When I was awarded the JBNSTS Junior Scholar scholarship 2 years ago, I finally had an urgent reason to convince mom to open me a bank account. So, one fine day, off we went to the bank.
Meanwhile, since I was then a minor, mom had insisted we create a joint account. But a bank employee managed to convince her that I should be allowed to take care of my own money solely on my own, no strings attached. If I messed up, I would face the consequences.
As the scholarship money started rolling in, I had to make my own decisions on how to best spend a minority and save the majority.
Creating my own individual bank account was by far one of the best decisions of my teenage life. It introduced me to the first brand of responsibility about one of the most influential resources in a person’s life – money.
So here you go.
This is what 2 years of handling my own money has taught me on how to avoid bad purchases.
What is a Bad Purchase?
To me, there’s a brutishly simple definition of a bad purchase:
Things that I like and love today, but regret having bought tomorrow.
You’ll be shocked how common such purchases are. I’ve had my own fair share of them – perhaps you have too.
It is only too easy to give in to our impulses and buy that shiny shoe off the block, or that rad bracelet you see in your local store, and so on – never for once stopping to think twice. And then, few days later, you realize you’ve spent ₹ 800 to buy something you don’t like!
Unfortunately, such a scenario is all too common.
The Moral of the Story
Remember this catch-phrase:
Every bad purchase is emotional.
You made that bad purchase because you succumbed to your capricious impulses at that point of time.
Now, emotions aren’t bad. They exist for very good reasons, and they can be particularly helpful at times. But at times – such as when you make a bad purchase, they get in the way and mess things up.
So think. Think before you leap. Do you really want what you are about to buy?
You should buy something only if you will like it not just today and tomorrow, but for at least some time to come. Definitely not just a few days.
So, how do you ensure that? Almost all the time, our emotions get in the way of us answering this question honestly. You can’t just turn them off.
Here are 3 simple tips to get those pesky emotions out of the way.
The Three Simple Tips
1. Never, ever shop after sunset.
There is a growing body of research to indicate that our willpower is at its worst at the end of a long, hard day. So shopping after sunset – when the day is all over – is like laying a honeytrap for impulses and emotions to influence your decisions. That’s hardly the best way to prevent bad purchases – you need all your wits about you.
So, when the sun sets, no more shopping. Resist those impulses and emotions, because the day has drained your willpower.
2. Literally sleep over it.
Impulses and emotions are capricious. That is their very nature. Hardly any one of us remains in the same frame of mind the next morning.
So, before you make that purchase, sleep over it. If you still want it the next morning, by all means, buy it.
This will reasonably ensure that the emotions and impulses that were influencing you when you wanted to buy that thing have subsided by the time you review your decision.
Shopping in the morning also ensures that you have the fresh willpower to resist impulses and avoid capricious decisions.
You’ll be amazed how many bad purchases this will prevent!
3. Observe, Learn and Correct: Keep track of your expenses
There are hundreds of free and paid apps to make this process a breeze.
Keep track of your expenses and exactly what you’ve spent your money on. At the end of every month, review your purchases.
Listen to your conscience. You’re smart – you’ll know a bad purchase when you look at it.
Make a note of the bad purchases. Forgive yourself for it, make a note, and resolve to not repeat that the next month (and beyond).
I’d be lying if I told you these methods work all the time, in every situation. They don’t. So before you implement these, know their limitations.
A. When they work
Tips 1 and 2 work when you have nothing to lose if you can afford to delay the purchase for some time. In most cases, you can afford that.
Tip 3 literally works all the time.
B. When they don’t work
There are some purchases you just can’t delay. They usually have some connection with an emergency – such as buying urgent medicines, paying for a life-saving surgery, etc.
By all means, do not try to apply Tips 1 and 2 in such instances.
These tips may seem too good to be true. They’re just so simple! Well, guess what? I like to keep things really simple.
They sure have helped me avoid so many bad purchases. All you have to do is not shop after sunset, (literally) sleep over purchases, and keep track of your expenses.
Saving money ain’t that hard, you know. So try these out!
How do these tips work for you? Any other brutishly simple money-saving tips you would want me to know?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally published on LinkedIn.