In fact, spending decisions often have a far bigger impact on the average American's future standard of living than do investment decisions.
Whether it's a vacation home, a dream car you've always wanted or even college tuition for the grandchildren, major purchases can throw a serious wrench into a financial plan. And the decisions are often made impulsively, without appreciating how it can change your financial position and outlook for retirement.
"People can get very emotional about big-ticket purchases," said Mark Cortazzo, a certified financial planner and senior partner at Macro Consulting Group. "They can be cost-conscious, frugal individuals on a day-to-day basis, but when it comes to some incredible extravagance, their practicality goes out the window."
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Cortazzo, like many financial advisors, considers it part of his job to play devil's advocate with clients when it comes to making large expenditures that can compromise other financial goals they have.
"It's my job to do the math on what a large expenditure could cost a client over time and help them understand alternatives," he said. "If there's a high probability that a big-ticket purchase could jeopardize a client's needs and adversely affect their future standard of living, we have much firmer conversations with them.