I loved watching the Suze Orman Show and her “Can I Afford It?” segment. She would analyze if someone could afford something based on their financial situation and other emotional factors. It helped give me clarity about my purchases, personality, and values.
Proverbs 13:7 says, “One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” Are you caught up in being perceived as wealthy? Or do you downplay your wealth in order to keep a frugal mindset? Your perceptions will greatly affect your wealth over time.
Technically, affording something means simply having the funds to purchase it. You might get pre-approved for a home or car loan up to a certain amount, but that doesn’t mean you should borrow the full amount. You don’t want to overspend now and not be able to pay down the road.
Can you afford to eat out at a nice restaurant every night? Even if you have the money, you might prefer home cooked meals. Or maybe you believe it’s important to save or give some of that money to charity? If a purchase doesn’t align with your values, you really can’t afford it.
Liquidity (short-term affordability)
There are times when certain purchases or investments are dangerous because it can put you in a cash crunch. Overextending yourself can force you to borrow at high rates of interest, or worse yet, sell things you need. If that is the case, you can’t afford it.
Stress and Worry
Each of us has a different mentality about owning certain things. Sometimes owning expensive things or certain investments aren’t worth it, because they’ll cause you stress or worry. If owning something will make you feel stressed or worried, why buy it?
Sometimes it’s wise to stretch what you can “afford,” for the benefit of a relationship. That being said, you don’t want to build your relationships on spending. Stretching your spending should be the exception and not the rule. Similarly, you don’t want to enable someone else’s self-destructive behavior.
Buying as an Emotional Crutch
Are you a shopaholic that uses purchasing as way of avoiding important issues in your life? Reflecting on this and adjusting can bring needed balance back into your life.
You might have a special long-term goal that requires consistent sacrifice. It might be a life-long dream or something more charitable in nature. If that vision is important enough to you, then you can’t afford to spend on lesser things.
Whether you can truly afford something is about so much more than a financial projection. It involves your values, relationships, and long-term goals.
To learn more, read my book Faith and Finances. Also, check out this promotional video for my new church course: Building Faith and Finances.
Contents of this material have been republished with permission from Faith and Finances Ministry.