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Common Causes of Buyer’s Remorse

Buyer’s remorse is something we all suffer from occasionally. The enterprising folks at Business Insider magazine tallied up the total of money Americans waste each year and came up with the figure of over half-a-trillion dollars. That’s a lot of remorse!

Making an occasional bad purchasing decision probably can’t be avoided, but there are some things that universally tend to provoke a high rate of buyer’s regret.

According to a recent (informal) study by the American Association of Retired People (AARP) the items that you should think long and hard before purchasing are:

• Purses: Chances are you have too many of them already, anyway.
• Used books: priced to sell, they seem like a great deal until you realize you really don’t want to read any of them.
• Season Event Tickets: Despite your best intentions, chances are really good that you aren’t going to attend every game, concert, or etc. in the series.
• Things to help you get organized: For most of us, those bins, baskets and racks end up adding to the clutter instead of organizing it.
• Anything-of-the-Month Clubs: The thrill soon wears off, it’s better to just treat yourself to that piece of candy, cheese, or lipstick rather than make a commitment to receive a box full of it on a monthly basis.
• Specialized kitchen gadgets: They’re expensive, take up counter space, and usually quickly end up gathering dust.

A similar list from Forbes magazine revealed that people felt they wasted the most money on unused gym memberships, cable TV, pricey pet food, and deeply discounted items.

AskMen found that the things every man most regrets buying includes that expansive DVD collection, trendy accessories, exotic pets, and any product purchased from eBay or an infomercial.

No Regrets

We’re all going to make the occasional purchase that disappoints – the lipstick that makes us look ill instead of interesting, the shirt that doesn’t fit, or the gadget that promises to solve a pesky problem but only ends up aggravating us further. But the majority of buyer’s remorse is related to being unrealistic about the life we think we want to live versus our real circumstances.

The other reason for purchase regret typically comes from a perceived savings; the discounted item, the gift with purchase, being able to get a lot of something for less than you’d pay for a single thing. A deal can be wonderful, if you would have purchased those things at full price. If it’s only attractive because it’s cheap, chances are you can do without it.

People also tend to go on wild splurges when they have been constrained financially for a while. You get a bonus or an unexpected check, and you feel you deserve a treat. You probably do, but going into a buyer’s frenzy just because you have a bit of money to spend usually results in regrets, much like a junk food binge. Creating a budget that includes discretionary funds for the occasional splurge can be a good way of warding off this type of buyer’s remorse.

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