Some people walk into a store and leave with 10x as many things as they expected to buy. Is this how you make a purchasing decision? With no thought whatsoever? Then this post is not for you. Though I recommend you search the site for posts related to frugality.
How to Keep From Agonizing Over a Purchasing Decision
Rather, this post is for those of us who take a lot of time before buying something. And I mean a lot of time. So much time that our research must start over because a new model of toaster has hit the market and we need to add the Toast Master 5000 to our spreadsheet.
Some may say that too much research can never be a bad thing. But I believe that too much research can be a very bad thing. Here’s why.
Researching too much flat out takes too much time. And you may also suffer from analysis paralysis and never make any sort of decision. If the item is not perfect – you will feel like an idiot since you spent hours and hours researching and are still unsatisfied.
But Life and My Finances does not typically condone complaining. So enough talking about the downsides of over planning. Let’s now discuss exactly what you can do with your purchasing decision so you only research and price compare the optimum amount.
Seek Out the Most Trusted Sources First
This is important. When you have a purchasing decision to make – you should only read reviews of the product via your most trusted sources. What can happen is you read website after website and then remember that Consumer Reports is your favorite. Consumer Reports trumps anything anyone else says. So why didn’t you go straight to them in the first place?
The Amazon star-rating system is fantastic for a difficult purchasing decision – mostly because you can sort by the star ratings. Very handy. But reading every single comment is completely unnecessary. It generally doesn’t matter what one person says. What matters is what a group of people have said. Don’t get sucked into reading about Johnny who bought the electric toothbrush and thinks it’s too noisy because he wakes up his pet snakes every time he brushes his teeth in the morning.
Plus, some Amazon customer reviews have been placed by people who have received the products for free in exchange for placing a review. People who receive the products write favorable reviews because it’s basically implied to do so. If you write a negative review, you won’t be receiving anything else to review. Sketch. The star ratings can be affected by this as well but since there are usually so many stars given, it can be argued that the star’s are still pretty honest.
Set a Time Limit
When do you want the product to be in your hands? Set the limit so you know that by that exact date you’ll have your new product. This keeps you from dragging your feet for months and being miserable with your current bicycle, laptop, car, whatever it is you’re buying. This will also keep you serious about your purchasing decision. You won’t put it off day after day. Instead, you’ll likely do much of your research within a few days and then be ready to buy on Saturday.
This is my favorite thing to consider. Realize how much your time is worth. Think about it like this…
Why do you spend so much time researching a product? Probably because you want to get a good price on a product that will last a long time. You do this ultimately to keep your net worth in good order. But how much is this research really costing you?
Let’s say you earn $50/hour at your freelance/business/salaried position – anything. It’s just important to be able to know what your time is worth. So let’s say you research for two hours about the best laptop to buy. You’ve now invested $100 worth of your time into researching and comparing laptops. You end up buying a $600 laptop for $500 on eBay. That’s great but realize you’ve merely broken even. Without the research and price comparison, you probably would have expelled the same energy to get the same product. What this means is that impulse shopping isn’t always the devil – especially when buying low-price items.
Let It Go If You Find Out You Don’t Want It Anymore
Sometimes after researching something for hours, you’ve had your fill. You realize you were more interested in reading about the product than actually owning and caring for it. And that’s perfectly okay. Feeling obligated to keep going after something you don’t want anymore or don’t see as wise is called the sunk cost fallacy. Cutting your losses on a product and its research is just fine.
Enjoy dialing in the proper amount of research. Are you making a purchasing decision soon?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.