Compulsive Shopping. Buyer's Remorse. Shopper's Guilt.
Compulsive Shopping. Buyer’s remorse. Shopper’s guilt.
These are terms, and feelings, that many consumer are all too familiar with. Raise your hand if you’ve ever walked out of a store — or clicked the “commit to buy” button — not quite sure why you bought every item in your bag. Or if, days or weeks later, you regretted a purchase and kicked yourself for spending all that money on an item you didn’t really need or want in the first place.
The truth is that we live in a culture that tells us to buy, buy, buy. A culture in which competing with or impressing your “neighbor” is high on the priority list. And when I say neighbor, I’m not just talking about the person who lives down the hall or on your cul de sac. I’m referring to coworkers, friends, family members and basically everyone who passes you on the street.
Over shopping and the resulting guilt is a real issue. Here are three ways to shop smarter and prevent any post-spree remorse.
3 Ways to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
Don’t Get Swept Up in the Clearance Rack Frenzy
As shoppers, we often fall prey to clearance racks and big sales events. It’s why Black Friday is such a success year in and year out. “Clearance merchandise isn’t called ‘an irresistible bargain’ for nothing. Giant reductions and the way they’re presented in stores and online tap into some primal psychological impulses,” writes Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., on Psychology Today.
Dr. Yarrow says we subconsciously experience several things when we see a “big sale” sign go up. First, we fear we may miss out on something. Second, we have an innate desire to compete with others and missing out on a deal makes us feel like we’re “losing” in our minds.
Before you get wrapped up in the clearance rack, ask yourself these questions:
1. Would I buy this even if it weren’t on sale? (In other words, is this something you really need?)
2. When and where will I wear this item? (Basically, do you have a place to wear the item? And do you already own pieces that the item will go with, or will you have to buy more?
3. What is my true desire for wanting this item and is my reason valid?
Save Receipts, Tags and Know the Return Policy
It’s in your best interest to only shop at retailers who allow returns. Should you decide to return something, you’ll be able to get your money back and no financial harm has been done. Plus, the guilt associated with unworn/unused items hanging in your closet is immediately replaced with a sense of self control and glee.
My husband finds my shopping habits bizarre, as I tend to return a decent chunk of the items I buy. I simply let the item set for a few weeks in the original shopping bag and, if I find myself not loving it as much as I did at the store, I’ll return it. This has saved me lots of money in the long run. And if I don’t want to keep it in the bag and decide to wear it right away? That’s a good purchase and one I don’t regret.
Trust me. You may think that running back to the store to return an item is a hassle, but that extra errand is completely worth your time.
Tally Up How Much You’ve Spent Over the Years
Debbie Roes from the “Recovering Shopaholic” blog tallied up how much she’s spent on clothes and accessories over the last 10 years. Her figure? Close to 50k. Then she asked herself: “If I had that money in my hands right now, would I spend it on clothes and the like?”
Her answer?: “Absolutely not! I don’t even need a split second to consider my response. I feel that I have very little to show for my exorbitant expenditures of the past ten years. One might think I’d have an amazing wardrobe by this point and be one of the best dressed people around, but I don’t think so. My wardrobe isn’t awful by any means, but it’s not exactly extraordinary, either.”
To prevent the sort of buyer’s remorse that bubbles up months and years down the road, evaluate your purchases right now. Roes has some great advice, which includes setting and sticking to a clothing budget, only buying for your current body and lifestyle, wait several hours or even days before actually purchasing the item and return anything you haven’t worn in a month since buying. My most favorite piece of advice she offers, though?
“Wear your favorite clothes when shopping and don’t buy anything you don’t like at least as much as what you’re wearing.”
By Wendy Rose Gould
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