Even the most financially savvy of people sometimes make purchases they end up regretting. In fact, a U.K. study, published in 2016, found that 82% of adults have regretted a past purchase. Whether it’s home gym equipment or a dress that’s a size too small, certain things belong firmly in the “what was I thinking?” category.
DVDs And Blu-rays
TV shows and movies couldn’t be more accessible. In fact, we’re spoiled for choice; platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Redbox and Vudu let you stream or download all your favorites and watch them from whatever device you have on hand. You can still buy movies and TV box sets on DVD and Blu-ray, of course — but what’s the point? It all comes down to math. You might be able to pick up a discounted DVD for around $5, but you could get a whole month’s worth of unlimited access to movies and TV shows for not much more than that.
The ‘It’ Kids’ Toy
Every year, there’s a “must-have” toy at the top of every kid’s holiday gift list — and it’s pretty hard to say no to those pleading eyes. But if you can resist the temptation to jump on the toy bandwagon, you’ll be the one parent feeling pretty pleased with yourself six months later for not shelling out $100 on more on a piece of plastic or a furry creature that’s lying, neglected, under the bed.
Buying a home appliance can be more complicated — and expensive — than you think. Those salespeople are probably working on commission, remember, and they want you to fork out for as many extras as possible. Before you add an extended warranty to your purchase, check exactly what you’re getting for your money. If your brand-new product stops working (or completely falls apart) you’re going to be pretty annoyed if your warranty doesn’t cover it. Your home insurance or credit card might also give you the coverage you need, in which case an extended warranty is a complete waste of money.
Desktop computers are great if you never need to go anywhere, but most people want to be able to work from any room in their house as well as on the go. Thanks to tablets and laptops, the home office can be truly portable — meaning the desktop computer ends up gathering dust in the corner. This is one case where bigger definitely isn’t better.
“But wait … there’s more!” “Money-back guarantee!” “Not available in stores!” These are just a few of the tag lines used on infomercials to persuade TV viewers to buy something they didn’t even realize they needed or wanted. Sometimes the products are defective, lots of the offers are too good to be true, and huge shipping and handling charges often turn a bargain buy into something way more expensive than the in-store or online equivalent.
At certain times of the year, when the weather is just perfect and getting closer to nature seems like the best idea ever, lots of people invest in a multi-roomed tent, a huge inflatable mattress and other hardcore camping accessories. But this investment is only worth it if you’re a serious camper. If you only casually camp once a year, all you need is a standard tent and sleeping bag.
Fast food and processed snacks might seem like a good idea at the time. Occasionally, that candy itch just has to be scratched … but who ever feels better after stuffing their face with junk food? Aside from the inevitable guilt that follows, there are all the health risks: dental distress, blood sugar spike, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bloating and weight gain — to name but a few.
When camcorders were first released in the early 1980s, everybody wanted one. Unlike the old film formats (such as 16-millimeter film), which had to be sent away for processing before the footage could be viewed, playback was instant. But these days, camcorders are obsolete. Why buy one when you can use your smartphone?
Products Sold By Door-to-Door Salespeople
Let’s be honest: who is ever happy to see a door-to-door salesperson on their doorstep? Maybe if you’re desperate for a new vacuum cleaner or are long overdue for a tree service, you’d welcome this type of solicitation. But otherwise, these persuasive folks can talk you into buying pretty much anything, including a whole bunch of stuff you definitely don’t need.
Live Christmas Trees
If the world was a Hallmark holiday movie, we’d all have live Christmas trees, perfectly proportioned and sending a beautiful evergreen fragrance through our homes. But we don’t reside in a Hallmark movie and all too often live Christmas trees fail to live up to Hollywood standards. We’re talking bugs and sharp needles along with too much effort choosing, buying and setting up — plus a big mess to clean. An artificial tree might not look as good, but it’s much easier to care for. And, it will last for years, not just weeks.
Home Workout Equipment
It can be a hassle to go to the gym, especially on those dark winter mornings and rainy days. Buying home exercise equipment seems like a great solution: you can continue to work out without stepping foot outside your front door. Plus, you can do it at any time of the day, and don’t have to worry about anybody watching you huff and puff on the treadmill. But not only is this stuff expensive and bulky, it doesn’t come with a side helping of motivation. If you couldn’t be bothered going to the gym, chances are your treadmill will end up being a very pricey clotheshorse.
Fast fashion is tempting. The prices are great, and if you order online you can often be trying on a new shirt in the comfort of your bedroom the very next day. But when it comes to clothes, the old saying “you get what you pay for” tends to be true. The prices are low because the material and labor is cheap, and it’s not unusual for a garment to fall apart after a few wears. On the other hand, if you invest in a more expensive, higher-quality item, it could last you for years.
