Scary Stories: Fellow Bloggers Share Their Tales of Buyer’s Remorse

According to Wikipedia, buyer’s remorse is “an emotional condition whereby a person feels remorse or regret after a purchase.”   It often refers to higher-priced items that are difficult or impossible to return, thereby making the buyer feel like, well,   a complete idiot.

If you’ve ever felt a twinge of regret or self-doubt and caught yourself saying “I should have known better,” then you’ve definitely experienced the heartache of buyer’s remorse.

Buyer’s remorse most often occurs after you discover you…

1) were sweet-talked by a smooth-talking salesman into buying something you didn’t really need, or

2) were goaded into buying something you didn’t really want because of a high-pressure sales pitch, or

3) were caught in a moment of weakness and made an impulse buy, or

4) failed to do the proper research and/or verify your ability to really afford it.

I saw a commercial that said four out of five dentists surveyed have experienced a severe bout of buyer’s remorse at least once or twice in their lifetime.   And although I’m not a dentist, I did write a guest post over at Ask Mr. Credit Card chronicling one of my worst experiences with buyer’s remorse.

It’s okay to admit it, you know – we’re not the only ones crying in our (root) beers.     To prove it, I asked a few of my favorite bloggers to share some of their stories.     So grab a tissue and let the pity party begin!

From Ray, proprietor of Financial Highway: My worst purchase was a CyberShot 3.2 megapixel digital camera I bought six years ago for almost $1000 on credit while a student with no income.

From J. Money, proprietor of Budgets Are Sexy:   Haha…Does my house count?   Whenever I hear “buyer’s remorse,” the first thing that comes to mind is my house.   Not that it was the only thing I’ve ever questioned (I can’t even count THOSE numbers of times), but just that it’s the only product you can’t return and get your money back when you need to.  ;) I love our 3-level lake view townhouse dearly, but what I wouldn’t give to be back in the city rockin’ out in a cozy 1 bedroom condo!   Now is this anyone’s fault other than my own?   Nope.   And have I learned a lot about getting my finances on track and being more responsible?   Oh yeah.   But if I could do things over (and keep the knowledge I have now), I would totally go back to renting and feeling “un-trapped.”   Whether my wife would be okay it or not, however,   is a whole other story.   ;)

From Moneywatch: My worst recent purchase was the bike I bought to save money after I got rid of my car. It cost £110 ($175) and I have ridden it three times in a year.

From Tom, proprietor of The Canadian Finance Blog: I bought a car a few years ago without getting it inspected or having its records checked.   Turned out the car was in an accident and written off. When I did get it looked at, the rear bumper was partially held on by duck tape!

From Four Pillars: My house – we rushed into a huge remodel project without knowing the costs.   Things worked out okay but it wasn’t a good move. The renovation was too expensive and as a result, the house ended up costing a lot more than planned.   We just didn’t research it.

From Jason, proprietor of Redeeming Riches:   I bought a brand new car on a “Smart Buy” from GM, not realizing a balloon payment was due  four years later – buyer’s remorse kicked in then!

From The Investor, proprietor of Monevator:   Buyer’s remorse kicked in over my iPhone almost as soon as I bought it.   For a start, I’m not using anything like enough of its functions, and have barely downloaded a dozen apps so far.   Worse, some of those are financial apps making it tempting to check up on the stock market index level — a bad, wealth-destroying habit if it encourages you to over-trade.   The camera isn’t as good as I expected, and 3G coverage is poor where I live.   Adding to the misery, like any good money blogger,   I worked out the total iPhone bill in advance for my 18 months minimum ownership, so I know I am paying over $1,500 in your pesos for the pleasure of this disappointment. Finally, to buy it I had to track it down via multiple shops and phone calls — there was a run on 3GS iPhones in London at the time — which reminded me how time-consuming buying stuff is. I mean to blog about all this, but unfortunately the blog I actually did write about the iPhone — before I bought it — was about how buying one can make you money. The idea behind that post is that too much abstaining things is bad for your money-making morale. My next post will be more straightforward: “Buying stuff costs a fortune, isn’t worth it, and could have been spent on income producing stocks instead.”   Bah humbug!

