Questions to ask yourself before buying something

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

secondhand_shopAll too often we impulse buy because with think we are going to need or use this or that, or simply because we like this or that. Not that there is anything really wrong with this but often those purchases then are either never used in any way, shape or form. Been there and done it and have more than one white elephant to show for that. In fact those “white elephants” are not, actually, on display.

At this very moment – well, sort of, for not right now, as I am writing this article – I am sorting through a lot of my things and at times wonder what they heck and why the heck as to some of the things. That goes as much for clothes as for kitchen gadget and other things. I like to cook, yes, but found that the deep fat fryer that I bought (OK, it was cheap at Lidl) was a waste of money, though it was not all that much, as I have used it five times, if that. It just used too much oil and for one person making a few, what we in England call potato chips, and other may call French fries, is just silly. Oh, and then there is a juicer – also very well priced from Lidl – that has been used for while quite frequently but it is such a hassle cleaning that, to be honest, it is not worth the effort and also juicers are not really cost effective.

As far as the clothes are concerned they were all charity shop purchases and thus I don't, necessarily, feel overly guilty about those purchases only the question is how many trousers and how many shirts can one wear. So now I have definitely come to the decision to think twice buy once, and thus I am beginning to ask myself those questions – well, most of the time – before buying anything, other than essentials and tools for the various jobs that I do.

So, here are those questions:-

1. Do I really want to mess with this?

By “do I really want to mess with this, in this context, I mean take care of, such as in cleaning, maintaining, protecting, and/or restoring it. Am I willing to deal with the effort necessary to make this item worth the space and time it will take in my life? Good stewardship in my life means taking care of what I own. That goes as much for new as for secondhand purchases.

If the answer is yes, then that is a good sign it might be worth my money. If it is no, then it really is not worth the expense, even if it is “cheap”. You will more than likely happier without it.

2. Would I come back in 24 hours to get it?

I am not necessarily saying that you should wait a whole day and make the effort to head back for the item. The question is would I or you? If I were to set the thing down and walk away to think it over somewhat, would it still have that draw I am feeling right now? If the feeling is a no then leave alone.

At a car boot sales, fleamarket or such that option may not necessarily be there because as soon as you put it down someone else might pick it up and buy it. But, at least that's how I take it, if that is the case at such places, that is to say that I walk away a little to think it over and when I come back someone else bought the item then it was not meant for me (at that time) for whatever reason fate may have had in mind. I also do that with Special Buys at ALDI or Lidl. If I am not entirely sure I will not buy it and if there is still stock of the offer left over when I come back a coupl of days to a week later then, maybe then, I will buy.

3. How was this made?

It is not always easy to tell how it was made and under what conditions and what exploitation has taken place of Planet, of man and of beast. Often the things we buy cheaply so often come at a high price to the Planet and its inhabitants. Then again, having said that, even if something has certain certification, I have learned, often means nothing either.

That's why often – more often than not – I get my things from charity chops (a kind of thrift store in the UK) or from car boot sales, and then, depending on what I want to get, I look for old stuff, and ideally made in the UK, Germany, the GDR, the USSR, or the USA. And, whenever I can I make things myself from scratch or by reusing, repurposing or upcyling things that are already there and especially in this department items that are considered waste.

4. Could I get this secondhand?

We have already touched upon that subject in the previous paragraphs but it should become very much a conscious thought when we are looking at purchasing something we want or need.

As far as I am concerned with many things the first stop should always be to look for good secondhand rather than going to buy new and that for several reasons. The main one of them being that no new resources were required to make this item. The second one being that if it has already reached a certain age and is of a certain vintage and is still good and working then the quility is a great deal better – more often than not – than of anything that is being made today. I do that especially with regards to hand tools, be those for wood carving or whatever.

5. Could I make this myself or something that would do the job as well?

This is probably the question I ask myself more often than not when I need or want something and if the answer is yes to the question then I set about doing that rather than going to the shops – or on line – to buy something.

On the other hand there are times when, instead of actually making or building something, I go and restore something, be this old(er) tools or other things.

My philosophy is that if I can make something from almost nothing or make something old(er) work again that I may have gotten cheap or free then I will do that rather than buying something.

So, think about this all before going to buy something.

© 2017