At some point, everyone has experienced the sinking feeling of buyer’s remorse. Whether you paid too much for a big-ticket item or you made an impulse buy you came to regret, you may find yourself wishing you’d made a different choice before you pulled out your credit card.
The good news is, there’s a way to help prevent buyer’s remorse. By making careful, informed decisions and taking your time with your purchase, you can eliminate that unfortunate feeling. Here’s how to do it.
What is Buyer’s Remorse?
Buyer’s remorse occurs when you regret making a purchase. It may be because you didn’t need the item, you didn’t find the best deal, or it was just too expensive. Many people experience buyer’s remorse after a large purchase, but you can feel it for anything you buy.
How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
Taking a more careful, measured approach to your purchases can help you escape buyer’s remorse for good. Use each of these steps when you buy something, and you’ll likely feel more confident and satisfied with your purchase.
Justify Your Purchase
Before you buy something, you should ask yourself why you want it. Do you actually need this item, or are you buying it for another reason? Maybe you’re bored, sad, or tired, and you need a distraction. Maybe you saw that your neighbor purchased one, and you immediately wanted one, too. Sort out the “why” behind your desire.
You’ll often have a good reason for wanting to make your purchase. Perhaps your old porch umbrella broke, and you want a new one because your family spends lots of time outside. But sometimes, you’ll find that your motivation for buying something doesn’t hold up. For instance, you shouldn’t get a new car just because your neighbor got one — especially if your current car is working fine. It’s not a good idea to make a large purchase during a time of personal or financial crisis, either.
You can also look at justification as determining wants and needs. If something is a need, such as a bike helmet for your child, that’s easy to justify. It contributes to safety. If it’s a want, however, you may find you would be just as happy without it.
Research the Purchase Ahead of Time
Buyer’s remorse can come from buying something overpriced or underwhelming. Researching a product ahead of time can stop you from making the wrong purchase.
- Identify the features you want in your product. For example, if you want a new TV, do you want an LED or a 4K? Learn everything you can about the product to determine exactly what you’re looking for.
- Compare reviews of different products made by different manufacturers. The right product for you depends on your preferences and may not be the same choice as a friend would make. The more reviews a product has, the better the feedback.
- Ask family members and friends who have this product what they think. Learn what they like and dislike about it. By listening to their experiences, you’ll be able to decide if the product is right for you.
Work the Purchase Into Your Budget
If something is worth buying, it’s worth saving for rather than overspending in the moment. Examine your household budget and see what you can shift around to save for the product. For instance, you might skip your monthly dinner date and accompanying babysitter for three months and put that money into saving for your purchase instead. Small changes add up quickly.
Plan for the Purchase
You know your justification for buying, found the product you want, and you’ve saved up your money. You’re ready to make the purchase. Still, to avoid buyer’s remorse, you need to take a few more steps to ensure you get the best deal and the right product.
- Compare prices. Different stores offer different deals. You may find a lower price at one store, but better financing at another. The right choice depends on your individual needs.
- Put the item in your cart and think about it. At a brick-and-mortar store, you can shop for a while before heading to the checkout counter and making a purchase. At home, you can keep an item in your virtual cart before you buy it. Giving yourself time will help you decide if you actually need the product or just want it. If you’ve forgotten about the product after a few days, you can probably skip this purchase. If you still want to buy it, go ahead.
- Search for coupons. You can find discounts for almost anything online. Try searching coupon sites or wait for a holiday sale. Many stores offer special offers online and in-store on holidays to entice shoppers. You may save money by exercising patience.
By taking the time to justify your purchase, determine your budget, and research the many choices available, you should feel confident about what you want to buy once it’s in your cart. Avoiding buyer’s remorse is mostly about being prepared. When you take the time to educate yourself, you won’t regret what you buy.
To learn other financial preparedness strategies, visit our WalletWorks page.