When to pay a checked-bag fee

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Imagine this scenario: You’re preparing to fly across the country while returning home from a vacation. During your trip, you picked up some goods — such as a sleeping bag and a pillow — that total about $35.

You know you would use those items back at home, and you have a spare duffel bag that can hold them. But checking a bag at the airport costs $25.

The night before your flight, you face a conundrum: Should you keep your goods and pay to check in a bag at the airport? Or should you throw away items instead of checking the bag?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you make the best decision. They can reveal whether you really are saving money in the long run.

How quickly would I buy the items again?

If you decide not to take the items, will you immediately repurchase them as soon as you reach home? Or is it more likely you would only buy those items in the distant future?

Answering those questions can help you decide if the items are a necessity, or are merely “nice to have.”

If the items are a necessity, there’s a strong argument for paying the checked-bag fee, even if that frugal voice inside screams in horror at the thought. But if they’re merely “nice” to keep around, skip both paying a checked-bag fee and adding to unnecessary clutter at home.

Are the items hard to find?

Are you thinking of transporting items that are tough to buy, such as a specific pair of shoes in a hard-to-find size? Or are you thinking of transporting something that’s generic and easily replaceable?

The more common the item, the less it makes sense to clear room for a checked-bag fee in your monthly budget.

Do the items have sentimental value?

Money concerns take a back seat when the items in question possess sentimental value. If that’s the case, you may want to pay the checked-bag fee so you can bring the items with you.

But if the items don’t have sentimental value, are easily replaced, and aren’t immediately necessary, forgo the checked-bag fee.

Paula Pant blogs at AffordAnything.com about building wealth and living life on your own terms. She’s traveled to nearly 30 countries, owns six rental units that produce thousands in passive income, and runs her own digital marketing company. Follow Paula on Twitter @AffordAnything.