Often we buy expensive home goods or personal items thinking that we need them for rest of our lives but in reality, we hardly use them. For instance; wedding dress. A typical wedding dress costs around $600 – $1500.
I consider expenses like wedding dresses to be insanely expensive which costs us much more than their tag price. Let me give you a real example. My wife bought her wedding dress which costed her father around $3600. It was a beautiful dress; no doubt about it. But she wore that for only once in last 9 years since we got married. Even today she has it carefully packed in a box and stored at top shelf in our closet.
Every time I go inside our closet, I see that shinning box besides other dresses she had bought for various events organized for our marriage. We had planned many events for our wedding such as ring ceremony, cocktail party, wedding & reception party. Imagine how much we might have spent for those one night events and during days of planning before hand.
The Race is On
While my mother-in-law was planning after marriage dresses for my wife, my mother was doing same for her. It’s more of a cultural thing that bride get lots of new clothes and dresses.
Eventually she got about 40-50 dresses for different occasions including after marriage dinners and etc. It’s like ordering all clothes you would need for next 2-3 years.
When I asked my mother, WHY?? She shut me up saying, “its necessary and I won’t have to buy her new dress for another year” But mom, none of those dresses you guys bought her, is a casual wear. She can’t wear them at home; I asked. She responded back; “you would have lots of events and dinners after marriage & she won’t have to repeat her dress in any of those events”.
By the way, later I found many cost-effective options later:
How many events did we really attend
Well, my mother was right, we had dinner parties hosted by relatives and friends for next few days. But how many? Just 7. As we had to travel so many of relatives clubbed together to host the dinners.
So, my wife got to wear just 7 dresses out of 40 -50 that she had already got. There are still many which she hasn’t worn once in last 9 years of our marriage. 😉
That Expensive One – The wedding dress
Although 40-50 dresses costed a fortune for us but our parents still feel good about what they did back then. I believe its more of an emotional value for them.
Every time I go in our closet, I see that shinning box with her wedding dress besides 40-50 other dresses carefully wrapped in air tight plastic bags to preserve the delicate work done on each of them.
Out of all of them, the wedding dress is the one that was single most expensive item for obvious reasons and is the one that she wore for only once. This made me think – how much do we really spend to feed our emotions and that’s the main drive behind this post.
So, here are the questions that I ask myself before buying any home goods now.
7 Questions to ask before buying any home goods
1 | Do I really need it
Many times we buy things impulsively which we really don’t need as such. I am sure you might have done it too as I did many times in my life. That’s why it’s very important to ask ourselves this question first – “Do I really need this today” before buying anything.
I have been asking myself “Do I really need this today” before making any purchase for many years now. Often I used to buy things which were available on good deals at the time. Sometimes I used to convince my brain to think that today this product is available on 10-20% discount and I might need it in future, so lets buy it now. I couldn’t be more wrong than this.
If you are one of those people thinking and buying things on discount just because you might need it in future, then you need to stop and instead ask yourself if you really it today. Forget about the future need. You can buy it anytime in future when you really need it and probably for lower price too.
So, now I always ask myself – “Do I really need this today“. If answer is ‘NO’ then, I do not buy.
I highly recommend you to check these posts on the subject:
- My Ebates Review to Earn Unlimited Cashback
- Easy Money – How I Made $5,088 from Credit Cards without Top Cashback
- How to become rich when you are in your 30s
2 | Will it last for 10 years
I agree most products do not last for 10 years and even if some do; we get bored with them after sometime. On the contrary, many products do last more than 10 years and often we do not realize how old they are as they simply serve us without any issues.
For instance television set, dinning table, washing machine, bike, etc. How old is your television set? If you bought one recently, did you buy it because the old TV set had stopped working or just because there are more cool features in new TV?
I had bought my TV back in 2009 and it is still working fine. It’s almost 9 years since I bought it. Similarly my dinning table is still in very good shape which I had bought around same time. I am planning to use them for couple of more years before disposing them off unless they are broke or non-functioning.
Now we make sure that at least for big items, we always buy something that will last minimum of 10 years. This gives us enough time to recover the money value we put in it (more on this next).
3 | What is my real cost
If you really need something and it will last long enough to solve its purpose, then next question I ask myself is what will be the actual cost of owning that home goods item.
Believe me, you really want to know how much you would be paying for it whether it’s any home goods item, home furniture, clothes, home kitchen item or even a mobile phone.
For instance, I had spent over $5800 on Armani suit that I bought for my wedding night. I have worn it 4 times ever since. Moreover it doesn’t fit me anymore. 🙁
So, what is my cost of ownership per use for this suit? It is whopping $1450 ($5800/4). In other words, you can say I spent $1450 each time I wore this suite for couple of hours. This is crazy. I never thought about it at the time I was buying it.
Let’s take another example which worked out a bit better in my favor. I had bought a samsung TV set back in 2009 for $1300. It’s almost 9 years since I brought it home. Although, I have my personal goal this year to reduce the time I and my family spend in front of television, we collectively as a family still watch it for 2-3 hours daily.
Considering 3 hours of average for last 9 years, we might have spent about 9,855 hours (9 years x 365 day x 3 hours) in total in front of our TV set. Now if I calculate the cost per hour here, then it comes out to be approximately 13 cents per hour (1300/9855) which will reduce further in future as numerator ($1300) is fixed here and number of hours (denominator) will keep on increasing over time in future as long as we use the same TV.
