Mindful Shopping – 5 Questions to Ask Before Spending Your Hard-earned Dollar

by on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Are you doing mindful shopping? I would wager that over the past few years, since the whole economic crunch and all, everyone has tried to find ways to tighten their belts and pinch pennies in whatever way possible. From clipping coupons to trying store brands, these are little ways we all have survived, right?

However, for me, I have found that despite my efforts, I still find myself (pardon the pun) short every now and then.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you would be agreeing with me right about now, correct?

It then occurred to me that perhaps the reason why we find ourselves in that position time and again is because we tend not to be mindful about the way we spend. Yes, we cut down on non-essentials. We go for the sales. We look for the best bargains, but still, there’s something still missing in the equation that leads us to asking ourselves once again: what else can we do to live within a shrinking budget and an inflating market.

These fancy shorts designed by Sienna Miller are cool, but are they worth the nearly $300.00 price tag?! (Click image for product page.)

I have found that asking myself these questions before shelling out any money has made a difference, even though at times it may not seem like a lot. But, hey, every little step counts, right?

So what do I ask myself? Here goes:

1. Do I really need it? I think this is the first and foremost question to ask. Let’s all try to remember that there is a BIG difference between wanting something and really needing something. Remember the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic? Many times I find myself rationalizing the way Becky Bloomwood did in that movie. Granted that getting some new linen or a new blouse on sale saves me money,  the question still remains: do I really need it? And keep in mind that just because you can find an occasion to use it, this does not necessarily mean it is a real need. Got it?

2. Can I really use it all? Buying in bulk is another trap we often fall into. Well, at least I do. While on one hand, you can save a huge percentage when purchasing a gallon of EVOO instead of a 500ml bottle, it is important to still remember that if we don’t end up using the entire product, we end up with wastage. As such, we end up throwing away our hard earned dollars and the money we saved in the beginning eventually ends up being wasted after all.

This is a really gorgeous Jessica Simpson Dress. But it's worthless buying if you never actually wear white clothing! (Click image to be taken to product page.)

3. Don’t I have something similar to it? Not too long ago during a sale I grabbed a whole set of kitchen gadgets that I thought I needed. But in the end, I realized that I already had a food processor that could do everything those little gadgets could do individually. Sure, I saved on each individual item, but when I stop to really think about it, I didn’t at all. I think this can also apply to other purchases. Take for example, how many little black dresses do we really need right?

4. Is there a better alternative? Sometimes, in our quest to save, we end up not saving. How? We look at the price tag instead of the product quality. What happens is as we try to figure out which saves us the most in terms of monetary value, we forget to consider the longevity of the product and as such, we end up spending more after all. For example, instead of investing in a more pricey item, we get the generic ones that cost half what a branded one does but these less expensive ones end up being disposable or not as long-lasting. Of course this is not always true, as some store brands and generic products are JUST AS good. It’s really a question of careful scrutiny and mindful evaluation.

These are pretty Report peeptoe flats. But...do you have shoes similar to this already? (Click image for product page.)

5. Is it worth the $$$ spent? At the end of the day, the most important question we can ask ourselves is whether or not buying something is worth the dollars spent. For example, I know of someone who decided to get herself an iPad simply because her Macbook’s battery was no longer functional and her Magsafe charger was flaking out on her already. She rationalized that spending for replacement batteries and a new charger would cost a hefty sum already anyway so why not just add a little more for the newer, more stylish product. However, while the iPad was a lot of fun and all, it fails to meet up to her needs. Thus, it was not really worth it for her particular need.

Living frugally, if I can call it that, doesn’t really mean not enjoying our money. It just means we make the most of what we’ve got and so far, for me, what really allows for that, is being mindful of the way I spend. What other questions can you ask before spending those hard-earned dollars? I’d love to hear from you!

Written by: Marina Chernyak. She is co-owner of 1001Shops LLC a stop shop for imported products like artificial flowers and aritficial plants.

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