What to consider before you make a big purchase

By Bryna Howes 07 May 2019 5 min read

You’ve been saving up your hard-earned dollars for a while now. You’ve had a goal in mind the whole time, a goal that is now shining and bright, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You’re ready. It’s time to hit that big, fat “Buy Now” button, literally or metaphorically.

But something is holding you back? What is it? Why, it’s this checklist, of course.

Okay, we jest. But before you make a big purchase, any big purchase, there are some things you should consider — and we’ve listed them out for you. Read on!

Before you sign up for a course…

So, you want to go back to school. Maybe you want to upskill or maybe you want to learn something entirely new. Either way, you deserve a pat on the back. But once you’ve pulled back from that really awkward tangle of arms and shoulders, there’s one thing to consider.

Are you going to get out what you put in?

So, let’s start with motivation. You have a reason for doing this course, but what is it? Do you really want to learn to code or are you jumping on a bandwagon? Don’t get us wrong; we’re all about filling your lifetime with learning. But when you are going to spend hundreds or even thousands on a course, you want to make sure you can go the distance.

If your end goal is higher earning potential or improved job opportunities, great. Maybe you want to learn a new skill? That’s awesome too. Just make sure you keep your end goal in mind as you make each decision along the way. And yes, you have a few more decisions to make...

Do you have the money to pay for the course? Can you set aside time for this course?

Read the study outline of the course thoroughly. Usually you can get an idea of how many hours it will require and the types of examinations and assessments that you’ll have to do. If you’re sure you can handle it, you’ve leapfrogged yet another hurdle.

Now, remember that end goal? You have to be sure that this course is the course, the course that will help you go to the next level and reach that goal. If you want higher earning potential, for instance, you want to be sure you’ll receive a credible qualification when you complete the course. You want to have something meaningful to show future employers.

There’s a plethora of online courses you can take, but if they’re not run by accredited educational institutions, they’re probably not worth it. But as long as everything adds up and you can afford the time it takes to study, you should be good to go.

Before you book an international holiday…

Before you go jet-setting around the world, you need to get prepared. You might think you can simply book your flights, book an Airbnb, and hit the gas, but you need to think again.

The first thing you should do is consider where you’re travelling. The Australian government’s Smart Traveller website has up-to-date information on travel advice and bulletins. Every country is given a “travel advice level,” ranging from the lowest alert (“exercise normal safety precautions”) to the highest (“do not travel”). Although you are not legally bound to abide by this advice, you certainly could find yourself in a pickle if you don’t.

Once you’ve made a clued-in assessment about where to go, you can move on to the next step: visas! Every country has its own visa requirements — and they can change! Even if you were once able to visit a country without a visa, you might need one now. While Australians are afforded a lot of freedom as tourists, there can still be entry restrictions, vaccination requirements, reciprocity fees, and so on. You can usually find the most up-to-date visa advice by looking at the Australian version of the embassy/consulate website of your chosen country.

Another item to put on your agenda is vaccinations. Again, every country has different risks and different requirements. For example, many African countries require visitors to have a current International Certificate of Vaccination. But even if you’re not travelling to a country that has requirements, you may want to take precautions personally. Check with your GP or a travel doctor to get up to speed on the type of vaccinations you should consider.

Before you buy a car…

Buying a car is a big deal, not least because it’s nearly always a depreciating asset. As such, you definitely want to do your research before you sign on the dotted line.

Let’s start with the basics.

What do you need your car for? Whether its long-distance trips, towing a caravan, carting the family around, a grocery shop here and there — the reason for your purchase will probably dictate a lot of the finer details. Speaking of which…

What’s your budget? When answering this question, don’t just consider the cost of the car. Consider the general ongoing costs of owning a car as well, including maintenance, insurance, registration, petrol, etc. Can you afford these going forward?

When it comes to money, there’s another thought to keep in mind. How often will you use your car? Over in the United States, there has been some discussion about whether or not it might be cheaper to use a combo of public transport and rideshare services (such as Uber). If you use cars infrequently, you could be better off with this method. (At least think about it!)

A final thing to consider is where to buy. A large part of this depends on whether you’re buying a used or new car. If you’re buying new, you could head to a local dealer. If you’re buying used, your search will probably start online at sites such as Carsales.

Once you’ve figured out where you’ll start your search, you have one final thing to consider: what is your line? As you test drive each car, you should have  your deal breakers in mind. As per the cliché, car salesman can be incredibly persuasive — but you can’t be persuaded if you’ve got an unbreakable line, right? Good luck and godspeed.

Before you buy an appliance or tech product...

Stop what you’re doing. The new iPhone is out and you have the old iPhone but now the new iPhone is out, you have to buy it. Right. Now.

If these are the thoughts that go through your head when a new appliance or tech product hits the market, there’s a few things to consider before you hit the stores.

If you already have a product model in mind, start by asking yourself this question: am I cutting corners? While it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest model, you have to think about long-term value and quality too. Yes, the product may cost more, but it might also last longer. In the long run, you could actually end up paying less.

The next thing to consider is whether you’re buying an item that’s about to be replaced. The tech industry, in particular, doesn’t stay still for long. You can usually get a good feel from a quick Google search as to whether a new model is around the corner. If so, that might be a compelling reason to wait. Not only could it mean updated technology/software is also around the corner, but also older versions of your chosen product might end up on sale.

That’s another thing to keep in mind, particularly with tech products. If you buy technology that’s too old, you might find it’s not supported or its incompatible with your current products. For instance, Apple stops updating older products after a few years, which means gradually they can become less reliable. Keep an eye out for that!

With appliances, something to think about is your eco footprint. Buying an energy efficient appliance can reduce your power bills — and, you’re doing something good.

Last, but by no means least, consider whether or not you’ll need an extended warranty. Typically, appliances and tech products are expensive. You’ve paid good money. You’ve put time and thought into your search. If it was to break, consider how difficult that would make life for you. And based on the answer to that question, consider that warranty.

Words by
Bryna Howes Right Chevron

Bryna Howes is the Head of Content at Spaceship. She's equally obsessive about cinnamon donuts and scouring the web for great reads.

What to consider before you make a big purchase