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

decision to buy flow chart

Thinking about making a major purchase such as buying a new washer and dryer, new computer, or redoing a room in the house? You’ll want to plan your purchase carefully. Having a clear idea of what you need is essential to staying within your budget.

The following action plan will help you pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for in your next major purchase.


Define Your Goal

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

Establish Your Criteria

What are the features you absolutely must have in your next major purchase? 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 the item as far in advance as possible.