Have you ever bought something and started regretting it a mere week or two later (if not sooner)? Yup, that’s a classic case of buyer’s remorse. For the record, I have too. Mine was in the form of a house. In fact, I wrote a whole piece on it so you can avoid buyer’s remorse and make a better financial decision than I did.
After that incident, I made a commitment to avoid buyer’s remorse at all costs! I realized that buying things doesn’t always make you happy, contrary to popular belief. But that’s the lie we’ve been sold our whole lives, isn’t it? Material things don’t always result in a sense of satisfaction or content, chances are, you’ll just end up wanting more and more things.
Some of the purchases that people tend to experience buyer’s remorse from include cars and houses. Go figure, these are major purchases that could affect your credit score and even your wealth in the long run.
While I’m not entirely ruling out the possibility of experiencing buyer’s remorse from small everyday things, I’m just saying that the damage isn’t that deep. Think about it, losing a few dollars on the wrong shoe versus millions on a house? My point exactly!
What is buyer’s remorse?
Buyer’s remorse is that irritating feeling that follows you around after a naughty purchase. By naughty, I mean it’s often a purchase that you didn’t really plan for, or one that you made in hurry and now regret. Basically, it’s a feeling of guilt that comes with realizing that you may have made the wrong decision or spend money you shouldn’t have.
It’s an awful feeling, especially if you’re like me and like to spend your days crunching numbers. Somewhere down the line, you’re bound to identify an item that you spent way too much on, or one that was a complete waste of money and has absolutely zero use in your life. I hate that feeling.
What causes buyer’s remorse?
A lot of things can cause buyer’s remorse, but money is right up there among the biggest causes. I’m big on setting goals and mapping things out clearly before making a purchase. So on those rare occasions when I do slip up and spend like a maniac on things I haven’t budgeted for, surprise surprise, buyer’s remorse starts to creep in.
If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you can relate.
Also, buying something illegally, on credit or by incurring substantial debt can lead to buyer’s remorse, especially if it’s something that could’ve waited. When I was younger, I also realized that buying something without thinking it through properly could lead to that dreaded feeling of guilt.
Picture this, you have limited financial resources so you decide to buy a really crappy investment apartment. Only to find that two years down the line, you’re still working on repairs and upgrades and it’s doing nothing great for your finances. On the contrary. That’s definitely something you’d regret and start wishing you’d given it just a bit more thought.
Luckily for me, I’m not really a fashion person, but I can imagine that designer brands may be some people’s weakness. So, spending a considerable amount on a luxury shoe or suit could end up leading to buyer’s remorse, especially if it eats away at your savings. Even worse, you “stole” from your emergency fund to buy it to impress other people. BIG NO!!
According to research, the majority of adults in Great Britain, estimated at 82%, have regretted a purchase. When you consider that for some, it was purchasing things like food, clothing and shoes, it makes perfect sense.
Imagine spending more than half of your income on fine dining and takeaways, only to be rewarded with a poor financial standing and weight gain! To be honest, I can’t think of anything worse.
6 steps to avoid buyer’s remorse
1 – Stick to your budget
Let’s get one thing straight, this step only works if you actually have a budget to stick to in the first place. More often than not, buyer’s remorse is a result of buying something that you didn’t budget for at that particular time. Perhaps you’re still saving for it but suddenly fall into temptation and end up swiping your life away, that’s a trap you can avoid by budgeting.
2 – Have a better goal
This is such a great way to avoid buyer’s remorse because your goal becomes your sole focus and the one thing that you’re motivated to get. If you get into the habit of weighing out your options and comparing the purchase against your goal, more times than not, you’ll pick your goal.
And just like that, you’ve beat the urge to spend and in the process, found a way to avoid buyer’s remorse and that nagging feeling of guilt.
3 – Learn to be happy with what you have
If you don’t adapt to a certain lifestyle and frugal or modest living to an extent, you’ll end up spending on things you don’t really need or want. The reason a lot of people end up making purchases they shouldn’t, is because they spend too much time looking at what’s out there and what they don’t have.
Trust me when I say that there’ll always be something new on the market. The truth is, you’ll never be able to keep up with trends and the latest gadgets, so don’t even bother. You can try, but you won’t succeed.
