You Should Ask Yourself These Four Questions Before Any Big Purchase

You Should Ask Yourself These Four Questions Before Any Big Purchase
Photo: Kite_rin, Shutterstock

“Going shopping” used to refer to putting on outside clothes, leaving the house, and searching for the items you need in retail stores. But now, shopping is less of an event and more something you might do on your phone when you’re bored. And while online shopping is definitely more convenient than traipsing around to different stores, its ease can also be a downside — overwhelming people with seemingly infinite choices, including features and products they may not have previously considered.

Fortunately, Consumer Reports swooped in to help recently in the form of a guide to becoming a smarter shopper. Here’s what to know.

Questions to ask before making a major purchase

According to Consumer Reports, before hitting the virtual aisles, shoppers should answer these four questions for ourselves:

1. What do I want?

Sometimes you already know exactly what you’re looking for, down to the brand, colour, and price. Other times, you may not even now what features would best serve your needs. If you find yourself in the second category, Consumer Reports deals editor Samantha Gordon suggests doing a search for the “best” makes/models of a certain type of product. Even if you don’t end up buying something from the list, it’ll at least give you an idea of what’s currently available and what you might want to look for as you continue to shop.

2. Does this product fit my needs?

If you’ve narrowed it down to a few products, do some more digging on things like the company/store’s return policy (so you know whether you’re stuck with the item after trying it). Also take a look at the product’s reviews on the retailer’s and company’s websites, as well as a scroll through their social media page to see if any disgruntled consumers left complaints or other messages. (Just keep in mind that not all reviews you read online are legitimate.)

3. How much does it cost?

Part of fitting your needs is fitting within your budget. Yes, you should compare prices across different sites and retailers, but also be realistic about what you can afford. Just because something comes with a variety of flashy features, it doesn’t mean that you need all (or any) of them.

4. How big is it?

This isn’t always an issue, but if you’re purchasing an item that you need to fit in a particular space, be sure to take measurements and then check them against the product listing. Photos can be deceiving, so get out the tape measure and don’t eyeball it.

Also, find out how the item will be delivered. For example, if it’s a couch, will it come fully assembled, or in pieces? If it’s delivered in one piece, will it fit through your doorway? These are things you’ll want to figure out before the truck pulls up outside your home.


  • Geez, the most important first question is “Do I really need it?”. And the second question should be “Will my life be better for buying this?”. Of course, you have to be honest with yourself with these questions, and you have to understand the difference between what you need and what you want, and most people are incapable of doing either as their egos get in the way.

    People waste so much money buying crap they don’t need to try and fill the emptiness inside themselves that never gets filled. Of course, buying crap isn’t the solution, helping others, helping animals and helping the planet are what makes most people feel good, even if they don’t realise it because they never do it.

    Buying pointless crap does the very opposite, it helps no-one in the bigger picture, it often results in animal cruelty and death (for anything with animal products in it) and more crap certainly does not help the planet. Stop buying crap you don’t need!

Log in to comment on this story!