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Responsible consumption also means asking yourself the right questions before you buy something. Obviously, the work of sales people and advertising is to convince you that you need their product, while that of smart shoppers is, instead, to make informed decisions.

Decide how to spend your money:

  • Does the purchase meet a real need or is it to flatter your ego (to impress your friends)?
  • Do you really need the product or service?
  • It is worth the time it will take you to earn the money to pay for it? Go back to calculate what an hour of work is really worth.
  • Could you put your money to better use?
  • Is your impulse to buy linked to an emotion? Do you go shopping because you’re sad? Angry? Wildly happy? If the answer is yes, leave your credit cards at home and take only a minimum amount of cash with you. You could make a purchase you later regret if you go shopping when you’re in an emotional state.

Decide in advance what products or services you’re going to buy:

  • What level of quality do you need and want? Be aware that higher prices don’t necessarily equate to better quality. Find out about the product first by asking people around you or refer to consumer guides to forge your own opinion.
  • How much can you afford to spend?
  • Can you wait for the sales?
  • Do you really need to buy a well-known brand or could a generic brand do just as well?

A good trick to avoid impulse purchases: when you’re shopping and the urge strikes to buy a particular item, write it down on a list and let it “stew” for a few weeks. Take it out 2 weeks later and ask yourself if you still need it. If the answer is yes and you have the money to buy it, give yourself permission to buy it. If the answer is no, start a new list.
For more “economical” ideas, see Ideas that pay off.