quickly eat up any savings you had on the original phone. Plus, you have to pay a monthly fee to use the phone. Kids toys’ often come with unexpected costs. I once discovered (too late) that a beloved radio control car owned by my son required 8 watch batteries to operate. Even when I found some at the dollar store, it was still a big expense! Pay close attention to the costs of toys and gadgets when you buy and avoid a headache later.
It’s okay to buy things at a bargain if you absolutely love them and can afford the cost to take care of them. Just recognize that you’ll need to add the cost of ownership into your budget. If you stick to high quality bargains with low maintenance costs, chances are good that you’ll still be happy with your purchases years from now.