If you have ever bought something you just couldn’t live without and afterwards found yourself scratching your head and wondering, ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ you’ve experienced buyer’s remorse. And if you find yourself shopping and taking-back, shopping and taking-back, you’ve got a chronic case of buyer’s remorse.
What is it exactly, this thing called “buyer’s remorse?” In psychological circles it’s referred to as “cognitive dissonance” and it refers to an inconsistency among attitudes or an attitude and a behaviour. In the case of “buyer’s remorse”, you buy but then you continue to think about what you bought and end up regretting the purchase because you know you shouldn’t have, you didn’t have the money really, you were supposed to use that money for something else, your partner is going to flip a kidney, you’re sure now it wasn’t the best deal going… I could go on and on. At the centre of your dilemma is the fact that your thoughts and your actions don’t match.
There are a lot of things sellers do to “motivate” you to make a quick buying decision you then come to regret. From the right music to the right smells, from the “get it now or it’ll be gone” to the “today only” close, you may be pushed to do something that later creates conflict for you.
Here’s a hint that may help. The next time you’re thinking of buying something that’s not on your list because you LOOOOVE it, pull out your cell phone and take a picture of it. Walk away. Then show the picture to someone who loves you enough to tell you the truth, and if there’s a consensus that the purchase is worth the price, go back and get it (assuming you’re not putting it on credit!).
Can’t pull yourself out of the store because you just can’t imagine leaving the “deal” behind? Email the picture to your trusted pal and then have a quick conversation about it. This pal has to be the most sensible person you know, not your shopping BFF!
Taking pictures with your cell phone is also a great way to make comparison-shopping easier. Buyer’s remorse often climbs on our backs when we find out we’ve paid too much for something. Make sure you know how much the item you’re buying is really worth and whether you’re getting the best possible deal.
Here are two more questions to ask to save the regret:
1. “Do I need it, or do I just want it?” If it’s a need, put it on your list in a position of priority. If it is simply a want, it goes at the bottom of your list. Take care of your “needs” before you start scratching your “want” itches.
2. “What else could I do with the money I’m spending on this item?” Are you working towards a goal that would be served well by this money? Is there another priority that should take precedence? Put your money where it will do you the most good.