Don’t Spend Money On Things You Didn’t Know You Needed


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Every Marathon I’ve run has had a fitness expo which accompanies race packet pickup. It’s an opportunity for runners to find some last minute necessities for their run, as well as browse the latest and greatest in running and fitness gear. I was in Duluth, Minnesota over the weekend to run Grandma’s Marathon, and walked through one of these fitness expos.

As I walked past one of the booths, a man stepped in front of me telling me he had a special treat for my feet. Intrigued, I allowed him to guide me to sit down in a chair and remove my shoes. He slipped a pair of self-massaging inserts into my shoes and told me to try them out. I put my shoes back on, stood up, and took a few steps.

The inserts seemed to bubble under my feet as I walked. It was a sensation I had never felt before, sort of like the footwear equivalent of what pop rocks feel like as the tiny crystals explode in your mouth. It felt different, and strangely good on my feet.

The exhibitor told me that the regular price of the insoles were $53, but the expo sale price was $40. I reached to my back pocket and felt the presence of my wallet. I was about to pull it out and signal that I would take a pair when a couple of questions ran through my mind:

What Value Would This Bring To My Life?

He asked my size, and pulled out a shrink wrapped pair of the insoles from a container that had dozens, maybe hundreds of units of the product. What did he do with that set after I was done? Did he reuse them, or did he throw them away? If he threw them away for cleanliness (which I would expect, really) could they really be worth $53 or even $40?

Do I NEED These?

The whole point of the insoles are to ease foot pain and promote quicker recovery for runners. But I don’t have any issues with my feet.


The insoles are likely overpriced, are a product I didn’t even know existed before the expo, and solved a problem that I didn’t have.

I put my wallet away.

What almost happened is exactly what the exhibitor wanted to happen. He wanted me to be blown away by the feeling of the insoles, and instinctively throw down my hard earned cash without thinking about it too much. Maybe I would have purchased the item and enjoyed the popping under my feet every time I took a step. Maybe I would have decided I didn’t like the product, removed them and let them sit in the corner of my closet until I finally threw them in the trash. The point is, I almost bought the insoles without taking the time to think about it, do some research, and truly make sure that I wanted to give up my hard earned cash to buy them.

Think about how often this happens in our every day life. People buy new cell phones that cost hundreds of dollars just because they want to have the latest and greatest. People buy a new vehicle just because their current mode of transportation has a spot or two of rust. How many times have you thrown away something that didn’t taste good, but sounded heavenly while walking through the grocery store?

Be a conscious spender. Take the time to THINK about your purchases. Be selfish with your money, and evaluate the value your purchase would bring to your life. If you can do that, I think you’ll find yourself buying only things that truly enhance your life, and a little extra cash in your wallet.

What was the last thing you bought without truly thinking about it’s value to your life? How much did it cost you?

About Travis

26 Responses to “Don’t Spend Money On Things You Didn’t Know You Needed”

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  1. I always think of that when someone is trying to sell me the latest and greatest thing. I think, “hmm I lived without if for my entire life and managed to survive just fine…think I can manage without it now.”

    • Travis says:

      That’s a GREAT way to think of it, Tonya. Oh how oh how have I ever made it through 41 years of life without self massaging shoe inserts???? I think I’ll be just fine!

  2. If more people stopped to think before spending, they would have a lot more money in their pocket. This is a practice I adopted later in life. Great article!

    • Travis says:

      Exactly, Petrish…..I think some people just don’t want to have to think about it. They want to be affluent enough to not to have to care. That’s just crazy talk as far as I’m concerned though. Why would you want to waste money….even if you have a lot of it?

  3. I always like the waiting period before making a purchase. I did however make a $40 purchase on a remote control drone recently. It by no why has made my life better or easier, but has made for some laughs and fun with the family.

    • Travis says:

      Well, on the bright side, if you would ask yourself the question, “does this drone bring $40 of value to our lives?” hopefully the answer is, “YES!”

