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Chances are that if you’ve ever spent money, you’ve made a purchase you regret buying. But what causes buyer’s remorse and how can you avoid it?
You can start with this list of 20 purchases that buyers almost feel guilty about buying afterward.
If you always get buyer’s remorse, that means that you need to be more intentional when it comes to how you spend your hard-earned money.
While this isn’t something that can be fixed overnight, knowing what to look out for is a significant first step towards reducing impulse spending, saving more money, and preventing buyer’s remorse.
What is buyers’ remorse?
Before you dive into this list, let’s get clear on what buyer’s remorse is.
Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase.
Buyer’s remorse often goes hand-in-hand when you regret buying expensive items, such as a new car or home, but you can also experience it with smaller purchases. You can read more about the psychology of buyer’s remorse and how to stop it in this blog post.
Top 20 purchases buyers regret buying
Don’t feel too bad if you have made a purchase that you regret – most of us have!
Every mistake is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and grow; start by educating yourself with this list of things you will almost always regret buying.
1. Furniture that doesn’t fit
There are so many reasons that furniture might not fit in your home.
It might literally not fit because you didn’t take proper measurements beforehand, only to find that it doesn’t fit in the space you intended — or even up the stairs, for that matter!
Also, it might not fit your personal style, clash with the other items you have in your home, or be too expensive to fit your budget.
2. Contentious purchases
Contentious items cause friction with someone in your household, be it a partner, child, parent, etc.
If you live with someone else, there are times when you have to come together to decide if you want to buy something or not, but sometimes it’s hard for both parties to see eye to eye.
It’s often big-ticket items like new cars or homes that leave one side or the other with a severe case of buyer’s remorse.
If something is causing more anxiety and stress than it has potential benefits, it’s probably best to walk away and find something you CAN agree upon.
Yarn for sweaters sitting unknitted in the corner, unread books stacked up on your bookshelf, and bullet journaling supplies that have been side eying you from the corner of your desk for months now.
Hobbies should bring you joy, not negative feelings like stress, anxiety, overwhelm, or guilt.
It’s okay to acknowledge a hobby isn’t a good fit for you. It might be that you don’t have enough time or interest to put into that hobby, or that it’s something you used to love but aren’t passionate about anymore.
Give yourself permission to move on and find a hobby that does fill you up with joy!
Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.Melva Green
4. Fantasy self clothing
Have you ever purchased an item of clothing that was a size too small, but you told yourself it would look amazing once you finally lost ten pounds?
Or you got suckered into buying the latest must-have trend, even though you just knew it wasn’t your style?
If so, you have been caught up in the fantasy self trap!
When you begin to shop for your honest, authentic self, you set yourself free in so many ways; your wallet and your confidence will thank you.
5. Uncomfortable shoes
One of the biggest lies you can tell yourself is, “These shoes will be great once they are worn in.”
If shoes don’t feel comfortable in the store, it’s probably not worth the expense and pain it’s worth to wear them in – if they EVER get worn in!
So kiss swollen ankles and blistered toes goodbye and say hello to comfortable shoes from now on.
6. Fine china
Grandma was WRONG!
Don’t keep fine china for special occasions hidden away in a china cabinet. Get those suckers out and use them!
There’s no point in having two sets of dinnerware, so make it a habit to keep the one you love and love to use in your daily life! After all, if you don’t use it now, who will want it in the future?
7. High-maintenance items
If the pain of maintaining something outweighs the joy of owning it, you are guaranteed to regret buying that thing.
High-maintenance items to avoid may include:
- Hand wash only clothes
- Dry clean only clothes
- Extreme multi-step skincare products
- Marble countertops
- Finicky plants
- And more…
8. Impulse buys
An impulse buy happens anytime you make an unplanned purchase and can occur almost anywhere: in the grocery check-out aisle, at Starbucks, or when you’re browsing social media.
Because impulse buys happen on the spur of the moment, you probably didn’t give proper thought to where that item fits into your life – or if you need it at all!
FIND OUT MORE: 10 Tips to Stop Impulse Buying CRAP (and Save Money!)
9. Products just because they are cheap or on sale
Have you ever bought something you didn’t need simply because the price seemed like too good of a deal to pass up?
If so, you are not alone – big sales, two-for-the-price-of-one deals, and $5 off coupons are small incentives that brands use to get you in their store to spend more money.
And it works pretty well!
So well, according to a 2020 Black Friday Shopping Report survey by Finder, 64% of Americans said they bought something on sale that they later regretted – to the tune of $74 billion!
Be clear on your wants versus needs and you will save much more money in the long run.
10. Gateway items
Have you ever bought a new coat, only to realize how shabby your boots looked alongside the coat?
So then you ended up buying new shoes, but then you noticed your jeans were out of style, so you bought new ones. Then a new belt to go with them. And so on.
If so, you’ve seen the Diderot Effect in action.
The Diderot Effect is a well-known social phenomenon in which acquiring one new item sets off a spiral of consumption. A single purchase makes you want to keep buying new things which enhance or complement that purchase.
