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Do you really need it? Tips for sensible shopping

Rebecca Waldron is freelance writer who recently relocated to sunny Chandler, Arizona, from Denver. She enjoys everything from shopping and fashion to learning how to surf, and she loves spending time with her two dogs, Play Doh and Brut...

Think before you buy

Like many women, I overbuy and overspend -- I often leave the mall with unnecessary items, using justifications like 'I needed that' or 'it was a great deal' or believing that someday I will wear it with something or somewhere. However, in an economy where we are all trying to save, I quickly learned that my spending habits would not cut it. Next time you find yourself in a shopping quandary, here's how you can determine if you really, actually need it.

Woman shopping

After thinking about ways to cut my excessive spending, I came up with a few questions to help me determine if the purchase is absolutely necessary. I use these to fall back on when determining if the purchase is a do or a don't.

Does it make you feel good?

Sometimes you find yourself shopping for nothing in particular and you find something that jumps out at you. All of a sudden, you need this item, but when you get to the dressing room, you discover that it's wrong for you. It's either too tight, too big or it looked better on the hanger -- instead of justifying how you could make it work, just leave it. It's not worth buying if you're already having doubts before you even leave the store.

Would you pay full price for it?

Is it the alluring sale price that has you convinced to spend your hard-earned money on the item? If you wouldn't want the item for full price, do you really need it, or are you buying because it's a bargain? Sale prices are tricky, because you think more about the deal than the actual item. In this case, you need to decide if you can mix and match it with your already impressive wardrobe.

Is the item worth the cost?

If it's just a seasonal or trendy item, do you see yourself wearing it after two months? If not, then the best trick is to find something similar but less costly. Stores like Target and Forever 21 are great for trendy items that can fall in and out of style quickly.

Is it an essential wardrobe building piece?

Is it something that you can mix and match with plenty of other things in your closet? If you need to build an entire outfit around this one item, you need to think about if it is worth the cost of buying a completely new outfit. The ability to use what you already have is very important and can help you hang on to your hard-earned money.

Do you already have something similar at home?

Many of us are guilty of buying duplicates because we like the fit or the color. The best way to avoid this is to think about what you already own that is similar. Instead of buying a new item, think of trendy accessories you could use to snap new life into the fabulous wardrobe you already own. It will be far less expensive.

So next time you find yourself saying, "But I waaaant it," use these questions to determine if it's just an impulse buy or something you really need. After all, nine times out of 10, you will forget about the garment upon waking up the next day.

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