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How We Discuss and Decide on Purchases

Posted By Jim On 07/13/2007 @ 7:41 am In Personal Finance | 1 Comment

Whenever you pool resources, as we do in our main account (read about how we handle our coupled finances [3]), you generally want to discuss anything major with all the parties involved. With coupled finances, it’s not that much different.

While we’ve never spelled out how we discuss and decide on purchases, I think the ad hoc system we do have in place works well and it’s broken up into two phases. Now, these things are only important for major purchases, for minor purchases we don’t really discuss it beforehand but we certainly shop around to get the best price.

Demonstrate Importance of Purchase

This isn’t throwing tantrums or yelling louder as the other person, but ultimately if I want to buy something, I need to convince or at least convey to my fiancĂ©e (and she has to convince me) the importance of the purchase. In part you want the other person to buy into your purchase, explain why having the whatever is better than not having the whatever. If you want to buy a new BBQ grill, explain that you want to be able to cook quickly and easily outside of the house. If you want to get her or his buy in, you can explain how cooking outside will keep it cooler inside the house or apartment. By having a grill you can have cookouts, invite your friends over, hang out and play some bocce ball outside. If I can’t verbally explain why it’s important, it’s not important. If it’s not important, why do I want to get it? Right?

Demonstrate Research

If I want to spend $1,000 on carpet, I better demonstrate that I’m getting at least in the top 50% of prices. I get two or three quotes, sign the deal, and we move on. If I want to buy a product, find as many vendors as I can, compare prices, then pull the trigger. I don’t think either one of us feels a compelling need to get the absolute 100% best price or a sense of failure when we see that what we paid isn’t the absolute 100% best price, but if you do an acceptable amount of homework and you get a good price, that’s good enough. If you just walk into Barnes and Noble and pick up a $20 book that’s only $9 on Amazon, I think both of us would think that’s irresponsible spending (if it were a general practice, every once and a while isn’t a big deal, it’s the trends that are important).

Another aspect of research is making sure it fits within your budget. You can get the best price for something but if it’s out of your budget, you need to figure out a plan to save enough money for it. Save 10% of your salary each month and put it into a savings fund for whatever it is you want, that way you don’t take on unnecessary debt and make a good deal a bad one.

If you can prove it’s important using reason and then demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, which includes making sure it fits within your budget, most reasonable people will agree with you, even if your spouse/partner is stubborn.


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