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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Something

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Want to get out of the vicious cycle of splurging on things that just end up creating more clutter in your home and life? If you’re tired of impulse buys that only lead to regret (and a side of CC statement anxiety) this one’s for you!

Here are my top five questions to ask yourself before you spring for that new throw pillow / handbag / sweater / (fill-in-the-blank).

buy tips

Would I Buy It for Full Price?

Retailers know that most people have a hard time resisting a really good deal. Couple that with strategic marketing that creates urgency by claiming it’s your “last chance” to get the amazing deal, and it’s even harder. When in doubt, take a beat and ask yourself if you would buy the item if it wasn’t on sale? Be honest with yourself – do you like it enough to buy it at full price? If the answer is no (and if the answer is maybe – the answer is no), put your credit card away and get out of the store!

Do I Already Own Something Similar?

Do you have a tendency to keep buying similar versions of the exact same item? My hand is raised high, so you’re not alone. It’s human nature to gravitate towards products that are similar to ones we already love (i.e. the perfect peachy lip gloss / white blouse / ankle bootie), but that doesn’t mean we have to own every single version of it. Next time you find yourself covet a close cousin of something you already have, appreciate the item in question, recommit yourself to loving up the version(s) you already have, and keep it moving!

Can I Borrow It?

If you need something for a specific occasion or event, chances are it may make more sense to borrow or rent the item in question instead of buying something you will seldom use. We borrow sleeping pads and camping gear from our neighbors for the few times each decade we head into the woods, and for anything formal I borrow dresses and shoes from my close friends who wear the same size. A dry cleaning bill is a minimal expense compared to the price of a new dress you really only need for one night!

Will I Still Love This in a Year?

If an item you’re eyeing is gimmicky, trendy, or super poor quality, chances are it will fall out of favor quickly. Asking this question can help ensure that you invest in fewer, better, more timeless pieces that will serve you for years. Your wallet (and the environment) will thank you for your restraint.

Is It Worth the Cost?

I’m not just talking about the literal cost (but of course you should make sure you can actually afford it), I’m talking about the energetic and environmental costs. Every single item you bring into your home needs to be put away, maintained, cleaned, repaired, etc. Make sure the things you buy feel worth the energy and resources required to own them. As consumers, we owe it to our earth (and our fellow humans) to consider factors such as sustainable manufacturing, humane working conditions, and  eco-friendly materials before we buy.

I hope these questions help you make more intentional and thoughtful choices so you can save yourself precious time, money, and energy in the future. You might even want to screenshot this page and have it handy the next time you’re on a shopping bender and need some firm but gentle guidance.

Photo Credit: Andrea Posadas for Honestly WTF x Shira Gill 

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8 comments on “5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Something

  1. Excellent questions to keep in mind. Especially the last one – is it worth the time to manage/maintain this item in my home? I am also beginning to honor the enjoyment I receive from viewing an item without actually having to purchase it!

  2. Love these ideas!! I took the first round of your online closet workshop and since then thinking about the cost of ownership of stuff (clothes in particular) has been so helpful. In the past I found hand washing clothes a relaxing ritual, but now with a one year old I avoid wearing things that are time consuming to care for. I remind myself that when I see beautiful things online that I’m tempted to buy, but that aren’t a good fit for my life at this moment. Looking forward to reading your book!!

  3. excellent suggestions on a very tricky, emotionally based topic. you had me at the first question, as I rarely buy anything that is full price. retail prices feel so inflated to me! so it’s unrealistic for me to use that as a metric when I am shopping. for someone in my situation who almost always takes full priced items out of the equation, what do you recommend I replace it with for comparison? the vast majority of my purchases are discounted, or on sale, or consignment. I always try to look for quality but there is a limit to what I will pay for something.
    also, in regards to your last question, I would add that our purchases not only affect “our fellow humans”, but all beings who share this beautiful planet with us. and if they are impacted, it is a ripple effect that ends up hurting everyone.
    for example, when we buy things that are made with plants that are sprayed with pesticides, it kills or harms animals from insects – like bees – all the way to cows, pigs who eat the plants – like grass, corn. and then if you eat animals, it can have detrimental effects on your health. living in harmon is the way to go…In human-animal symbiosis, it is humans who must adjust: the animals cannot initiate this change. let’s use our power wisely and compassionately so that we have a planet to enjoy.

  4. I am going to put this link on my phone for ready access so I make sure to check this before I buy. Great Tips thank you Shira !!

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