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Osakis Voices: Living within your means

We've all been there — contemplating on buying a rather expensive item (I'm thinking vehicles, RVs and campers, televisions, fish houses, etc.) because a good deal came up. Who doesn't want a good deal when buying something? Now that we're approaching the holiday season and there are deals aplenty, I wanted to touch on taking a step back and going through the process in your head before actually pulling the trigger on a retail purchase.

Can it be bought used?

This is one that is certainly up for discussion, but if you're not exactly flush with money, perhaps buying a used piece of equipment is the right ticket. Many items, like campers, ATVs and boats, depreciate over time. Because of this, buying an item that is a few years old item could save you thousands (depending on the product you're looking at), and still get you the product you're looking for. Are you buying that ATV or side-by-side just to pull your ice fishing gear out to the lake? If so, oftentimes buying used is the smarter financial decision in the end.

Have you wanted this for some time?

Buying on a wild hair can be fun and exciting, but it can also lead to buyer's remorse. Knowing what you're looking for beforehand gives you a few advantages, namely being able to save up for the item(s) versus dipping into your monthly cash flow funds. Knowing exactly what you want, taking the time to look for it and saving for it, not only keeps you grounded on what you're buying, but it also keeps you from experiencing buyer's remorse. Not buying on a wild hair is also a good thing for a relationship, as quick, surprise-type purchases can lead to some strain between couples.

Is it really needed?

This somewhat plays off of the previous point I wanted you all to look into. Is this something that is a "want" or is it a "need?" If it's a need, then I would say it's time to sit down, determine what you really need, and start a plan on how to get yourself there to purchase it. If it's merely just a want, maybe sleep on it for a few days and revisit. You may find yourself realizing that it was never really wanted, but simply seemed fun at the time. We all have different opinions on what is a "want" to you and what is a "need" to you, so that's something you'll need to decide for yourself.

This time of year, it can be quite easy to buy something, knowing that you saved $1,000 (or whatever the number may be) off of MSRP, and that's great, but what did that do to your savings account? What did that do to your monthly budget? Are you still able to put money away each month with the purchase? Or do you have to now put your funds into this purchase for several years? Buying something that may be a larger ticket item should be both fun right away and long after, not just at the time of pick up. I hope everyone has a safe, fun and stress-free holiday season!

Osakis Voices is a rotating column written by community leaders who share their thoughts in their field of expertise.