10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying Online Courses

online courses

Before I speak on online courses …


New Category Alert: Finance/Wealth/Abundance. A little self-appreciation! 😉 My 2 major tasks on creating 2 separate categories for books and finance this month will be successful after today’s post. Fact check. As you all must know, I wrote last month about speaking a lot on financial well-being. For the people who’ve stuck with me from the beginning know that I’ve been studying finance since 2018 and now felt like a good time to start sharing my knowledge with you.

Questioning yourself before buying online courses

With the rise of online courses available, it’s difficult and often times tempting to spend $$$ on your next purchase. Buying online has become so easy especially when it’s just a click away. The idea for this blog-post came to me when I realized that due to quarantine, people around the world are stuck at home. And the notifications are just pouring in from online course generators in the name of ‘personal growth.’ Now, I’m not saying all of them are wrong, but it’s better to not be bombarded with such messages; I’ve unsubscribed from many email lists for the same reason.

With the number of online courses available, it’s hard to know which ones are worth buying.

Perhaps the best financial move I’ve ever made in my life is to get that sense of impulse under control. That’s not to say that occasional spontaneity is bad – it’s not and it can be quite fun – but that routine impulsiveness with one’s money leads directly to financial ruin.

So, how did I get this sense of impulsiveness when it comes to money under control? For me, the most useful strategy was to mentally adopt a routine where I strongly question every single purchase that I make. If I’m considering spending money on something that isn’t very clearly a need (like very basic food staples) or an already-considered routine buy (like the type of hand soap that I buy whenever we need a refill), I question it.

Now the above method isn’t unhealthy, but it won’t apply to everyone. There needs to be a strategic way which can help you whilst making decisions. That’s why, I’m here 😉 <3

So, how do you decide which online course/online courses to buy?

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online courses
infographic credit: via thebrownwolf.com

Here are some questions to ask before you spend your money.

1. Have you hit a wall?

Have you tried everything you know to do in this area but you’re stuck? If so, online courses might be a good next step. 

Otherwise, exhaust all the free info you can find first. Consider a course later.

2. Is it in your time budget?

Before you buy, look at your calendar. Do you have space in your schedule to work on the course? Be realistic. 

My rule of thumb is to allow about an hour a day, 5 days a week for the course duration.

When examining your time budget, keep in mind, some courses are self paced. Others are meant to be followed with the group in real time.

If you don’t have the time, it’s a waste.

3. Is it in your money budget?

If you can’t comfortably pay cash for it, don’t buy it. That’s what I think.

I get many emails from people on a tight budget asking if they should buy a particular course. My answer is almost always no. Save your money for the things that are absolutely necessary. 

Working online isn’t easy. If you’re just starting, there’s a big learning curve. The last thing you need is more pressure to make a return on your money. People who feel this pressure often make less-than-ideal choices.

4. Do you have a backlog of unfinished courses?

Finish those first.

5. Do you need to know this information right now?

Here’s a common thought: I’m not quite ready to learn about (course topic) yet, but I’m probably gonna need it in a down the road.

You probably shouldn’t buy the course.

First, it’s very possible you won’t need it as soon as you think. Second, there’s a good chance at least some of the information will be outdated by the time you get to it. Third, this course or something really similar will almost certainly be available closer to the time you actually need it.

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Option 1 $2.00 USD Option 2 $5.00 USD Option 3 $7.00 USD Option 4 $9.00 USD

6. Are you buying it out of fear?

Are you afraid of missing out (FOMO = fear of missing out) if you don’t buy it? Or you’re intimidated that you won’t be successful without it? Are you afraid this is the key and skipping it will be a deal-breaker? Are you afraid it will go away and you won’t be able to buy it again?

Don’t buy it.

I’m not a fan of buying things out of fear. Fear inserts a layer of unhealthy, negative emotion

Having said that, fear is different than healthy risk. Fear makes you feel frantic and fretful. Healthy risk makes you feel excited and empowered even if it comes with apprehension.