From The Bobo, proprietor of The Bobo Files: Do marriages count?   ;)

From Paul, proprietor of Fiscal Geek: My worst ever was a Chinese ATV for my son that I spend about 60 minutes per attempt to ride to get the battery charged and engine to run. My son still uses it, but it causes me to curse it every time; the safety strap comes out often on turns, killing the engine. I had to replace the battery three times and it takes 15 minutes to “warm-up” even when the temp is 80 degrees F outside – but I saved $400.   Yeah right.

From Bret, proprietor of   Bret Frohlich dot Com:   We lost the transmission in our minivan and I needed to buy something quick for my wife to get the kids around.   My wife wanted a Jeep Cherokee.    I found a ’94 Country Edition for around $4300 at one of those flea-bag dealers and we bought it with a credit card.   My thinking at the time was that I definitely didn’t want to buy a new vehicle on five years of payments.   And, the Jeeps I was looking at were too cheap to get a car loan from my bank.   So, I figured I would just drop it on the card and make some big payments and I would have it paid off in about a year.   Unfortunately life doesn’t always go as planned.   Two and a half years later I paid off the credit card, right about the time the Jeep died.   I don’t recommend anyone else try this at home.

Speaking of credit cards…from Mr. Credit Card, proprietor of Ask Mr. Credit Card:   Buyer’s remorse? – uh, taking a loan on my car rather than paying cash… because I could have sold stocks at the highs in the early part of 2008!

From SpendOnLife:   My worst purchase ever:   Zebra print jeans, 8th grade, $90 of my Christmas savings money, and I wore them once… money lesson learned!

From Hawk, proprietor of The Debt Hawk: While I love my house now, at the time I bought it, I experienced buyer remorse.   It was such a big purchase I over-analyzed it.

From SVB, proprietor of The Digerati Life:   As participants in the dot com boom and subsequent bust, my household at one point had felt comfortable enough to take on big projects for our house.   We bought a new house right at the end of the dot com boom and felt compelled to make further improvements to it — my spouse and I earmarked some stock options to pay for those improvements.   Lo and behold, after committing to the projects and several months into the work, the dot com bust begun in earnest.   The value of our stock options evaporated quickly and I felt immediate buyer’s remorse!     We had redeemed just enough of those options to pay for the projects, but it still did not remove my guilt for instigating the job.   In hindsight, I do NOT regret the improvements — I enjoy my home everyday; however, I consider it to be the worst timed purchase I ever made.   And if the bust happened earlier, we would never have signed up for the work (and wouldn’t have bought the home entertainment system that we ended up owning).

From Me Without Debt: I usually think through big purchases and don’t remorse, even though I may be disappointed.   My buyer’s remorse comes from many small-to-medium sized purchases like expensive meal upgrades  at restaurants… or extra drinks  you buy when you are slightly drunk.

Boy, what a bunch of dolts!   Can you believe most of these people are dispensing financial advice faster than the U.S. Treasury is printing money?     Hey, now – I’m just kidding!!!   ;-)

But honestly, stupid purchases happen to almost all of us – at least those of us who are willing to admit it.   ;-)

I’d like to give a big THANK YOU to everybody who took a chance and shared their story with me!     If you have a sad story of buyer’s remorse that can top some of the ones you just read, why don’t you take a minute and leave a comment so we can all share your pain?   Pretty please??   After all, misery loves company, right?     ;-)

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Comments

  1. 2

    says

    @J-Man: No kidding about us bloggers making so many mistakes! But now I am COMPLETELY out of new ideas – and I can’t afford to make another stupid purchase of my own just for the sake of another article! ;-)

    @Four Pillars: You’re very welcome! Thanks for participating! And you’re right, the zebra prints are tough to live down – I really empathize with Spend On Life! (I only wore mine one time too.) lol

  2. 3

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    @Monevator: My biggest case of buyer’s remorse (I tell the gory story in a guest post over at Ask Mr. Credit Card) was concerning my house, for two big reasons: 1) I didn’t consider the impacts of living 100 yards from railroad tracks, and 2) I bought at the top of a previous real estate bubble in 1990 – thereby trapping me for seven miserable years. I just wasn’t willing – or able to afford, really – to pay $20,000 back then to sell my home.

    I know people who have rented their whole life even though they can easily afford to buy – they just prefer not having the responsibility of owning their own home (of course, the opportunity cost of that decision can be pretty significant depending on when you buy).

    @Jason: You’re right, Jason. Good input. I’ve always said we learn more from our failures than from our successes.

