We all make questionable purchases from time to time and then wish we could go back in time to stop ourselves from making the same mistake again.
Sometimes we feel a sense of guilt over what we later realize was a foolish purchase. Or perhaps we wonder if the salesman conned us into spending more than we planned.
Maybe we get the product home and then realize the quality is not what we expected. And then there are those times we lock ourselves into a major purchase that we can’t really afford.
I’m sure if you give it some thought you can think of a few times where you experienced buyer’s remorse and and wished you could undo a purchase. Here are three of mine:
Kota the Triceratops Dinosaur
A few years back my daughter was full-on into dinosaurs. She absolutely loved everything dino…The Land Before Time and Dinosaur were two of her favorite movies and she already had a bunch of dinosaur toys to play with. We even went to see the live action Walking with Dinosaurs when it came to our area (awesome show) and she was in her glory.
Christmas was fast approaching and we made a family trip to Toys R Us to see what kind of deals they had for the holiday. One item that looked like it could be the next Tickle-Me Elmo phenomenon was called Kota. Kota was a cool looking dinosaur that moved, roared, played music, and ate a pretend leaf. Kids up to 60 pounds could sit on his back and imagine they were back in prehistoric times.
The only catch was the price…a whopping $299 and way out of our price range. Even though my daughter was jumping all over the display model and desperately wanted it, there was no way we were going to spend that kind of money.
Flash forward a few weeks and Christmas is closing in fast. A coworker tells me that the price on Kota has been slashed down to only $90 (obviously it wasn’t selling well at the previous price). Instead of focusing on the fact that $90 was still a lot of money, all I thought about was the amazing savings and the look on my daughter’s face when she came downstairs on Christmas morning.
I bought it. And he looked amazing under the Christmas tree. And my daughter loved him. And when other kids came over they loved him too. For awhile.
Unfortunately, the fun didn’t last long as the kids eventually realized that Kota doesn’t really do all that much. They quickly became bored and Kota started being used more as a coat hanger than a toy.
We still have him, though we’re having a yard sale next month where I hope to ditch him. If you make me an offer he’s all yours!
Cheap Push Lawnmower
I grew up in an urban area where no one had actual lawns. We had the sidewalk and a driveway and that’s it. So when my wife and I bought our first house I suddenly found myself in the market for a lawnmower.
I shopped around and found a good deal on a gas mower at Sears, but my buddy Jim pointed out that the model I was looking at was not self-propelled. Looking at my half acre of land that was not particularly level, Jim implored me to spend a little extra on a self-propelled mower so I wouldn’t kill myself pushing the heavy machine around the yard all summer.
I thought I knew better and could save a little cash so I ignored his advice. What a mistake!
It didn’t take long before I dreaded doing the lawn and I ended up selling it and buying a self-propelled model to replace it. I should have just spent a little extra the first time around.
Our First House
I saved the big one for last. The year was 2003 and the real estate market here in New Jersey was still booming. We had bid the asking price on one house we liked and got outbid by $25,000.
As first-time buyers with nothing to sell we worried that if we didn’t buy in to the market soon we’d be renting for the rest of our lives. So we found a fixer-upper on a busy street and stretched ourselves to the max to buy it.
Being a home-owner was great but I soon discovered the real cost of owning a home. Property taxes went up every year, we got hit with a $2,000 escrow shortage bill, a tree fell on the house, and we started a family.
Of course, I didn’t even mention that whole real estate market bust did I? Our home’s value plummeted and for a little while we were under water. Luckily, the local market improved a bit and we were able to do some inexpensive renovating to add some curb appeal before selling. We didn’t make a killing but we did walk away with a small profit on the sale and that enabled us to buy a nicer home (at a lower interest rate) that we can afford.
So in the end my home ordeal ended okay after all, but we had to ride out several years of stress and drama to get there.
What about you? Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse? What’s the most foolish purchase you’ve ever made?