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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying

As a follow up to last week’s post, Why Am I Buying This, I have been thinking more and more about training myself to resist impulse purchases. Why Am I Buying This: Part Two focused on my weakness for purchasing deeply discounted sale items and really forced me to think about why I find myself buying unexpected items.

In response to that post my husband pointed out that I buy sale items because they satisfy two competing desires: The desire to possess something new and the desire to save money. Somehow that bright red sales tag convinces me that I am saving money, while simultaneously allowing me to buy something new and shiny. Clearly he is correct. I also know in my heart of hearts that if I am spending money I am surely not saving it, I am just trying to convince myself I am.

In light of that fact, I would like to train myself to resist such tendencies as much as possible, so I have created a list of questions to ask prior to making any new purchases. In theory the list is valid, but I’m not convinced I’ll force myself to recite it while shopping. Nonetheless I think it’s mere creation has forced me to focus more on my buying tendencies and to think through my purchases prior to arriving at the cash register.

Without further ado. Here’s the list:

  • Am I buying this solely because it’s on sale? Would I buy it if it were not on sale?
  • If I can’t buy this today would I return tomorrow to buy it?
  • Why am I buying this? What is my emotional state? Am I bored? Tired? Sad?
  • What is my current credit card balance?
  • Will I be able to pay my credit card bill off in full if I buy this?
  • Do I need this?
  • Do I want this?
  • How long will I use this? One day, one week, one year?
  • What will I do with this when I no longer need it? Can it be recycled? Donated?
  • What will happen if I don’t buy this?
  • What is this made of? Is it recyclable? Reusable? How will it’s destruction impact the environment?
  • Where is it made? China? India? The U.S.?
  • Can I borrow this item from a friend, family member, or neighbor?
  • Do I already own something similar?
  • Can I make something similar from items I already have at home?

One Frugal Girl

Friday 9th of November 2007

I love that you're keeping the list in your wallet! That will definitely make you think twice before buying!

I often keep a picture in my wallet of an important goal that helps me think twice before spending. You can check out this brief post to learn more about it.

2Much2Do

Friday 9th of November 2007

OFG, I printed your list & put it in the section of my wallet where my too-often-used credit cards reside. I too often have the mindset that passing up a deeply discounted item is like losing money -- surely I could give it to someone for a gift if I can't use it myself. The clutter of un-given & un-used "incredible bargains" in my basement is testimony to the fallacy in that thinking. And again this year I'll go through the process of reviewing and rejecting the majority of these great deals as appropriate holiday gifts for teachers, coworkers, neighbors, etc. then it'll be off to the mall with my Christmas gift list in hand. Hopefully, as I dig out my credit card while waiting in the checkout line and your list is staring me in the face I'll at least rid my cart of the "too good to pass up" bargains that I haven't specifically designated to go to someone on this year's list. It's a start. Thanks.