To buy or not to buy?

Graphic by Lea Clarin

walk into a supermarket, and all of a sudden I feel so tempted to throw all the new stuff I see into my shopping cart. Yes, I need three flavours of cheese and five flavours of ice cream! Of course I need that Star Wars Lego set! Wow, look at that cute pillow!

Sometimes I have to stop and prevent myself from picking something off the shelf just because it’s “two for $5!” It has been difficult, but I have fully internalized all the reasons that I can’t purchase any of those things I don’t need. Here are some of my findings.

Get rid of clutter!

As a co-op student who lives like a nomad, moving every four months from one city to another, I have realized that packing and moving boxes is a complete hassle when you have too many things. While packing up at the end of each term, I start asking really important questions to my items like, “Do I really need you?” and “Why did I buy you?” The answer is always, “You really didn’t need me, I just look good on a shelf and you are an easily convinced sheep.” I then wish that I had asked these questions earlier while the decision was still in my hands.

Let’s say you have a perfectly good juicer at home. It is a little old and worn off the edges but works just fine. You see a $30 juicer in a store, now on sale for $24. Yay! You buy it and you take it home. Now you have two juicers and much less space. So, you didn’t save $6. You spent $24 in collecting something you really didn’t need a replacement for.


I read somewhere that there is really no “saving” when an item is on sale. The item is originally overpriced and customers are lured into thinking that they are really saving a lot more money when it is discounted. It is hard to deny the enchanting “sale” sign. It makes you purchase items which you don’t really require but you end up rationalizing it by saying, “Hey, that sounds like a pretty good deal!” Truth is the money spent is, just, well, money spent.


Buying non perishable items in bulk is good. For example, I buy a lot of Alfredo pasta sauce because a) I love Alfredo pasta sauce, and b) I use a lot of it. Or I buy things like frozen fruit that don’t go bad in a month or two. Those are ideal bulk-usage items. But buying something like two dozens of bananas that will perish in a week’s time is not a good idea, unless, of course, you are a banana enthusiast. Nobody’s judging. The point is, you need to think ahead and buy according to your needs, and not according to the latest deal. You are buying for yourself, not for a multi-billion dollar corporation (unless you are, of course). You work hard for your money. Spend it judiciously.

I know we all love pampering ourselves. I am not asking you to stop that. If you want that extra cute pillow, by all means, buy it. But do you really need it? DO YOU? Do you have space for it? Are you sure that you won’t regret this purchase when it comes time to move again?

If your answer to any of those questions was no, then you probably need to check yourself (before you wreck yourself). Move away from the temptation and allurement of something shiny and new.

One way to lead yourself away from such temptations is going with a “no bullshit” friend. The kind who will stop you and ask you the real questions when you mute that nagging voice in your head (I think they call it a conscience).

Or you could write down a list of things before you enter the store, and swiftly buy only what you need. That way you won’t be as tempted to splurge. At the end of the day, you need to commit to trying to save, and you are the only one who can enforce that.

Happy Saving!

Nikhar Dhingra

2B Management Engineering


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