5 Whys of spending (3 min read)

We are living in an impatient era. Technology has made spending easy. We search, we tap, we swipe, we click and that’s it! Going forward fin-tech will make it easier to spend money. It seems like an ease of purchasing stuff without going to shops or malls. It saves us time, but on the other hand, it increases the speed of spending like never before.

Have you ever try to find out WHY are we really making that purchase? Let’s drill down this further with the help of 5 WHY technique and try to identify the root cause of that purchase.

To identify that, we need to first understand the concept of 5 WHY. 

5 Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

[1] The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?” Each answer forms the basis of the next question.

The technique was formally developed by Sakichi Toyoda and was used within the Toyota Motor Corporation during the evolution of its manufacturing methodologies.

[2] Not all problems have a single root cause. If one wishes to uncover multiple root causes, the method must be repeated asking a different sequence of questions each time.

Let’s understand the concept with the help of an example. Say for example you have a car that’s not working. Simply asking “why” once will get you a step down to the root cause. The car isn’t working because the battery is dead.

Sakichi found that if you continued, you’d find a much more valuable answer.
The car battery is dead.

Well, the alternator is not functioning.

The alternator belt is broken.

But, why?
The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced.

Ok, now we’re getting close. Why?
The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule.

Aha! A root cause! This is really why our car didn’t start.

It is a valuable exercise to understand out spending. Let’s take another example of my new MacBook. Why?

Because my old laptop is out of date. Why?

Because running apps on it feel slow. Why?

Because I can’t wait for the app to load and run slowly. Why?

Because I am impatient.

The new laptop has a new powerful battery, better and faster processor, better display. These are all additional features but may not affect my purchasing decision.

I bought my laptop because I wanted a fast and more responsive device. I bought a new laptop because I was impatient.

Unveiling the intent

By applying 5 WHY method we will come to know the exact reason for our spending. Knowing the exact reason will make us more aware and conscious of our spending. Are you surprised to know the exact reason for your purchase? None of these categories was what I expected before doing the 5 whys exercise. All of them reveal a little more about my intent with the purchase. When we take the time to ask ourselves why we learn a bit more about ourselves and our habits.

Why are you really pulling out your wallet today? The answer may surprise you. Do a quick Q & A session with yourself before pulling out your wallet.

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