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Stop Wasting Your Money! 12 Questions to Ask Before Buying Something

Updated on February 19, 2018
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Sally Hayes is always on the lookout for creative ways to save money.

How can you stop making impulsive purchases that you end up regretting later on? Is it possible to curb your habit of buying too much stuff? Yes! Start by asking yourself a few simple questions whenever you're tempted to make an unplanned purchase. When you put your real goals and priorities at the top of your shopping list and cut out impulsive purchases, it will be much easier to shed your bad spending habits and start saving money.

1. How long will it be after I buy this thing before I actually start using it? If you can't see yourself using the item that you want to buy within 48 to 72 hours of buying it, there's a good chance that it will end up hanging in your closet, or sitting on a shelf, or stuck in storage.

2. What three things am I willing to get rid of or giveaway in order to make room for this new thing I want to buy? One of the best ways to cut back on impulsive shopping trips is to take stock of the things that you already have.

3. What problems will buying this thing help me solve? One of the best ways to stop yourself from making purchases that don't serve your life in any way is to figure out what it is that you think you need this item for. What problem is this thing going to solve for you? How will it make your life easier or more enjoyable? How will this thing contribute to your well-being? If you can't quickly identify a problem that this item you want to buy will help you fix, then the items should be moved from your 'need' list to your 'want' list.

Stores are laid out in such a way to make it easy to shop impulsively. But you can fight back against overspending if you ask yourself some important questions before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
Stores are laid out in such a way to make it easy to shop impulsively. But you can fight back against overspending if you ask yourself some important questions before you hand over your hard-earned cash.

4. Can I put off buying this thing for seven days? How about 30 days? If you are able to delay buying something for anywhere from a week to a whole month, you may find that by the time you reach the end of your self-imposed waiting period, you've found a way to make do without that item you thought you needed.

5. Can I find a coupon or discount for this thing I want to buy? One of the best ways to stop yourself from making impulsive purchases is to commit yourself to doing a bit of research first. Something as simple as looking for a coupon online can slow you down long enough to reconsider your purchase.

6. Can I find a way to use or re-purpose something I already have instead of buying this thing? Answering this question before you make an impulsive purchase is not only good for your bank account, it's good for the environment too.

Do you often hide your purchases from your significant other?
Do you often hide your purchases from your significant other?

7. Am I comfortable showing this purchase to my partner or significant other without feeling guilty? If you find yourself wanting to hide your impulsive purchases from your partner, you need to figure out why. You might have a number of reasons for wanting to hide the things that you buy from your partner, but unless your latest shopping spree is all about buying gifts for his upcoming surprise birthday party, your conscience is probably telling you something about your spending habits. If you want to stop making impulsive purchases, be honest and accountable for all the things you are purchasing.

8. Am I paying for this thing on my credit card because I’ll get a cash back reward or loyalty points? Unless you are paying off your credit card balance in full every month, the amount of interest you end up paying on your purchases is likely far higher than the value of any points or cash-back rewards you'll be getting. Avoid using loyalty points and rewards as a justification for buying something that you don't really need.

9. Is this a gift for someone? Am I buying this gift because I genuinely want to or am I feeling pressured to buy this thing due to a social situation (i.e.; co-worker’s baby shower)? Sometimes the best gifts between friends are not things at all but rather, shared experiences. For example, a friend who is expecting her first child might appreciate having meals prepared in advance for her. Frozen casseroles, pastas, soups and stews that can be quickly heated up for the busy mum would probably be more useful than a designer onesie.

Homecooked frozen meals for a new mom are a practical and affordable gift.
Homecooked frozen meals for a new mom are a practical and affordable gift.

10. How will buying this thing impact others? Have others been exploited in the manufacturing of this item? Is it cruelty-free? Does it fit my core values? Does buying this item create a market for something that does more harm than good? Checking in with your personal values and ethics will not only prevent you from making unnecessary purchases, it will help you be more mindful of how reckless consumerism can have a negative effect on people, animals and the environment.

11. If this thing later went on sale for 20% less than what I am about to pay for it now, would I be disappointed? If the thought of missing out on the chance to pay less for that thing you want to buy fills you with regret, then that's a sign that you already know the item you want is probably overpriced.

12. When it is time to get rid of this item because I no longer need it, where will it end up? Will it be tossed out, recycled, repaired or donated? Thinking about the full life cycle of this object you want t buy can keep you from buying things that are cheap, disposable, and bad for the environment.

 Will your purchase be treasured? Or will it just end up in the trash?
Will your purchase be treasured? Or will it just end up in the trash?

Do you think credit cards and online shopping apps make it difficult o get your spending under control?

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  • Haleykieser profile image

    Haley Kieser 

    7 months ago from Arizona

    Really liked this article. I think another question to consider is will it benefit my financial situation later down the road? Especially if it is a large purchase. Will it be considered an asset or a liability? Will I be continuing payment or do I have the cash to pay for it now? When it comes time to get rid of it, will it depreciate so fast I will not receive what I paid for when it comes time to sell it? Just some thoughts...

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