There are certain purchases that buyers tend to regret.
No, that doesn’t mean everyone: There are plenty of happy boat and hot tub owners out there, and surely more than a few people count their timeshare property as a true delight.
But when faced with one of the potential purchases listed here, take a breath and think seriously about the purchase.
There’s an old saying: The two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.
Owning a boat is a lot of work. If you live on a lake and have plenty of room for it, and are willing to spend the money needed to keep afloat, then ship ahoy! But most of us can get by with an occasional boat rental, or wait until our friend Gilligan invites us over for a sail.
Check out: “4 Cheaper Ways to Go Boating Without Buying a Boat.”
Timeshares, which give you a partial share of ownership in a vacation property, are probably one of the most stereotypically regretted purchases — and for good reason.
You may love vacations, but do you always want to vacation in the exact same spot? Yes, you can exchange your timeshare with others, but booking a hotel or resort is more flexible.
There are many reasons why Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says, “I’d chop off my own foot with a dull ax before buying a timeshare.”
You’ve bought the product, but the sales pitch isn’t over: Now your clerk is gunning to sell you an extended warranty, just in case the brand-new product falls apart.
Research the product you’re buying, and also check if you may have coverage through other sources, such as a manufacturer’s warranty or through your credit card. You may not even need to fork out for extra coverage.
Desktop computers once were an amazing innovation, but few people need that kind of computing power these days. A tablet or laptop gives you the flexibility to move your home office around.
Think different, a la Apple’s motto, if you like. But when it comes to home computing, don’t think big, think small.
Movie-watching has moved online, with streaming and downloadable films much easier to handle than ever. Maybe you have Netflix, or Hulu or your Amazon Prime membership gives you free streaming privileges.
What you don’t have is storage space for hundreds of DVDs — you’re not Blockbuster Video, and look what happened to them.
Giant tent or other expensive camping equipment
For hardcore campers, owning a nuclear-fueled camp stove, a three-bedroom tent, an enormous inflatable mattress or a kit specifically made for roasting s’mores might make sense.
But for those of us who camp maybe only once every year or two, a small tent and standard sleeping bag work just as well. And you can always just toast marshmallows on sticks, which are still free.
Most of us carry smartphones these days, and their video capabilities keep getting better and better. Hauling around a camcorder, storing it and getting the videos off of it is a chore we don’t need.
Even those of us who run a home business are finding fewer and fewer opportunities to use our gigantic printers, as many documents can be filled out and even electronically signed online.
Printers take up a ton of space and require replacement ink cartridges that sometimes cost as much as a new printer would. Those who live in a major city and really need a printer for one-time use can make the occasional trek to the public library or local business offering printing services.
Counting steps to keep yourself moving is trendy again, but it’s not pedometers that brought it back. Instead it’s wrist-worn fitness trackers and smartphones and smartwatches.
As with the camcorder above, you have to really plan to wear a pedometer. With a smartphone or smartwatch, you can track your steps almost without thinking.
Home exercise equipment
There likely have been days when you wished you didn’t have to make the trek to the gym to work out. Buying exercise equipment seems like a no-brainer!
But the equipment is huge, bulky and expensive, and storing it takes up precious space in your home.
One-use kitchen gadgets
Some kitchen appliances make solid sense: Coffeemakers and toasters earn their keep every day. But appliances that are super-specific and can perform only one rarely needed task are rarely worth the money.
Will you really use a juicer, a bread maker, a hot-dogger, a food dehydrator? Maybe once or twice, but enough to assign it counter space?
Pools and hot tubs
Sure, some people swim every day. And some of us can’t imagine gloomy winters without our hot tub.
But for many people, there’s only a short period of time when a pool or hot tub is used enough to earn its keep. After that, it becomes a huge bowl of water that needs to constantly be cared for and cleaned.
If you’re on Facebook, head to the online shopping section to see how many people are desperately trying to give away pianos for free. Few things take up more space and are more difficult to move than a piano.
If you truly have a junior Beethoven in your house, you may really need a piano. But if your kid hasn’t even learned middle C yet, maybe start with a borrowed portable keyboard and see if music lessons hit the right note.
Once, fine china was on every bride’s wedding registry and was broken out regularly for dinner parties and family holidays. We’re a more temporary world now, for good or for ill, and few brides are requesting 12 place settings of Royal Doulton bone china.
If china really appeals to you, check with the older generations in your family, who may be willing to give you theirs.
A wedding lasts one day, and then it’s all photos and memories. You’ll be just as legally married in a $100 gown as in a $5,000 one, and you’ll have a lot more money left over. You can pull off a wedding elegantly without going into debt in the process.
Pricey engagement rings
And speaking of weddings, consider whether a whopping diamond ring is really the best way to tie the knot. Modern jewelers can offer more price-conscious alternatives that are just as lovely, and those extra dollars will last a lot longer if they’re used for a home down payment.
Check out: “Why Your Next Diamond Should Be From a Lab.”
Face facts: Those Beanie Babies that were all the rage in the 1990s are never going to make you rich. The same goes for most collectibles, from Franklin Mint collector plates to Department 56 Snow Village buildings.
If it makes Grandma happy to buy a spoon or shot glass from each country or state she visits, let her have fun. But don’t collect with the idea that you’ll make money off your collection one day.
New moms and dads don’t need half of the items on many baby registries. Diapers and clothes, sure, burp cloths and bassinets, go for it. But a diaper-wipe warmer?
If you’re giving a present to a new parent, consider a gift card.
Many restaurants have one on the menu — a giant, jumbo, lollapalooza, monster-sized dessert. But eat one, and you’ll quickly regret it.
So, unless you have a soccer team or hungry family to help you eat the giant treat, skip it.
Putting standard items on credit
You’ll almost certainly regret using your credit card for everyday purchases, such as clothing or groceries.
If your card is set up to earn you a true benefit, such as frequent-flier miles on an airline that you actually use, you might consider using it — but with one giant caveat: You must keep track of anything you use it for and pay it off right away. If you forget, you’ll suddenly see a giant bill and wonder how the heck it got that high.
What purchases have you regretted making? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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