Avoiding Financial Traps & Saving Money on Big-Ticket Purchases

 This is a guest post written by Jason Larkins. He writes at WorkSaveLive – a blog he started to help people change the way they think about their finances, careers, and lives.

Who doesn’t like to buy stuff?

Okay…I’m sure there are a few of you out there that take pride in never buying a new “toy,” but I know personally that I LOVE stuff!

Not to the point that I make dumb financial decisions that jeopardizes my family’s financial well-being, but I do have that natural American desire to have nice things and to be able to do fun stuff!

If you’re in the market to buy a Big-Ticket item (i.e. a new car, TV, or other technology gadget), what are some of the things you should be thinking through as you contemplate making the purchase?

The first mistake people make is buying on impulse. The massive majority of Americans don’t even have a thought process when it comes to buying toys, so that’s why I decided to dedicate a post on a few things you should ponder.

3 Financial Traps You Should Avoid

1. Avoid spending extra for add-ons, or features, that you’re never going to use.

It is easy to get an appliance or technology gadget that has a ton of amazing features on it – but why pay for them if you won’t use them?

Consider buying the item that may be a step below what you’re looking at.

I know that I personally love the thought of having an Ipad 2, but am I really going to utilize it to it’s full capabilities?

Probably not!

It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have one, but it does mean I can look at the older Ipad and save some money. Or, I can avoid the purchase altogether if I don’t think it’s going to be worth the money.

2. Be cautious with offers such as “no money down,” “90 days same as cash,” or “12 months interest free.”

Nearly 88% of the “90 days same as cash” offers are actually converted to payments because the purchaser couldn’t pay off the bill before the offer was up.

3. Don’t buy it just because it’s the cheapest.

Always be sure to do research prior to your purchase – check consumer reviews and product reviews. Saving money may not be worth it if the product breaks down quickly or doesn’t have the functionality that you’re looking for.

3 Strategies to Save Money

1. Prepare for large purchases and pay cash for them.

If you can’t pay cash for the item, then there is a good chance that you can’t afford it.

Determine how much money you will need to spend on a particular item and save up for it! This is going to help you in a couple of ways:

  • It will help you avoid buying on impulse.
  • If it takes awhile to save up for the item, then this will give you valuable time to really determine if it’s something you WANT badly enough to pay that kind of cash for it.
  • It will allow you to ask for a DEAL. Every retailer pays a fee to run a debit/credit card. If you’re paying in cash the worst you can do is to ask for that 2-3% discount the store would be saving!

2. Buy at the end of the month, or at the end of the year!

Consumers rarely think of this, but it’s important for you to know that every store (and store manager) has monthly/yearly sales to report.

If they’re wanting to close out the month/year strong, they’re much more inclined to offer you a deal on whatever you’re buying!

3. Avoid the extended warranty!

Insurance (in general terms) is the act of transferring risk – the more people that pool money together to help mitigate risk (buy insurance), then the lower the cost of the insurance becomes.

The reason to avoid the extended warranties is because the cost you’re paying to cover your item also includes: commissions paid to the retail store, overhead for the insurance company (wages for employees, building costs, utilities, etc), and some profit for the insurance company as well.

Sure, you may be in the miniscule percentage of buyers that has their item break down on them, but the reality is that it’s unlikely.

If it was likely for your item to break down, then the insurance wouldn’t be available because it wouldn’t be a profitable endeavor for the insurance company (and they’d be out of business).

Whenever you’re buying something that has a large price tag, you should develop a process that you think through before buying it!

Always pay in cash, get a deal, and make sure you actually need everything you’re paying for.

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    1. All good tips. I’d go even further on the “if you can’t pay cash for the item, there’s a good chance you can’t afford it” part though. That’s pretty much the definition of not being able to afford something in my book.

    2. Excellent tips and I agree with Jackie, our rule of thumb is if we can’t pay cash we can’t afford it!” We also research thorough to know exactly what we want so we don’t get distracted by add ons and things.


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