Making a Major Purchase

You cannot escape it. There are times when you have to make a major purchase. Maybe your daughter wants to play the drums in the elementary school band. You'll need to buy a drum set. Maybe your dishwasher is leaving pieces of lasagna on your plates. It is time for a new one. Alternatively, maybe that living room sofa has more holes than fabric. You need to update your furniture.

Major purchases are a hassle because they cost so much. They can put a crimp on your household budget. However, if you are smart, you do not have to let these drain your wallet.


Before you make your major purchase, it is time to do your research. Don't just run out to the store. Instead, search online for drum sets, couches or dishwashers. This gives you a chance to get a range of prices. You might find that low-end dishwashers will cost you around $300 while those on the high range will run up to $1,000. Once you know this range, you can decide where you'd like your new appliance to fit on this scale.

Next, determine the purpose of the new item you need. Is your daughter just starting with the drums? Then you might want to purchase a lower-end or used set. There's no guarantee that she'll stick with the instrument. If she has already been playing for years, though, you might want to invest in a costlier, and higher-quality, set.


You hope to avoid putting your pricey purchase on your credit card. You also do not want to dip into an emergency fund. The best approach is to save steadily for the item.

The best way to do this is to automate your savings. Determine how much money you want to allocate to your major purchase each month. Then set up an account with your bank or credit union. Automate your savings, so that the financial institution will automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account. It is best to create a separate account for these dollars; that way, you will not be as tempted to dip into the savings for other purchases.

Comparison shopping

You might not like to shop. You also might love it. However, regardless of how you feel, you'll need to do some comparison shopping before you buy your big-ticket item. That is because retailers run sales throughout the year. A TV might be $600 at one store and $400 at another on the same day. If you do not spend some time shopping, you'll never know.

Be careful when comparison shopping though. Sometimes the cheapest version of that laptop, dishwasher or tablet computer is not the best. You might think you are saving money, but maybe you are just buying a product that will break down months after your purchase.

To make sure that you find the best product at your price range, take to the Internet. You'll be able to find countless customer reviews on a broad range of Web sites. These reviews will tell you whether the product you are considering is a winner or a loser.

Information presented in the Northwest Financial Wellness Center is provided for educational purposes only and is not related to actual Northwest products or services. Northwest makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness or specific suitability of any information presented. Information provided should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. Northwest recommends you consult a professional for any specific guidance you are seeking.