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Shop Twice, Spend Once

​Photo by Fleur Treurniet on Unsplash

Growing up, every now and again my father would engage my brother and I in small construction projects. One of the most important tenets of construction was, he taught us, to "measure twice, cut once." As young boys, the wisdom of that statement flew over our heads, right up until we hastily cut something that wasn't measured right. Lately, I've been rethinking about ways to control my own spending urges. I frequently look at (too many) something(s) and say "oh, that would be nice to have!" Sometimes this results in a purchase of something that of course gives fleeting excitement like trading cards. However, it does NOT come with the time to really invest in excelling at the hobby. Other times, the thing almost comes with a free priority rearrangement system built into it!

Going forward, I'm trying to curb these urges by applying a simple change of the construction mantra I mentioned before. Instead of "measure twice, cut once," what if instead I "shop twice, spend once?" This idea brings a few benefits:

1. One of the best parts of buying something is the shopping!

Seeing options, evaluating features, poring over new ideas that spring to mind. These are some of the exciting things that roll through my head as I am shopping for something I want or need. So much so that if I buy the thing, and the excitement wears off, the buyer's remorse is intense. If the exciting part is the shopping, why not do that part twice? This way, if the second time is just as exciting and my mind is filled with new ideas that are even more congruent with my priorities, the decision to buy is reinforced and can reduce or even prevent buyer's remorse.

2. It builds in the concept of "sleep on it."

Often, we hear the advice to "sleep on it" when buying something. This gives us time to let the excitement dissipate and our more rational thought process take control once again. Hopefully most of the time, this is enough to guard against buying things foolishly. If I stick to "shop twice, spend once," it guarantees that I will sleep on it because few people go shopping twice in one day for the same thing! (Though I may have done that in my younger, more foolish days...)

3. If you forget to shop the second time, it wasn't wise the first time.

Our fervor over a new shiny gadget, bauble, or toy is almost irresistible at times. If we give in, then some of our hard-earned cash has been sent away, never to return, for something that didn't provide equal or greater value in the long term. Sometimes though, all those feelings are just that, feelings. There is no weight of practicality or wisdom to make them fit more solidly into our current priorities. Without that weight, once those feelings are gone, so is the temptation. This builds on the wisdom of "sleep on it" that is already baked into the concept of "shop twice, spend once."

Personally, I could have saved myself a bunch of money if I had employed this sooner. Certain online purchases wouldn't have happened and I could have increased my library of wisdom-soaked books further. So now whenever I feel any "urge" to buy something, I will take a lesson from those construction jobs from childhood and "shop twice, spend once."

Have you made any purchases that if you had "shopped twice" for, you wouldn't have bought? What were they? Let us know in the comments!

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