6 Ways to Avoid Buyer's Remorse

There's nothing worse than buying something that felt good at the time, but ends up being just a useless symbol of regret. The next time you feel a splurge coming on, try these six ways to avoid buyer's remorse. (See also: 6 Ways to Resist a Splurge)

1. Research Your Purchases Thoroughly

Everyone knows they should research, but do we always? Comparison shopping can be as easy as taking time to read reviews during your lunch break, or making a list of pros and cons about whether or not to make that purchase.

Looking for more ways to comparison shop? Two great websites to help you out are The Wirecutter and The Sweethome. They compare everyday items, from linens to computers, in such detail that you can't help but start applying the same exhaustive analysis to every product you buy.

2. Don't Shop as Therapy

Are you the type to shop at Trader Joe's hungry? Do you wander into Bed, Bath, & Beyond after a stressful day at work? One of the worst things you can do for your budget, time, and well-being is to shop angry, stressed, or tired.

Stop yourself and ask yourself: Why do I feel the compulsion to buy something right now? I recommend trying the super popular self care click-through guide, which might help you explore the reasons behind therapy shopping behaviors.

3. Pay Your Bills First

A great exercise to ground yourself and think practically before making a purchase is actively thinking about your budget and expenses. Try activating the part of your brain that manages money by sorting through or paying your bills first. That way, you are more likely to view a purchase more pragmatically and get what you can both afford get the most use.

4. Buy What You Can Use Now

Always trying to buy the best of the best item in its category? That may be misguided. The Journal of Consumer Research found that people like high quality in the long term, but convenience in the short term. This leads to faulty mental accounting when buying products intended for future use.

For example, someone buying image editing software to use later might buy a program with too many advanced features. Because that person is unlikely to use all those features (we tend to overestimate how much we are able to learn in the future), they are more likely to regret the purchase. Had they bought a program they could use now with their current skill level, they would have been happier with the purchase.

5. Shop Better

Sometimes we just can't see a product's faults online, especially in the case of clothing and housewares. That said, some people have trouble managing impulses when shopping in stores. It's hard to resist buying something just because it's on sale, or because the salesperson says it's almost sold out.

Pick up an item, feel it, test it. In The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, organization expert Marie Kondo insists that we hold an item and inspect it carefully. If it doesn't spark joy, don't buy it. If you're not feeling it, forget it. Just as well, if an item you already own doesn't spark joy, toss it or give it away and you won't be bummed out with regret every time you see it!

6. Know When to Wait

Don't let impulse buy temptation get the better of you. When looking at electronics or other big ticket purchases, early adopters tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to features. You're always better off holding onto what you have and waiting to pounce on the second or third generation.

If you're deeply considering a "limited time offer," enter a reminder on your calendar to notify you on the last day the offer is available. If you are still interested when that notification pops up on your screen, then it was meant to be!

How do you avoid buyer's remorse?

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Guest's picture

I was teaching one of Dave Ramsey's courses at my church and he had a good idea. Consider waiting 24 hours (or 3 days or a week) to purchase anything over a threshold that works for you (e.g. $100, $300, etc. depending on your financial situation).

It gives enough time between desire and the actual purchase to sometimes avoid making a dumb purchase.