Should I afford it?


Since I started this project, I’ve had a lot of really interesting conversations with others about how they approach their finances. Many of these conversations have been with accomplished professionals who aren’t in survival mode, living paycheck to paycheck, but who still need to worry somewhat about how they spend their money. 

Among this group, I’ve started to see a common theme. Many have a “buffer mindset” when it comes to their finances. They know they’re doing OK so they stop paying close attention. They aren’t going to struggle to pay the bills next month and if they want, they can occasionally splurge. But they would have trouble putting a finer point on how they’re doing financially than that. The padding they have in their paycheck and savings causes them to disconnect from their finances.

Making larger purchasing decisions with a buffer mindset can be tricky. It’s not a question of “can I afford it?” because if they wanted to, these people could probably write the check or line up the financing. It’s a question of “should I afford it?” What will taking that big vacation, upgrading to a nicer car or remodeling a bathroom do to the bigger financial picture?

For those who have faced this dilemma, I put together the infographic below as a provocation. This is a prototype that I'm interested in evolving over time, so if you have thoughts you're willing to share on how you approach the decision of "should I afford it?," please leave a comment or drop me a note.


If you are interested in checking out some of the research I have done as I work to get more on top of my own finances, I've listed a few of my favorite topics below. Or you can subscribe for future updates.