Home Buyer’s Remorse and Forgotten Things

Buyer’s Remorse and Forgotten Things

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Open up your closet door, dig past the first things you see, and look at ten things you happen to find in the back (or everything, if you want). Out of those ten things, how many of them fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Look at the last ten purchases on your Amazon account (or all of them, if you want). How many of them fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Find an old grocery store or department store receipt. How many items on that receipt fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Look at your credit card statement. Take a look at the first ten items on the list (or every item, if you want). How many of those items fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Here’s the truth: no one is perfect at this test. I’m certainly not. Whenever I dig into my closet or look at my Amazon history, I usually find items I’ve forgotten or have buyer’s remorse about. Why on earth did I buy this?

I find that examining things like this can be painful, but it can be really insightful as to the actual quality of my buying decisions. Frankly, they’re not perfect. Frankly, I can do a lot better.

At the same time, it’s far better than it was before we started our financial turnaround and actually even significantly better than it was a few years ago in the midst of our turnaround.

There are a lot of reasons for that shift.

For starters, I do this type of self-examination regularly. I want to feel that buyer’s remorse. I want to see the items I’ve forgotten about or wish I’d never spent money on. I genuinely want to feel like I’ve screwed up my finances.

Why? For me, such feelings are a strong reminder that I’m nowhere near financially perfect, and those feelings are rocket fuel for me to continue to improve. That sense that I can still muck things up so badly isn’t disheartening, but rather it is motivation to further hone my purchasing habits.

This type of review of my purchases usually points me directly toward where I’m making mistakes. I can usually point directly to a few specific causes that cover a lot of the mistakes that I observe, and that gives me something specific to work on in order to improve my spending habits going forward.

For example, I might notice when I examine my credit card statement that I made four or five stops in the last month at a coffee shop. I like to keep such visits at one or possibly two per month. Why did that happen? Am I unsatisfied with my current home coffee making? What can I change to get this back down where I want to be?

I might notice that I made a few forgotten visits to a convenience store. When did they happen? Why? What did I buy? I might need to work on my routine of never getting in the car without a water bottle and always keeping a few snack bars in the glove box.

Maybe I noticed that I overstepped my hobby budget one month. Did I forget to keep track of that? Furthermore, am I really making sensible hobby-related purchases?

The sense of forgotten expenses and the sense of buyer’s remorse leads me directly into asking these kinds of questions, and asking these kinds of questions leads me directly into adjusting my own behavior. There’s clearly a reason why I’m choosing in the heat of the moment to make these choices. What is that reason and how can I fix it to continue to have a great enjoyable life in the short term while still building the future I want in the long term?

I might recognize, for example, that part of the reason I stop at the coffee shop is that I have fallen out of a routine of taking coffee with me when I do a morning work session at the library. I genuinely do love my own home-brew coffee, but on mornings when I’m headed to the library and I don’t happen to have coffee with me, I want some, and stopping for a decent cup of coffee means $5 down the tubes (while the as-good-or-better homemade coffee costs me about $0.60). The solution I’ve found is to simply start a new 32 ounce batch of cold brew coffee each morning by transferring yesterday’s batch to my larger pitcher or, if the pitcher is full, pouring myself a cup directly from the cold brew coffee maker, and only not making a batch if there is coffee actually in the maker because the pitcher is full. That’s the new routine I’m working to establish, so that I always have the kind of coffee I like ready to go (which is black cold brew coffee).

My convenience store stops were usually doe to being thirsty, and that’s due to a change in the seasons. I’m more active outside in the spring, summer, and fall than I am in the winter, and that means that I’m much more often away from home doing something active, like wandering around at Ledges or going geocaching or something like that. I’m usually thirsty when I’m done and if I finish my water bottle on the way home, I’m very prone to stopping for a beverage. What can I do to stop that? The easy trick is to just fill up my water bottle at a water fountain before I leave a park, which I need to try to adopt as a habit. That simple move would keep me away from most spring, summer, and fall convenience store stops.

What about things I find in the closet? I probably don’t need to buy things like that again for a while. If I’m finding forgotten and barely-worn clothes, I don’t need to buy clothes again for a long while. If I find hobby-related objects, I don’t need to be spending money on those hobbies for a long while. You get the idea.

What about things I find on my grocery store receipt? It’s a sure sign that I need to be shopping with a grocery list. Almost always, my grocery store receipts have a lot of unplanned purchases that are quickly forgotten if I don’t have a list, and the receipts have very few such purchases if I’m using a grocery list. I simply make a grocery list before I go to the store and this won’t happen.

What about things on my Amazon account? Unwanted purchases there are a sure sign that I need to visit Amazon less often and make purchases less convenient. I need to delete some bookmarks, but I also need to wipe my credit card info from my Amazon account so that purchases are much slower, thus giving me the opportunity to think more carefully about them before I actually click the “buy” button.

The issue, of course, is that poor choices like this are often forgotten or are tinged with mild regret, and it’s only through looking back through one’s spending history that they come to the surface so that you can really figure out what’s going on and build a better life, both now and going forward.

I encourage you to do a few of those buyer’s remorse checks mentioned at the start of this article. Here they are again, so you don’t have to scroll back up:

Open up your closet door, dig past the first things you see, and look at ten things you happen to find in the back (or everything, if you want). Out of those ten things, how many of them fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Look at the last ten purchases on your Amazon account (or all of them, if you want). How many of them fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Find an old grocery store or department store receipt. How many items on that receipt fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

Look at your credit card statement. Take a look at the first ten items on the list (or every item, if you want). How many of those items fill you with buyer’s remorse? How many of them had you completely forgotten?

What do you find when you do those tests? How can you change things so that the forgotten purchases vanish (as they deserve to)? How can you change things so that you’re no longer feeling buyer’s remorse? The better your answers to those questions, the closer you get to a perfect balance of meaningful spending and financial planning.

Good luck!

The post Buyer’s Remorse and Forgotten Things appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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