Why We Buy Stuff That We Don’t Use

Excuses, Excuses

All of us have been guilty of making foolish purchases at one time or another. Perhaps yours was the evening dress which you bought at a sale a year ago, but never wore because the colours were a bit too loud. You were never particularly keen on the dress but your friends insisted that it was a good bargain and that the colours were not bright but “fashionable”. Now, every time you open the closet, it is a reminder of the money you have wasted.

We asked around, and found 12 common “reasons” people use to justify spending money.

1. It’s expected of me… Many people act or spend money according to what they feel is expected of them. For example, a successful professional may feel that he ought to be driving a Toyota Vios, not his faithful Proton Saga. Many give in to these “ought tos” because they are afraid of what friends, neighbours or relatives will say if they do not conform to what is expected of them.
2. But everyone in the neighbourhood has one… You don’t even have time to watch free-to-air television but you’re subscribing to Astro just because all your friends and relatives do. That’s a sheer waste of money.
3. I really ought to buy something because the salesperson has been so nice to me and I have taken up so much of her time… Sales assistants do not expect to make a sale with each and every customer. So a nice thank you and an apology for not finding anything you like will be enough.
4. It would cost a lot just to fix up the old appliance… Don’t assume that it is not going to be worthwhile to have the appliance repaired. Get an estimate of the repair costs before deciding on a new appliance.
5. It’s so pretty… That may be so but it probably has a price to match and besides you don’t need it. Do not give in to impulse buying.
6. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity… Maybe, but for whom? It could be the last opportunity for the retailer to get rid of a product which will be outdated once the latest model floods the market in a few weeks’ time.
7. I am sick of shopping and my feet hurt… Then go home and finish your shopping another day. Don’t buy something which is going to hurt your purse a lot more than your feet are hurting now.
8. It will keep peace in the family… Perhaps, but at what cost? Might it not be better to teach the members of the family the art of give and take rather than, say, buy a new TV so that there will be no quarrelling over what programmes to watch?
9. It’s just this once and I owe it to myself… Perhaps, but only if you have not used this excuse for the last few months and the purchase will not burn a hole in the family budget.
10. I know I can’t afford it but… If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
11. It isn’t exactly what I need but… No buts, get what you set out to buy or else it might not be fit for the purpose and you will end up still having to buy what you intended to originally.
12. Why not?… Because you will be throwing good money down the drain, that’s why not! Be a smart spender: don’t give in easily to temptation and avoid unnecessary spending. But aside from your own weaknesses, another important thing to know is how not to be taken in by the many tricks and gimmicks used by manufacturers and retailers to sell their goods.

Excerpts from THE MONEY BOOK by CAP. Available: