By asking yourself these three questions, you’ll be sure to make smart purchases and USE the things you buy. Less returns and buyers remorse sounds great, right?
Let’s start off with a riddle!
What does a laminator, a pasta maker and sewing machine all have in common?
Things I use all the time? No.
Things I’m amazing at? *frames face and smiles* …no.
If you guessed that they’re items that I have purchased, but never used, much less OPENED – you guessed right!
If I had followed these three questions I’m about to share with you, I most likely would have made much better decisions and saved some hard earned dough.
Three Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Make Smart Purchases
In order to make smart purchases, there are three questions you should ask yourself:
- Does it have a home in my house?
- When will I use this item next?
- How often will this item be used?
Does it have a home in my house?
In the process of trying to become a minimalist and simplifying my life, I have found that the most important “organizational” tip I have found is to find the items in my house permanent homes. That’s the whole point of organization, right? Find items a home.
If you purchase something and can’t decide where it will be kept, it will just float around your house driving you crazy. We had a box of baseball cards (that were my brother in laws) floating around my house for 6 years. 6 YEARS! Floating items will not make smart purchases – guaranteed.
If you can think of a good place, a nice little cozy area for this item to live and to go back to when it’s done being used, it passes the first test.
When will I use this item next?
The next question is when will I use it? If you can’t think of an exact time you will use it, the truth is you probably won’t use it.
Say you want a curling iron, and you can think of where it will go, (right next to your flat iron) but you can’t think of a specific event you would want to curl your hair for. I wouldn’t recommend getting it.
If you had a home for the curling iron and wanted to use it next week for your daughter’s prom, and for the Fourth of July parade, then for a wedding in August… It might be a good idea to purchase a curling iron!
This leads us into our last question- how often will I use it?
This really is important because I mentioned three events where you might use a curling iron, but these events could be spread out over four months. Maybe since it’s so infrequent, that means you can borrow it from a friend for each use instead?
Granted, everyone else will be using curling irons during those times so maybe this one is still justified, but this is just an example.
Say you’re at Menards, you recently just bought a new house and you live in the Midwest. It’s about to be winter time and you are strolling by the snow blowers. (This is starting to sound like a smart purchase is going to be made)
We can very easily answer our questions for this item, the snowblower’s home will be in the garage next to the lawnmower [did you know grass just grows in the Midwest?? In California, you have to water it!].
The next time I will use it will be when it snows.. Depending on which season it is, it could be tomorrow or in a couple months.
In the end, it will get used every time there is more than half an inch of snow. Then it will be used every year. A snowblower sounds like someone is about to make a very smart purchase.
It also sounds expensive…
It’s me. I’m the person in Menards that needs a snow blower.
We will actually have to buy one this year because our driveway in our previous house was the size of a postage stamp. Our new driveway is about three times that size. I know a good chiropractor but I want to save my hubby’s back just a little bit.
“I’ll just return it if I don’t need it!” Pitfall
Some of my friends love a return. One of my sisters especially loves returning stuff. That chick will return three items to the dollar store. No joke.
Unfortunately, that’s not me. Of course, it’s not me. Why would I want to get my money back?
But it’s not that I don’t want to get my money back. I do want to get my money back. I could definitely blame it on the fact that I have two kids and it’s not necessarily easy to do returns…
The truth is though, I was also bad when I didn’t have kids so I can’t use that as an excuse.
I just think,by the time I have to find the receipt, find a bag to put it in so they don’t think I stole it, drive to the store, wait in line behind someone with 47 items,it just doesn’t sound worth it. Anyone else like that?
Returning things just isn’t my jam. Let’s not talk about how much money has been wasted because it is hard for me to get a return back to the store.
Being who I am, I have to be very, very selective in what I buy. I try to answer those three questions before I add it to my shopping cart.
Put the Items you Buy to the Test
If you really think something will benefit you, go ahead and buy it. But! Leave it in the bag with the receipt in the bag and just put it somewhere not necessarily within eyesight. If you find it in a month and it still hasn’t been used, return it.
I remember at Sam’s Club a few years ago they had these really nice stainless steel bowls. For some reason I love a stainless steel bowl. I don’t have any because I think I like white and clear bowls more. I think I love the idea of a clean “I am a chef” stainless steel bowl.
