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Should you Buy Now Pay Later… or Save Now Buy Later?

We’ve all heard of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL). Fast fashion brands all over the world have been cashing in on this for years. And it’s so simple, isn’t it? You like that dress. You know you can’t really justify buying it. It’s not quite pay day, but it’s not too far off. And there’s a 30% off sale… but only until midnight. That’s how they get you. Before you know it, you have five parcels to return and can’t remember if you’ve missed the cut-off date. We’ve all been there.

We live in a world of instant gratification. And with BNPL on offer from Sweden to South Africa, it’s now possible to delay or spread the cost of clothing and homeware to appliances and holidays. Even some bills. So it’s understandably tempting, and easy to forget that it’s still a debt. When we choose the option to BNPL – in any of its forms – we’re applying for credit. The bad news about credit? If your circumstances change and you can’t repay it on time, it can mean late fees or a black mark on your credit file.

That’s not to say BNPL doesn’t have its merits. When your laptop breaks and you need to write that essay, or when you thought the dog’s vaccinations were due in May but you get the reminder in March, the option to split those payments over a few months can be a godsend.

But imagine how it would feel to know that even when the unexpected happens, there’s some money in your savings account to cover the cost. What if, instead of buying now and paying later, you could save now… and buy later?

So why should you?

Save Now Buy Later (SNBL) promotes the idea that saving leads to a good outcome (does “it all adds up to something good” ring any bells?). Buying something you’ve saved up for leaves you with a sense of achievement that you don’t feel when you BNPL. Waiting a bit longer for that post-shopping giddiness can come with other benefits too, like earning interest on your savings so your money goes further. Over time, putting away a small sum regularly can turn that one purchase you’ve been thinking about into many more. And the best part: you’ve paid the whole amount up front so you won’t get a bill at the end.

Delayed gratification isn’t just worth waiting for because of the perks. It can save you from a lot of unnecessary stress when the unexpected happens. Research shows that having even a small pot of savings to fall back on if needed has a positive impact on your wellbeing, too. And you can’t put a price on that. For a bit of peace of mind – we’d choose SNBL every time.