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Impatient Purchasing: Five Rules to Help Avoid It

Patience is supposed to be a virtue but, boy, can it be difficult to have. I find myself challenged,  more often than I like, with having patience. I recently had a run in with what I call Impatient Purchasing. It gave me the opportunity to devise five helpful rules for myself to guard against making these Impatient Purchases.

What is an Impatient Purchase? It’s not the good old-fashioned spontaneous impulse buy-where you run across something that sings to you, you know is a good deal and you can likely find it in your budget-so you go for it. An Impatient Purchase is when you buy something that doesn’t necessarily meet your needs just because you are overly motivated to meet the need more quickly than is necessary. I came close not once, but twice, this past week to succumbing to Impatient Purchasing.

The first incident occurred when I was determined to find a way to make my Fly Lady Control Journal look nice so that I would use it cheerfully and consistently (I’ve since started calling this Control Journal my Family Notebook so that I don’t feel too Type A about it). Is making this notebook pretty a necessary thing in the grand scheme of living frugally? Heck no. It’s a bit of an indulgence, I know. I have learned enough about myself to know that if it’s pretty and fun I will use it rather than shove it to the back of a dark, dusty closet only to come across the next time I do some serious cleaning or purging. I was shopping last week and found myself  in in the office supply aisle of a store we’d stopped into. I wasn’t seeing anything that sang to me. But out of misplaced determination, I started putting things in my basket telling myself I could make it work. After 15 minutes I hit my personal pause button and looked down. The first thing I noticed was there was a lot of stuff in the basket. The second thing was that, frankly, it was ugly stuff. I knew it would get me by for a while. But really, I’d likely want to change it soon because it wasn’t really my style and it wasn’t really very pretty. So I did some mental calculating of what I’d haphazardly tossed into the shopping cart. When my mental tally started edging over $20 I started putting things back on the shelves. I may have wasted 15 minutes of my life doing this, but I wasn’t going to further the “stupid tax” (yep, another Dave Ramsey term!) by blowing $20 or more on stuff to make my organizing project pretty. Especially if it wasn’t really fitting the bill. My husband and kids wandered back from window shopping at the appointed time and were surprised to find the shopping cart in the process of being unloaded back onto the shelves . I proudly said I’d rather wait till I find the right thing. We left empty handed. While I was disappointed, I still had my principles and pocketbook in tact.

The next incidence came only a few days later. I blogged last week about my missing camera. It was my birthday and I was really unhappy about losing my camera but looking forward to heading off to the city to get much needed new one. I’d decided the upside of my loss was that it was a good time to make serious upgrade to a shiny new DSLR. I’ve always wanted to take better pictures. Due to things that popped up throughout the day we never managed to get on the road to the city to buy my new camera. I was frustrated but figured we’d get down to the city in the next few days to make a purchase. That evening, I went looking for my cell phone.  I’d left it in my car. While I was out there I figured I’d search the car again myself, that maybe my husband missed finding the camera when he’d come out to look while I was searching the house earlier. Sure enough, there it was. It must have fallen out of my bag and was under a car seat. Not a good place for a camera, to be sure. Especially in 106 degree heat. But I found it. I was actually somewhat disappointed. How could I possibly justify the upgrade to that DSLR to myself now? But when I turned the camera on I noticed the LCD screen is starting to go. I thought about how long I’ve had it. It was and still is a decent camera. But it’s over four years old now. By technology standards, four years is geezer age. I decided that I would still get my DSLR. Eventually. But what I was going to do NOW was really learn how to use this camera better. I’m going to learn more about photography using what I have. This will give me time to know what my needs really are so I can find a camera that is the best fit for me.  It will give me time to save up so it won’t hurt the budget. I realized, while disappointed, I had just dodged another Impatient Purchase bullet. And this one would have been a LOT more than $20. Phew!

In the days since, I’ve had the opportunity to re-remind myself of the pitfalls of Impatient Purchasing. I’ve managed to cull out some new rules to live by and though I’d share them:

  1. Does this TRULY fit my need?
  2. Will I end up replacing this item shortly because it’s not really going to cut it?
  3. Will waiting be more beneficial even thought it’s not fun right now?
  4. How much stupid tax is this going to cost me if this is an emotional purchase instead of an intelligent one?
  5. Count to 20. Review steps 1-4. If I still feel ok about it, and it’s reasonably in the budget, proceed to checkout.

I’m grateful I took the opportunity to re-consider what I was doing. I have found that waiting has already paid off. With a little more closet searching I found a nicer binder for my Family Notebook that I already had (free upgrade already!). And while picking up some homeschool supplies we needed recently, I found a small and very reasonably priced little kit of scrapbooking paper and stickers that caught my fancy. While I’ve never scrapbooked before, I thought it might fit the bill for making my Family Notebook pretty and fun. And it was all of $5. It turned out well! I’m happy with it and already using our Family Notebook cheerfully. Heck, even my five year old said, “Hey Mom-that’s pretty!” Yay for patience!

So for fun, here are pictures of how my Family Notebook turned out. Further down are some fun pictures I’ve taken in an effort to learn enough to merit buying my DSLR camera. Eventually. It’ll take a little time. But I’m hoping I’m on the right path:

Family Notebook Cover. I like flowers.

I even did the back of our notebook.

The Audience.

This is MOM'S Notebook Pencil!

Oh Coffee.

My morning.

Comment worthy:

So, have you found yourself regretting making an Impatient Purchase? How did you handle it? Do you have a tip or rule I can add to my list?


One response »

  1. First of all…GREAT PICS! Learning fast you are padawan! (Sorry a little Star Wars humor). I do love the binder too! You have inspired me to organize myself. Landon & I started Weight Watchers & in an effort to really put my heart & soul into the program I researched & printed a BUNCH of recipes from the WW’s website. I put them into a binder, but each day when I look at our “Food Menu” to find out what I’m cooking for dinner, I find myself “thumbing” page after page until I find the recipe. I realized I need to organize the recipes to make finding them MUCH easier & faster for that matter.

    Thanks for the inspiration! Good job of your “Family Notebook!” Keep the beautiful pics coming!


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