Try This Simple 3-Step Trick Next Time You’re Shopping to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

published Jun 4, 2022
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You know the feeling: You’ve been out shopping or clicking around online, adding things to your cart, and when they finally arrive or you’ve lived with them for awhile, you’re confused as to what exactly you were thinking when you bought said item. Of course you can usually return such impulse purchases, but if you’ve noticed a pattern in your shopping habits and find yourself dealing with buyer’s regret more often than you’re comfortable with, you may want to consider implementing a quick pre-buy practice before you take that pair of shoes or kitchen gadget to the register and swipe your card.

Wealth advisor Matthew Grishman discovered what he calls the TEN-TEN-TEN tool when he was struggling with his own spending habits. “Personal experience as a recovering spendaholic has taught me that so much of my wasteful spending comes from a gigantic hole in my soul that I impulsively would attempt to fill by purchasing meaningless stuff, especially if I was feeling sadness, anger, worry, or fear,” he shared. “The temporary satisfaction from that new purchase allowed me to escape those nasty feelings. But more often than not, I would wind up regretting my purchase and be left feeling worse.”

To combat those feelings and deal with his spending, Grishman implemented the TEN-TEN-TEN rule. It’s a super simple way to be more mindful about what you buy and why you’re buying.

Step 1: Hit the pause button.

You’ve found something you like and are considering buying. Before you click “check out” take a few minutes to really think over the purchase. “Take 10 minutes to put it down and walk away,” Grishman shares. “That first 10 minutes is the space I need to allow whatever emotion is driving my impulse purchase to come into me and then begin to leave.” Use that 10-minute time block to be mindful of the emotions you’re feeling and to put distance between yourself and the impulse. 

Step 2: Ask yourself, “Will I still like it in 10 weeks?”

Try your best to flash forward about two months in the future. Is this an item you see yourself using then, or are you just buying something to buy something? For example, if it’s a dress or shirt you’ll wear for a birthday celebration and then never again, consider borrowing something from a friend, renting from a program like Rent the Runway, or shopping your own closet.

Grishman suggests thinking about the 10-week time jump after you’ve taken 10 minutes to think about the purchase itself. Your mind is clearer and you have more knowledge of your impulses. “If this new item will be sitting on a shelf in my apartment collecting dust in 10 weeks, then do I really need it? Probably not,” he explains.

Step 3: Think ahead 10 years. Will it be worth it then?

This is a really useful step if you’re considering splurging on a big ticket item like a sofa, dining table, piece of jewelry, or a fancy new winter coat. Will you be using this item then, or remembering it fondly? Or will it be lost to time, dropped off at the thrift store and never thought of again?

If you’ve completed the prior two steps and still think the item in question is worth it, thinking far forward in time can help you either seal the deal or skip it. “If this purchase could add value to my life 10 years from now, maybe it’s worth reflecting on some more and actually planning for a time when it works within my budget,” says Grishman.