We all spend money on stupid things. As I write this, I’m eating a bag of pre-popped, “artisan-made” popcorn, which has to be one of the most pretentious, pointlessly expensive snacks in existence. Was it the best use of my $3.50? Absolutely not.
At least I’m not alone. I was skimming a Reddit thread on dumb purchases, and one user talked about the time he or she was at a festival and bought a strawberry on a stick for $5 — and it was really just a strawberry on a stick. There wasn’t even chocolate.
You can spend a lot of money on silly things, but it happens to everyone. You shouldn’t dwell on it; yeah, it may feel terrible to waste money, but you learn from the experience or at least get a few laughs. For example: the Reddit user who bought horse masks to send to his friends when they’re feeling down (“$60 for lulz”), the user who bought a $400 remote-control airplane (“Crashed that bad boy straight after takeoff”), or the guy who spent $6 on a boat captain hat (“my roommates said I ‘need a drinking hat’”).
Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s director of consumer education, shared a story with me about a time she wasted her money. She bought a mini laptop a few years ago and spent about $300 on it:
“This was before tablets came out, and I thought it would be great for working on the road,” she wrote in an email. “Not only was the keyboard way too small for me to type anything efficiently, I also opted for the cheaper version which used Ubuntu as its operating system. As someone who has always used Windows, I was completely lost and unable to use it for even the most basic tasks. By the time I decided to dump it I couldn’t even get $50 on eBay for it. I wound up giving it away.”
Technology is a common culprit of buyer’s remorse. I remember getting an m:robe mp3 player/camera because I was convinced it was a superior, affordable alternative to the iPod. (It broke within a year and I replaced it with an iPod I still use seven years later.) Redditors posted some similar regrets:
“I bought a minidisc player/recorder soon after it was introduced. I was convinced that it was the next digital media technology. Boy was I wrong.”
A response: “HD DVDs, man. I feel yah.”
It’s easy to get caught up in something new. Kali Geldis, Credit.com’s editorial director, got really into Groupons when they came out.
“I’ve always been a deal hunter, so I got a thrill out of getting the 70% off deals for pedicures, massages, dinners for two, basically everything,” she wrote in an email. Even when the value of what she bought disappointed her (which happened all the time), she kept buying the deals. It took two horrible experiences for her to kick the habit. “After all, what good is a discount if you aren’t happy with the product you’re actually buying at the end of the day?”
No one — not even personal finance experts — makes perfect money decisions all the time. As frustrating as it can be to feel you’ve wasted money, it usually isn’t the end of the world. These mistakes can serve as a reminder of why it’s important to carefully consider financial decisions before taking action (for example, several Redditors posted about regretting taking out student loans). The bigger the cost, the more careful you should be, especially if you’re putting your financial standing on the line.
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