Buy What You Need, Pay What It Costs

Buy What You Need

Today’s big idea is a mantra that I repeat to myself every time I need to purchase something. And that is, Buy What You Need, Pay What It Costs

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I live in New England where we are THRIFTY by nature

Once I went to speak to a group of Rotarians in the next town over. When the dinner meeting was over, one of the very nice guys helped me carry my box of books out to my car. I mentioned needing to stop for gas and he told me the cost of gas at three different gas stations and told me I should definitely drive 10 miles farther, round trip, to save five cents a gallon. I mean hey, I love getting a bargain. TJ Maxx is my favorite store! But what I needed at the end of that long day was to get home and see my kids before they went to sleep. I did not need to spend 20 minutes on saving 80 cents. 

One helpful way to determine what you need in any given moment is to consider what you’re giving up in order to buy it. There’s an opportunity cost to every dollar you spend. Something that you won’t be able to do or buy or get back because you allocated that money to something else. 

Buying what you need relates to one of the five ethical principles called yamas

That are the foundation of yoga. Aparigraha is one of the yamas, and means not coveting things or being greedy. But rather being generous. So aparigraha means not stockpiling toilet paper in a pandemic, for example. Or not getting sucked into a shopping vortex not because you need new clothes, but because you’re bored or sad or swayed by the beautiful merchandising in the store.

Aparigraha means just taking what you need and trusting that when you need more, it will be there and you will be able to access it. It’s trusting in life. A practical example of aparigraha is to not buy the half-gallon of ice cream because it’s on sale when you only need a pint because it’s a pandemic and no one is coming over to your house to help you eat it, anyway. 

The second part of today’s money mantra is pay what it costs

What the heck am I saying, that you should find the highest price for something and pay that? I know this goes against a lot of our cultural programming to find the lowest price possible. 

Here’s the thing: when you only buy what you need, you can pay more for it. To me, there’s no better value than paying for something that you actually use. And if you need something, odds are high that you will use it. That’s why I personally never buy 10-class cards with an expiration date at a yoga or fitness studio. Even though buying the card would mean that meant I’d pay less money for a class. Chances were good that I wouldn’t attend all 10 classes before the expiration date. Better to spend $22 on the class you go to than $20 on the one you don’t, you know what I mean?  

Paying what it costs still means you can be savvy about how much you spend on something

Maybe there’s early bird pricing you can take advantage of, for example, or a specific sale like when the framing place near us has a 20% off sale every January  (I guess that’s a slow time for framing). Nothing wrong with getting a great price, but just be aware that many sales and coupons are just to get you into the store or onto the website, ready to spend money. So often the thing you like isn’t covered by the coupon or the sale, or if it is you’re so pumped about the money you’re saving that you buy something else too, but it’s an impulse purchase and generally not something you get a lot of use out of.

Better to just buy what you need, when you need it, and pay what it costs. It helps you think more clearly about what you truly need, and feel better about spending your money on it. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to do a quick check in with yourself the next time the urge to buy something hits. Ask yourself, Do I truly need this? And, What is the opportunity cost of spending money on this? And then if you truly do need it, you can pay what it costs and feel good about it. Trusting that there’s more where that came from (the mantra I shared two episodes ago). You getting what you need and paying a fair price for it is a totally just exchange of energy. (And if you suspect that someone is just completely gouging you, well, maybe you can comparison shop.) 

Come back tomorrow when I’m sharing a money mantra that will help make you less dependent on your next paycheck, and help you be your own bank. 


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