7. Can you find the same (or better) information for free?

I see people ask this question in Facebook Groups all the time: Can anyone recommend a good course for (blank)? 

I get it. People want the best information they can find on a topic. They assume paid online courses are the best way to get it since they are taught by experienced professionals. I speak from experience — this is not always the case.

Over the years, I’ve vetted a lot of online products. Too many to count. Some are excellent. A lot are not worth the money. 

Here’s a better question when you ask around: What’s the best free resource you’ve found for (blank)?

8. Do you like the course creator’s style?

Every course creator has a unique style. Does it connect with you? Are they helpful? Are they accessible? Do they spend their days the way you want to spend yours? Do their values align with yours?

Before you pay money for their course, examine the free content they already provide. Get on their mailing list. Watch their YouTube videos. Listen to their podcast. Join their free Facebook Group. Read their blog. Follow them on social media. Take advantage of pre-launch webinars, challenges or content.

9. Would I spend that same amount in cash, in person?

Considering how easy it is to click “Pay with PayPal Account” on a site’s shopping cart page, it’s all too common to purchase something without actually factoring it into your budget first. When you have to hand over cash or physically sign or enter your pin into a card reader, you’re more likely to better consider your spending and its ramifications. But online? Not so much.

A good test? Write down the exact amount of money you’d spend on this particular online item. Go to an ATM, withdraw that amount of money, then ask yourself if you’d still be able to get by if that exact amount of money was stolen from you. Obviously, online shopping provides much more of an ROI than getting mugged, but the principle remains: If you’re thinking of spending money you can’t live without, it’s money you shouldn’t be spending online.

10. What else could I do with this money?

In the end, any purchase comes down to an exchange of money for an item or a service. When you agree to that purchase, you “lock in” that money to that particular good or service, meaning you can no longer use that money for anything else. This is the “opportunity cost” of that purchase.

It’s well worth your time to consider the many other things you could do with the money you’re about to spend. Aren’t there better uses out there for that money? Isn’t there something more in line with your life goals that you could do with the cash?

Even if you can come up with other possibilities to merely consider, it’s usually worth your while to wait on that purchase.

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Conclusion – Final Thoughts

Don’t buy something (in this case, online courses) because someone said you should. Buy something because you’ve thoughtfully considered the benefits and are reasonably confident it will help you in a specific way.

I don’t use these questions as a formal checklist. Instead, I’ve found that these questions just naturally come out of my head when I’m critical about my potential purchase of an item.

At first, it might actually be a good idea to use this list – or a very similar list of your own modification – as a “checklist” for purchases, but you’ll find that once you get into the practice of really questioning your purchases, you won’t need a formal checklist any more. Your mind will do it for you.

Despite marketing tactics designed to persuade people to buy products, a single course will not make or break your online career. Give yourself permission to let an opportunity pass you by. There will always be more options.

The best thing you can do is take the next right step in front of you. Master that first. Explore additional opportunities as you need them.

When you reach that point, you will have turned the corner from an impulsive buyer into a discriminating buyer, and at that point you’ll be well along the path to financial success.

Feel free to ask any follow-up questions or share your ideas in the comment section below. Alternately, I’d really appreciate for you to share this content on your social media platform if you found it useful so that others can benefit from it too. If you have any doubts or want a personal clarification, send me an email on eclipsedwords@gmail.com. For more inspiration, fun, and smiles, follow me on Instagram

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8 thoughts on “10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying Online Courses

  1. Good advice, especially about ignoring the “one-click” option. I have spent too much of the credit card’s money that way.

  2. This was so good! As a veteran at thinking I will finish all the things I so enthusiastically start, following your principles could have saved me a lot of $, time and frustration 🙂 Well done!

  3. Great advice. I’ve been undertaking free online short courses through Future Learn that are developed & facilitated by various universities.

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