Top of main content

Spending decisions

Learn how to save money by shopping smarter

Five spending scenarios

Keeping track of your money can be tough, particularly when there are lots of unexpected demands on you. What would you do in each of these scenarios?

Scenario 1

You have been invited to a party and you really want to buy something new to wear. You see an outfit you really like, but it costs $300. You don’t have enough cash, and using your credit card would take you to your maximum limit. What do you do?

  • buy the dress on credit and deal with the consequences later
  • buy the dress on credit and plan to return it after the party for a full refund
  • shop around for something more affordable to wear

Scenario 2

Your bike needs some repairs, but it will cost $350. You don’t have the cash right now, but you do have a credit card with a balance of $500. You need your bike to get to your Saturday job on time each morning. What do you do?

  • try to fix the bike yourself 
  • pay for the repairs on your credit card 
  • explain to your boss that you can no longer make it to your usual shift

Scenario 3

You are going out at the weekend and really want something new to wear. You see offers on an outfit – which one represents the best deal? The full price of the outfit is $100. Which offer is the best value? 

  • save $25 when you spend $200 or more 
  • 30% off 
  • buy one get one free

Scenario 4

You and a friend decide to go on a boat trip. You will each need a ticket to travel out, and a ticket to return home at the end of the day. 

Each ticket costs $50, but there are some discount options available. Which offer gives you the best value for money? 

  • $80 total for a return ticket 
  • 30% off the full cost of all tickets
  • buy three tickets and get your fourth for half price

Scenario 5

You’ve just had a birthday and your friend gave you a gift card for $50. You would like to buy a game that costs $80. There is a special 20% discount offer available, but only in a store that does not accept your gift card. 

Which of the following will be the best option?

  • buy the game for full price (use the gift card and pay $30 cash)
  • take the special offer (spend $64 and save the gift card for another day)
  • wait until next month, when the game is likely to go into the summer sales 

Things to think about

Whenever you're buying something, it's a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:

How much does it cost?

Does this seem like a reasonable price? Could you possibly find the same thing or something similar for a lower price elsewhere?

Have you got enough money?

Spending more than you can afford is never a good idea. Think about the other things you will need to pay for this week. Will you have enough disposable cash left over to cover this expense?

Do you need the item?

We all like to treat ourselves from time to time, but sometimes an impulse purchase is really just a waste of your money. Think about why you want to buy this item right now. If you really want it, could it wait for another day, after you’ve saved a little more money?

How will you pay?

Do you have enough cash or money in your bank account to cover this purchase in full? If you have a credit card, you might be tempted to use that. But borrowed money has to be repaid, and if you max out your card today, you could be paying back the cost for months. Is it really worth it?

What are the consequences?

If you make this purchase today, will it affect your ability to pay for other things you might need in the coming weeks? How long do you have to wait until your next payday? What might happen if an emergency cost comes up - do you have enough money aside to potentially cover it?

Managing your money is a balancing act, and sometimes you may have to sacrifice what you want in the moment, in order to see the bigger picture. The more you get into the habit of asking yourself these questions, the easier it will be to manage your money effectively - including the occasional treat from time to time!

You might also be interested in


Discover how the spending choices you make can help your money to go further.


Learn to spot the danger signs of fraud and phishing.


Receive a free welcome gift when you open a new account.

Listening to what you have to say about our services matters to us.