Stop. Ask Better Questions. Repeat.

03.07.2017 |

Episode #10 of the course Consumer behavior: Becoming an empowered consumer by Maureen McGuinness


Congratulations on reaching the final lesson. Over the last nine days, we’ve explored the external and internal triggers that persuade us to consume more than we need to. While there’s nothing wrong with consumption—we all need clothes, shelter, and food—we may have noticed that our consumption has become bloated. We’re purchasing more than we could ever use, we’re purchasing more regularly than we used to, and we’re taking in more information than ever before.

The goal of this course is to help you be a more empowered consumer, and while the information I’ve provided can help you recognize what’s been influencing your spending decisions up until now, today’s lesson will provide you with a toolkit to remain conscious and critical of your consumption so that you feel in control of your spending instead of handing over the reins to large companies.

This toolkit is simple but not easy to use. There are just five questions. Each question is an interruption in your buying pattern. You’re forced to step back, breathe, and make a more conscious decision about your behavior.

Would I still be interested in this item if its original price was 10x less?

We often make the mistake of valuing an item highly because of its high price. How would you feel if, after seeing that item on day one, at $100, you see it being sold for $10 the next day without any indication that it’s on sale. Would you question the quality of the item?

Can I really “afford” this purchase?

Look beyond the price tag. How much time will you need to devote to this “thing” to keep it in working order or to keep it pristine? How much space (and mental energy) will this “thing” take up in your home? How would you feel if it got stolen?

When did I last purchase something similar?

You can start to notice patterns in your spending when you think back to your last purchase of something similar. If it was in the last week and it’s not basic food, could you be addicted to buying X item regularly?

What if I walked away right now?

We often convince ourselves that if we see something we want or need, we should get it there and then without any further thought. The problem is that when we do this enough times, it becomes a habit—and a harmful one if we’re charging it to a credit card.

What am I trying to achieve?

Whenever we purchase an item, we’re trying to solve something. If we’re tired and hungry, we’re trying to eliminate that feeling and give ourselves energy. The problem is that the purchase is a short-term solution, e.g., a chocolate bar. While it can satisfy our hunger pangs and tiredness for an hour or two, we often feel worse later on because we’ve chosen a solution that does not have longevity. With a little bit of planning, you can plan snacks for those drops in blood sugar levels that don’t just give you a rush of energy followed by a crash. You can pick snacks that nourish your body properly and give you longer lasting energy.

Congratulations on completing this course on becoming an empowered consumer. Happy conscious spending!


Recommended book

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker


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