  3. 4

    says

    @FourPillars & @LenPenzo Hey hey now, those jeans were very stylish….. until I was surrounded by prepubescent teenagers that thought it’d be a funny joke to spend the entire day pretending to be on the Serengeti zebra hunting! LOL! (And in case you were wondering, there are no pictures thank goodness)

    On a serious note, it really was one of the first money lessons that hit home with me. I spent 1/6 of my net worth at the time, and had nothing to show for it. Even at 13 I quickly realized how foolish a purchase I’d made and from that point on saw everything I bought as an investment. No more random animal print fashion faux pas for me :-)

  4. 5

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    @Ashley: I think I need a little help. I’m beginning to wax nostalgic about zebra print pants – I actually caught myself today on Ebay searching for an old pair I could buy for the Honeybee. I’m a total mess now. lol Seriously though, the younger we can learn the lesson, the better off we are later on – so it probably all worked out for the best for you! Thanks again for sharing! :-)

    @Samurai: Ouch! I guess if I had bought the property as an investment, then I would have had more than a pinch of remorse too. Then again, if I bought it strictly as a long-term vacation property from which I could get rental income or just enjoy myself, not so much. Thanks for contributing! BTW, I stopped by your site. I enjoyed it! I’ll stop by again too! :-)

  5. 6

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    @Paul: I’m glad you liked it, and I hope your son outgrows that Chinese ATV soon. Do you think they make Zebra print parachute pants?

    @Susan: I always tell the Honeybee that whatever the initial remodeling or home improvement cost is, make sure you double it because of all of the ancillary tasks that soon follow. For example, we got new carpet and floors throughout the house a few years ago – that was roughly $6000. Once the new floors were in, we suddenly noticed that our old furniture didn’t complement the floors very nicely – so we spent another $3000 for a new dining room set and kitchen table and chairs. Never fails… :-)

  6. 7

    says

    I wonder if anybody regrets not studying harder in high school, so they could get into a better college, and increase their chances of getting a better job?

    There are so many studies out there that say education is the key. I even highlighted over at FS that “Survey Says: Get A 3.9 GPA and a 1,300 On Your SAT’s And You’re Set For Life!”

    What do you guys think? Do harder workers and smarter people basically make more money?
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Worst Seat On An Airplane Is The Best Seat In The Office =-.

  7. 8

    says

    Financial Samurai:

    I would think there are many more people in the regret their super expensive school ROI. Just because you went to an expensive school says nothing about the type of employee you’ll be. Some of my least productive employees were the best educated. I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the only way to a good career is to spend 100′s of thousands of dollars on their college. Find a good state school, get a good internship or work through college to start building that valuable experience. I’ll take real world experience over paper documents any day.
    .-= Paul @ FiscalGeek´s last blog ..Quicken 2010 Personal Finance Software Review =-.

  8. 9

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    @Matt: Sorry we missed each other – but thanks for contributing here! I promise you, it will all work out, you just need to be patient and not do anything rash to try and force the issue.

    @Samurai: I suspect that survey you reference is tongue-in-cheek? I guarantee you there is no correlation between GPA, SATs and success in business. I know people who are smart as a whip who don’t have the business smarts to ever be set for life. Conversely, there are countless examples of people who failed out of high school but became multi-millionaires.

    @Paul: Well said. I completely agree with you; the price of the education has very little to do with the quality of the employee. When I evaluate resumes, college attended is not even considered as a discriminator in my selection process. All other things being equal, I am just as likely to hire a kid out of a state college, or even a place like DeVry, as I would a more expensive school. Which brings me to another point – you don’t have to to attend college to guarantee success. The key is doing something that you are passionate about and throwing yourself into it. The success and money will eventually follow – and personal satisfaction is guaranteed! :-)

  9. 11

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    Great stories! Wow!

    I bought an $1,800 full-suspension mountain bike which I intended to use at least a few times a week, race with on the weekends and possibly even ride to work. I think I ended up riding it about a dozen times in 18 months. I sold it for 50% of the purchase price. :-/
    .-= Tim Moon´s last blog ..By: David =-.

  10. 12

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    @ Paul – I am all for going to public schools in HS and college. There are some great inexpensive schools such as Berkeley, Michagan, UVA, William & Mary, Wisconson, UCLA and so forth. You’re probably right on the regret on ROI camp for private school attendees, but they will seldom admit it.

