Tightening the Belt: 5 Things that You Shouldn't Finance If You're on a Budget

5 things you shouldn't finance5 things you shouldn't financeInterest rates are really low, and you can split just about anything into several monthly payments, but there are still things you should never finance. Anything that is not a complete necessity should not be on your list of things to possibly finance with credit because once you get started, it's really hard to stop and even harder to pay things off. Here are 5 things that should definitely not be financed.

1.Wedding Dresses
Last year, I was the maid of honor in a wedding, and I went with the bride to go dress shopping. We decided to check out one of those big stores that have good deals sometimes. While she was trying on a few dresses, I waited outside. There was a girl in the dressing room next to ours who'd found the dress she'd always wanted. Then she saw the price tag. It was too expensive for her. "Not to worry," said the attendant. "We have 12-month zero-percent financing." The bride-to-be agreed, and it broke my heart a little. If you can't afford the dress, it's too early to get married. From what I hear, the first year of marriage is tough enough, even without a mountain of credit card debt. But, lovelies, if you can't pay for the dress in full, you can't afford it. You're only going to wear it once. Why make twelve monthly payments on it?

2. Designer Shoes and Handbags
These are statement pieces, and you should never buy them unless and until you can pay for them in full. The message that luxury items (you know, the ones hiding behind the glass case at the department store) send is, "I am wealthy enough to display some of my riches externally." That's why many brands have such a distinctive branded look. Unfortunately, the message that some of these designer duds send is simply, "I have a credit card with a higher limit than I deserve." Don't send the second message!

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3. Furniture Upgrades

Many furniture stores offer great in-house financing. And zero percent truly is captivating. But these offers are feeding our consumerist lifestyles. If you're upgrading couches, great! But why not save up for something you really like? I am currently in the market (in my head, at least!) for a new living room set. I could very easily justify the expense. "The couch is really too big for the space," I'd tell myself. Instead, I'm saving my money and waiting until the timing is right. And, with the save-up-my-money method, I might even save long enough to afford something even better!

4. Appliance Upgrades
If your washing machine is broken and you don't have enough money in your emergency fund, then by all means, do whatever you need to do in order to get back to a happy state of appliances. But if you just want something new (and I understand, some of these newfangled appliances really are the bee's knees), save for it. Don't upgrade something in perfect working condition just to have the newest thing. Let those appliances live out their natural lives.

5. Electronics
For heaven's sake, do not finance a toy! Bigger, thinner TVs. Video games. New lenses for your camera (or is that just my wish list?). A new phone. None of these should be bought with the intent to pay them back over time. These toys are meant to be enjoyed, and true enjoyment comes from knowing that you didn't spend more than you can afford on something you'll keep around a long time. Because, you will keep these things around a long time, right? You'll stop listening to the TV commercials once you finally decide on one?

- By Kathleen O'Malley

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