Below are nearly 50 questions you can ask yourself before making a purchase. Many are common sense, some I have heard from various sources throughout the years, in addition there are questions I have developed myself. The questions are loosely organized into categories to make things less unwieldy.
You likely will not need to ask yourself all of the questions, but maybe there are times you would benefit from doing so. You might find that a few of the questions really stick with you and will be powerful tools to manage shopping addiction behaviors in the future.
- How will I pay for it?
- Is it in the budget?
- Will I need to take on debt to buy this?
- Would purchasing this be aligned or misaligned with my financial sobriety plan?
- How am I doing on my financial goals (paying off debt, saving for retirement, etc.)?
- How much have I spent in this budget category already in the last 30 days?
- Are there other things that are a higher priority for me to buy right now?
- Do I have something like it already?
- Do I have something that would work as a substitute?
- Do I really need to replace this item or am I just bored with the old one?
- Did I live without this item before? Could I continue to live without it?
- Can I wait to buy it?
- Could I get a better deal on it elsewhere?
- Can I borrow it from someone?
- Could I buy it second hand?
- How much energy and time is going into this purchase?
- How many hours of work would it take to pay for this?
- What are the upkeep costs (the true cost)?
- Will this purchase make it difficult to pay for other physical or emotional needs?
- How often will I use it?
- Where will I keep it?
- How will I clean it?
- What are the chances I will return this and how much time/energy will that take?
- How long do I expect this to last (does the price match the quality)?
- Will this depreciate or appreciate in value over time?
- What happens when I am done with it?
- What are the last three things I purchased?
- How satisfied am I now with those past purchases? Do I even remember what they were?
- How did I feel the last time I made a purchase like this (immediately after, days later, and now)?
- Can I be happy/find peace letting this item exist in the world without owning it?
- What is my emotional state right now?
- Am I trying to escape negative emotions or thoughts through this purchase?
- Am I trying to accentuate or draw out positive emotions through this purchase?
- Am I in a scarcity mindset right now?
- Is there a more meaningful way I could address these emotions?
- Is this a need or a want?
- What do I think this item is going to do for me? Is it a realistic expectation?
- Do I want this for my true self or my fantasy self?
- Did I have something like this in mind or is it an impulse buy?
- Are the ethics and values of the company that produces this aligned with my own?
- Even if no one knew I had this, would I still want it?
- If my friend was in my situation, what would I say to them about this purchase?
- Could buying this negatively impact my relationship(s)?
- Will I feel like I have to hide this purchase from someone, such as my partner?
- What was the environmental impact of making this item?
- How am I likely to feel about myself after the purchase (immediately after, one hour, one day, one week, one month)?
- Could this purchase slow down or stop me from doing or achieving something that is really important to me?
- What is truly important and meaningful to me?
- Will this purchase support or hinder me from living by my values?
And there it is; the mega list of questions to ask before buying. Are there any questions you can think of that I left out? If so, please comment below to help fellow readers. Also, let me know in the comments which questions you personally found to be the most powerful.