    @ Leo – Actually, it was my tongue-in-cheek editorial that lead to this conclusion of being set for life. Please have a read “Get 1300 On Your SAT’s And A 3.9 GPA & You’re Set for Life!”

    Best
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..You’re Rich And I’m Rich, OK! You’re Still Rich And I’m Not As Rich, Not OK! =-.

  11. 13

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    @Tim: I used to be a hard-core mountain biker 15 years ago, but then I got married and became a couch potato. lol

    I remember buying my mtn bike in 1990 for $229, which is about $380 in today’s dollars. Sounds like you bought a really high-tech bike! Sorry it didn’t work out for you.

    (I’ve still got mine, BTW, but it is hanging up in the garage.) :-)

  12. 15

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    Cool article!

    For the people who regret their house (e.g. J Money) is it the downturn in property prices that made you feel this way, or do you think you’d still feel trapped if prices had stayed flat or risen?

    I’ve always postponed buying a house, which means I’ve rented for well over a decade. It’s been a big mistake over the long-term but in any particular year renting seems a good move, so I’m curious…

  13. 16

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    Len, great job with the article. Our greatest mistakes can be our greatest lessons learned and can be used to help others avoid making the same ones.

    No one wants to learn from people who are perfect! It’s cool to see all these financial gurus who have made mistakes helping people through their blogs!

    Great post!

  14. 17

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    My mistake this year was not going 100% ALL-IN in the stock market in February.

    My bigger financial mistake was buying a vacation property 2.5 years ago. I thought I was getting a steal since I bought it for about 12% cheaper than the last guy. Turns out the property continue to decline by another 20%! This was a life style choice, and we don’t plan to ever sell. It’s climbing back now, but still, timing was off!

    Hope to see you over at FS one day!

    Best.

  15. 18

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    @ Monevator – Regarding your question, I just feel a little stupid for not timing the market correctly. It’s hard to do, I know, but I did a poor job.

    I never plan to sell the two bedroom, two bathroom condo at The Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe. In fact, I proposed to my wife there, so it is a very special place for us! Even if the property APPRECIATED by 30%, we still wouldn’t sell as it is a lifestyle decision. We love living life. But, we could have also lived life renting.

    This is one of the key problems I have with having too much money in cash savings. I’m tempted to SPEND, SPEND, SPEND. The property is in a rental program that pays for half the mortgage on average the entire year so we don’t dip into savings. I’ve learned my lesson and have locked up all my excess cash into long term CD’s.

    Best

  16. 19

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    Hi Len – Thanks for stopping by man. Yeah, the President’s Cup was a blast! The experience was more fun than anything money could buy.

    The rental property is aggressively cash flow positive in the winter (ski season), pretty even during the summer, then weak in May, Oct, Nov. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. Maybe in 10 years it’ll be back to even! whoo hoo!

  17. 21

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    Like Four Pillars, I regret not doing a better job researching the remodeling costs when we bought our house. We spent twice as much as we planned to. It’s ok, but we had to put the house on a diet for a few years to let the market value catch up with the remodeling investment.

  18. 22

    says

    Len had asked me to contribute, but I did not get to the email in time due to vacation… but here is my story:

    I most regret my current home purchase, which took place in April of 2007. I regret it because we simply do not need this much house… and because we have chosen to seek freedom from debt, at all costs – yes, that includes freedom from mortgage.

    If I was not upside down on this house, I could reach said freedom much easier, but now I’m afraid I may not be able to at least break even on this place for years and years. I have prayed about it and am continuing to work and leave the details in God’s hands… they’re better left there anyway!

    Great article Len, cheers!

  19. 23

    Sam says

    To Matt Jabs and the others who regretted their home purchase… yes it’s a terrible feeling. I paid too much, way too much for this house. The cost of repairs is endless. I thought I would be ok, getting an “inexpensive” handyman but I should have known of the extra expenses. The Pest Report was enormous so I should have backed out when I could have. I felt pressured into it and a friend who was helping me look at houses really pushed and pushed that I get this. It was all such high pressure, the whole time and I have made a terrible mistake. this is painful to write. It’s just hard when you can’t go back. Ok I need to listen to one of the bloggers here who said she is going to have faith in God to get her through. Meditation has been helping a little. Positive thinking to replace all this regret…. that needs to happen more. I do so sympathize with you all!

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