Clothes That Don’t Fit You
If you’ve got your heart set on a particular fashion item but it’s not available in your size, it’s tempting to size up or down. You might also want to buy clothes in the size you wish to be rather than the size you are. But this rarely ends well. If you go for a smaller size, you’ll feel uncomfortable and unconfident. Go big, and you might need to pay for tailoring — with no guarantee that the end result will be what you’re hoping for.
Like cheap clothing, cheap furniture generally isn’t built to last. So although you save money on your original purchase, you’ll probably have to replace it a lot sooner than if you’d spent more for higher-quality pieces. In the long run, you could end up spending significantly more on so-called “budget-friendly” furniture.
Gimmicky Kitchen Gadgets
You can get a fancy kitchen gadget for everything, from scissors designed for cutting herbs to a butter dispenser (yes, really). It makes you wonder how people managed for all those years with normal scissors, regular knives and — well, their hands. Spoiler alert: they managed just fine, and these gimmicky gadgets will only take precious storage space away from things you actually need in your kitchen.
Single-Use Kitchen Appliances
While some small kitchen appliances are everyday essentials, like a kettle and a toaster, others are rarely used. Therefore, they’re rarely worth the money. Unless you’re a regular juicer or bread maker, you probably don’t need an appliance dedicated to those tasks. If you like using a device to juice, blend, chop or mix, go for a machine that does it all.
Preseason Sports Tickets
However the marketing people try to dress it up, the preseason is nothing but a chance for teams to figure out their talent options for the upcoming real season. Yes, games are being played, but the results count for nothing.
“Between the poor play, unknown players and tickets remaining to be full-priced, the preseason is, by far, the biggest rip-off in sports,” says Bleacher Report.
The idea of a hot tub — a place to rest and soak after a hard day, a conversation-starter for guests — is one thing; the reality is another thing entirely. Typically, life gets in the way of relaxation and parties, and a hot tub can sit for months without being used. It’s also a high-maintenance purchase whether you use it or not, calling for regular water testing, cleaning, draining and refilling.
Cheap Kitchen Knives
You don’t need spend a fortune on everything in your kitchen, but knives are worth investing in. A cheap knife is likely to get dull quickly, or lose its handle, or chip if you drop it or bang it against something, meaning you’ll have to replace it sooner than you’d hoped. You don’t have to go all out on professional chef’s knives, of course, but it pays to steer clear of the lowest-budget option.
Many of us have romantic notions of learning to play a musical instrument. And while it’s never too late to pick up a new skill, buying an expensive instrument like a piano isn’t something to rush into. That cheap secondhand piano on Craiglist might seem like a bargain, but that’s only if you actually play the thing. There’s also the size factor. How many of those used pianos for sale do you think come from people who didn’t realize how much space one would take up in their home?
Pricey Replacement Parts
Any expensive replacement part for your car, your furnace or your home appliances is worth the cost only if the item doesn’t end up being more than what you’d pay for a brand new one. Every time you need a replacement part, it’s worth taking a moment to think about what you’ve already spent on the same equipment in the past. (Hint: if you’ve lost count, it’s probably time to say goodbye and start over.)
If get-rich-quick schemes worked, there would be a lot more wealthy people in the world. The harsh truth is, people who claim they can make you rich tend to be the only ones making money — because they don’t offer their “advice” for nothing. The same goes for online courses promising to land you a six-figure income.
Fine china might look elegant, but it’s too expensive and delicate to use at the family dinner table every evening. Sure, you might bring it out once a year for Easter or Thanksgiving, but then again, you might just go for the more practical option that’s not swathed in bubble wrap and stored in a box in the basement. It’s probably easier just to borrow your grandma’s.
Expensive Clothes You Can Only Wear Once
According to The Knot, the average wedding dress cost in 2019 was $1,600. That’s before alterations and accessories — and many brides spend a lot more. Basically, it’s safe to say that a wedding dress is one of the more expensive purchases in most people’s closets. A definite splurge purchase, it will never be worn again. And it might not be easy to sell, either, if you try to recoup some of the initial cost.
‘Must-Have’ Baby Gadgets
New moms and dads need lots of diapers, burp cloths and baby clothes. A bassinet and stroller can be essential big-ticket items, too. And then you’ll probably need more diapers. But beyond that, there are endless “must-have” baby items that really aren’t needed at all, like bottle warmers, nursing timers and changing tables. In fact, if all new parents were honest, they’d probably ask for a gift card instead.