Making Expensive Decisions

Making expensive decisions has always been a bit difficult for me.  Growing up we made decisions easily.  If we could afford it – we bought it.  There wasn’t a lot of time thinking things through even on big purchases.  Now, I spend a great deal of time making any financial decision.  There are a few reasons for that.  First, I don’t want to spend money just because I can afford something.  Second, I’m afraid that if I make decisions too casually someday I won’t have any money left. Lastly, I can’t stand when people fall victim to “lifestyle creep”.  This happens when people upgrade their lifestyle when their salary increases leading to the same or more financial stress.

My process for making expensive decisions

There are times when I do need to make a big decision when it comes to money.  When it comes to spending on my family or others I am usually generous.  For myself, I can be downright cheap. However the other day I started a 2 week trial period at Burn Boot Camp and I have to give them credit for the long trial period.  It is simply just enough time to get hooked.  The workouts were great and I even had a client tell me I looked thinner.  That should be enough to lay down the plastic right?  Nope, expensive decisions still have to pass a few more tests before I’m all in.  Here they are:

Question #1: Can you afford it?

Like I said before this was the only question that needed to be answered when I was younger.  Quite often the answer was no and I got pretty comfortable accepting that.  When you don’t get paid a regular salary there are periods in between getting paid where the bills might be all you can handle.  Then when there is money it is tempting to make up for the financial drought and spend it all which just keeps that cycle going.

I have a steady paycheck currently and most of my money goes to work immediately whether through investments, saving for the kids, or to the joint account to pay our bills.  I like to save some of what is left too.  There is enough left for me to afford the monthly membership but I still felt like a bit of a hypocrite.  I talk to clients all the time about their expensive gyms and how they might need to cut that expense to pay down high interest debt or build savings.  You don’t need a fancy gym to be healthy.  You can do that with running shoes, right?

Question #2: What are you getting?

This may seem like a simple question but it is not.  Most of the time there are more layers to a purchase than you would think.  An expensive car isn’t just transportation for some people.  It could be a status symbol or a reward to themselves for all of their hard work.  Maybe it helps them keep up with their peers and feel like an equal.  Either way people usually want expensive things for more than one reason-  even if they are ashamed to admit it.

In this case I would get a trainer who creates a new work out for each class and keeps track of my progress.  They also help with nutrition which I basically understand but isn’t my field of expertise.  Also, they provide child care during several sessions each day at no additional cost. When I work out at home my kids think I am fair game.  I like that they see me workout but having them looked after at the same time by someone else is huge.

Question #3: Why do you want it?

Another question that seems easy but rarely is.  Prior to my shopping ban I had a nasty little habit of seeing something I liked on someone and before you know it I had it in my shopping cart on Amazon.  Now I pay more compliments to people who are wearing nice things or smell great without getting the details.

With this purchase I would get challenging workouts that vary each day and are available at times that work with my insane schedule.  That is good but also could be done by running outside at 4:45 am.  However, I don’t feel safe doing that so it is unlikely that I will.  Going to a gym that is full of women who are headed to work or drop off after does make me feel a lot more secure than running in the dark on my own.  These people are a lot like me and there is a strong sense of community.  That is something that I have been missing and has value to me.  Also, I workout harder when other people are watching.  Doesn’t everybody? Accountability is something I could use too.

Question #4: Did you do your research?

Secretly, I love this part.  Researching is one of my favorite things to do.  When someone tells me about a position they are interested in I can’t help but get to work researching the company, benefits, salary ranges and reviews.  I’ll find out the hiring manager if you give me enough time.  Well thought out decisions involve planning and homework.

So I asked on Facebook if anyone goes to this gym and what they think.  I got an overwhelmingly positive response from 20+ people.  A few reached out directly to let me know what class they were attending the next day so we could meet.  The only negative I heard was the price in some reviews and that makes sense. I looked up reviews on other similar workouts in the area too and found more mixed reviews.  It is worth looking though.

Question #5: What can you give up to make it happen?

I mentioned “lifestyle creep” before.  One way to avoid it is to make swaps instead of just piling on new bills.  I did this when we got a new car.  We didn’t have to – but I wanted to cut $200 from somewhere so there wasn’t a change to our finances. We got rid of our 2x a month cleaning service and do it ourselves.  I miss them

I looked at my budget and not shopping for this past year has increased my net worth substantially.  Still there was one other area I could cut spending…restaurants and take out.  Committing to this workout means I need to spend less on food that I don’t cook myself because I am tired or lazy after work.  Once a week at a restaurant or takeout for a family of 4 can easily cost $150.  Also, cooking myself means I will eat healthier because I know the ingredients and will plan better meals.

Bonus Tip:  Ask for discounts

I always ask for what I want.  It’s cringe worthy and takes a bit of courage but what is the worst that can happen?  Someone says no?  Big deal – now you are back where you started anyway.  Not like you aren’t going to be able to be a customer anymore.  One time I asked for a 20% raise knowing it was highly unlikely.  I didn’t get it -but I did get a good raise because I spoke up.

When the manager called me to see how the trial period was going I asked if there were any discounts or deals going on.  Turns out the price was reduced if you committed for longer.  Also, if you attended 10 sessions in the 2 week trial you got a free tank top.  Free clothing is music to my ears (just over one month to go!) and I made it to 11 of the 12 available classes.  So, with my free tank top and clear mind I signed up.  Making expensive decisions shouldn’t be easy.

What is the latest splurge you made?  Did you go through any of these questions to make your decision?  Let me know in the comments!


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