How to avoid buyer’s remorse

Clever advertising, tempting bargains and one-click checkouts make it easier than ever to acquire things you don’t need, love or use. Buyer’s remorse is an unfortunate symptom of our times.

Buyer's remorse

What you say no to is as important as what you say yes to

One of life’s big lessons that everyone needs to learn is that buying is much, much easier than selling. And as soon as you buy something, it’s usually instantly worth less than what you just paid for it.

This obviously doesn’t apply to wholesale buying and selling, where you pay trade prices, mark up a profit and sell on to customers. And it may not apply to capital investments that are expected to go up in value over time. But when it comes to everyday personal purchases, such as new clothes, furniture, household goods and gadgets, a mere second after you buy it, it’s value will decrease, sometimes by 50 percent or more.

This doesn’t matter at all if you only buy things you love, use and keep. But to achieve this, what most people don’t realize is how many things you have to say no to before you say yes.

Learning to say no

To give an example, we recently bought a car that’s in great condition and perfect for our current needs. But to find this, we had to say no to a few maybes that were close to what we wanted but not quite it. It would have been oh-so-easy to say, ‘It’s close enough, let’s buy it’ to any of the other cars we looked at, but we stayed resolute each time and walked away.

The more you pay for an item, the more intensely you are likely to experience buyer’s remorse if it turns out to be not what you really wanted. It’s a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, usually accompanied by beating yourself up for having made a wrong choice. What’s done is done, but the remorse can linger for a long time.

How to limit buyer’s remorse

It’s not possible to completely avoid buyer’s remorse. The best you can hope for it to limit it. We all make poor decisions from time to time, even if it’s only choosing a meal in a restaurant that’s not to our personal liking. Life happens. Accept it and carry on.

But if you habitually experience buyer’s remorse, it’s time to learn to make smarter decisions. Here are some tips to help you do that:

Do your research before buying
This is so easy to do on the internet. It just takes a little time and patience and will often help you to resist impulse buys.

Make sure you need it, love it and will use it
Run through this checklist in your mind each time you buy something. Do you genuinely need it, love it and are sure you will use it? If you get a no to any of these questions, you are about to buy clutter. Smile and walk away.

Live within your means
Living beyond your means is stressful. Get the best you can get for what you can afford. Take a tip from Warren Buffet, who says, ‘Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.’

Weigh up the pros and cons
For big decisions, such as buying a new car or home, write a list all the pros and cons and weigh them up objectively. If your list of cons is longer than your list of pros, that’s usually all you need to know. If you’re still in doubt, sleep on it. Or follow the wise Yorkshire saying I grew up with as a child, which is, ‘When in doubt, do nowt’ (nowt is Yorkshire for ‘nothing’).

Don’t shop when you’re bored or hungry
The likelihood of experiencing buyer’s remorse increases dramatically when you’re either of these. Your decisions will always be impaired.

Don’t shop to fill an emotional hole or a spiritual void
Material possessions can never fill an emotional hole or a spiritual void. If you shop to try to make yourself feel better, you will still have the emotional or spiritual issues to deal with and a pile of clutter too.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2020

Related article
How to avoid impulse buys when shopping

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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2 Responses to How to avoid buyer’s remorse

  1. I am very glad to have had the experience of many occasions to have buyers remorse as they have informed me of where I can be stubborn and buy even when my instinct is saying no, No, NO! I listened to others even when they weren’t there. I was buying for them.

    eg: I got a cut crystal fruit bowl for my 21st, 43 years ago, and many cut crystal items later I found out I didn’t even like cut crystal…my mum and some siblings did. Same with flowers, I thought I didn’t like them, I don’t like multi-coloured bunches or modern arrangements. I realised this when I fell in love with a randomly bought bunch of white bunch of flowers from groceries that I plonked in a plain glass vase when I got home.

    I gave away all my cut crystal and the sister that gave me the cut crystal bowl was pretty upset. Sorry not sorry? My daughter who claimed the bowl said it will be her one ‘Mum’ item, her reminder of me when I fall off my perch. Nice.

  2. Great article, especially with the lockdown people may be spending more time shopping online. I think we also need to try to fix things first, by getting out that trusty glue gun, or sewing machine. There are many ways to mend non-electric items with some fabric glue, or using these materials in a new creative way. Our grandparents, maybe for some would be their great grandparents, painted, restuffed, glued, sewed, re-covered, the item instead of replacing it entirely. We need to be more conscious of our landfills, and how that affects our health, that isn’t a long-term, environmentally sound solution.

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