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What Can You Learn From Unwise Purchases?

learn from mistakes

I read a quote recently that hit me hard: “You waste money when you buy things, not when you get rid of them.” Ouch. One of the most common reasons I hear why people struggle to get rid of things is that they feel guilty for spending money on something that they didn’t use. But the truth is, the money was wasted way back at the time of purchase! Keeping something tucked away in a closet doesn’t mean it is bringing value to your life, and I would say that its value would actually increase if you gave it away or donated it so that someone else could get use out of it.

The things we own are physical reminders of how we spent our money in the past, for better or worse. You might be judging yourself harshly for purchasing something expensive that went unused. Instead of berating yourself, cut yourself a break and remember that you are human and you sometimes make mistakes. Hanging on to that unused object is not going to change the decision you made in the past, but if you learn something from the experience it was not for nothing. Marie Kondo says we should thank our unwise purchases for teaching us that we did not actually need them, and then let them go.

Here’s an exercise to try: take out a sheet of paper and make a list of your five best purchases, five things that have brought a great deal of value to your life and you use regularly. Now make a list of five purchases that ended up not being useful. What patterns do you see in these lists? What do your wise and unwise decisions have in common? When I did this I found my best purchases included dishes and furniture and a pair of winter boots that combined functionality and style: I love using them and I love looking at them. The items on my unwise purchase list were mostly things I bought for hobbies that I thought I would love, but they were too complex or time-consuming to fit into my life. The next time you're tempted to buy something ask yourself if it has more in common with the things on your best or worst list, and it just might keep you from making another purchase that you regret.

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