Financial mistakes: Top 10 most regretted purchases

We’ve all been there – that fleeting moment when you just can’t resist an impulse buy. Unfortunately, many of these spur-of-the-moment decisions turn out to be ones we end up regretting later.

Whether it’s online shopping with PayPal or a credit card purchase in your favourite store, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of impulse buying. So which items are the worst offenders? We asked our Choosi community about what they regret most.

The 10 most commonly regretted purchases

1. A brand-new car

While that new car smell is enticing, a brand-new vehicle will depreciate in value as soon as you drive it off the lot.

“I bought my car brand new when I was 16 (I didn't even have my license yet) because my family convinced me to,” says Alex. “I knew nothing about cars and didn’t even really appreciate the idea of having a brand-new car at the time! I wish I could go back and just buy something second-hand so that I could really appreciate the purchase today and make a more informed decision.”

2. Fitness/exercise equipment

The pandemic saw gyms close their doors and plenty of people looking for ways to stay fit during lockdown. But this often results in new equipment collecting dust just a few months later.

“I got a smartwatch to help track my fitness during lockdown,” says Ashley. “Within a few months, I realised it wasn’t really something I liked wearing every day so I have been finding myself using it less and less.”

“I regret getting an under-desk treadmill,” says Maria. “I didn’t think it would be as distracting to use while working when I first bought it. Now it only gets used once a month at most!”

3. The latest technologies

Jerry wanted an espresso machine but didn’t want to fork out for a high-quality product. “We tried to get a more affordable one, but the coffee always tastes burnt or watered down, and it takes a lot of effort to not only make the coffee but also clean the machine.”

“I bought a DSLR camera for my holidays as I thought I’d capture some super-large images to print out,” says Tracy. “Turns out all the pictures I took on my phone were better as I didn’t have the time or patience to learn how to actually use the camera properly.”

4. Gym memberships

A gym membership often comes off the back of having lofty fitness goals, but it can become an expensive regret if you don’t use it regularly. Rather than a monthly subscription, try a pay-as-you-go membership or explore more cost-effective fitness activities like jogging.

5. Personal health technology

“My hearing aids cost a small fortune and they play up almost every day,” says Helen. “I would do more research before choosing the first option that comes along.”

“I paid $82 for two pieces of plastic that get inserted into your shoes and are supposed to help with good posture,” says Olga.

6. Too many subscriptions

Streaming services, music subscriptions, gym memberships and more can quickly add up. Do a stocktake of your subscriptions every few months and cut out those you no longer use.

7. Expensive gear for a new hobby

“I bought a bike one summer because I thought it would be a fun way to get around,” says Lauren. “I only properly used it once before I realised it wasn’t adjusted properly and then never used it again.”

“I bought a surfboard during COVID so I had a legitimate reason to be allowed on the beach and in the water,” says Steve. “I went out in the shallow surf and sat on it a few times and have never used it since.”

8. Post-graduate education

“There are some aspects of my post-graduate education that I regret,” says Erika. “Especially when I feel that the degree wasn’t quite relevant to my career. This is something I would definitely reconsider when it comes to higher education.”

9. High-end fashion that quickly goes out of style

Fashion trends are notoriously fickle. Splurging on high-end clothing that falls out of style within a season is a hugely common regret for many people. Instead, invest in timeless pieces that will look just as good in a couple of years as they do today.

10. Wrong-size items (because of poor research!)

“I bought a TV stand for my apartment and then realised it didn’t fit my TV,” says Jenn. “So I repurposed it as a shoe rack, but really could have gone without it entirely!”

Take control of your finances: Plan and prioritise your purchases

Want to make better buying decisions and take control of your finances?

  • Budget wisely: Create a budget that outlines your monthly expenses and set aside a portion for savings.
  • Prioritise needs over wants: Prioritise spending on essential items before indulging in discretionary things.
  • Research thoroughly: Read reviews and compare prices to make sure you’re doing the smart thing.
  • Sleep on it: If you’re tempted by an impulse buy, give yourself time to think it over before committing.
  • Set financial goals: Having goals in place can motivate you to make more responsible spending choices.

Making the right decisions

Regretful purchases can not only be detrimental to your finances, but also to your overall wellbeing.

If you’re ready to take control of your purchasing habits and protect the things you’ve worked so hard to build, start comparing home and contents insurance with Choosi today.