Smart Consumerism | Make Better Shopping Decisions #2

Smart Consumerism | How to Make Better Shopping Decisions

In my first post, I shared three basic tips for developing smarter shopping habits today: Creating a monthly budget, planning ahead, and evaluating online reviews and advertising. To read the entire post, click here. Please keep reading for three new methods to become a more informed shopper.


Rule 1: Wait It Out

Impulse shopping is the enemy. I have made so many stupid purchases on things I don’t need just because I wanted something at the moment. I find it helpful to make a list of the non-essential items that I feel tempted to purchase, particularly makeup. More often than not, when I am dedicated at noting the items I feel tempted to buy I end up deciding not to purchase these items. In the off chance I do still want an item, then I know that it will be used and loved.

Also, if you feel pressured by sales or limited edition products, ask yourself the following questions:

Approaching Sales:

  • Would I want this if it weren’t on sale?
  • Do I need this item or do I have other suitable alternatives?
  • Will a similar sale arise in the future?

Too often we trick ourselves into thinking we need something due to an exciting sale or promotion. In those cases, we downplay issues that we may have with a product just because we are so excited to find a good deal. In the past, I’ve made purchases that I knew were not right for me just because I found something that was “a steal.”

If you find yourself purchasing a high volume of limited edition items (particularly in regards to beauty), then consider the following:

Limited Edition:

  • Will I still love and use this item a year from now?
  • Will I be able to potentially purchase this at a discounted rate at an off-price retailer sometime in the near future?
  • Are there any dupes for this product?
  • Am I buying this item for the sole purpose of reviewing it?

Limited edition offerings can lead to impulse decisions. Brands know this. Try to avoid the trap of a limited edition product, especially if you already own items that can give you a similar look or aesthetic.

Rule 2: Avoid Temptation

If you are a beauty junkie, avoid content that may be tempting to you. For example, if you find yourself buying eyeshadow palettes compulsively, take a break from watching content or engaging in a community that triggers you to make bad economic decisions or to buy more items that you don’t need.

When I embarked on my first no-buy, I had to cut myself off from the online beauty community because watching tutorials and reviews triggered my impulse shopping habits. Additionally, I avoided my favorite retailers – both online and in real life.

Rule 3: Think Quality Over Quantity

Buying more for the sake of more always makes my stomach churn, especially when fast fashion and fast beauty habits are negatively impacting the environment. Any brand, high end or affordable, can produce cheaply-made products, but many fast fashion brands create products that are not meant to last. Therefore, while you may be paying less per item, you end up needing to spend more, in the long run, to replace damaged or worn down products. Can “expensive” or mid-tier brands sell fast fashion that seemingly lasts longer? Sure – think Zara or Urban Outfitters. However, many of the fashion items they carry are seasonal in nature, meaning that the items are so “on-trend” that it is unlikely a consumer will get more than a few years of wear out of their apparel purchases unless he or she is intentionally buying a basic staple.

One way to avoid the trap of thinking quantity over quantity is to stop considering the price of a product and start thinking about the cost per use of an item. For example, I purchased a pair of Dr. Martens boots roughly five years ago. These boots typically sell for $130.00+ USD. In comparison, I purchased a pair of Nine West boots two years ago for $65.00 USD. After two years of use, the Nine West shoes wore down quickly, so I tossed them. In contrast, My Dr. Martens boots are still in great condition, despite constant use and abuse. Now let’s say I wore both pairs of shoes 60 times each year I’ve owned them. (P.S. I wear my Dr. Marten’s all year round, whereas, I only wore the Nine West Boots during the colder months. I probably wear my Dr. Martens 90-100 days a year.)

Dr. Martens:

  • 60 uses/year X 5 years = 300 uses
  • $130.00/300 uses = $0.43/use

Nine West Boots:

  • 60 uses/year X 2 years = 120 uses
  • $65/120 = $0.54/use

If I were to compare the cost per use of both pairs of shoes, my Dr. Marten boots were actually cheaper for me because they’ve lasted me a far longer period of time. Moreover, the cost per use for my Dr. Martens will continue to decrease with time. If I were to replace my Nine West shoes with another comparable pair of boots, I would have to spend additional money; thus, costing me more in the long run.

Smart consumerism is not anti-consumerism. Learning how to shop is essential to financial wellbeing.

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What are your best tips for financial wellbeing? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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