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Decluttering | Living Simply | Mindfulness

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Something

Aug 24
Laura Coufal

About Me

I’m a West Coast girl turned small town, Midwest Mom. I love the outdoors, cooking, writing, and spending time with my family. I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

I am a high energy person, and love to see a messy room transform into an organized space. My need for order and simplicity stems from my ADHD disability as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am, and I am miraculously able to help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 


Are you prone to buying things that you never really end up using? Do you make purchases that ultimately turn into dust collecting, space-hogging clutter? Do you ever fall for sales gimmicks or so-called bargains and end up with something you don’t really need? Asking yourself these 10 questions before you buy, might just help you avoid buyer’s remorse:


Do I need this thing? Or just want it? 

It helps to distinguish the difference before you buy. Once you accept that the item in question is a want, consider whether or not it will either truly bring you joy, or make your life easier. Often, the idea and vision of having something new are more appealing than actually having the item. Also, ask yourself if this is financially a good time to make a non-necessity purchase?

 If I buy this thing, will I use it? If so, how often?

Do you already have something at home that will serve the same purpose? Are you are only stocking up in case you might need it someday? Unless you know exactly when and how you will use this item, don’t buy it. It is also helpful to consider the size and cost of an item. Too often, people buy large expensive kitchen appliances that they only end up using very rarely. Consider whether or not the storage space it requires and the cost of the item is worth the tradeoff.  

School Organizing

Have I had enough time to make a good decision before I buy this thing?

Avoid impulsive purchases. If you are tempted to buy an item that you are not sure about, give yourself time to think it through. Consider waiting a day or two to think about it. You also could wait to put it in your cart until you have finished shopping. If may find that the item is not worth going back for. But if you decide buy it, at least you have given yourself time to think about it first.

Am I being tricked into thinking I need to buy this thing? 

Keep your eyes open as you shop and be on the lookout for sales gimmicks. If you shop defensively, you will avoid getting sucked into consumer hooks. For example, “Buy one get one ½ off.” Don’t walk out the door with 1 shirt you had to pay full price for just to get a deal on a second one you didn’t really need. This is not a bargain, it’s a trick. It helps to keep in mind that the store’s main objective is to entice you to buy. Because their success depends on your money.

Do I have room to store this thing if I buy it?

Consider where you are going to store an item before you buy it. Do you have the storage space? How much space will it require? If you are short on space and will not immediately need the item, maybe you can wait to buy it until just before you need it.

Am I only buying this because it is a good deal?

It is common for sellers to use fear tactics to get us to buy things. Statements such as Sale Ends Soon, One Day Only, and Lowest Prices of the Season, give us an urgency to buy. We fear that we will regret not buying something when we had the chance. It’s a classic FOMO scenario. In reality, the chances are very good that if you wait and buy that thing when you really need it, you’ll find another great deal down the road. No matter how good the deal is, it is a waste of money if you don’t need the item.  

10 Shopping Questions

Can I rent this thing or borrow it from a family member or friend?  

Before you decide to buy something, decide whether or not you can get by with borrowing it. This is a good option especially if you will only need the item for one or two projects. If you can’t borrow it, can you rent it? Renting means you won’t have to find a place to store it when you’re done with it.

Do I really need this, or am I just buying it to make myself feel good temporarily?

Shopping can be a temporary fix for a bad day or the blues. It can even be entertainment on an otherwise boring evening. Unfortunately, it is just that, a temporary solution that dissolves as fast as you get home. If this sounds like you, catch yourself before you shop and find another source of satisfaction instead. Go to lunch with a friend, go for a walk, or find another enjoyable activity that won’t empty your wallet or add to the clutter you already have at home.

Does this thing bring me closer to reaching my goals, and is it in line with my values?

This one speaks for itself. What do you want your life to look like tomorrow? If the item in question will help move you closer to that goal, then buy it, otherwise, leave it on the shelf. This rule of thumb can be used for anything, whether we are talking about items related to our health and fitness, home décor our finances, career goals, or wanting to live a simpler, more clutter-free life.


Do I know for sure that I don’t already have this thing at home?

Have you ever gone grocery shopping and purchased something only to get home and find out that you already had three of them sitting in your pantry? When it comes to groceries and other household items, never guess at buying things. It is best to rely on a shopping list. We think we can remember what we have at home, but the truth is, most of us are lousy at this. Keep in mind that the more stocking up you do at home, the harder it is to stay on top of knowing what’s in your inventory and where it is located. 

Asking yourself these 10 questions before you put something in your cart will curb your spending and hopefully reduce the amount of clutter in your home. Here is a shocking statistic: The average woman makes 301 trips to the store annually, spending close to 400 hours a year shopping. This amounts to 8.5 years spent shopping during a typical lifespan. (NY Daily News) 

Get My 25 Question Shopping Checklist

I have created an extensive 25 question checklist to ask yourself before you buy something you are not sure about. Put this handy checklist in your pocket before you shop, and it will help you make purchases more intentionally from this day forward. Here’s a link to my printable 25 Question Shopping Checklist 


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