Five Questions To Ask Before You Buy

We've all done it before - spent too much, or bought something because we really wanted it although it didn't fit right, or bought something just to make a bad day better. I've probably done all the above. You know that guilty feeling you get once you get it home, or every time you see it hanging in your closet? There's a name for that; it's called "shopper's remorse."


Shopping can be like eating...sometimes we do it emotionally, and it's not healthy. We need to realize that going shopping really puts us in a vulnerable place. A blog post I read on Already Pretty explained that when we go shopping, we become vulnerable to the advertisements competing for our attention, persuasive employees, the opinions of someone shopping with us, in addition to our inner voices.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is when the mannequin comes to life to convince her to buy the green scarf that she really can't afford. It's really her just imagination and her own inner voices. "It's the only one left," "It's on sale," "But it looks so good on you," "You need it," are the general arguments it uses to talk her into it. She gives in, but has to use multiple credit cards and borrow cash from strangers in order to buy it. Her unwise spending habits eventually catch up with her as the movie goes on.

On much rarer occasions, I'll actually wish I had bought something that I put back on the rack. I'll talk myself out of it in the store, and later really wish I'd bought it because it would go so well with the outfit I want to wear to such and such event. But like I said, this type of remorse happens much less frequently for me.

To keep yourself from wishing you hadn't or wishing you had, stop and ask your reflection in the dressing room mirror a few important questions. 

1. Do I already have this, or something very similar?
It's a good idea to have more than one of your basics, for instance, white or black tank tops. But how many red cardigans do you need? How many pairs of brown flats?

It is easy for us to be drawn to the things that we already own, because we like them. But we have to consider how often the new item will actually be worn. For me, it's gray and navy blue shirts. I'm very attracted to those colors, but honestly, I don't want to wear them every day of the week. I have to make a conscious effort to look at the same top in other colors and consider them, so that when I'm not in a blue or gray mood, I have something to wear.

2. Do I have something to wear with it?
I'm so guilty here. I tend to buy something and bring it home, only to discover that I only have one thing that goes with it. If that other thing is in the laundry, I'm out of luck. Then I have to go buy something else to match it.

Make it a habit to glance through your closet before you head out to go shopping. You'll find it's easier to remember what you already have to build outfits around.

And, before you get in the check out line, try to think of up to three outfits you could make with it. Can you dress it up for special occasions and down for everyday? Can it look professional and casual?

3. Is it worth it?
We know we're supposed to buy quality over quantity, but that's hard to do when staring at a 50% off sales sign at Target. In situations like these, we have to consider how long the item will actually last. Sure, those shoes might be cheap, but if they only hold up for a few months, it's probably not worth it when you could invest your money in a pair that will last you ten years. Yeah, the Target shoes are cheaper now, but if you divide the cost by how long you'll actually be able to wear them, it makes sense to buy quality.

Ultimately, you have to determine if it's worth it. How much are you willing to spend on a dress you won't wear very often? Is that top special enough to merit the price tag?

4. Is this the best time to buy it?
We talked before about savvy shopping. The longer you wait to buy something, the lower the price will go. But, you do run the risk of it being sold out. Have you looked for coupons for this store? Can you wait for a sale?

Also, since many of us don't have unlimited budgets, think about what you really need right now. Tees might be on sale, but if you really need skirts, this is not the best time to take advantage of the sale.

5. Why do I want it?
So, why do you really want to buy it? Because it's on sale, or because it looks good on you and you feel good wearing it?

It's important to recognize when we are emotionally spending -shopping just to give ourselves a momentary high. That high won't last, and it's a really destructive habit. If you shop to relieve stress, you'll just create stress by bringing financial woes upon yourself. If you shop as an escape from reality, well, reality isn't going anywhere. And your credit card bill will definitely be real, even if it feels like a nightmare.

Image Source: 5 Ways to Control Emotional Spending
Don't do that to yourself. You were made for more. Find healthy ways to handle your stress, anger, or disappointments. Call a friend and just talk. Take a bubble bath and do your nails. Dress up in the clothes you already have. Go for a walk or hit the gym. Write about it in a journal. Pray. Then pray some more. And trust God.

It's Not Too Late
Returning something to the store feels like apologizing, admitting you've done wrong. Sometimes it needs to be done! Check your receipt to find the return policy. If it's within a certain time frame, you might be able to return it.

If it's a final sale, you're out of luck. If it doesn't fit you, doesn't look good on you, or you already have several of the same, just pass it on to someone else. Or, sell it on eBay to get some of your money back.

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What shopping pitfalls are you most prone to? How do you avoid emotional spending? If you have other good questions to ask before you buy that I haven't mentioned, tell us about it in the comments!

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