Really? How to buy anything? Before you ask what sort of question is this, stop for a second and think about it. By the way, if you believe that this is one of those ‘money saving blogs’ kind of post, where I’m just going to say that you should buy the cheapest ‘anything’ then you should stop reading now. In fact, I am not even sure I like the idea of money saving blogs much. But I’ll get into that in a different post.
This is about something else. Think of some of your friends and now think of how they buy their stuff. If you’re like me, you can think of a few different kind of friends. I know people that carefully evaluate every purchase they make. I know people that are so frugal, it hurts them. I also know people that are serious impulse buyers.
So is there a right way or a wrong way to buy stuff? I think so. But the right way for me, might not be the right way for you. I mentioned in other posts that I am a big believer in the “put your money where your time is” approach. I am also convinced that we should not cheap out o things we enjoy. If you live to travel the world and don’t care what car you drive, just travel the world and drive a cheap car (or don’t even buy a car). Do whatever makes you happy. If you can afford it, you can even get a Subscription box. You could probably live without them, but they are cool little things to get every month, aren’t they?
If on the other hand, you are in debt, then you should wake up and watch every penny you are spending. Be as frugal as possible and wherever possible, do your best to think long term.
What do I mean by that? I am fortunate enough to afford to buy a few nice things now and then now, but life wasn’t always great. During those times, my mum used to say that “we’re too poor to buy cheap stuff” and I wasn’t too sure what she meant. I can now understand that if you buy something cheap, it might not last as long, it might need repairing, and it might not perform as well as a premium product. A critical thing that I have only come to understand in the recent years was that (most times) you also enjoy a good quality product a lot more than you would enjoy a cheap one.
Take a mattress for example. How often do you buy one? Not very, right? My other half and I bought a cheap mattress once and instantly regretted it. At the time, we were not earning a lot; we needed to save a lot of money, and we decided to buy that. I believe that was the right purchase given the circumstances. But it was a rubbish mattress. When we saved enough money and decided that we could afford a better one, we ended up giving it away for free and bought a much better, memory foam mattress, and we love it. We love it so much that, every time we go on holiday, one thing we mention is how much better our mattress is. I know, we’re boring, right?
So what’s the point of this story? The point is that you have to put into context every major purchase you make. Having the money to buy something does not mean that you can afford it. And being able to afford something, does not mean you should buy it.
I do not intend to go into anything to do with buying anything wholesale or how to buy anything for a tenner. Instead, I will do a lot of research and document how to buy anything in a way that delivers the most value, and then, share the blueprint with you.
Why even write a ‘how to buy anything’ series?
I feel so strongly about this that I intend to write a series of posts about this and maybe even put together some tools to guide you to make better decisions. This series will probably not be perfect, and it will never be complete. I intend to update it regularly, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say about it. Feel free to let me know if I missed anything, contradict me if you think you know better. You could also ignore me but then, the other sensible readers will not learn anything.
I agree that ‘how to buy anything’ might be to general, so I am going to break this into a few broad categories. I will be looking at each of these and go through the process I usually follow when deciding on making any of these purchases. I’d be lying if I would say that these posts will not have a degree of personal bias. We all like to believe that advertising doesn’t work on us, and we are the most rational people alive. I hate to be the bearer of bad news: we’re not. I for one, prefer Macs and Chromebooks over Windows computers (more on this here), but I’ll do my best to keep my personal biases out and provide the best advice on how to buy anything.
How to buy anything series
How to buy Electronics
These posts will cover how to buy stuff like televisions, laptops, cameras, projectors, etc. I will not always focus on whether they are budget or not but rather if they are right for you. Some of these, you buy because you want and not because you need. And that’s ok.
How to buy Appliances
This is where I’ll cover as sort of appliances, from washing machines to slow cookers. I will look at budget options(like this budget washing machine) and other things that are important for some of us, like energy efficiency and how eco-friendly they are.
How to buy Utilities
Buying utilities is different than buying big ticket items. You buy them because you need them and buying utilities is usually a price-driven decision. Also, after you bought them, you never notice them. Take your car insurance for example. You buy car insurance once a year and then, if you’re fortunate enough, you never think about car insurance for a year. Does this mean you can just buy the cheapest one? Sometimes. We’ll get into more detail when we get to it.
How to make travel purchases
Travel shopping is different for all of us. If you need to save money, you can forget about comfort and prioritise the cost. Yes, I am looking at you Ryanair.
How to buy Software
Software is a strange one so you’d be forgiven if you’d assume it doesn’t belong on this how to buy anything series. If you think of antivirus software, then you look at it like the utilities, right? It runs in the background and hopefully you never get any notifications. If you use another kind of software, like photo editing software, then you will regularly use it, and you want it to perform well and maybe even look good. If you use this software for your job, then that is the last thing you want to cheap out on. Good tools will make you enjoy your job and get better at it so in most cases it is a great investment.
I think this covers most significant or regular purchases we make, right? Is there any other category I should include? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to cover it.