Have you ever made a purchase you thought you were sure about, only to get home a few hours later and wish you had kept your money instead?
That unpleasant feeling is known as Buyer’s Remorse. You might experience it after buying something as negligible as a fancy shoe or as costly as a car or even a piece of land.
But it makes no sense. I mean, you are a rational and forward-thinking person and must have made certain considerations before handing over your cash. So, why feel bad about it afterwards?
Yes. Sometimes it could be that the purchase was made impulsively – You saw it, liked it, and without a second thought paid for it. But what about those times you were confident you had thought it over? Yet you regretted your decision after inking the deal.
So what really causes Buyer’s Remorse?
Although you had little or no doubt when you made your choice, you could go through a period of post-purchase rationalization. You weigh the downsides of your purchase against its benefits and ask yourself whether you truly made the right decision:
- Do I really need this item? Could I have used the money for something else?
- Was the dealer truly honest with me?
- Could I have made a better bargain?
Perhaps you begin noticing shortcomings in the quality of the item or you discover a better alternative you previously did not consider. Once there is the slightest room for doubt, you will have buyer’s remorse.
Should you find fault in your judgment, the intensity of your regret will depend on the effort and commitment you put into the purchase – How much you spent, whether the item is something you will use for a long time, how much you will have to pay to return the item (if you can return it at all), and so on.
How to prevent Buyer’s Remorse
Whenever you are about to make a purchase, two forces come into play:
- The approach sentiment
- The avoidance sentiment
The approach sentiment makes you want to pay for that item because doing so will make you happy at that very moment. The avoidance sentiment, on the other hand, makes you cautious. It is the small voice in your head that tells you not to do something you would later regret.
The sentiment that is more dominant at the time will determine your final decision and the likelihood of buyer’s remorse. None of these sentiments could be said to be negative or positive in themselves. It all depends on your ability to balance them out.
The one that presides is often the one that is more in line with your goals. For instance, the approach sentiment will take the front seat if your goal while making the purchase is to take advantage of a limited offer. Maybe the price is lower than you expected or perhaps the item is attractive and you long to have it not minding the cost.
But let’s say your goal is to save costs. You don’t want to buy the item and discover that it’s cheaper somewhere else. In such a case, the avoidance sentiment will be more dominant.
So how do you make healthier choices?
1. Ask questions
Before you commit your cash, you may want to ask someone you trust to weigh in on your decision. You might have missed something that the person will easily point out to you.
Asking questions will make you more confident and eliminate any chances for buyer’s remorse. You become certain that you considered every possible angle and there’s no way you could be wrong.
Even if the person does not agree with you, at least you get to ignore or heed their advice. That process alone will strengthen your judgment and you won’t feel any remorse after making the purchase.
2. Know when to say No
There is truth in the saying: Less is more. That you fancy something doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy it. Prevention is better than cure. Sometimes it is good to just walk away. Reducing your propensity to consume is a good decision for your wallet.
3. Spend on things you love
Even if you tend to splurge, spending on things that give you joy will never lead to buyer’s remorse. Why? Because you have the mindset that the item is worth every kobo.
4. Don’t buy stuff, buy experiences
Buying material items have a higher probability of causing buyer’s remorse. There are several other alternatives that can make you wonder if you have made the right choice. The more the number of alternatives, the greater your psychological stress.
But when you focus on experiences instead, there will be little opportunity for buyer’s remorse. Experiences are unique and not interchangeable.
5. Don’t buy on impulse
Buying on impulse could be a straight road to after-purchase remorse. A good way to avoid making bad decisions is to step away from the spot. Give yourself enough time to think it over and consider all your options.
A sense of urgency should always raise a red flag. If you are itching to have it, then you probably shouldn’t. That could be a sign that your judgment is biased.
Sometimes though, buying something on the spot could be the best decision you’ve ever made. It depends on recognizing your presiding sentiment and making sure that you are not merely being emotional. Getting emotional over a purchase should be a No.
What if you are already feeling Buyer’s Remorse?
Allow yourself to appreciate whatever it is you have bought. Rather than beat yourself up about it, take it as a learning opportunity, so that you won’t make the same mistake in the future.
Another thing you can do is to earn more money. If money wasn’t such a scarce resource, buyer’s remorse would not exist. So, the best way to get over it is to increase your earning potential.