  4. Conscious spending is HUGE. I think it’s the single most important concept I’ve grasped in our journey out of debt. I bet that guy was friendly and inviting, and it felt fun to go along with what he was asking you to try. I tend to feel rude if I refuse sales people the opportunity to show their wares. Of course it isn’t rude. This over-politeness is just one of a multiple number of influences I’ve realized compromises my spending.

    • Travis says:

      I used to feel the same way….and sometimes still do feel like I’m being rude. On the other hand, I want to be selfish with my time too. Why stand there listening to someone when I know I’m not going to buy anything? Why waste my time doing a telephone survey when I will get NOTHING in return? Thanks for reading, Prudence!

  5. This is one of the reasons I’m a big fan of the 24 hour holding period before making a purchase. Forces you to really think about the purchase away from the pressure of the sale.

    • Travis says:

      I agree, Stefanie…although there are some instances where you may not be able to wait 24 hours. On the other hand, maybe that’s the exact reason why that item should NEVER be purchased? Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Those kinds of expo can be a lot of fun but also dangerous to our wallets. Like you said, they know we’re excited to be there, which makes it easier for them to influence us. I have to watch myself too, otherwise it is so easy to get carried away in the moment. I always go back to my goals to help me remember what I am truly excited to achieve. How was Grandmas?

    • Travis says:

      To be honest, the shoe inserts were the only thing that even tempted me. I have all the running gear I need, and very seldom do you find a truly great buy at an expo. Grandma’s was absolutely wonderful…Duluth really knows how to throw a marathon. The whole city was in marathon mode supporting the event. I’ll definitely be going back!

  7. Good for you. Though good insoles can avoid problems with feet and back later. Then again, a random guy selling insoles may not be giving you good insoles. They might have died in under a month.

    I tend to think about the value, but sometimes fatigue or an ADD husband does overrule my trepidations. It just depends.

    • Travis says:

      I don’t deny good insoles can help a lot…but you hit the nail on the head. If I’m going to buy insoles, I want to spend some time researching them and make an educated purchase! Thanks for reading!

  8. I think that I have the opposite problem – it is hard for me to not purchase something without a lot of conscious thought first! Is this the best deal? Do I really need it? How often will I use it? I guess the only thing I would buy on impulse would be some food at an expo.

    It easy to get wrapped up in the moment with events like you described where you have a lot of vendors selling things you are interested in. They’re approach of letting you try it, money back guarantees, specially pricing now only, etc., are all ways to make it easier for you to want to buy. It proves we are human!

  9. Julie G. says:

    Recently, My super expensive cell phone would not hold a charge. At first I thought that I would have to replace it. Something I can’t really afford nor do I want to spend the money on. Then, I did a little research and determined that I would spend the $20.00 for a replacement battery and see if that worked great, if it didn’t it would try to re-sell the battery and get a new phone. Luckily for me and 20.00 later I have a phone that will hold a charge and keeps longer than before. I too was able to think about the purchase and spend a little time to save at least 600.00 easily. Patience, thoughtfulness, and research are the keys to saving money that people often don’t mention.

  10. Yup, these kinds of impulse buys can and will drain people’s money under the guise of “No really, I truly need this”. I’ve found myself in these situations before as well, and luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at “feeling” what’s an impulse buy and what isn’t. If you didn’t intend to buy beforehand, it’s probably an impulse buy.

  11. Kurt says:

    Well done! And what evidence is there that the product you passed up has any benefit whatsoever–except financial to the guy selling it!

    • Travis says:

      Exactly, Kurt! I would have loved to known for sure what they do with the pads they open up for people to try. they probably have to inflate the price to make up for all the ones they throw away!

  12. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m pretty good at keeping the wallet in the pocket for big purchases, but I still fall short on a weekly basis with a run to Walgreens for pretzels – something that just sounds good at the time for only $3. But it all adds up and takes discipline to over come it.

    However, when I do find the strength to resist small purchases, I feel empowered as I walk away. It’s just hard to think of that feeling when you have a little temptation looking you in the eye!


  13. Those expos are dangerous like that…same thing with those parties where friends try to sell you products that you don’t need, but then you feel guilty if you don’t support them…ugh.

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