Clearly, buying a TV was a much better deal for me than an Armani suit. Now, I want you to do same exercise for major home goods appliances or home office furniture in your home that you have bought in past. This exercise will kind of train your mind to automatically calculate cost of ownership for any home goods purchases you would do in future. I highly recommend you to think about the cost of ownership going forward before buying anything.
4 | Are there any alternatives
Sometime back I was searching for a new TV ( again TV example; it’s a perfect example for this post ). The reason I wanted to change it because mine doesn’t have inbuilt smart apps like YouTube, Netflix etc. So, I thought to myself that if I could buy a smart TV, then I won’t need a cable connection and that would reduce my expenses.
As you know I always try to optimize my living cost, so I can retire richer than my friends.
But a smart TV was costing around $2500 at the time and I didn’t want to spend that much of money on something that I really don’t need as such. I remind myself this to fall into traps of fixing issues which doesn’t really exist as such:
Replacement cost shouldn’t be more than you would gain later
So I started to look around for alternatives which could bring smart apps to my old TV. To my surprise, I found not one but many alternative solutions which were lot cheaper as well. If you have the same problem with your TV, then I recommend you to buy anyone of these: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, apple tv or Sony Google TV
I bought Sony Google TV at the time for just $115. It is not manufactured anymore so you can go with Amazon Fire which is also great and I recently bought one for $49. I had to buy Amazon Fire stick because google tv device isn’t getting any more software updates and sometimes program crashes without any reasons. Amazon fire stick is great and has lots of apps inbuilt in it.
This decision not only saved me $2385 upfront compared to the cost of new smart TV but also saved ton of money in cable bills. I recommend you to check – how to get rich doing nothing.
You might have some other home goods appliance or a mobile phone or anything else and not necessarily a TV set. So, I advise you to do some research on alternatives before buying anything big. Often you will find something which costs way too less. Any money that you will save here might speed up your race to financial freedom.
5 | Will it cost more in future
Unless a product is going to be expensive to buy in future, we shouldn’t rush to buy it today.
I am a fan of apple devices ever since I bought my first iPhone back in 2008. Over the years I have changed phones but have always stick to iPhones as I am kinda addicted to them now as millions of other iPhone lovers. I consider myself unfit for android phones now. 😉
Jokes apart, android phones are equally good and getting better than iPhones as far as some recent features are considered. For instance this android phone looks total awesome.
As you probably might know that Apple launches a new phone every 2 years in September. So, I schedule my purchase around October or November months if I have to switch to a new device.
Fortunately iPhone is one of those devices which gets cheaper over the time as well and you can get same set of features for cheaper.
That’s why I never buy a new iPhone on launch day. Instead I go for an older model at the time which comes with a good discount compared to its launch price.
In addition, I always buy it after a new model is launched in the market which pushes prices on older devices further down. This way I get a good enough price-value balance on my cost.
Even with a device which is a year old, I am able to make high quality phone calls and use internet at good speed. 🙂
This rule is applicable to almost every other home goods that we buy for our homes. By delaying the process of buying, I protect myself from impulsive purchases which often lead to regrets later.
6 | How can I buy home goods for cheaper
I have realized that new generation is getting smarter and smarter about money and how they spend it. For instance look at yourself, you are here reading this post because you want to optimize your expenses and reduce the cost of living so you can save to invest more for your future. I am delighted to have readers like your.
After reaching 6th step in my checklist, its time for me to start looking for available deals on the particular home goods item that I am planning to buy today. At this time, I also compare the prices of similar products and to get the best value for the price I will be paying.
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7 | Can future purchases be free
I haven’t tried this yet but here’s a cool idea to buy things for 50% or less in future.
Suppose you are buying a $500 Air Fryer for home. If you haven’t looked into Air Fryer’s yet, then I highly recommend you to switch to one today as it offers guilt free eating and its a healthy choice you should make to make your living good.
Now going back to our discussion. Say you bought this awesome air fryer today for $500. It’s cheaper today though but still let’s assume that price is about $500 for our example.
As with any electronic appliances there will be newer devices in future and you might want to replace it in future say after 10 years.
So, what if you take aside $250 today and invest it for next 10 years or until you need new Air Fryer in future.
In 10 years period at 8%, this $250 will turn into $555. This is one of the ways to buy things doing nothing.
Under this strategy, every time I buy a new home goods appliance, I will repeat this technique to replace or buy similar items in future for way less. This will save us a ton of money over time.
Using this technique, you can create a fund that is solely setup to finance your future purchases of home goods. This way when you really need something, you will have enough money set aside for in a growth fund.
I would name my fund as ‘Guilt Free Spending Fund‘. On top of it, I also highly recommend to purchase as much as online using sites like Ebates which offer free cashback on any online shopping. And if you are wondering where you can earn 8% returns, then I recommend to check my post on Can We Really Make Money in Stock Market. I also advise you to open a free account with Robinhood which offers $0 fee for buying or selling stocks. You can also get a free share of any US company when you sign up using my link.
I hope this post have provided you some important things to consider when buying any home goods or home furniture or anything that you want to buy. By asking these questions, you will be able to logically think about your purchases. These questions will also guide you to make good decisions for spending your cash.
In the end, I want to emphasize that try to avoid home goods products that will not last for next 10 years at least. Anything used for 10 years will maximize your return on investment.
Purchasing is also a kind of investment and you generate returns from it by using it over the years. Anything that doesn’t fit 10 years lifespan, I recommend you to not spend too much on it such as clothes or phones. Some goods just wear out while others get outdated soon by the technology.
I will be happy to know what is your list of questions that you ask before buying anything? Let us meet in comments below.
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