A Purchase Waiting Period Can Save You Money and Regret

saving money tips, money advice, money tips
The concept of a buying waiting period isn’t new. The theory is if a person forces themselves to wait a day or two before making an unplanned purchase, many of those items would never be bought. After taking some time to think about the consequences and value of the desired object, it loses some of it’s attraction.

My wife and I encountered a great example of the power of a buying waiting period last weekend.

We walked into a recreation store that specializes in pool tables, dart machines, and the supplies and decorations that go along with such activities. We needed some new darts as ours had entered a state of being unusable after years of use. My wife’s eyes fixated on something just as we walked through the door, causing her to suddenly stop and state, I want that!

Following her outstretched arm, I saw a tiki bar set made of bamboo. My wife thought the bar would look spectacular on our patio along with the deck furniture we purchased last year of a similar style. The employee told us the bar had been there for months, and a quick call to the owner revealed the discounted price they would offer so they could get it out of the store. The offer was several hundred dollars off the original price, but walking around the bar I started to have my doubts about whether we should buy it.

  • The bamboo was split in some places
  • The bar stools were wobbly
  • The bar was massive, and I wasn’t sure where we would store it in the winter OR how we’d get it home.

I mentioned these things to my wife, but it didn’t reduce her desire for the bar. It was time to take a different approach. I verified with the employee that the bar had been there for months, then asked what the chances were that it sold before Monday.

I’d be absolutely shocked if that thing wasn’t still sitting there on Monday, he replied.

I managed to convince my wife that we could think about it for a couple of days, and secure a way to get it home if we still decided to purchase it. We walked out the door with our new darts, but my wife made a point to tell the employee that we’d be back on Monday for the bar.

Monday came and went, and my wife didn’t say another word about the bar.

On Tuesday, I asked for her thoughts regarding purchasing the bar.

It’s a lot of money for essentially just a decoration, she said.

I nodded my head in agreement, knowing that my request to think about it for a few days did exactly what I had hoped. I wasn’t completely against buying the bar, but it made both of us really think about the potential purchase. Thinking about it for a few days may have led us both to believe it was something we wanted. In this case, my perspective didn’t change, but my wife’s did. The important thing is that we didn’t make an impulsive decision that we may have regretted later.

How about you, Clever Friends, have you ever used a waiting period to ensure you’re making the best purchasing decision?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • My husband has ADD, so waiting periods are usually mandatory. A little less so when he’s using his fun money, but I still encourage him to sleep on it. His main worry is that he’ll forget about it — not because it’s not important but because his memory is so bad. So we’ve made a deal where he’ll tell me something he wants, and I’ll make sure I ask about it a little bit later.

    I will say that the last few things he’s bought immediately are still bringing him joy. Then again, they’ve mainly been things he’s been thinking about getting but couldn’t find up until that moment.

  • Brock, I love the way your posts weave these everyday conversations into real money lessons.

    I’m pretty good about waiting and planning out big purchases. I’m a little less great at waiting on smaller ones, and for a while that was adding up as I was giving in to more impulses. I’ve become more aware of this tendency and try to be more careful about impulse buys (and put myself in fewer positions for temptation.)

  • Yes that’s defintely a good way to curb your unnecessary shopping desires.
    Actually even if you decide to buy it after sleeping on it for a couple of nights, you may get a better deal – it happened to me a few times with online shopping at Kohls. After leaving my shopping bag with items unchecked, the next time I logged in I saw a reduced price! Kohls sometimes do that.
    And in your case, your hesitation will give you more negotiation power. So if you decide to buy it later, you might get it at a even lower price.

  • @Emily – Thanks for your kind words, that’s exactly what I hope to do with my writing – everyday examples that people can relate to! Using a waiting period takes some practice – but eventually you get the hang of it for most purchases…although the less expensive they are the less impact they have on your budget.

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