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When Making a Big Purchase, How to Decide What to Buy

decision to buy flow chart

Thinking about a major purchase such as a new washer and dryer or computer? You’ll want to clearly identify your needs to stay withing your budget.

Use the DECIDE steps to make a plan.

Define Your Goal

What do you want to achieve with this purchase? Be as specific as possible. For example, “We need a new refrigerator to store the food for a family of four that eats a lot of frozen meals.” 

Establish Your Criteria

What are the features you absolutely must have and which features would you like it to have? Separating wants from needs is an important step in making any purchase. 

Choose Two to Three Good Options

It’s elimination time. Remove any options without your must-have features. Narrow down your list to just two or three different choices.

Identify the Pros and Cons

Make a chart so you can quickly compare the features and prices of each of your top two or three choices. For example, “Option 1 has all the features I want; it is in my budget, but it isn’t the color I want. Option 2 is not the color I want and costs $200 more than I want to spend.”

Decide What’s Best

Choose the purchase option that best matches your criteria.

Evaluate the Purchase

Did you stay within budget? Do you feel good about the purchase? Begin saving for your next big-ticket item as far in advance as possible.

[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by National Endowment for Financial Education.]