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Have you ever purchased something only to regret the purchase later on? Many times we think we want or need a product or service only to find out later on that we really didn’t. One of the most effective ways to keep yourself from these impulse purchases is to come up with a list of a few questions to ask yourself before you buy anything. What questions are on your list will depend greatly on what questions are most important to you and will get you to stop and think before making a purchase. As an example, here are the five questions that I always ask myself before I buy something:

1. Is this on my list? While this question in itself will not preclude me from purchasing a product, it’s a good warning sign as to whether I need or don’t need the product. If it’s not on my list of things that I went to the store to purchase, it’s likely that it is something that I don’t really need at that point and time.

2. Is this something that I really need? While it would seem obvious that everything that you buy is something that you need, it’s amazing the number of times that you buy things that you don’t need. This question makes me stop a second and evaluate whether I really need the item or not. This question alone probably keeps me from buying half the items that I picked up and consider purchasing.

3. Can I borrow it? If the item is something that I need, but will not be using often, then is it better for me to buy it or to try and borrow it? If it is something that I will only use on rare occasion and I am able to borrow it from a friend or neighbor, it makes more financial sense to borrow it then purchase it in many cases. This question helps me make sure that I don’t spend money on something when there may be an alternative way to get it.

4. Is it a quality product? No matter how great the deal may seem, if the product is not quality, it will end up not being worth the price in most instances. If you buy something that is made cheaply that doesn’t last more than a few uses, you will end up spending much more money on replacing the item then getting a quality item in the first place. This question ensures that when I purchase an item, it’s not only at a good price, but also one that will last a long time.

5. Can I find this cheaper? Once I have decided that it is something that I need, the next question is whether I should be purchasing it right this second. If I haven’t done the research on the item, there is a good chance that I can get it for a cheaper price someplace else. This question helps me make sure that I have done the proper research before spending my money and don’t get home with something to find it on the Internet for half the price.

These happen to be the questions that I ask myself because I know if I can get through them and still believe I need the item, it will likely be a good purchase. Here are more questions that other people ask themselves before they buy a product:
  • Will I really use it?
  • Do I already own something that I can use in place of this?
  • Can I get one used?
  • Can I make one myself?
  • Will it serve more than one purpose?
  • Will this be cost effective to maintain?
  • Will using this require a lot of energy?
  • Can I wait a week before buying this?
  • Will buying this make me happy? How long will it make me happy?
  • Would it be better to rent?
  • Can I trade for it?
  • Will I get my money’s worth out of it?
  • Will I continue to use it after the novelty wears off?
  • Could I get the same product somewhere else for free?
  • Will I actually use this product?
  • How many hours will I have to work for this?
  • Can this help me financially?
  • Do I have the room to store this?
Obviously, you can’t go through all these questions with every purchase you make, but if you choose a few that you know will make you think through the important aspects before buying, you will be in a much better position to keep yourself from making purchases you regret later. If you need to, write them down on a piece of paper and wrap them around your credit card until you get into the habit of asking the questions each time you are ready to purchase something.

If you can get into the habit of asking yourself these questions before every purchase, you will find that the amount that you purchase will decrease quite dramatically. It will mean that the things that you do buy are the things that you really need and want. Those are exactly the things that you want to be spending your hard earned money on.

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