11 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying Anything
Shopping is many people's favorite hobby; it's fun to do and it sometimes helps relieve stress (hello, retail therapy). But just because you might be financially OK to purchase a few items doesn't necessarily mean you should. There are a few questions to ask yourself before you buy something to really see if you absolutely need the item or not. There are plenty of reasons we decide to shop. While some of us do it at least once a day for practical reasons, other times, people just do it because they're bored or trying to satisfy a negative need.
According to Psychology Today, when people go shopping, they derive their happiness not from the things they buy, but the motivations behind those particular purchases, or what need they're trying to satisfy by shopping. A few people might shop for a high-end item because they're looking to be perceived a certain way by their peers, while others might go shopping because they're trying to make themselves feel better about a particular situation. Whatever the reason may be, you want to be sure that your motivation behind every purchase is for the greater good and not just because you're bored or you have the money to burn. If you feel like you've been stressing out lately about money, or you want to try to get your financial situation a little bit more under control, here are some questions you can ask yourself before you make any unnecessary purchases.
1. Am I Buying This Item Because I'm Trying To Mask An Emotion?
If you're feeling sad, it might be a good idea to lock away your debit card. According to Forbes, people who are feeling down often make bad judgement calls when it comes to their money. After conducting three experiments, Dr. Jennifer Lerner, Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, discovered a phenomenon called myopic misery. This is a condition where people only think about satisfying their present emotions instead of future goals when it comes to their finances. Essentially, these people suck at budgeting and let emotions take over their desire to save money.
2. Am I Just Buying This Item Because It's On Sale?
Even though you think you're getting a really good deal for a particular item, it doesn't mean you should buy it just because it's on sale. According to TIME, shoppers actually spend more money when multiple items are discounted. It's a tactic that's used by the store to persuade the shopper to buy more. Think about that the next time you see an item on sale.
3. How Often Will I Really Be Using This Item?
The next time something catches your eye, try to contemplate how often you'll really be using that item in your everyday life. According to The Simple Dollar, try to monitor your urges as much as possible when you go out shopping. While you might be going out to get milk, it doesn't mean you need to buy a whole new wardrobe for your spring closet. You get the idea.
4. Am I Just Buying This Gadget Because It's The Latest On The Market?
Are you the type of person who has to have the latest gadget every time one comes out? While having the most recent technology might sound cool, it's actually burning a whole in your wallet. According to U.S. News, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants conducted a study that found that Americans spend around 17 percent of their monthly rent/mortgage on technology.
5. Can I Afford This Item Without Using Credit?
If you can't afford it, don't use credit. Simple, right? While it can be tempting to use your credit card, it will actually do a lot more damage in the long run. According to CreditCards.com, the credit card industry processed $4 trillion in the U.S. in 2014. And that's just the beginning. TransUnion also found that the number of credit card accounts is continuing to grow. Just imagine all that interest rate. Is your brain hurting, yet?
6. Why Do I Want To Buy This Item?
If you're contemplating on buying a fancy new item, honestly ask yourself why you're really wanting to buy it. Is purchasing a new purse going to give you the status you've been longing for? Is buying an online course going teach you new skills? According to Psychology Today, people who identify with their future self will make better financial decisions. Try to weigh the pros and cons of why you want to buy an item and see how it can honestly benefit yourself in the future.
7. Do I Already Have Something Like This At Home?
Before you purchase an item, try to remember if you have something similar at home. Not only will you save money, but not buying it will prevent junk from piling up in your home. But if you feel like you want to go shopping all the time, it might be due to an addictive behavior. According to WedMD, professor of applied health science Ruth Engs, EdD, said, "Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behavior like shopping. Meaning that endorphins and dopamine, naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain, get switched on, and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it — it's reinforced."
8. Have I Done Enough Research?
Instead of just impulsively buying something and having buyer's remorse, it might be a good idea to do a little bit of research before you purchase a big ticket item. According to About Home, if you're thinking of buying something, research the quality, price, and features, and figure out where exactly you want to spend your money. Also, don't be afraid to take some time to think about your potential purchase, too. If you're still pondering about it a week or two later, then it might be worth the buy.
9. Will I Still Want This In The Next Week/Month/Year?
Before you decide to purchase anything, think about if you'll still be wanting this item in the future. According to Money Management, some people desire to buy something because they want it right then and now, but they probably won't have a need for it later on. Imagine a future if you didn't buy that particular thing. Would it make your life easier or would you forget that you've even purchased it?
10. Does It Make Me Feel Better About Myself?
While purchasing something at the moment might satisfy your want at that given time, you have to wonder if buying that particular thing will make you a better person overall. According to Life Hacker, executive coach Syble Solomon said, "We get pleasure and joy when we do something that makes us proud of who we are. That can be anything from taking the time to notice another person's pleasure or pain and be with them in the moment." While buying that item might satisfy that instant gratification, it might be better for you to use that money for something that will benefit yourself in the long run.
11. Can I Borrow It Or Get It For Less?
Before you make an expensive purchase, search the Internet to see if you can buy the item for less somewhere else or if you can borrow it from a friend. According to Good Financial Cents, if you're not sure how often you're going to use a potential purchase, try to see if you can rent or borrow it. Go to the library to check out a book, ask to use someone's car if you're moving furniture to your new place. There are usually creative ways for you to use a particular item without having to spend money.
Try to ask yourself these questions before you spend your money. Not only will your checking account be happy, but you will feel better about not wasting money on junk you probably don't need.