Do I Really Need to Buy This?
December 2001

“Do I Really Need to Buy This?” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 60

“Do I Really Need to Buy This?”

My husband and I have found that living within our means is possible, but it requires self-control and a practical attitude toward money. We have discovered three helpful questions to ask ourselves before spending money.

  1. “Do I really need to buy this?” Before any purchase, no matter how large or small, consider the motive for buying it. Do I really need this new computer game? Does our infant son really need a Sunday suit? Ask yourself whether the item is a need or simply a want.

  2. “Is this purchase a spur-of-the-moment decision?” Avoid sudden purchases—especially larger, more expensive items. Often we allow a skilled salesperson or others to talk us into something we don’t need or even want. When we went shopping for a computer printer, the salesperson encouraged us to buy a high-resolution color printer. But for our purposes, a black-and-white jet printer seemed more practical and cost effective. We also remembered that the cost of replacing color ink cartridges is much higher than the cost of black ink cartridges.

  3. “Are there hidden or future costs that might result from a purchase?” For instance, owning a vehicle leads to future costs. We live in Zurich, Switzerland, where the cost of gasoline, licenses, insurance, repairs, and parking is high. Sometimes owning a car is more burdensome than not having one. The Swiss public transport system of buses, trams, and trains is enough for our needs.

By questioning our daily purchases and pondering our financial decisions, we have been able to afford what we need and even some of the things we want.

Though to a large degree consistent employment and good health have allowed us to live within our means, I feel confident that our careful spending habits will help us to avoid financial catastrophe should things change in the future.—Margaret Pattison, Altstetten Ward, Zurich Switzerland Stake

Illustrated by Joe Flores