Molly’s Money | How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

February 12, 2015·

If this is your first time here, Molly’s Money is a regular series I write on this blog that includes ALL things personal finance – debt management, budgeting, home buying, savings, investment, etc. I am NOT a financial advisor, but I am married to one! These are just things that I have learned over the years as I struggled with my own personal finances and ultimately, became debt free in 2012. Got a question about money that you want answered? Leave it in the comments below or email me!

Buyer’s remorse is something we have ALL felt at one time or another. It’s kind of awful… and you know exactly what I mean when I say buyer’s remorse… it’s that feeling when you have spent money and you almost (or very soon after) immediately regret your purchase.

While it does happen to the best of us (or worst of us? haha!), it is something that can absolutely be avoided. Here are a few things to keep in place to avoid buyer’s remorse altogether…

Now, let’s get this out of the way… there are things that are obvious needs – food, paper towels, toilet paper, diapers, gas, etc. Spend money on those things… Budget for those things. Plan for those things… Know that those things are a need and you can spend money on those things.

For anything that’s a want (we’ll talk about how to distinguish wants and needs later)… Use this “method” to work through your purchases to make sure that you are making the best decisions when it comes to spending…

  • If it’s a purchase of more than $24, you’ll wait for at least 24 hours. It’s the $24/24 rule. If after 24 hours, you still want it and it’s still on your mind and still worth it, then go back and get it… but if you’ve thought about it for a day and decided that it’s just not worth going back to the store or you don’t actually want it that much… then don’t.
  • If it’s a purchase of more than $100, you’ll wait for at least 100 hours (aka: four days). Follow the same pattern as above… if after 100 hours (or four days), you still want it and can justify it… then okay.
  • If it’s a purchase more than $500, you wait at least a week.
  • If it’s a purchase of more than $1,000, you’ll wait for at least a month. 

Do you see the pattern here? Put these kinds of preventative measures or guardrails in place… you will be surprised how many things you no longer “want” after just waiting for a certain length of time… The allure of that particular item / thing / purchase starts to disappear.

Now, I hear some of you saying, “But it’s on sale… JUST for today! …and I’ve been NEEDING it…”

Kiria, Kenya - Molly StillmanLet’s talk about needs and wants. Anastacia is a 10-year-old girl that I sponsor in the village of Kiria, Kenya. I’ve visited her twice and I communicate with her regularly through letters… she and her family of 10 live on the equivalent of $35 a month. A MONTH.

I want you think about this… if you were to sit and say to Anastacia (in person)… “But, this shirt from Madewell is on sale just for today and I need it!” could you say it with a straight face? Do you really NEED that shirt? Do you really NEED that TV? Do you really NEED that iPad? Do you really NEED that __________?

If it’s not a vital, life-giving necessity, it’s not a need… it’s a want. You can wait.

These are some things that my husband and I have put into place to control our own spending and make sure that the purchases we are making are wise, smart purchases. Do I get it right all the time? Of course not… but it’s something we both work towards daily and we have “checks” in place to hold each other accountable.

Now, what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have anything similar in place for your own spending? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!