Here are more examples of gateway purchases:
- You buy a gym membership and feel like you need new workout clothes, a new water bottle, new sneakers, and a carrying bag.
- You buy a new car and then follow it up with special floor mats, bike racks, leather seats, cool rims, and a stereo system.
- You give your kids a gaming system for Christmas, and then they want new games, special chairs to sit in, more controllers for their friends, and, oh yeah – a bigger TV would be great!
Not all of these purchases are bad per se, but when they become too excessive, you waste more money, space, and time, so really ask yourself if those are contributing true value to your life.
11. Low-quality items
If you’re strapped for cash, it might make it seem like you are saving money by buying the cheapest choice.
But sometimes buying cheap means you need to replace more often as that item wears out, falls apart, or otherwise goes wrong.
Instead of buying low-quality items for cheap, try shopping for high-quality items on sale at your local thrift store or online secondhand stores if you want to save money.
Sometimes you can even score brand-new items with the tags still on for massive price reductions!
12. Items that go against your values
If a purchase goes against your values or personal ethics, you will always feel a sense of guilt when you look at it, so think twice before making that buy.
Most eco-minimalists wouldn’t dream of buying snakeskin shoes or a leather belt.
When you define your values, it becomes easier to say no to items outside of those values.
13. The “wrong” color
Have you ever bought a new outfit, but something didn’t feel right about it?
You might have felt confused because it fit just fine and even looked cute, but for some reason, you never reach for that item to wear in the morning.
If so, it might have been that you picked a color that didn’t make you feel your best, whether it clashed with your warm or cool skin tone, didn’t make you happy to look at it, or because it had a pattern that wasn’t quite “you.”
Take a look at your favorite wardrobe pieces and start to notice what your favorite clothing items have in common – you might be surprised!
14. Things you can’t afford
This should be a no-brainer; don’t buy anything you can’t afford.
It’s bad enough to regret buying something, but then to have to continue paying for that thing because you borrowed money you didn’t have to own it is adding insult to injury!
If you have to go into significant debt to purchase something, then it’s not worth it – outside of houses, of course, but even then, BE CAREFUL!
“Act your wage.”Dave Ramsey.
It’s okay to have collectibles, but when you spend all of your money buying collectibles, and they’re taking up all the space in your home, that can be an issue.
One of the reasons I became an emotional hoarder was my dad taught me to keep EVERYTHING, especially collectibles like Barbies, Beanie Babies, and Swarovski crystals because they would be worth TONS of money.
He loved to say those collectibles were going to pay for my college!
Not because of the money, but because of the care, hope, and dreams that he poured into buying those things for me – so much time, space, and money wasted.
The bottom line is you can own collectibles that make you happy but don’t put all your hopes and money into them!
16. Single-use items
Single-use items like Keurigs and fast fashion clubwear that you put on once are so out of style!
These disposable products that you use once and throw away create tons of trash, waste money, and are bad for the environment, so try to minimize your use of these items in the future.
17. Extended warranties
According to Consumer Reports, it’s rarely worth the money it costs to purchase extended warranties for electronics and appliances.
“Today’s appliances are fairly reliable,” Dan DiClerico, formerly a home expert with Home Advisor, told Consumer Reports. “The chance that your refrigerator or dishwasher actually needs a repair during the extended warranty period is pretty low.”
If you’re still hesitant, make sure you don’t regret buying an extended warranty by carefully reading the fine print and check that you understand the manufacturer’s warranty before you buy into extra coverage.
18. High-Cost Weddings
The worst thing you can do before saying “I do” is to blow all your money on planning an over-the-top wedding.
Start your marriage off on the right foot by sticking to your wedding budget so that you can have the proverbial wedding cake — and eat it too!
Then, instead of wasting a ton of money on something that lasts one day you can save money for something that matters, like a downpayment on a new home or paying off your student loan debt.
Free Yourself: How to Pay Off Debt FAST (We Crushed $250k of Debt in 5 Years!)
19. Hyped-up baby items
You want to give your baby the best, but they probably don’t need hyped-up or specialty baby gadgets like wipe warmers, fancy baby clothes, or entire baby food processing systems.
Focus on giving baby what it needs most, which is your love and attention, and keep your baby registry ultra-minimalist to save money and space!
20. Bad habits
Bad habits are expensive in more ways than one.
If you are a frequent smoker, drinker, vaper, or whatever, your bad habit may be costing you more than money; it might also be costing you your health and very life!
Look, I don’t want to preach too much, but as someone who lost multiple family members to bad habits like smoking and alcohol, please think twice the next time you light up or pour yourself another glass.
It might feel good in the moment, but twenty years down the line you will pay a price.
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Final thoughts on buyer’s remorse
You live, and you learn, so if you have made any of these purchases that you regret, take a closer look at what lead you to do so, and you can (hopefully) stop future buyer’s remorse purchases before they happen.
What do you regret buying?
Feel free to share any purchases that have left you with buyer’s remorse down in the comments below – maybe you can help someone else who is thinking of buying the same thing!