Monday, February 18, 2013

Stop! Look! Listen!

Back when I attended Baker Elementary School, we were taught, “Before you cross the road, Stop! Look! Listen!” Since there are still a pretty large number of us boomers hanging around, most of us must have listened to that advice.

I think that, “Stop! Look! Listen!” Is also pretty good advice before making any significant purchase. What is a significant purchase? I would suggest for most of us that would fall around $100 for a single item. If you prefer $200 or $50 as a threshold that sounds OK to me. If you would suggest $500 you are either rich enough that you don’t need to be reading this blog or you need to rethink your threshold.

How long to stop? At least overnight. Are there exceptions? Of course. If your washing machine made a horrible noise and spewed large quantities of transmission fluid all over the floor you need to do a little quick research on the web then go out and buy a replacement. Most of the time whatever you want will still be there tomorrow. This is particularly important in purchasing items like cars that involve a lot of excitement and a salesman going for the close. I love cars.

After stopping, what should you be looking at? Alternatives. Say that you want to buy a pair of LeBron James Miami Cannon basketball shoes at $260 a pair. Perhaps you can find them cheaper at another source. You could even buy a used pair on eBay at $230 (really). Maybe you could look at perfectly good alternatives at $80 a pair.

Then spend a little time listening to your heart or your wife. Ask yourself will your life really be improved by a $260 pair of basketball shoes? Examine your motivations and the deeper questions that underlie your decision. Are there some emotional security issues that require the envy of your friends? As you go to sleep the fires of buying fever are likely to be quenched. Then in the light of the morning sunshine you are likely to make a better decision.

As you practice restraint in the art of making a purchase, you are also setting an example for your children. It will help them escape the trap of debt slavery, giving them a huge edge over the average American consumer.

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