How To Buy Stuff

We buy things we want and services we think we need. But what we really should aim for is to buy whatever solves our problems, all things considered.

How To Buy Stuff

Why do we repeatedly buy the wrong stuff? There is no reason to purchase overpriced products that doesn't add tangible value to our lives, yet we keep doing it again and again. The good news is that consumers have the power to avoid much of this irrational behavior. Start by asking the right questions and adopting a problem-solver mindset. You'll save money and solve major concerns of everyday life.

22. April 2024 by Click insider / Wisdom & Knowledge

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Before your next purchase, take a moment and reflect on this quote by Steve Jobs:

Some people say, "Give the customers what they want." But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, "If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, 'A faster horse!'" People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

If you buy what you want, you might not get what you need.

Forgetting The Obvious

Obviously it's not obvious if we forget it. But forgetting is second-nature if you're tranquilized with the foggy purchase-mindset.

Customers make idiotic buying-decisions all the time. Break free from the mindless herd of stupid shoppers by avoiding some common pitfalls of shopping, as suggested by the don't of shopping list below.

The Don'ts of Shopping

  • If you can't afford it. Don't buy it. This would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people.
  • If you can afford it. Don't buy it just because you can afford it. "What, I have the money!?". "I really can afford it". "Stop talking, it's my money!".
  • It's cheap. Don't buy it just because it's cheap. Don't buy it just because it's very cheap. Don't even get it just because it's free. There is no such thing as a free lunch, and free things, while not having a price tag, almost always have a price.
  • It's on sale. Don't buy it just because it's on sale. By all means, if you do buy something, make sure you get the best price from a trustworthy salesman. But even if the thing is almost free the thing is not worth it if it's not worth having.
  • You don't have it. Don't buy it just because you don't have it. Perhaps you already own something else that does the job, and you don't need to go out and buy something to solve your problem. It might not be exactly like the product you are pondering on buying, but it will do the job and it will solve your problem.
  • You want it. If it doesn't solve a problem in your life, don't buy it.
  • It's cool. Don't buy it only because your friends think it's cool. Don't even buy it just because you think it's cool.
  • It's the best. No it's not. It might be the best you have seen so far, but there may be other options available that you are not aware of. Don't buy it only because the seller claims "it's the best".
  • It's the last one. Scarcity! Oh no, what if someone else buys it. Do I have time to think about it? No you don't! Buy buy buy goddammit. Don't think, buy. That's it. Good boy. Cash or credit?
  • Wait. Will life be just as good tomorrow if you don't buy it today? Will you die if you don't get this thing right now? If you don't buy the thing right now, will your life be ruined? Will life get worse if you just wait? It probably can wait. Unless we're talking literally vital necessities, there's no rush.
  • The price will go up. FOMO! The fear of missing out. The product will most likely be on sale later, or you will find even better products if you just wait. No need to rush it if you don't have to.
  • You never know. You can study the product, compare specs and consider your options. You may think hard and reflect on how the stuff you buy actually will make your life better. But only time will tell if you've made a good purchase.
  • Don't buy it. Generally, just don't buy it. When you ask yourself "should I buy it" this is the correct answer most of the time. Save time and money, and simply don't buy it. It's really that easy.

The Problem With Wants

Your problems and your wants will not always overlap.

The craving for unhealthy foods is one such obvious example. Your purchase and consumption will stop the urgent craving for sweets, or perhaps you are just looking for a quick boost in energy. Impulse buying is a bad bet, and short term solutions are rarely the best fix for long term problems.

Quick fixes are often poor hacks and rarely feasible solution for the long haul. Do not try to resolve current issues while neglecting more serious problems.

Perspectives Near And Far

The next time you buy anything, pause for a moment, and reflect deeply. Will this service or product actually help me to resolve a real problem in my life.

Consider your purchases from various perspectives, and contemplate on how the product or service will solve the problems you have. Some problems are urgent and needs to be fixed now. Other problems could be much more important to resolve, but they need not be solved today. Life is about finding balance, and while your immediate needs must be considered, you cannot ignore possible future problems.

You are the customer, but who are you really? You are your current self, your future self and your past self. Then there is the extention of you. You are not your clothes, you are not your family or your friends. You are not your society or your nation. But these things are part of your life.

All Things Considered

Overthink and perfectionism can cause problems of their own, but further philosophizing over the problems in your life could be a beneficial exercise.

Deep thinking can be exhausting. Overthinking can be a dangerous trap, but not thinking at all can be lethal.

Consider things before you buy from various perspectives of your life.

There's the economical perspective of buying: Is it really worth it? Consider the price, and the value you get in return. What exactly does the produc add to your life? Will it improve your health? Will it increase your knowledge? Will it save you time? What is it exactly with this product that can make your life better, and in what way?

Interests of Conflict

As a customer you are just one part of the transaction. Your goals rarely align with the goal of the seller.

Are you being played? Good marketers and salespeople aren't dumb. They are professionals. They are trained at playing people like you. They sell crap you don't need for money you don't have, it's their game.

Some sellers are genuine people, some have even mastered the peculiar skill to lie with integrity. Basically, all marketers are liars, but not all marketers are evil people. They may go to great lenghts to fully understand the actual problem of the customer, and by doing so revealing solutions that the customer could not find on their own. Salespeople could be true saviors, but these people are rather rare.

More often than not there is a conflict of interest between the seller and the buyer. The seller will in most cases use their knowledge to find a proper solution for the customer, but will stay within the boundaries of the solutions offered by their own company. But of course the best offer might be found somewhere else.

It's the customers job to find the best solutions for himself. Salespeople could be helpful in this process, but in many cases they are providing insuficcient solutions to your problem.

Beware of Honest Salespeople

On very rare occasions you will meet truly honest salespeople. They care about your problems almost as much as you do. They will do all in their power to find the best solution for you, even if it means it won't make them any money. You'll be in awe for their legitimate and honest approach. The irony is that these salespeople are so likable that you end up buying from them anyways, even though they directly told you their offer wasn't the best. These sellers can literally point to the business across the street, precisely lay out why their competitors offer is much better, but still you ignore their arguments.

You just like the seller to damn much. The seller paid genuine attention to your problems, and made his best effort to identify the absolute best option available. Thank him by following his suggestion, even if it means going to the competitor across the street. If the seller truly is honest to the core, he won't mind. He'll just be glad he could help. His mode of operation could really be to find the best solution for the customer, even if it means losing a sale, and even if it means pointing directly to a competitors offer. Perhaps this strategy actually works, it's just very different from what we normally encounter. Show appreciation, thank him and leave, the seller let you win easily this time. The seller did not get the sale this time, but now you know where to find an honest salesman, and in this regard, he won a little too.

Buy Stuff That, In Sum, Adds Value To Life

  • Do your homework before every purchase.
  • Don't expect others to tell you what you should buy.
  • In the end the problems are yours, and if you want something done right, you shouldn't rely on others to solve your problems.

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