Just Buy It Already! Fighting Indecision On Big Purchases

by The Happy Rock on July 16, 2009


This is a guest post by PF blogger The Weakonomist @ Weakonomics.com. He is a twenty something who works for a major bank and unlike most PF blogger has stayed debt free. For those who aren’t familiar with his blog, click through and say hello.

I’ve never written for Happy Rock before so you probably don’t know much about me.  Normally I wouldn’t care to tell you and you wouldn’t care to know, but it adds context to my post.  I’m a young buck and getting married this fall.  Me and The Sheconomist don’t own much stuff, so we are in the process of acquiring all that married life stuff.  We’ve needed a bed, couch, coffee table, dresser, etc….  Since we’re starting from scratch we have a lot to buy and not a lot of money to spend.

When you’re shopping for any items over $100 that you plan to keep for a while it’s easy to get caught up in the shopping experience, and not in a good way.  Not only are you trying to find the right design for you, but you’re also trying to maximize the value of your purchase.  So you comb the sale ads in the Sunday paper, check for coupon codes on websites, and spend every single Saturday going from store to store looking but not buying.

At some point a line is crossed.  You’re actually wasting time.  After a month or so of this routine you know the lay of the land and you’ve seen deals come and go.  You probably missed out on a couple of really good deals because you just couldn’t pull the trigger.  And this happens for one of two reasons: either you’re indecisive or you’re holding out for a better deal.

Now I don’t like to give advice, so I’m not going to try and help you figure out how to actually make the buying decision.  Instead I’ll tell you the consequences of not buying.  Eventually you do have to make a purchase, and if you wait too long you may have to make the decision in haste.  This happens if your furniture breaks, or you car finally gives out, or even if your cell phone stops doing the things phones should do (like ringing).  Hasty purchases are filled with emotion and you risk over-paying or not getting the item you really wanted.  Buyer’s remorse will then attack like the plague on a 14th century peasant.  So make a decision and move on.

You may not find the best deal, but because you’re a smart shopper you know that you will get a GOOD deal.  You will waste you life away chasing perfection.  Live in a world of “good enough” with your purchases and you’re living in a happy world.

And if there’s one other thing you should know about me it’s that I’m kind of a hypocrite.  No not with purchases but because just a minute ago I said I don’t like giving advice, I actually do.  I have some parting advice for men and women when it comes to purchasing decisions:

Women: The subtle details mean very little to us.  The end-tables with drawers or the ones without are unimportant to us.  If you ask us what we think we’ll tell you to get whatever you want.  We want you to be happy with your decision because we’re just happy to get back home and watch some TV.  If you ask again and we say we don’t care which one you pick, this does not mean we don’t care about you and doesn’t mean we think getting end-tables are stupid.  We just don’t care between the options.  If you force us to pick one, we will pick the cheaper one and this has nothing to do with the appearance.  Don’t take anything we say personally.

Men:  Don’t ever say you don’t care!!!  The women will see that as a sign it’s unimportant that your home looks nice and so you don’t care about her either.  Pick your words perfectly (yes perfection matters here!).  I got some great advice from my dad about this the other day.  Say that you are less sensitive to the details of the purchase and are only concerned with making sure she is happy.  Reinforce her ability to provide the best judgment and under no circumstances allow annoyance to sneak into your tone.  You risk her losing interest and then you have to come back next week.

I’m generalizing the sexes of course, you could flip the roles too if you want.  If you hate shopping only slightly more than you hate spending money, I feel your pain.  We all think it, but under no circumstances should you ever say “Just buy it already!”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the bed store… again.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

kosmo @ The Casual Observer July 16, 2009 at 10:02 am

What’s even worse is having this indecision on SMALL purchases. Argh.


Momma July 16, 2009 at 11:21 am

Hey, are you following us while we shop? I could swear I’ve had this conversation a time or two in the last few years.

This is a timely post, as DH and I are in the process of shopping for a new mattress. Thanks for the kick in the pants.


Money Funk July 16, 2009 at 11:53 am

Oh, I like your dad’s wisdom. He’s right on the money. LOL. Unfortunately for my DH, this is still a lesson that needs to be learned.

Because, if a woman (me) does hear it in your voice… she will begin to be indecisive in her decision, annoyed with the fact your partner doesn’t see it as a “together” choice, and make you come back next week because she is not sure its the right choice. LOL.

Wonderful post. And if you shop at IKEA, you’re making a good decision off the bat – Affordable & fashionable.


trevor July 17, 2009 at 4:53 am

I think this is great advice, at some point you are going to buy something that is expensive and you can’t always make good decisions all the time. But it is nice to think that you can try. I work from home so we have had to buy a lot of expensive things before we could necessarily afford it. But I think that it has really worked out ok, we have a mix of ikea (functional and reasonable priced furnitute) and also higher priced items for anythingt that we want to definately keep. It can be hard when you work at home because you are there all the time you realise what you are missing and it can get a little obsessive.


Jonathan@Friends&Money July 17, 2009 at 11:02 am

I have to say that i have many similar experience. I suppose that i want to get it right and don’t like the thought of someone ripping me off which is why i take my time. I never spend more than $50 through auction sites like ebay for this very reason.


Money Magazine Hoss July 19, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Great advice from your Dad. I learned long ago that Mrs. Hoss does actually have an eye for decorating and that I have blindfolds. So, I make sure she knows that I value her judgment and that it would be a mistake to let me pick any item. Once I was going to buy a black ceiling fan and told her about it before I made the purchase.
She pointed out that it would stick out like an elephant on a fly. Oh and by the way she seldom has ever asked by opinion since then.


CindyS July 23, 2009 at 8:44 am

Interesting article. I find that we tend to postpone large purchase decisions while we educate ourselves. I research it online and sometimes in person. Once we know a little bit about the prices of what we are purchasing, it makes it easier to buy that bargain without dithering because we KNOW it’s a good deal.


FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com July 28, 2009 at 1:05 pm

My brother definitely falls under the detail category of “Women”

I am more of: Just buy it already.

I can hem and haw for about half an hour MAX, on colours, styles, designs, features.. but that’s about it. I make a decision, stick to it, and get out.

No regrets.

Or I just don’t buy it at all, and look for alternate solutions.


Dave C. July 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

For me, I am incredibly decisive when it comes to making purchases. For my fiance though, it can sometimes be the opposite. Many times I ask her if she would rather I just make a choice because I have a knack for just “pulling the trigger” and getting the decision process over with quickly.

Other times, I suggest that I’m not overly concerned with the choice, and wouldn’t mind any particular outcome, just as long as the process moves forward.. lol


Herbert July 28, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Agreed, I think that a lot of time is wasted on purchases — for myself, the issue is not only for large purchases, but has expanded to smaller purchases as well. I think research is an excellent solution; but sometimes, I just have to take a step back and think: will I be happy with this product? If so, then I really try not to look at price and just get it.

Can’t put a price on happiness, right? To a reasonable extent, I mean.


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