Ever made a big purchase such as a property, a new car or an expensive degree and immediately felt a sudden pang of regret? If you have, you are familiar with something called ‘buyer’s remorse’.

There may be many reasons for someone experiencing buyer’s remorse. One possibility is post-decision cognitive dissonance, where the person must make a difficult decision between two similarly attractive alternatives, and feels remorse regardless of which alternative is chosen.

Another reason might be that the buyer feels that the item purchased is not completely aligned with his or her goals. For example, he might convince himself that he needs a new car, but deep inside he knows that it’s not a purchase he can truly afford at that moment and will set him back financially.

The final reason could be that the buyer feels that they do not deserve the purchased item. For example, if they subconsciously believe that they are not the kind of person that can or should own a nice house, he might experience buyer’s remorse without really understanding why.

So how can buyer’s remorse be avoided? And what should you do if you are experiencing buyer’s remorse now?

The first thing to do is to avoid ALL impulsive purchases when it comes to big ticket items. When you see your friend or neighbor buy a new car and you are subsequently attacked by a well-crafted advertisement that feels like it was targeted directly at you, it can be difficult to resist the impulse to pull out your credit card.

But beware, while driving off in your brand-new car uttering “I deserve it. I deserve it!” under your breath through a forced smile, you might experience the pain of buyer’s remorse. But at this point it will already be too late, because the moment you started the engine and drove off the value of the new car already halved.

A better approach would be to be more of a ‘conscious spender’. Instead of giving in to the impulse to buy, let the decision sit for a few days while asking yourself these questions:

  1. Do I NEED this item or just WANT it?
  2. Is it TRULY aligned with my goals and aspirations?
  3.  Have I considered all other reasonable alternatives?

If you find that the big purchase is a pure WANT and not a NEED, it is misaligned with your long-term goals and there are better options (such as buying a less flashy but more reliable car), it might not be a good idea to pull the trigger. 

If everything checks off? Hooray for the would-be impulsive buyer, now he can buy the car with no fear of buyer’s remorse! He can make a purchase that he truly feels happy about and even proud of.

But what if you have considered these questions and decide that the purchase logically makes sense, but you still find yourself nervous and hesitant to make the purchase?

Spending a lot of money can be scary, but sometimes it must be done. You can’t let your limiting beliefs hold you back from making sensible purchases that are aligned with your goals, no matter how big the numbers are. Take a deep breath. Take your wallet out. You know what to do.

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