Overspending: Buying things you wish you never bought

19 May 2016
Over-extravagant, impulse purchases, overspending or just plain wasting money on stuff you don’t need. We’ve all had that moment of temporary insanity where we just had to have something.

You justify it to yourself effortlessly and then it’s yours! And you’ve never been happier. Till a few months later when you uncover it from the corner of your wardrobe, dusty and misshapen. Oops.

The word ‘wardrobe’ is the key here because the majority of my regrettable purchases have been dictated by the fickle fashion witch. I don’t like being reminded of my wasteful ways, particularly when I mentally add up how much money I’ve blown over the years.  In fact I could fill up my freestanding copper bathtub with all the dollar coins I have wasted on foolish purchases over time. Come to think of it, I might just do that because no-one ever uses the bathtub, even though it looks glamorous. But that’s another story and a lingering regret I have over taking TV renovation shows too seriously.

They say every wasteful purchase has a redeeming lining. I can honestly say my anxiety and stresses have been the result of small splurges that have turned into mistakes. This is in stark contrast to some people who suffer endless remorse over big-ticket items like a house or a car. With the latter, there are numerous chilling stories about lemons. With the former, some underestimate the true price of putting down roots. Others hate the feeling of being trapped in a house they can’t immediately leave if the whim takes them. It’s a psychological nightmare as well as a money-sucking exercise, all under the dubious guise of an ‘investment’.

In a curious twist of Murphy’s Law, there’s no escape from the emotional damage inflicted on you through a simple buying mistake. For instance, if you go ahead and buy something, then wished you hadn’t, expect to feel the sting of remorse – guilt and anxiety – for saying ‘yes’. Creepily, you may feel the same emotions if you say ‘no’ to a purchase. This is called ‘buyer’s regret’. We all know how it works – you want to kick yourself for not buying that set of very affordable wine glasses, and spend the rest of the day filled with buyer’s regret.  Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

Let your heart tell you where to go, but let your brain tell you how to get there. As if. I wouldn’t be writing this expose if I had followed this retail therapy rehab mantra. Here are some things I’ve wasted too much money on over the years. These things (and I do mean that, they are just ‘things’ after all. Nothing of importance) add up quickly. Not just space-wise, cluttering your house, but money-wise, too.

For me, wasting money usually boils down to impulse buys or laziness preventing me from returning an item. I’m working to change things.


Note to Self: Not Every Purchase is a Good One.

Shoes That Don’t Fit

I can think of at least 2 pairs of shoes in my wardrobe right now that I’ve never worn, not even once, because they don’t fit. But I paid for them and never returned them. And here we are, years later, and they just sit there taunting me, ghosts of money wasted.

Excessive Amounts of Tupperware

We don’t have a dishwasher and sometimes lunch containers get lost in bags, the car boot, or just sit around a little too long for me to be comfortable hand washing them and knowing they’re truly clean. So I throw them out. A waste, I know, but it happens. I’ve switched to glass recently so it’s easier to clean and harder to throw away.

Beyoncé Jumpsuit

I once purchased a gorgeous $500 white silk jumpsuit because I thought it made me look like Beyoncé. In truth, it kind of did. But I later realised that even looking like Beyoncé wasn’t worth the $500 I had paid. I felt so ill spending that kind of money on something as singular as a jumpsuit (as opposed to, say, a winter coat), that I couldn’t even enjoy it. I returned it the next day much to the perplexity of the sales assistant who said the jumpsuit was clearly made for me. Or Beyoncé.

Shirts That Aren’t Me

How often have you gone into a store you regularly shop at for basic tops and thought to yourself, “I shop here all the time, I don’t need to try this on,” only to get home and find out they had changed the cut of the shirt that season. You think you’ll wear it eventually but you never do.

Anything I Ever Bought Because I Needed Retail Therapy

You know what will never, ever lift a bad mood (unless you’re Sofia Vergara)? Trying on swimsuits. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way many times. Just go home and do a kickboxing workout until the endorphins are flowing. You save money and you get to uppercut your frustrations away.

Video Games

I love video games, give me some Mario Kart any day. We have numerous game systems and I often find a game I want to play. The problem? I’m physically incapable of playing a game more than a couple of times, much less finishing it. We’ve recently started selling our games online because I’m ashamed of how many games we have accumulated and wasted money on. Hopefully, the sales will return a pittance of that money!

Half-hearted Health Attempts

The Weight Watchers membership which I never fully committed to. That Fitbit I had to have but stopped wearing months ago. The fancy yoga membership I only used a few times. Those brand new sneakers. Armbands. Headphones. Spandex. Sports bras. Anything I thought would motivate me. You’d think I’d have learnt by now …

Yellow Eyeshadow

Yes it was a hideously expensive designer brand but it was yellow. I considered it a personal challenge to make this work and not look jaundiced. I failed. I also bought a matching nail polish (I blame the persuasive department store sales girl). It looked great in the bottle but it made me look like I had some terrible fungal nail infection. Needless to say, it went straight in the bin.

Following on from the above, my bathroom cupboard is groaning under the weight of hundreds of bottles of toner, moisturiser, night cream, concealer, make up setter and a plethora of other expensive products. They just take up space because I feel like I’m throwing away money if I get rid of them.  The truth is, I was actually throwing away the money when I bought them.

If you need some good budgeting tips, we have plenty. Try four steps to being less stressed, five money things to know sooner and how to write a budget for starters.

Share this article