Stressed out about an upcoming big purchase? What if you could do it with ease, confidence, and no worry of regret?
Making a large purchase is naturally stressful.
We work hard for our money and forking over a significant amount of dough is no walk in the park.
Mr. Taco and I recently made one of the largest purchase decisions in our lives together so far: a van to be converted into a campervan. Going through the process was stressful (for me) and I worried we would regret the decision.
But as these feelings of anxiety kept creeping up, I took a step back and found a few ways to help ease my mind and work through all of the chaos in my head.
As a result, we are both feeling good about our decision and can’t wait to fully convert this bad boy into a campervan. But first I think it needs a name.
If you are stressing about making an upcoming large purchase decision and want to put your mind at ease, you don’t want to miss the rest of this post.
In this post, I’m going to focus on the steps that helped us to feel confident about our large spending decision and give you tips to start saving for and make your own large purchase.
Specifically, I’m going to focus on planned purchases, not those that catch you by surprise, like a broken water heater. Emergency purchases require a whole other set of strategies.
But before we dive into the strategies, let’s dive into why making a big ass purchase is inevitably stressful. Shouldn’t it be exciting?
Why Do We Feel Anxiety When Making a Big Purchase?
You would think that making a big purchase would be an exciting, not a stressful, decision. But unfortunately for most, it’s a little bit of both.
Everyone has their own stressors when it comes to money. Here are a few triggers that stressed us out (again, mostly me) when making our big purchase of the van.
It’s Nerve-Racking Seeing a Large Sum of Money Vanish
Handing over a large chunk of cash is no easy task.
We work hard for our money. It takes a lot of time to save the money up, so actually letting go of the money is hard and worrysome.
We Are Afraid We Will Regret The Big Purchase
No one wants to make the wrong decision, especially when it comes to spending a large sum of money. Was it truly what we wanted and will use and appreciate for years? Will we get our money’s worth?
Because of these fears, it’s no wonder we feel anxious about making the decision and forking over the cash we worked so hard to save. Who could blame us?
There Are People Pressuring You To Spend More That You Want
This isn’t the case for all big purchases, but when buying cars, houses, and other luxury items, salespeople often try to sell you on more that you either need or want.
And this is stressful.
It takes a lot of work upfront to know exactly what you want and have the confidence to stick to your guns. For me, this is the worst part – just thinking about it stresses me out.
Now that we have identified our stressors, let’s look at how we eased our anxiety and made a confident spending decision that we doubt we will regret so that you can do the same for your next big purchase.
What You Can Do to Stay Calm, Cool, and Collected When Making a Big Purchase
First let me say that feeling stressed when making a large purchase is not a horrible thing. It’s your brain telling you to think about the purchase before taking the leap.
And taking the time to sort through all of your feelings is never a bad thing.
When I started feeling anxious about spending money on a campervan, I found a few ways to help ease my mind. These strategies worked because they helped me see the big picture of the purchase.
Here is what Mr. Taco and I did:
Is the Purchase Aligned With Your Life Vision?
When we got closer to making the decision to purchase the van, I started to stress out.
To ease my mind, I had to spend time looking back at our goals and our vision for our life.
What are we working towards?
We are working towards creating financial stability for ourselves now and in the future, all while trying to enjoy the life we are experiencing now.
Spending time outdoors is one of the things we love to do. A campervan will make it easy for us to go on little adventures on the weekends and take some great longer trips.
And we have been stashing away extra cash for about a year trying to save for a campervan.
But in order to stop stressing about the purchase decision, I had to take a step back. I had to make an effort to think about what we wanted and ask myself “does this purchase make sense for us?”
Making sure that this purchase was part of my life vision, to create an enjoyable life now, helped ensure that I wouldn’t regret the decision in the future. And reassured me that I wasn’t simply making a purchase for a quick fix.
This is why asking yourself this question is so important, even if you aren’t feeling stressed about your upcoming purchase. Thinking about why you truly want to make a purchase helps you avoid an impulse purchase and ensures you’ll feel good about the decision in the future.
Align Your Purchase With Your Money Values
Money values are the rules for your money that you want to live by.
For us, these values include things like avoiding debt if possible, using our emergency fund for emergencies only, and living on less than we earn.
Before making the decision to start saving for the van, we agreed that the purchase needed to align with and couldn’t come at the expense of our money values.
Understanding this from the start helped ease my mind that this big purchase would not affect our other goals.
And with a little effort we were able to purchase the van without compromising these values.
Set Guardrails to Guide Your Purchase
The closer we came to making the large purchase, the more excited I got.
And I started to get worried that I would let my excitement take over and make a rash purchase decision, like buy a more expensive van than we wanted.
