Can I use what I have, or make, borrow or rent the item instead of buying it?
Basically all the options instead of buying it.
Shop your own closet
If you shop your own closet instead of buying that black skirt that looks SIMILAR TO (but isn’t exactly) the other black skirt, will it work?
I do this sometimes, and it’s fine. A white shirt is basically the same as another, and while the other one may have a small detail like a pleat in the back or different buttons, it’s not a big deal enough for me to say: No I need that actual piece.
What you want to avoid is wasting money by buying disappointingly cheap substitutes:
I am truly no one to judge about whether or not items can be substituted or not because I once bought a white pencil skirt that was not quite like the one I wanted, and I ended up buying the one I wanted as well.
The trick is to avoid buying substitutes that will end up making you disappointed because you should have gotten the one you actually wanted instead, and now you’re out of pocket… twice.
Make it instead?
I have wanted certain pieces of big bold jewellery for a while now, and I cannot stomach paying $300 a piece, so I decided to just upcycle and make my own for cheaper (but not dirt cheap, I mean the stones are still expensive), which has turned into my upcycling hobby of using what I have; I developed a new creative outlet!
You can also fashion something that works just as well. I had wanted an e-book reader stand for a while now, but instead of buying one, I just folded up my Magic Bag and propped my e-book reader on top of it. I ended up not needing the product.
Borrow it from someone!
This works if you have friends who are the same size as you, but if you need black heels, hit them up and ask if you can borrow a pair and take very good care of them. I did this for a Halloween outfit where I needed black heels and I got a pair to wear to work.
Rent it from a store
Lots of places online now, can let you rent clothes to wear, and switch them up later. Let’s not talk about the emissions caused from shipping clothes back and forth yet, but I think this is a GREAT idea for when you have an event to go to and don’t want to spend $$$$ on an outfit you’ll only wear once. Rent it instead and look beautiful for a lot cheaper.
Even if it costs $200 to rent it, if you cannot find a decently appropriate outfit for $200, and really want to wear that $3000 dress, then rent it.
Can I buy it used?
After I’ve gone through my list above, I usually end up here. Instead of buying new, hunt it down secondhand. I have been successful with 90% of my items in the past, but some things have eluded me like these Reiss Lorna & Lara items because they’re such timeless, wonderful pieces that no one wants to resell them!!! I would wait maybe 5 years before I found one, and maybe not in great condition or my size.
How many uses will I get out of it?
That caftan? Maybe not the best idea, but a pair of classic, slim navy trousers? Very likely you’ll wear it to death for casual and workwear.
If you don’t plan on wearing it much, or just for specific outfits, think twice about it if the price tag is significant.
Of course, this rule can be broken for very special pieces, but generally speaking, think about how often you’ll wear it. Realistically.
Can I afford it without going into debt or jeopardizing my money goals?
This is a huge one. I see lots of people online wiping out emergency funds AND going into debt to buy something – even a car – and I wouldn’t say don’t do it (maybe you really need that car, I do not know your situation), but I would question it strongly if it’s worth it.
Debt is fine to take on in moderation, small amounts, and if it’s going to help you in some way, like getting a car so you can go to your job because you don’t live in an area with public transportation, but if you’re going into debt because you want a NICE car rather than buying a secondhand option, I am going to gently question you.
The other thing I see is people talking about how they want to buy something but don’t have the assets to justify it OR they will miss their money goals.
An example I saw was buying a $4000 bag when they only had $10K in investments. Look, it’s your money at the end of the day, I am no one to tell you what to do… but I would strongly question myself if I spent 40% of what I have invested, on a purse. Do you really need it that badly? Can you find it secondhand? Consider investing that money first, and when you hit your goal of $50K invested, THEN buy the bag. That’s all I am saying.
I personally bought a very expensive $150K+ car when I had about $600K in net worth. Am I a hypocrite for saying the same thing spending 25% of my money on a car when I could have just invested it? Perhaps, but the numbers also become less important as you move up.
At the end of the day, even though I could have invested that money, let’s say $100K and still purchased a nice $50K car, BUT …. it’s not that big of a deal because I still had a $600K net worth with a good future prospect of saving/making more money to make up for it (that’s the work equivalent of about 7-8 months of working for me).
I didn’t miss any of my money goals, and I took a calculated risk to buy a car that would last me 20+ years (I am hoping to die before the car dies), and to not stress about something I wanted.
The point is to look at the absolute and then relative money numbers, and for me, $4000 on a bag when you only have $10K in investments, is riskier than $150K on a car when you have $600K in investments. There’s just an absolute, bigger cushion of fallback money at $600K to spend on what you want even if it’s a significant percentage.
The way I look at it in absolute numbers, $10K that could barely pay for 2-5 months of living ($2000 – $5000/month) for most people, versus $600K that pays for 120-300 months of living. It was a safer risk to my daily expenses to not save that money and invest it instead, in a sense.
Do I have the space for it?
This is what is stopping me from buying a massive armchair to read in. I don’t have the space for it yet. I also am starting to be more careful with what I am bringing in because I am running out of rail and closet space, so I am removing items to make room for it.
If you live in a small urban space, you likely don’t have the space for it, versus a huge home that has a basement for overflow of any kind. Think about your space.
Do I want to maintain it?
Some items, require dry cleaning which is $15 or so, a pop.
Watches, require battery changes, at $20 a change or so, so the more watches you have, the more you need to spend, as you change the battery yearly.
Think about whether or not you want to handwash that item, or take care of it and constantly take care of it. It’s an investment in your time as well. The less you have, the less you need pay for or maintain.
Do I really want it or is it FOMO?
This is my final question. I deep dive into my heart if I actually want it because I saw it on someone I admire, if it was a fleeting ” WOW THAT LOOKS GOOD ” moment, and it’s simply a fear of missing out (FOMO).
If I reach this point, it is because I’ve gone through all the questions above in detail.