4 – Sleep on it
There’s no better way to avoid buyer’s remorse than by sleeping on it. I say this as someone who’s a sucker for a good sale. I’m not afraid to admit it. So, over the years, I’ve taught myself a trick, which is to sit on purchases for a week and almost never buy anything with the plan to return it.
It’s a really great way to avoid buyer’s remorse because you’re not buying anything on a whim. Brace yourself, it does require a lot of discipline though.
5 – Think about the time the object can save
I have a bigger issue with buying things that aren’t what I want and telling myself I’ll hack it into what I want. But if I factor how much time it will take to hack it, I’m always happier with the finished good.
6 – Stop looking up things to buy
Firstly, let me tell you something you might not have realized, marketing works! What do I mean by this? Well, the more times you see an item, the more you will lust for it. I know quite a few people spend hours on shopping sites just to pass time. That, my dear reader, is extremely dangerous.
If you keep filling up your cart, you’ll get the urge to clear it and pay for the items on one really daft day. So, to avoid buyer’s remorse, rather find a more constructive hobby than browsing through online shopping platforms.
4 steps when you are feeling buyer’s remorse
1 – Return it
Haven’t used it yet? Just take it back. Big box store return policies are hilarious. If you still have the slip and the item is still A-okay, I don’t see why you can’t take it back. Think of the time it was in your possession as a cooling off period, which is basically the time it took you to GET BACK TO YOUR SENSES and think properly again.
2 – Consider selling it
Some items will sell for almost full price online, which is great. Just make sure you don’t fall for a fraudster and end up losing your item and never getting your money. Worst case scenario. Of course, not all items are the same. If it’s a car or house, then selling it days after purchase would be a considerable loss for you. That’s the unfortunate truth.
3 – Give it away as a present
If you know someone that would appreciate it more than you and their birthday is coming up, give it to them as a present. That way, you don’t have to get them a birthday present so you sort of save. In the process, you’re ridding yourself of the guilt and misery that the item brought into your life, which is great!!! It’s a win-win situation.
4 – Just deal with it
If you spend time thinking about how bad of a purchase it was, you make it a worse buy. If your time is worth $50/hour and you complain about it for two hours, you are an extra $100 in the whole. So just deal with it and move on.
- What does buyer’s remorse mean?
Simply put, buyer’s remorse is a regretful feeling that comes after making a certain purchase. It can present itself as stress or anxiety in some cases. Although it’s a feeling that’s often associated with life-changing purchases, it’s not taboo for someone to experience buyer’s remorse after a relatively small purchase too.
- What does buyer’s remorse feel like?
Buyer’s remorse can present itself in different ways, but one thing’s for sure, it’s never a good or positive feeling. For some, it may spark a feeling of fear, guilt or anxiety and self-doubt. When you experience buyer’s remorse, you feel as though the purchase was unwarranted, which could lead you down a stressful or depressive path.
- What is the most common cause of buyer’s remorse?
We all know how important money is, and the last thing anybody wants to do is flush it down the drain. This is possibly the most common cause of buyer’s remorse – feeling like you’ve wasted money. It can be the result of spontaneous or frivolous spending, which can leave you feeling as though you spent money you shouldn’t have.
- Does buyer’s remorse go away?
You know what they say, nothing lasts forever. This is true when it comes to buyer’s remorse too… at least to some extent. Buyer’s remorse can stay with you for a long time after the purchase, but it’s not necessarily a life-long feeling. There is no particular period that is set aside for buyer’s remorse to “expire.”
It pretty much stays with you for as long as you take to work through the feeling and accept your supposed bad decision.
- Is it normal to have buyer’s remorse when buying a car?
The short answer is yes, definitely! In fact, a collective of surveys indicate that nearly 70% of buyers have experienced buyer’s remorse after buying a car. That’s more than two thirds! This means that at some point, a lot of those people stuck in traffic have regretted their snazzy new rides. Perhaps you have too, rightfully so because it’s a major purchase.
- Is it normal to have buyer’s remorse when buying a house?
An even bigger purchase than a car is a house. So, it is not uncommon to have buyer’s remorse when buying a house. Although, reports suggest that less than half of American homeowners experienced buyer’s remorse. Once the novelty of owning a house wears off, you may start questioning the size or location of the house, leading to buyer’s remorse.