I mean, I considered draining my emergency fund to buy a $40,000 converted van we saw online at one point. Thankfully, Mr. Taco can control his excitement and got me thinking straight again.
Because of this, I knew we needed to set some purchase guardrails.
We checked in with the money values and budget that Mr. Taco and I had established, and then set some purchase guardrails to avoid regretting the purchase.
Here is what our financial guardrails looked like for purchasing the campervan:
- Could not increase our debt. We owed $7,000 on Mr. Taco’s car which we planned to sell. This meant we could not take out a loan for more than $7,000 for the van.
- The interest rate on the car loan would have to equal to or lower than the current loan.
- All cash had to come from our van sinking fund and not our emergency fund or other sinking funds.
- Contributions to retirement accounts had to remain the same.
Benefit of Setting Guardrails for a Big Purchase
If I didn’t set up these guardrails prior to purchasing a van, I may have easily convinced myself to take on debt that didn’t align with my money values or raided my emergency fund.
Setting these guardrails based on our money values helped ease the stressfulness of making a big purchase. This is because we knew it wasn’t going to happen at the expense of our other money goals.
Using these guardrails will also help you stick to your guns when that pesky salesperson tries to sell you what they think you need. Knowing just what you have to spend eliminates paying for those impulse add-ons.
Downfall of Setting Guardrails for a Big Purchase
Unfortunately, setting up guardrails like this may result in waiting longer than you want to make the purchase.
I wrote an entire post about the struggles of waiting. Waiting is a royal pain in the ass. But worth it knowing that you did it while staying true to your money values will be worth it.
Related Post: How to Combat the Mental Struggle of Saving Money
How to Save for a Big Purchase
Now that we feel good and know that this big purchase is right for us, how do we go about saving for it without going into debt?
One of the things that can cause anxiety when making a large purchase is the idea of taking on debt to cover the purchase.
A great way to eliminate this stress is to intentionally save up for the purchase and pay for it in cash.
Saving up for a big purchase can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, I got you.
Here are steps you can take to save for a large purchase and avoid taking on debt.
Create a Sinking Fund to Start Saving
Sinking funds are one of my very favorite money tools.
A sinking fund is when you set aside money each month to fund a future purchase.
Start by figuring out how much you want to save, then divide it by the number of months you have to save.
For example, if you want to save $12,000 in 2 years for a home renovation, you’ll need to stash away $500 each month into your home renovation sinking fund.
Related Post: Sinking Funds: Why You Need Them and How to Get Started
Automate Your Saving
Make saving for your big purchase easy.
And the easiest thing you can do automate it.
To automate your savings, set up an automatic transfer each time a paycheck hits your checking account. Or another way would be to set up a direct deposit from your paycheck directly into a savings account.
If you don’t get a regular paycheck, create an alert on your phone to remind you to make regular deposits into your savings account.
Make a Few Extra Bucks to Help You Save
I love finding quick and easy ways to make a few extra dollars to put towards my savings goals.
Over the years, I’ve tried quite a few ways to make a little extra money to put towards my saving goals.
My favorites have been:
- Dog-sitting through Rover.com
- Selling things around my house that I no longer use on Facebook Marketplace
- Website and App testing with UserTesting
- Signing up for bank account bonuses
Making a few extra bucks on the side can help you reach your savings goals quicker. And knowing you had to put in a little extra work to make the big purchase happens, makes it all the more special when you pull the trigger.
Related Post: 4 Ways to Make a Few Extra Bucks
Tips for Making Your Big Purchase
Now that you feel good about and have the money saved up for your big purchase, let’s talk about tips to help you make that purchase.
Research Prices for a Few Months Prior to Making the Purchase
Take some time to get familiar with the price history of the item you are looking to purchase.
This will help you know how much you need to save and if you are getting a good deal or not.
Figure Out the Best Time of Year to Make the Purchase
Is there a time of year that typically has the best prices on your large purchase?
Purchases like cars tend to have certain times of year and month where you can find the best deals.
And if you can wait until November, the holiday season can be a great time to buy other big ticket items.
Set up Deal Alerts
The internet is a wonderful thing.
There are websites out there completely dedicated to helping you find and get notified of the best deals out there.
My favorite website for this is called Slickdeals.
Anytime we are looking buy something for the house like a TV, computer, or kitchen appliance; we set up a “deal alert” on Slickdeals.
Then we sit back and wait to get a notification from Slickdeals telling us they found a good deal on what we were looking for.
You Got This
Making a big purchase decision is stressful.
And even if it’s not stressful, it can easily turn into something we regret if we don’t take the time to think about how the purchase fits into the life we see ourselves living.
Before committing to making a big purchase, take the time to think about the role this purchase is playing in your life. Is it a quick fix, or something that will truly bring you joy?
You will thank your future self for the time you spent thinking about the big picture of your large expense.