As a mum, you are often in charge of managing the family’s finances. Knowing when and how to make big purchases can be tricky and stressful. But with the right strategies and signs, you can confidently decide whether or not it is time to invest in that new family car or holiday trip for your loved ones.
In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and strategies that will help you determine if now is the right time for that big purchase. So get ready mums – let’s dive into it!
1. Assess Your Current Financial Situation
When considering a big purchase, you should always assess your current finances. This includes understanding how much money you have available, how much debt (if any) you are carrying, your monthly outgoings and what sources of income you currently have access to. Knowing this information will help you understand whether your budget can handle the additional cost associated with making a big purchase.
Open up a spreadsheet (or get out a good old pen and paper!) and note down the necessary figures. You will need to understand how much ‘discretionary spending‘ you have left over after all your essential monthly bills are paid, and how much you have in savings.
Once you have all this worked out, you should have a clearer picture of whether you can afford to buy the item straight away, or whether you’ll need to save up (or take on debt).
2. Calculate the Cost of the Big Purchase
The next step is to work out the total cost of the purchase. If this includes an item that will depreciate over time such as a car, factor in how much it will be worth in 5 years’ time and if any additional costs may be incurred during that period (such as maintenance, repair costs, insurance and so on).
Once you have a figure for the full cost of the purchase, compare it to your current financial situation and assess if it is something that you can afford now or in the future.
3. Know Your Limitations
When it comes to making big purchases, make sure that you know your limitations. This could include understanding how much debt (if any) you can comfortably take on or what the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend is. You also need to be aware of your family’s essential spending and bills. Some things – such as your entertainment budget – might easily be cut down. Other things – such as the water bill – cannot! Knowing these limits will help prevent you from overspending and getting into further financial difficulties.
4.Decide How you will Purchase the Item
Now you have a good picture of your current financial situation, and also of the real cost of the item you’re eyeing up. The next step is to decide how you will pay for it.
If you’re lucky, you may have found that you have enough in discretionary income or in savings to buy the item straight away. In which case, lucky you! You’ve done your research and calculations so you can go ahead and buy it guilt-free.
Another option is to take on debt – either credit card or store credit, or perhaps a ‘buy now, pay later‘ service such as Klarna. Think carefully before going down this route because remember you will be making payments for a long time to come, and most likely incurring interest and also the risk of late-payment penalties.
The most sensible option is to save up. Set a realistic timeframe for how long it will take to save up the funds and make sure you stick to your budget. If necessary, consider cutting down on other expenses in order to help you reach your savings goal faster.
5.Create a Savings Plan and Stick To It
Once you have decided to save up for your purchase, create a savings plan that outlines how much you will need to put aside each month in order to reach your target. Make sure that this amount is realistic and something you can stick to.
If you need help in calculating this, there are lots of online tools to help you such as this site which has a variety of savings calculators. For example, I used the ‘deposit growth‘ calculator to see how long it would take to save up £2000 for a used car. (Note, the site uses the $ symbol but it works just as well for £.) Imagine I already have £500 in savings, and my budget assessment above showed I can afford to save £100 per month. The calculator shows that I will reach my goal in 15 months. This is also assuming an interest rate on my savings of 3.05%, which is the best available at the time of writing according to Money Saving Expert.
So now you now how much you need to put aside for that big purchase. Just make sure you are saving smart and sticking to your goal.
If necessary, consider automating the process by setting up a direct debit from your current account to a separate savings account, ideally the day after payday so you don’t get a chance to spend it!
You can also make use of any incentives that your bank may offer such as a higher rate of interest if you save within one of their accounts.
And lastly, periodically check back on how much you have saved so far in order to see if you are still on track – this will help keep you focused and motivated!
Conclusion: can your family afford that big purchase?
It’s ultimately up to you and your family to decide if the purchase is something that you can afford now or in the near future. By taking into account your current financial situation, understanding how much money you are willing to spend and creating a solid savings plan, you can make an informed decision about whether or not that big purchase is within reach. Good luck!