Whether you’re looking to be more mindful with your shopping habits, incorporate more minimalism into your life or save money, here are 10 questions to ask yourself before you buy to help you make the best possible decisions.
It’s just coincidence that I’ve decided to talk about this topic right around the holiday season (and all those Black Friday deals!) In truth, the reason why I’m inspired to share with you these 10 questions to ask before making a purchase is because of a few recent experiences of my own. I found myself asking myself these very things in order to make the best decision possible (and to avoid regret).
Whether you’re looking to be more mindful with your shopping habits, incorporate more minimalism into your life or save money, I’m confident these questions will help you make the best possible financial (or life!) decision, big or small. You can even use some of these questions for other kinds of life decisions.
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Do I see myself getting long-term use out of this item?
Another way to frame this question is, “Is this something I’ll use time and time again?” or “Will this end up as clutter?” This is a great question for things like clothing purchases to help you determine if you’re only going to end up wearing it once.
How quickly will this item lose its lustre/excitement?
It’s normal for things to lose excitement over time. But often we get sucked into the trap of buying something because of its initial tantalizing excitement (it’s so shiny and new!), only to lose interest after a short time.
This question will help you determine if you see yourself finding lasting enjoyment out of the item you want. Is this something you can see yourself still liking in a few months or even years?
Am I fantasizing unrealistically about what my life will be like with this item?
Ah, yes. Our good ol’ imagination playing all kinds of exciting tricks on us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a highly creative, imaginative person and it’s great to visualize things in our lives. But just remember that sometimes we create unrealistic expectations of what our lives are going to look or be like with this new thing. Be realistic.
What is my motivation for buying this?
More specifically… are you buying this to appease someone else, to fit in, to look a certain way, to gain approval from others, or because you’re simply bored? Ask yourself what the primary underlying reason is for wanting the item. This can help us realize what we may not actually want or need.
What else could I do with the money I’d spend on this?
A classic! This is a great question for purchases of any size, but especially ones that require ongoing expenses like monthly subscriptions or items that require maintenance.
If it’s helpful for you, tally up the total costs either initially or over the course of a few months or years. Is it still worth it for you to spend the money on? If so, great. If not, what else could you do with that money? Putting our money into savings or towards something more valuable to us is often a powerful enough thought to pass something up.
Can it wait?
If only you knew how hard it is for me to ask myself this question. I’m not proud of it, but I’m the Queen of impatience. However, I do know how incredibly important this question is for certain things, especially for helping us avoid impulse purchases.
Ask yourself if you need it right now. Or, can it wait 6 months, a year, or even a few years?
Another way to approach this is by asking…
If I walk away, will I still want it?
If you put the item down or take the idea of the thing you want out of your mind for a day or two, will you still really want it? This comes back to that tantalizing excitement that almost always wears off. I find this tactic really useful in stores. When I put an item down and walk away, I often forget about it entirely.
Can I use something I already have?
Do you have something similar that can be used in place of the thing you’re thinking of buying? It’s easy to end up with so many duplicates or similar items hanging around our house or closet, and quite often we already have something we could make use of.
Can I do this or make this myself?
A little DIY is good for the soul, I’d say. I love finding ways to do or make things myself — it makes us handy and get good use out of materials we have hanging around. Aside from that, there are way too many gadgets out there that end up as clutter.
What is my gut saying?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself with purchases and life decisions alike. Here’s what you can do:
Imagine yourself with the thing you want. You’ve spent the money on it, it’s in your home or in your closet. Imagine all the pros and cons of owning it. Then, notice if you feel an inner pull toward ‘yes! this feels exciting and right for me‘, or a pushing back sense of hesitation or reluctancy. How does it feel when you imagine yourself with this item?
In my experience, if we feel unsure (a bit of yes and no), it’s best to wait it out.
What questions do you ask yourself when making purchases or decisions? Share them in the comments below.