We have all faced regret over our shopping decisions. A beautiful expensive bag that we never intended to buy or a pair of fancy sneakers that were way out of budget. We have all done it, and that pinching guilt after you get your purchased item home after 30 minutes of pleasure of owning the item is not a good feeling to have.
These days, it is even more common to get entrapped in this guilt because of all the lucrative marketing on social media and the attractive online shopping malls. The targeted marketing by brands keeps trying to entice you to buy something that you viewed once and would follow you on every website that you visit. In a moment of weakness, we have a tendency to give in to the indulgence and make the purchase. And just in a few simple steps, brands manage to make money off of us before we even realize it.
In this article, I will discuss the various ways that I use to avoid the regretful purchases and steer clear of the guilt. Before discussing the ways, let's delve into what exactly is buyer’s remorse.
According to the definition in Oxford Dictionary, buyer’s remorse is “a feeling of regret experienced after making a purchase, typically one regarded as unnecessary or extravagant.” (Buyer's Remorse Definition, n.d.)
It doesn’t have to be just an extravagant purchase, but buyer’s remorse can occur for smaller purchases as well. There are various reasons why we as consumers face buyer’s remorse. These could be - there was a huge financial decision involved like taking a debt to purchase it or the item was too expensive or the item purchased is of very less use and in the future would not be used as much.
Here is a great video that I found that elaborates more on this phenomenon.
Video on Buyer's Remorse
Ways to Not Regret Your Purchases
I used to feel really guilty and have anxiety over many of my purchases, in short I have had experience with buyer’s remorse quite a few times in my life. That is, until a year ago when I started to learn and implement simple ways in my day-to-day life to stop impulse buying and ultimately not face anxiety over my purchases. Here are some ways you can do it too.
Think of Other Ways to Use Items
While purchasing any item, especially apparel items, think of at least 5-6 ways how you can use the item. For example, if you want to buy a top, see how you can use it in different items to make the maximum use of your purchase. This will help you assess whether you actually need the item or not.
If you are able to come up with 5-6 ideas or even more, you would be able to get your money’s worth, hence saving you from anxiety in the future. On the other hand, if you are not able to find different ways, it is better to let go of the temptation because you would not be able to get your money’s worth. Thinking in a logical way will definitely help you come over the guilt you might face in the future.
Keep a Minimum Waiting Time Rule
Let’s say you walk into a store, and you see something you really like but is a non-essential item, decide on a minimum waiting period rule before you get it. I like to wait for at least 2 weeks. If it is still on my mind after 2 weeks, I would have thought rationally and enough reasons for me to buy it. If it is just another superficial temptation, we are more or less likely to forget about it, thus, saving us from the whole guilt trip.
Plan and List
While going for a shopping trip, take a few minutes to organize your thoughts and prepare a list of what all you would want to purchase. This should be done even while planning to shop online. This way when the list is right in front of you, you are more likely to stick to the list. Of course a little bit of conscious self-control effort is required while doing this, but this really helps to control your impulse behavior.
Use the S.M.A.R.T Strategy
This strategy helps you plan the big purchases, rather than just giving into the temptation all of a sudden. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
- Time bound
So, essentially what you do in this strategy is define a goal that has the above five attributes. This means that instead of saying that I need that expensive iPad, a better way of framing would be I need to buy an iPad (version xyz) in 3 months from today, the cost of which is $$$, which means that I will need to save this much every week to be able to buy the iPad. Try to be as specific as possible in defining your goal.
This helps you assess your financial situation and when you see that it is time bound you will work towards actually saving money to buy it rather than just going and buying it out of nowhere. In the meantime, it will also give you time to think rationally whether you need to purchase it also or not.
First Save Second Spend
Generally, we calculate savings in the following way:
But what if we switch savings and expenditure in the equation. It would become
What this tells us is that instead of spending first and saving what is left, save first and then spend what is left. This will help you limit your expenditure as you would have already saved in the first place. So rather than worrying about lower savings (which may be one of the causes for guilt), you can become free from having anxiety over your purchases. This may not directly affect the whole buyer’s remorse, but indirectly it definitely will play an important role.
Indulgence Saving Account
We all feel at some point in time to splurge on a thing or two. So apart from having a normal savings account, have a different place where you save specifically for those one or two purchases, where you can splurge without having to feel remorse later. This will help you stay stable finance-wise. Let’s say you have 100 units saved in the indulgence saving account, now you will be able to spend only those 100 units towards your purchases. This is a win-win situation as you are not completely restricting yourself but you have a plan in place to make an informed decision.
The above ways are some of the many ways in which you can do mindful spending. These ways will definitely help you to be conscious of your expenditure pattern and save you from the moments of guilt and anxiety. Following simple and small steps is the key to not regret your purchases in the future.
- Buyer's Remorse Definition. (n.d.). Oxford Dictionary. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/buyer-s-remorse?q=buyer%E2%80%99s+remorse
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 PGupta0919