The path to intentional living is not always easy—especially with advertising and social pressures constantly urging us to buy.
To take back control of our resources (and lives), it’s important to step back and ask some hard questions before reaching for our wallets.
To help, here are 15 questions to guide your purchasing decisions and help you live more intentionally:
1. Do I really need this?
The most basic question. Differentiating between wants and needs can drastically cut down unnecessary purchases.
2. Do I own something else that can serve the same purpose?
Sometimes we simply forget about the things we already own that can serve the same purpose.
3. Am I buying this primarily because it’s on sale?
A bargain is only a good deal if you needed the item in the first place.
4. Will I actually use it regularly?
An item that you’ll only use once or twice may not be worth the investment.
5. Can I borrow this from someone instead of buying it?
For items you’ll use infrequently, borrowing can be a smart and economical choice.
6. What else could I do with this money?
Opportunity cost should always be an important factor in decision making.
7. Will it add value to my life or help me fulfill my purpose?
If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth it.
8. How many hours of work does this purchase equate to?
Considering purchases in terms of work hours can give you a sobering perspective.
9. Will I have to maintain it?
Maintenance costs can add up, both in terms of money and time.
10. Am I buying this for myself, or am I influenced by someone else’s opinion or desire?
Sometimes, we shop to impress or fit in. Ensure your purchase is driven by your needs and not external influence.
11. Can this purchase wait?
If it’s not urgent, give it some time. You might realize you can do without it. And I can’t stress this point enough.
12. What is my emotional state?
Buying things when you’re stressed, bored, or unhappy can lead to regretful purchases.
13. Is this an impulse buy?
If it wasn’t on your list or in your plan, pause and reconsider.
14. What will happen if I don’t buy this?
If the answer is “not much,” it might not be a necessary purchase.
15. Will this purchase potentially lead to more purchases?
Beware of the Diderot Effect—a spiral where one purchase leads to another. Ensure that what you’re buying won’t necessitate further spending.
Making intentional decisions about our purchases can help us align our actions with our values, avoid unnecessary clutter, and live more fulfilling lives.
Try asking yourself any (or all) of these questions the next time you’re thinking of making a purchase.