SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Americans feel more confident than ever going into debt, but five questions can help anyone save money on big and small purchases.

This year, the Federal Reserve reports credit card debt rose above $1 trillion, the highest point ever. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. 

Answering the questions will prevent falling victim to overpaying, high interest or financial insecurity.

“We kind of can get tunnel vision about this one thing we want and forget the outlying, underlying things we need to consider,” Amanda Christensen said, Utah State University Extension associate professor. 

  1. Can I do without it? 
  2. Can I postpone this purchase? 
  3. Can I substitute something else that costs less? 
  4. Can I use my own skills to make it myself? 
  5. Do I already own it (or something similar?)

“What taking a step back and asking these questions allows you to do, is to see something with a level head, with all of your faculties and make sure that it is something that is going to better your situation,” said Christensen. 

Chic on a Shoestring stylist Alicia Richmond says her clients only wear about 20 percent of their clothing, meaning they wasted money on 80 percent of their purchases.

Richmond encourages people to minimize what they need. She says people can get by with 20 pieces of clothing total. Prioritize purchases that stand the test of time, instead of splurging on trends, Richmond said. 

“I like when you’re going to invest in pieces, they’re going to last all year long,” Richmond said. 

Financial advice, including the five questions to save money, doesn’t matter, according to Christensen, if we don’t have a goal worth more than the sacrifice.  

“Because at the end of the day, I’m going to have something better. I’m going to be able to go do this thing or have this thing I don’t have. I think it is very motivating,” Christensen said.

Richmond adds it’s a good idea to make a list everywhere you go shopping, not just the grocery store, to stay on target and not waste money.