Numbers November | How to…evaluate a purchase

AMtoPM online shopping

Picture this: It’s a regular Wednesday at the office. But not just any Wednesday!

It’s the Wednesday before payday! Theoretically, you’ve got some money burning in your pocket.

That is, after savings and allocating funds to bills and your grown-up budget. (While you love beauty, you’re not an idiot nor are you totally consumed by it.)

So there’s money in your pocket and you’re bombarded by products to try.

The question now becomes: How do you wade through all the products just clamouring for your hard-earned bills?

Here are my 5 tips to navigating the checkout.

1. Do you really need something? | Evaluate what you currently have and your needs at the moment. In Organize October, I itemized my beauty stash and I also put reminders on a beauty calendar I have on my phone and on my laptop.

I know what I have and what I need to toss or replenish at my fingertips.

2. Scope out what you want and do the research. | Narrow down your choices for what you want to buy. Learn as much as you can about it before plonking down any plastic or cash. Google it – the ingredients list, what it’s for, what it aims to do and reviews. A lot of reviews.

Now, take those reviews you read with a glass of salt. While they can give you a snapshot of how a product can perform, it may not work as well as it did on some other people or tank on your skin. Lots of factors are at play with a personal review: a person’s age, skin type, their skin care regime and lifestyle and environment. Ditto reviews for makeup, hair and nails.

Stalk it in person if you can. I know that sounds bad, but hit the aisles and try it out as a tester. If you can make nice and score a sample, kudos to you!

Take all this information and sit with it for a while. Don’t make any rash decisions and purchase because you’re tired, you’re hungry or that sale is in its final hour.

Pro tip: If it is a pricy item, make sure you can return it if it doesn’t work out for you. Sephora has a good return policy, as does Murale and Shoppers Drug Mart.

3. Check cost-per-use. | You’re not likely to find me buying something just because it’s cheap. I like getting the most out of my money’s worth. Even if there’s a pot of moisturizer for $5, it’ll be an expensive $5 if I only use it a couple times.

If you’re not keen on whipping out the calculator app on your phone with each purchase, ask yourself if you will realistically use up your product. For every purchase, no matter how small.

It has helped cut down on the incidents of buyer’s remorse. I’ve walked away from many products when the flimsy excuse of “but it’s so pretty!” folds.

I find this to be one of the most empowering and important steps to all purchases.

4. When questioning a bigger size, always calculate the prize per ml/g/fl oz. | This is really where you can’t avoid whipping out the calculator app. If it’s a choice between one smaller and one bigger size of something – and I already know I like it – I check to see which one would give me better value.

Sometimes buying two of the mini version of something can be a bit cheaper than the value-sized version.

5. Factor in additional costs. | This is an especially important tip for online shopping. Factor in taxes, shipping and customs duty to your purchase. Is it worth it now?

What about that new hi-tech beauty tool? Do you have to buy any accessories? What about travel plugs and converters? Will you be able to keep up with maintaining it?

Thinking about buying a new brush set? Will you have to buy a new brush cleaner? Will you be able to clean them every so often? Will you want to?

Do you have the space for what you’re going to buy? Or are you going to have to buy extra storage to accommodate it?

Take these things into account. They can really help narrow down purchases!

Bonus: Don’t buckle down under pressure. | Don’t buy something under pressure. Whether that be time constraints, a pushy sales associate or the fact that whatever you’re buying is low on stock, very in-demand or a limited-edition item. Think with your head and take a breather.

These are some of the steps I go through to evaluate a product before I go ahead and purchase. There is the odd moment where I fall in love with a product I’ve casually browsed at a store and take it home immediately, but for the most part, these are pretty firm guidelines.

I don’t think that this list is just for things that cost big money. Ultimately, there should be some sort of awareness and mindfulness before you spend on anything. It’s your money and your purchasing power!


Do you have a criteria for what makes a purchase?
Let me know what it is in the comments below or via social media.
Happy shopping!

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10 thoughts on “Numbers November | How to…evaluate a purchase

  1. Thanks for the tips! I really need to take into consideration the cost per use, I never thought about that. I also need to ask myself if I really need a particular item, or if I just want it because it’s pretty! 😉

    1. You’re welcome, Sam! I come up with three scenarios or looks when I buy things then I weigh whether I’d use it after that. Cost per use is amazing especially when you have a weakness for the expensive!

  2. These are all great tips, except during sale season. There’s nothing like an email from Sephora about the VIB sale to make you throw caution to the wind! Found you on IFB, glad I did!

    1. Thanks for visiting and for commenting! Ah, the VIB sale. I’m slowly easing up on my Sephora purchases but yes. It’s definitely an exception.

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