8 Purchases You’ll Instantly Regret

Stay on track with your finance goals by avoiding these instantly regrettable purchases.

worried shopaholic woman after multiple purchases
Updated May 13, 2024
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You work hard for your money, and you want to be mindful in how you spend it. There are purchases that are needed and necessary like food and toothpaste. Then there are the other things you buy that may seem frivolous, but are totally justifiable and worth it.


And then there are those items that drain your bank account while providing little value to your life. When you want to better manage your money, it might be a good idea to consider cutting out these purchases.

Here’s a list of purchases — many of which could be impulse buys — that you may end up regretting the most.

Timeshares

Cheryl Casey/Adobe tropical townhomes

Timeshares may seem like a great deal for people who can’t afford a second vacation home or condo, but they’re not for everyone. Timeshares allow you to have access to a home or condo for a fraction of time per year. Sometimes, however, there isn’t much flexibility and that can put you in a bind if something comes up when it’s your turn to use the property.

Additional things you need to look out for include high maintenance fees and the obligation to vacation at the same time and place every year.

Pro tip: An Airbnb or hotel stay may help if you’re working on how to save money and you’re able to make flexible plans.

Lottery tickets

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe cropped view of worried man holding lottery ticket

The lure of the lottery ticket is a get-rich-overnight dream that unfortunately doesn’t often live up to the promise for most people. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent an average of $69.52 per year on lottery tickets between 2017-2018. Those between the ages of 65 to 74 spent the most at $132.43 — money that could be going to retirement.

While that may not seem like a lot of cash to some, it could be money invested instead. When the odds of winning aren't often in your favor (you have a better chance at getting struck by lightning), paying for a lottery ticket could be like paying for a piece of worthless paper.

Subscription boxes

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Subscription boxes are curated items meant to suit a particular taste or need. These subscriptions contain everything from snacks, to makeup, to specialty products, or replenishment of items previously bought.

Some of these subscription boxes have been criticized for providing samples that are usually free in stores or with the purchase of another item. Considering the many variables involved in this purchase, taking the time to buy products you like may be a better investment.

A piano

Nattakorn/Adobe classic piano key

Pianos may seem like a great purchase because your kid expressed an interest in playing when you visited a friend's house. But investing in a large (and heavy) musical instrument may not only take up a lot of space in your house, but weigh heavily on your brain and bank account, too.

Pianos must also be maintained in order to sound their best, which can be costlier for older instruments. If you need to play the keys, a keyboard might be a better way to practice and save space until the time is right to buy a proper piano — if it ever is.

Souvenirs

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Souvenir shops often have items that make us laugh. They sometimes have nutcrackers, beer hats, clocks, or even hilarious t-shirts with different sayings or the name of the place you are visiting. They also can be pricey and filled with items you may never use. Think twice before making this impulse buy and ask yourself: Do I really need this? Chances are the answer is no.

Pro tip: If you really want an item that is signature to your vacation spot, choose functional things such as pens, pencils, or small trinkets that won’t take up too much luggage space or be too expensive. Or consider buying something from a non-souvenir store that you can really use and you will always know you bought it in whatever special place you are visiting.

Infomercial products

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Infomercials are known for having persuasive testimonials, “great” deals, and for entertaining us. Some salespeople are so skilled at their job that you may find yourself purchasing something from an infomercial that you really don’t need.

If you choose to buy a product you see on television, do so mindfully. Read reviews, compare prices, or wait for a week to consider the item more carefully in an effort to lessen any chances of impulsive spending.

Expensive special-occasion clothing

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Weddings, proms, and other special occasions often have a dress code that can quickly eat away at your bills. It’s easy to get carried away and want to splurge, but if it’s something you are only going to wear once then you might want to take a moment to really consider the financial impact.

Budgeting against your overall clothing purchases is a great idea. Do some comparison shopping. If you can’t stop thinking about the costly item, then maybe it won’t be a regret but at least you’ve carefully considered your options.

Trendy home renovations

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Carefully considered renovations can add value to your home and make it possible to use modern amenities, especially if your house is a bit older. However, there are many renovations that only add aesthetics that may not stand the test of time.

Sun rooms, open floor plans, or built-in furniture may not be as practical as you hope they’ll be. Although they’re fun, the average home buyer may struggle to keep up with expensive renovation trends, so talk to experienced contractors and consider getting only the upgrades you need.

On the flip side, you might want to consider things like energy-efficient home improvements that could actually save you money over time.

Bottom line

Krakenimages.com/Adobe Young interracial couple holding shopping bags at retail shop

We’re all guilty of buying things on impulse, but some of the items mentioned above could be major money mistakes that can derail the budget you are trying to stick to. Writing down financial goals, and staying away from at least some of these items may help keep your bank account more in balance.

Author Details

Ingrid Cruz

Ingrid Cruz is a freelance writer who covers mental health, personal finance, and pop culture. Her work has been published in The Lily, Business Insider, and CivilEats.