This Wednesday: A quiz–are you an over-buyer or an under-buyer?

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or Quiz Day.
This Wednesday: A quiz–Are you an over-buyer or an under-buyer?

I love a good self-diagnosis quiz. What kind of clutterer are you? Are you organized or disorganized? Are you at risk for dropping out of your exercise program?

Here’s a new quiz that you can take to determine whether you belong in one of two opposite groups: over-buyer or under-buyer.

It’s not particularly productive to be in too deep in either category; both offer certain advantages but also some definite drawbacks.

Does either of these descriptions fit you?

You’re an over-buyer if …
–You buy several summer outfits for your as-yet-unborn baby, then it turns out he outgrows those clothes before the weather warms up.
–You often lay in huge supplies of items like shampoo or cough medicine.
–You often make a purchase, such as a tool or tech gadget, with the thought, “This will probably come in handy.”
–You have a long list of stores to visit before you travel.
–You find yourself throwing things away—milk, medicine, even cans of soup—because they’ve hit their expiration date.
–You buy items with the thought, “This will make a great gift!” without having a recipient in mind.
–You think, “Buying these things shows that I’m responsible, organized, and thoughtful.”

You’re an under-buyer if…
–You buy saline solution, which you use every morning and night, one bottle at a time.
–You often scramble to buy an item like a winter coat or bathing suit after the point at which you need it.
–You’re suspicious of specialized objects and resist buying things dedicated very specific uses—suit bags, special plastic plates and cutlery for children, hand cream, rain boots, hair conditioner.
–You often need to come up with a makeshift solution, such using soap because you’ve run out of shaving cream, because you don’t have what you need.
–You often consider buying an item, then decide, “I’ll get this some other time” or “Maybe we don’t really need this.”
–If you must buy something, you buy as little as possible—say, by putting $10 of gas in the car.
–You think, “Not buying these things shows that I’m frugal and not a consumerist sucker.”

Me? I’m an under-buyer.

Under-buyers feel stressed because we don’t have the things we need. We make a lot of late-night runs to the drugstore. We’re surrounded with things that are shabby, don’t really work, or aren’t exactly suitable.

Over-buyers feel stressed because they’re hemmed in by stuff. They often don’t have enough storage space for everything they’ve bought, or they can’t find what they have. They feel oppressed by the number of errands they believe they need to do, and by the waste and clutter often created by their over-buying.

So under-buyers—buy what you need, without procrastination! Don’t wait for the first morning of your ski trip to buy ski gloves!
Over-buyers—think it over before you whip out your wallet! You don’t need a ten-year supply of toothpaste!

A while back, I posted this quiz as a guest-blogger on one of my favorites, Zen Habits, and I liked the post so much that I wanted to post it here, too.

Just reading the title and tag line for this blog, The Written Nerd: Confessions of an Independent Bookseller and Unrepentant Book Nerd was all that was needed to get me to click through. One of my favorite resolutions is “Spend more time with books,” and this kind of blog gets me revved up.

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Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • MJ

    I’m an underbuyer, and those 15 year old LL Bean pajamas were just fine until the day all of the elastic fell out, all at once…
    I do fill up the gas tank all at once though for convenience.
    Becoming a homeowner made me much more of an underbuyer. A, I had a larger and more important bill every month that made me think about what I really needed in the world (why I switched to drug store makeup which does perfectly well and have not bought a department store lipstick in 8 years, for which I have suffered no harm) and B, I had no time left for shopping so I didn’t see the great gifts for unknown persons etc. Now shopping is like a military strike on the way home – milk, toothpaste, raw oats, garbage bags, in and out in 10 minutes. If I could browse or wander shops I might be tempted more often.

  • Underbuyer. I’m always worried that I won’t use it. Except for chapstick, I have a way of buying that to avoid ATM fees.
    This might actually be a good starting point for a post on my site…

  • Ella

    I tend to be an overbuyer because underbuying makes me feel stressed and disorganized. I like it when my girls have more than enough pairs of tights, when we have a two-week supply of paper towels on hand, when I have a full bottle of shampoo at the ready should I run out. Running out of tissues or milk or diapers makes me feel like a poor excuse for a mother. I love that feeling of coming home from Costco and putting everything away and feeling fully stocked.

  • I’m a huge underbuyer and used to feel very proud of myself because of it. That was until I realized it was more of an obsession than a choice. I rarely have back up supplies like toothpaste or soap. I usually leave buying the backups just hours before I’m about to run out. I used to be a performer so I think that’s where I got my frugal training. But now it’s hard to break this pattern. However, I’m happy to say that I recently let myself buy 6 rolls of TP instead of the 2 pack I usually get and also 3 new facecloths. And all of sudden I felt incredibly wealthy. I was surprised at how giddy I became with such simple things.

  • Once I came up with the term “underbuyer” and realized the pattern in my purchasing decisions, I was much better able to take steps to minimize the inconvenient aspects.
    As with so many things, the secret is to be MINDFUL and to see what you’re doing, so you can choose to stock up on paper towels, for a change–or choose to pass up the special on the 100-roll-pack, because you don’t have room.

  • I’m an underbuyer according to the quiz/definition … but that label itches. The main quiz point that suits me, I guess, is the last one: You think, “Not buying these things shows that I’m frugal and not a consumerist sucker.”
    Well – that’s me! heheh. I think of myself as frugal — though I don’t consider people suckers just because they are consumers. we are all consumers to one degree or another.
    I can afford to buy specialized items like suit bags and cutlery for children, but I really don’t want to. I try to conserve resources. We buy ceramic plates made by local artists instead of special plastic plates. We live in a tiny (900sf) house, even though we can afford to have a larger home. I like it — it’s cozy. So we don’t have tons of space to store two months’ supply of toilet paper or multiple bottles of shampoo and conditioner not to mention all the other specialized body products we are told we need. I had to smile at the note about having to come up with a makeshift solution when you run out of shaving cream: the brand of hair conditioner I use works better for shaving that any shaving cream I’ve ever found. Why clutter up the bath with more bottles of stuff?
    I really resonate with the quiz statement, You often consider buying an item, then decide …. “Maybe we don’t really need this.” That is so true — not just about my thought process, but about our society in general — if only more people would think about their planned purchase, maybe even sleep on it first, before buying stuff! More likely than not, if I am honest with myself I don’t need whatever I’m considering buying.
    I love your happiness project, Gretchen — and remember that guest post of yours on Zen Habits. Very interesting and thought-provoking post. 🙂 — Maureen

  • Susan

    I enjoyed this quiz when it first surfaced on zen habits.
    I’m neither an under or over buyer – but, am in the privileged position that i can stand on my front doorstep and see a shopping centre. That shopping centre and numerous 24 hour shops in my urban area mean that i don’t need to worry about running out of milk.
    But, i’m not going to be smug for too long – i have a lot of clutter that i am working my way through – two boxes of books were donated yesterday and while i felt a pang i now i need to learn to let go!
    As ever, a good post, for once (!) one that doesn’t stictly apply to me.
    Slightly off topic perhaps, but i’d love to see ‘paralysis via decision’ tackled – i will research a new purchase TOO much, so in the end i snap and buy the first i see as i have too much information sloshing around my head about the relative merits of whichever appliance/big ticket buy it is.

  • m taylor

    Underbuyer– and I realized about a year ago that maybe I consider myself to be a ‘disposable person’. I’ve learned this from my mom. It’s kind of sad. We don’t keep alot of stuff so if we’re not around, no one will be burdened with having to go through and clean out???