Anyway, I was holding them and in my brain I started thinking about what bowls I currently have, where those bowls would go, what bowls I would get rid of, why I didn’t want to get rid of those bowls, who gave me the bowls that I will get rid of, what would I make in the stainless steel bowls…
When all the thoughts are swirling around in your brain, making it hurt –
That, my friend, is decision fatigue.
When you’re buying something and you can’t figure out how it works in your life, it doesn’t belong in your life.
Remember, If you can’t legitimately think of an exact home for something or a way you would use it within the next few days, you probably don’t need it.
For a long time my ideal self was an extreme couponer. Do you know those shows where the customer is holding $300 worth of stuff and they are sweating profusely while they’re standing there also holding their ginormous pile of coupons and then the store hands them money?! That is my ideal self.
I like to call it frugal, not cheap but call it what you want.
Because of this I remember subscribing to like five different couponing websites where I would then have to go through and clip, print and cut the coupons, then forget about them when I actually went to the store.
Now, before I make my next statement I am going to say that there are some coupons that are amazing and 100% worth your time and effort to use. Like ones for diapers; diapers are atrociously expensive. Why do kids go to the bathroom so much?
Coupons are a waste of time.
Of course they’re not a waste for everyone, but for me they were. There were so many times that I would buy what I didn’t necessarily love or need because I had a coupon for it. Just because things are cheap doesn’t mean you will make a smart purchases by buying them.
When like this, that’s always when the real money is wasted and it weighs on my brain. Not only did I fork out the money for this item I didn’t necessarily want, I now feel like I have to use it and I don’t really want to use it!
In my experience, it would be worth it to me to pick up two extra hours at work and make more money that way, than trying to save $10 worth of coupons and spend hours clipping.
Don’t shop for what you think you’ll need
I am a big, big failure at doing this. A lot of times I try to buy items ahead of time. For example, I will buy one of my kids a winter coat, in the spring time for the next winter in the next size.
The clearance is amazing at that time!
This is actually a great tip and may work well for you. But! Will one of your friends give a coat that their kid grew out of?
It may be that I have many friends with babies, but people are constantly asking me if I want the stuff they don’t need.
I’ll tell them yes, as long as it’s okay if I give away what I don’t need. That way they know they may not see my kid wearing their favorite outfit.
We’ll talk more about going through hand me downs in another post but just know you may get what you need and not have to pay a cent.
Make your friends do the work
OK, I don’t mean be lazy and make your friends do all the work.… But if you have a friend who likes doing the work of researching, by all means, let them!
Katie Lou, my best friend, is a researcher. She is detailed and thorough. The chick knows quality. She makes very, very smart purchases all the time. I do not buy anything that costs more than $50 without consulting her.
Maybe that’s slightly extreme, but it’s pretty much true. She basically told us which car to buy when our last one went under. I wanted a 15 passenger Chevy Express van and we ended up getting a Honda Odyssey because I was pregnant with my second child, not my 14th.
She is the voice of wisdom in my chaotic brain.
Anywho, find yourself a Katie Lou. They like researching and spending hours finding which memory card is the best.
Now, of course you’ll have certain friends that are better at researching certain things so don’t ask your chef friend which car to buy, ask them which blender you should buy.
These tips have helped me make smarter purchases and I hope they help too!
If you make any smart purchases coming up and use any of these tips, please tag me on Facebook or Instagram @simpleinasnap I would love to see if this is helping anyone!
It would also be awesome if you share this post with your friends.
Until next time,
How to Buy Clothes You LOVE and Wear
Learn more about me here!
Learn more about decision fatigue here! It’s a real thing, my friends. Let’s try to avoid it!
Ashley Rateike says
Great thought process. I only ever ask myself where will it go-we are currently renting this tiny apt while we search for a house so it’s always “no where it will fit absolutely no where ”
Random thing I do so I can always find the receipts: The Dollar tree has these small accordion file binders meant for note cards. When you get home dump your receipts in the front pocket. You could also keep it in your car if that’s easier. Once a month empty the back pocket and move all the receipts back one section. It keeps 6 months of receipts in case you need them and now they aren’t just floating around your house/car/purse. I never realized they were creating so much clutter until I found them a home!