Too Much Choice!

We finally decided to paint some rooms and I wanted to paint all of our trim white.  Off we went to the paint section of the hardware store and we were overwhelmed by the choices.  Who knew there are about forty different shades of white?  Some have pink undertones, some have grey undertones, there’s off-white, near white, and so on.  My husband finally wandered over to the power tools while I debated the merits of “Moon Rise,” “Swiss Coffee” and “Powdered Snow.”

Shopping: Too Many Choices

I used to love going shopping but now I hate it.  Too many choices just complicate things.  Instead of trying something new, I go into mental overload and just end up with my tried and true.  I don’t think I’m the only one to do this.  I read that the flavour most often purchased in ice cream shops is plain old vanilla.

Grocery stores are getting bigger and bigger because they must carry every single one of the packaged, processed foods for their demanding customers.  There’s one whole aisle just for cereal!  Marketing and advertising all these products has to be at least one reason why our grocery bills are skyrocketing.  Plus it takes a lot of time to read all the labels for the best nutritional content and figure out the best price by the unit cost.

The same applies to clothing, appliances (both large and small), home décor and furniture, and have you seen all the different kinds of pens at the stationery store?  I need a little notepad to record the features of my choices as I drag myself from store to store.  Comparison shopping online is even more time consuming, but at least it eliminates the wear and tear on my legs.

Less is More

When we purchased our first new house (in the olden days), we could only choose our floor coverings and bathroom tile.  Everything else was considered standard.  Now you can pick your preferences for just about anything.  I know new home purchasers prefer it this way as they get exactly what they want the first time.  Luckily, most builders have a décor expert to assist in making the choices, otherwise I think a lot of new house interiors would take at least twice as long to complete.

I think it was better when we had only two or three things to choose from.  Life is becoming just too complicated.  Sometimes more is just too much.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Money Beagle on June 2, 2011 at 7:24 am

    It’s really irritating sometimes when you have too many choices. When I was painting my deck a couple years back, I went to the paint store and said I just wanted ‘brown’. The guy looked at me like I was speaking a new language. I just sighed, pointed somewhere at the page where it looked the most like brown and said ‘That one.’

    • Boomer on June 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm

      @Money Beagle
      It’s the same with coffee. Can I just get a medium, plain coffee, black?

      • Tim on June 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm

        … only if you can speak fluent Latin. “Yeah, I’ll have the double Veni, Vedi, Venti with a scone, thanks.”

  2. The Investment Blogger on June 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Great post topic! I think its also important to remember and focus on what we really want and are looking for. It helps to focus us to look for that, and filters weed out the other distracting choices.

  3. krantcents on June 2, 2011 at 9:31 am

    The only time I am irritated with choice is when I am at a restaurant and the menu is the size of a novel! If a particular shirt comes in fifty colors, I start to determine which ones I like. Finally make a selection based on how many I can afford. If there thousands of choices I would still apply the same process of picking some I like and select from the smaller group.

    • Boomer on June 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      @The Investment Blogger
      I too have to just focus on what I went to the store for and not get distracted. Three is my number, based on price, colour, size, etc. and then I decide.

  4. Ashley @ Money Talks on June 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I agree. Choices are good, and I wouldn’t want it any other way but it does get overwhelming. I think this is one of the reasons I like Costco. They only stock one or maybe two types of each thing. You want jelly… they have one kind. You want pasta, one kind. It does make it simpler.

    • Boomer on June 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Ashley, the only problem with one choice is it may not be a brand you like, and then you’re back to square one.

  5. Brian on June 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Agreed! There’s a great book about this topic, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz.

  6. retirebyforty on June 3, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    That’s why we haven’t paint our condo yet. 🙂
    We decided to keep it white and get colorful furniture and wall arts instead.

  7. Glen Craig on June 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I read an interesting article about the grocery chain Trader Joe’s a little while back. They purposefully only carry a few different types of an item (if that much) because they found it confuses customers to have to choose. I think it’s one of the reason we like shopping there.

    I also like shopping at wholesale places like Costco or BJ’s because you don’t always have a lot of choice. You either buy the peanut butter they have or you don’t. Same with clothes there. If you need new jeans you get what they have. You don’t have to stand there looking at 15 brands, each with 8 different types of fits.

  8. SavingMentor on June 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I agree – I’m starting to hate shopping and the research surrounding it because there are so many choices. I feel it is a necessary evil for me to spend the time researching the product to get the best value for my money but I definitely don’t enjoy it very much!

  9. Witty Artist on August 1, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Great post, Boomer! I agree that the range of choices is getting wider and wider nowadays. There are many of us who stay true to their initial preferences and wouldn’t try something else. I admit shopping can be annoying, but I begin to see this wide range of choices in a positive light. Trying something new, combining things can help us in our personal development. It’s also true that researching the product we think as the best/perfect etc is very time consuming, but in the end it is worth all the trouble.

Leave a Comment

Join More Than 10,000 Subscribers!

Sign up now and get our free e-Book- Financial Management by the Decade - plus new financial tips and money stories delivered to your inbox every week.