My Crazy ‘Should I Buy This?’ Decision Process

posted by Andrea | 03/13/2018
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As many of you know, I try to be mindful about what I bring into my home — both because I’m frugal and don’t like spending money, and because I detest clutter of any kind!

Thankfully, I’m not a big shopper, so it’s relatively easy for me to resist impulse purchases!

However, when I DO purchase something, I mentally think through several questions before bringing the item home (this is all in a matter of a few seconds as I’m shopping).

  1. Do I REALLY need this item? And if so, do I need it right now?
  2. Is it a super great deal that I’ll never find again?
  3. Is this really the best use of my money at this point in my life?
  4. Could I find this item used on Craigslist or in a thrift store?
  5. How many uses will I get out of this item?
  6. Can I return the item if I decide I don’t love it once I get home?
  7. Do I have a spot to store the item?

One question that pulls quite a bit of weight for me is the last question about WHERE I will store the item when I bring it home. 

If I don’t have a good “home” for the item, I will almost always pass up even best deal because I really REALLY dislike stuff sitting out without anywhere to store it.

So I ask myself…

Do I have extra hangers and room in my closet or dresser for this clothing item?

Do we have room in the play room or the garage for an extra toy or kid’s item?

Do we have room in the game closet for another game

Do we have room in the van for another travel pillow or blanket?

Do we have room in the craft cabinet for yet another coloring book?

TRUE STORY: I found an amazing deal on baskets I wanted to use for our bathroom renovation 7 years ago… and we literally built the shelves around the dimensions for my baskets! Now, if something can’t fit in my bathroom baskets, it doesn’t belong in our bathroom!

Would you believe that I even run through these mental questions when I’m grocery shopping!

Do I have room in the deep freezer for more frozen food?

Do I have room in our fridge to allow me to stock up on produce?

Will this bigger size item fit on my pantry shelves or in my kitchen drawers?

If the answer is no, I don’t buy it.

For example: I knowingly spend a little more to buy the normal size packages of aluminum foil, wax paper, and storage bags because the larger sized boxes don’t fit in my drawer.

I also won’t buy family-size boxes of cereal because they don’t fit on the shelf where I store cereal.

And when it comes to food storage containers, I won’t use anything I can’t fit easily in this drawer!

I just purchased a new griddle (more on this in an upcoming post) to replace my well-used 12 year old griddle — and my main criteria for buying a new griddle was that it had to be a specific dimension so it would fit in the cabinet I wanted it to fit in.

I know that might sound crazy, but this thought process saves me TONS of clutter because everything I bring into my home has a place to live (which means it can be put away, out of sight).

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Questioning my purchases is now second-nature for me… I do it without thinking about it.

Obviously, if you’re not used to questioning your purchases, it will take a little time to develop this habit… however, it could be an invaluable tool to help you keep excess clutter at bay in and around your home.

These questions will probably help your budget a bit too 🙂

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The next time you’re shopping for clothing, a new toy, a waffle iron, food storage containers, or jumbo Costco size bags of food, take a minute (literally just 1 minute) to consider if you actually have a place to store the items once you bring them home.

If not, do yourself (and your home) a favor and just keep walking!

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Filed under: OrganizingHomeStorageFrugal LivingHome Management

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10 comments

  1. Bonnie'sMama

    03/14/2018

    Dividing the price of the item by the number of potential uses keeps me from getting plenty of things.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, this is a great tip!

    [Reply]

  2. wilma

    03/13/2018

    I love that comment about the cereal–I was putting large boxes of cereal sideways to make them fit in their designated spot, and then they would inevitably spill everywhere. It drove me nuts. I finally fixed the problem by taking the cereal out of the boxes and sticking the bags (clipped shut) in a plastic bin. Now I can take all the cereal out at once, and it takes up less space. And any cereal bits end up at the bottom of the bin.

    I love finding a great solution that works!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, sometimes it’s just the little things that totally bug me! We don’t really eat cereal (I just use it for baking) but I do sometimes take everything out of the boxes too!

    [Reply]

  3. Deb

    03/13/2018

    I love this! I am THE WORST at judging how big things are or how they will fit. I always pour something into a Rubbermaid or Tupperware only to have about a cup or two too much. Same with other things, I go to rearrange and it doesn’t fit.

    I recently bought my own small tape measure (that fits in the junk drawer perfectly) and have started actually using it and then carrying measurements with me when I go out.

    It is amazing sometimes how much a small purchase, like a $10 shower head improves my life whereas bigger purchases not so much! 😉

    I loved yesterday’s post too. I just LOVE your blog.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I also carry a tape measure with me everywhere because of this! I keep a tiny one in the diaper bag and in the center console of my car. We also have a full size one in our kitchen drawer!

    [Reply]

  4. Nicole

    03/13/2018

    Great post! What brand are those neat nesting food storage containers? They look awesome for eliminating toppling towers of food storage containers.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    They are the Joseph-Joseph brand (at Bed Bath and Beyond). Here’s the amazon link: http://amzn.to/2FP36UG

    [Reply]

  5. Pascale

    03/13/2018

    Hi Andrea,

    I love your decision process. I’m a minimalist and will often go through a similar process before deciding if I want to purchase an item. For me, the process goes something like this:

    We will first wait a few days before purchasing an item to make sure we don’t regret it later.
    Can I use something that I already have rather than buying something new? This is true especially in the kitchen.
    What will we get rid of to make room for my new purchase? One in and one out is my rule so that our home never gets cluttered.
    If we lost everything, would we buy this again? If not, then we truly don’t need it.
    Do we like this item enough to spend time cleaning it, dusting it and maintaining it?
    Do we have a designated home for it or will we have to purchase something to store it?
    Is the item worth the asking price for us?
    Is it good quality? If not, it means that we will have to replace it and I need to count the cost timewise and moneywise.
    Do we truly love it or are we only buying it because it’s on sale? If we only like the price and wouldn’t buy it if it were more expensive, then we don’t buy it.
    How often will we use it?

    I’m sure there are more questions, but those are the main ones. I hope this helps someone who might be thinking about this topic.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    great questions — thanks for sharing!

    I’m a sucker for the “do we really love it or only buying it because it’s on sale!” I’m getting better though!

    [Reply]