Take the time to question your purchases

By Bobby Fisher

Guest Columnist

Are adults and children different when it comes to getting what they want? As a parent or a department store patron, we have all seen a situation where a child becomes disappointed when being told that they cannot have something they want. Sometimes it’s followed by a cringe-worthy scene that results in judgmental stares from around the store.

Telling a child they cannot have something is absolutely necessary and important in teaching children, but how often do we hold ourselves to the same standard of discipline?

When you tell a child that they cannot have a particular toy, candy or drink, you tell them for a few main reasons: A) it is not good for them, B) you do not have enough money, C) they do not “need” it, or D) all of the above. Each of these reasons is absolutely reasonable and legitimate. Part of our job raising children is to teach them lessons in life they can take with them. Not always getting what you want is a great lesson. It is a lesson we as adults often take as hard as children (hopefully minus the tantrums).

As an adult, when faced with a situation where we want to buy something we want, why do we forget the lessons we learned as a child? Often times we justify the purchase, “I am grown and I can do what I want with my money,” or “I work hard, I deserve this.”

The justifications may seem reasonable, but do you ever stop to question yourself? Using this three-question test, you can begin to evaluate your spending more honestly: Is it good for me? Do I have enough money? and Do I need it?

If any of your answers to these questions are “No,” then you need to reconsider your purchase. Think about other uses of the money, like saving or buying something you do need.

Discipline is the most difficult part of money management. Questioning yourself like a parent can help you become a more disciplined spender. As adults we have the contradiction of the privilege and the curse of responsibility and accountability. This responsibility and accountability applies to many aspects of our everyday lives, especially finance. Holding yourself responsible and accountable for your spending decisions will go a long way in building strong financial habits.

Take the time to question your purchases to determine if you are making the best decisions with your money. Sometimes simply thinking twice can result in better choices and more prosperous monetary practices. I am not saying it is easy, it is not. Disciplining yourself to get on track when you are so accustomed to doing things a certain way is extremely difficult. Make an effort by employing the three question test: Is it good for me? Do I have enough money? Do I need it? You may be surprised what you discover.

Bobby Fisher is the Assistant Vice-President of Lake-Osceola State Bank. He manages two offices in Big Rapids. His column is a biweekly contribution to the Pioneer that discusses personal finance. If you have questions, concerns, topic suggestions, or missed a column please contact Mr. Fisher at (231) 796-8879 or bfisher@losb.com.