Making money and spending money.

Have you ever been distracted by something shiny? Maybe it’s a luxury conference, a fancy piece of equipment you keep seeing on Instagram, or a spendy targeted ad that reels you in with its converting copy and almost convinces you it’s totally worth it and you need to make it a business purchase? 

Girl – me, too. In one of my favorite finance books, The Simple Path To Wealth, JL Collins writes “You own the things you own and they, in turn, own you.” While we all can get distracted by shiny objects, every purchase is a responsibility. It’s hard to navigate which investments and expenses will truly benefit your business – you’re wearing way too many hats to do a constant return-on-investment calculation!

As a cheat sheet of sorts, here are five reasons you should put your credit card back in your wallet and close those tabs!

You haven’t paid yourself first.

While there are many reasons to run a business, usually the first and foremost is to provide for your lifestyle. If you can’t contribute what you need for your life from your business, you absolutely shouldn’t be making large business purchases! Keep first things first: pay yourself!

Wondering how much you should be paying yourself, and how? You can learn all about the Profit First method conceived by Mike Michalowicz in episode 126 of the Being Boss podcast.

You don’t have cash on hand to pay for it.

Do some businesses need loans to get started? Absolutely! The most common business loans I see are for renting or purchasing spaces and investing in inventory. But if you’re providing a service (not products) and don’t require a physical space, there are very few reasons to ever go into debt for your business. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a fellow solopreneur who excitedly told me about an international conference they were attending.

I congratulated them on their business doing well enough that they could afford to go, and they responded “Oh no, I don’t have the money! I’ll put about $10,000 on my credit card to make this happen and just cross my fingers I can pay it off after.” I was stunned (I’d be less stunned today, as I’ve now heard many iterations of this comment!). Crossing your fingers is not a good financial strategy, and going into debt for unnecessary business expenses is never a good idea.

Someone else did it.

In the land of social media, we are inundated daily with things other people have purchased, vacations and trips they’ve experienced, and large homes they’ve moved into. But as we all know now – it is truly just a highlight reel. I can’t tell you how many people I know that flash luxury items on social media while simultaneously drowning in credit card debt. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Buying something because you think it will make you more like a curated version of someone you see for a few moments a day on the internet will not make you happier. I scribbled this quote from The Psychology of Money down recently for a client – “Spending money to show people how much money you have is the fastest way to have less money.”

You think THIS BUSINESS EXPENSE will bring you success.

Marketing has done a great job of digging deep into our brains and knowing exactly how to speak and manipulate our fears. I can’t go a day without seeing a quick fix for at least something advertised online – this shake can help me lose my extra weight, this mastermind can get me to seven figures, this greenwashed brand is screaming that it’s more environmentally friendly than the generic.

Being inundated with these messages almost guarantees that eventually, we will crack and purchase something we probably didn’t need to actually be successful (regardless of what it promises you). The best ways to figure out a success plan for your business? Ask people you trust to advise and mentor you, don’t buy courses unless you have a plan to implement them, and only join groups and masterminds led by entrepreneurs with proven success.

You haven’t mapped out how THE PURCHASE will help your business.

One of the best purchases I ever made was an SEO course. I paid $297 for it, and dedicated three hours a week to the lessons and improving my current blogging system. The money I spent on that course ended up being invaluable. After consistently implementing what I learned, I soared to the top five of all the Google search results I could’ve hoped for.

That $300 investment has brought me literally thousands of dollars in revenue. But if I had purchased it impulsively without setting aside the time to implement it OR if I had purchased from someone I hadn’t researched to make sure they are a quality educator, that return-on-investment could’ve literally been $0. I never purchase something unless it completely matches the goals I have for my business and can help me get there.

Now what?

The absolute best thing you can do to avoid an unnecessary business purchase? Get clear on your own goals. What are your values? Where do you want to be in your business and in your finances in one year, five years, ten years? Write those goals down, and revisit them often.

Stop thinking about what your money can purchase, and start thinking about what your money can earn. Stay your own course, and keep your wallet close.

Want more money resources? Check out this page!

After 10 years as a wedding photographer, real estate investor and small business owner, Sarah Becker kept hearing the same story from her friends over and over again. While outwardly successful in their businesses, they were utterly failing in their financial goals - if they even had financial goals. So, she started asking every business woman she knew about their money. Along the way, she learned that only 2% of the female entrepreneurs in her network were happy with the state of their finances. Sarah believes that money doesn’t have to be scary, that curiosity is more important than correctness, and that everyone can become an expert of their own money with a little help. When she’s not crunching numbers, you can find her renovating a river cabin with her partner Barry, taking her dachshund Gus for a long morning walk, and planning to have Asian food for dinner (again). Send her an email at or follow her on Instagram.