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4 ways to overcome buyer's remorse

Almost all of us have had second thoughts about a purchase. But if it happens to you regularly, it's time to look at the roots.

By Smart Spending Editor Sep 11, 2013 11:51AM
This post is from Miranda Marquit of partner site Bargaineering.

MSN Money PartnerChances are that at some point you have made a purchase that you regret. You spent money on something, and later came to realize that you didn’t actually want it. Now, you’re stuck with something you don’t want, and you’re out the money you paid on top of it.

Image: Boy hiding eyes (© Ned Frisk Photography/Corbis)"Buyer’s remorse is a complicated topic, and one that comes up in my practice with people who struggle with anxiety and impulsivity," says Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist. Even if you aren’t terribly impulsive, you can still occasionally feel the pangs of buyer’s remorse.

Can you get over your buyer’s remorse and avoid it in the future? Clark has a few ideas:

1. Don’t avoid it

"If you have buyer’s remorse, don’t avoid it," Clark suggests. Instead, you should dig into the problems besetting you. "If your buyer’s remorse is tied to financial worries, face those fears."

It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, and try to pinpoint them. Then, you will have an idea of the steps you need to take in order to move forward.

2. Pay attention to triggers
"Impulsive purchases account for most buyer’s remorse," says Clark. This means that you need to take some of the impulsivity out of your shopping experience.

One way to do this is to pay attention to the triggers that encourage you to make unplanned purchases. Many consumers make impulse purchases when they feel unhappy, tired or vulnerable. "All of these emotional states track with poor impulse control," says Clark. When you recognize your triggers, you can avoid shopping when you feel a certain way.
3. Consider your purchases
Rather than just buying something immediately, stop and think about what you’re doing.

"Consider your purchase carefully and in advance, and resist the emotional pull to impulse-buy," says Clark.

She also suggests changing your focus and re-training yourself so that budgeting and self-control feel good, rather than using the act of buying things to feel (temporary) happiness.

"Impulse buying and its cycle of remorse can feel a lot like an addiction," Clark says. You need to replace that cycle with a new cycle. Instead, create a spending plan or budget to direct your purchases in a conscientious manner.

"Staying on a budget feels fantastic!" Clark points out. "Buying something you can afford will feel fantastic, too." When you shift your mindset to focus on the positive aspects of planned purchases, you are more likely to succeed. Once you stop the impulse buying, you are more likely to avoid buyer’s remorse, since your purchases are carefully thought out.

4. Get help

Finally, recognize that you might need help if you have a shopping addiction. Clark recommends that you seek a support system of loved ones who can encourage you, and who won't try to tempt you into making further purchases. If that isn’t enough, it makes sense to get help from a professional.

"There is no shame in seeking professional help," Clark says. "Shopping addictions and impulse buying can be serious afflictions, and you should know there is help for you."

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