Shopping is part art, part science, and everyone makes mistakes now and again. Of course, most things can be returned for a credit or refund, but returns are a hassle and shipping is an expense—better to choose right in the first place. Buyer’s remorse is one form of guilt you might as well extricate from your life. Here are some tips for avoiding purchases that you’ll regret:
Plan ahead. Before you head out to a store (or click the “buy” button on an ecommerce site) think carefully about what you want or need, then do some browsing so you know what’s out there and what a good price is.
Don’t shop under pressure. If you’re in a rush or wait until the last minute (say, dress shopping the day before a party) you’re much more likely to make a purchase you’ll regret.
Have a cooling off period. If you aren’t 100 percent sure about a purchase, see if you can put it on hold for a day. At a shop, take a photo of it (and if it’s clothing, snap a “selfie” in the dressing room). Then look at the photo later on—do you yearn to make that item yours? Or does it look so-so now that you’ve stepped away? When shopping online, place the item in your shopping cart then close the browser window. You’ll probably see the item in retargeting ads that follow you around the internet over the next day—if it still looks good to you as an online ad, then go for it. Bonus: You may even get a discount code if you leave an item in your virtual cart for a day or two. Many shopping sites have programs to convert what they call “abandoned shopping carts” into purchases.
Make sure impulse buys can be returned. I would never tell you not to make the occasional impulse buy—sometimes those amazing, unexpected items that you snap up even though you weren’t planning to turn out to be something you love and use for years. But if you do buy something on impulse, be sure that it can be returned if you later decide that you got carried away in a fit of retail therapy.