In no particular order, here is a list of what I deem to be the 7 deadly purchase sins that will surely keep money out of your pocket.
- Ideal Self Purchases: Do you ever purchase things because the type of person whom you ideally want to be, or the person who you see yourself as, would use such items? For example, I purchase a lot of tea. In my mind I can see myself enjoying cups and cups of hot tea in handmade pottery mugs all day long, curled up with a book. In reality, I drink hot tea only a couple of times per month. Most of the money I spend on tea is wasted because ideally it is what I would like to do, but in reality I know that I will not.
- Self Improvement Purchases as a Way to Self Improve: I love self improvement. Whether you want to lose weight, get yourself financially fit, be more independent, live in the present moment—these are all admirable aspirations and qualities to have. But when you purchase exercise equipment as a first step in your self improvement regimen, or umpteen number of self-help books thinking that you have begun your journey, you are wasting your money. The key to self improvement is in the first word of the phrase: “Self”. Want to lose weight? Start by looking at your diet, your exercise, emotional cravings, etc. Want to become financially fit? Analyze your bank statement and figure out where your money is going, then sit down and write some goals. Of course having equipment to help you exercise and books to seek guidance from is important, but purchasing self improvement products without actually putting in the effort is wasted money. Start with your Self.
- Status Symbol Purchases: Enough has been written on this category. Basically, when you are making a purchase, ask yourself why you are purchasing that product. If you have visions of suddenly becoming cool, of others wanting to be like you, of attracting a mate, etc., then ask yourself if you really should be making that purchase. This is especially true if you cannot afford it.
- Guilt Purchases: Have you ever bought a gift for someone because you felt bad for the way that you behaved, or because you have not spent enough time with that person and so you are trying to make it up to them by purchasing something? Don’t make the purchase, make the amends instead.
- Laziness Purchases: Some examples of these purchases could include purchasing convenience foods because you don’t make the time to cook as often as you should (my favorite being cheesecake filling in a container that came out a few years ago, where you literally just put the cheesecake filling into a pre-made graham cracker crust, and viola! Almost like homemade…), buying new instead of repairing for simple repairs, not taking care of personal belongings and thus having to replace them every season (like a rusted grill you could have wheeled into the garage), etc. Are there any areas in your life where you throw money at out of convenience? Once again, not all of these purchases are bad, but if you make a consistent habit of doing them, they will drain your bank account.
- Because-it’s-Cheap Purchases: I am a sucker for a great sale, and I love to buy bulk. But sometimes, buying an item because it is cheap does not make financial sense. In my own life some examples include a bulk package of Dove deodorants I bought after graduating college; out of the 7 extra large sticks, only three of them I could use before they expired (of course, that didn’t stop me from using the others…). Another example is when I find a pair of pants that are insanely cheap, and even though they don’t fit me in a slight way (making them not my number one choice when I open my dresser each morning), I purchase them because they are so cheap. Note to self: cheap and bulk products are only helpful if you will actually make use of them.
- Obligatory Purchases: This category can include many things, such as Christmas presents for all of your family, office presents for other coworkers, expensive gifts for the boss, picking up the restaurant or bar tab for a group of friends, etc. Once again, these are all nice things, but not if you do not have the money.