Buyer’s Remorse, You Wretched (but Wonderful) Beast

buyers remorse

There’s nothing quite like the Buyer’s Remorse I’ve been experiencing since The Spending Fast proper ended. My $100 per month “non-needs” limit is feeling a little arbitrary at this point. I’ve bought a few items and then promptly returned them. It almost feels like every store I walk into has a theoretical revolving door.

This is how it’s been going:

– Wander around stores

– Something catches my eye

– “Oh, I’ll just try it on!”

– Think about it

– Debate about it in my head

– Decide I need it

– “No, I don’t”

– “Yes, I do!”

– Buy it

– Let it set there in the bag on my bedroom floor while I think about how I shouldn’t have bought it

– Feel bad

– Go back to store

– Return it

– Feel better (slightly)

I’m not sure why I am even putting myself in these positions of being in stores since it’s not working for me. Going into stores worked while I was on The Spending Fast since I just could easily say “Nope. No. Nooo.” to it all. That was easy. Shockingly easy compared to this. I’ve been putting myself in positions of wanting and since it’s not working out for me I’ve gotta cut this crap out. Why, am I continuing this “shop-feel-shitty-buying-cycle”?

Buyer’s Remorse sucks because it’s making me feel shitty but there’s also a good side to it since that feeling of dread after a purchase is helping me realize that I don’t have to keep an item “just because”.

I can change my mind. I can get that money back into my account. It’s okay. And man, it feels SO much better to have that money back into my account. Geez. A lot better. It eases the guilt. It eases the remorseful feeling. It “fixes” it. Puts it back together again.

It was fascinating to read (on Wikipedia) that Buyer’s Remorse is actually a real anxiety and not just all up in my own head. Other people go through this too. It’s nice to know other people go through it too. It’s nice to not be alone. You know.

Typically Buyer’s Remorse accompanies large purchases like houses and cars. I’m thinking that I’m experiencing it so much because compared to what I WAS spending ($zero) any spending feels like a lot A LOT. It’s all explainable. It makes sense really.

This is what Wikipedia says:

Buyer’s remorse is the sense of regret after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of big-ticket items such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, of guilt over extravagance, or of suspecting having been “snowed” by a sales associate.

The anxiety may be rooted in various factors, such as: the person’s concern they purchased the wrong product, purchased for too high of a price, purchased a current model now rather than waiting for a newer model, purchased in an ethically unsound way, purchased on credit that will be difficult to repay, or purchased something that would not be acceptable to others.

In the phase before purchasing, a prospective buyer often feels positive emotions associated with a purchase (desire, a sense of heightened possibilities, and an anticipation of the enjoyment that will accompany using the product, for example); afterwards, having made the purchase, they are more fully able to experience the negative aspects: all the opportunity costs of the purchase, and a reduction in purchasing power.

Also, before the purchase, the buyer has a full array of options, including not purchasing; afterwards, their options have been reduced to:

  • continuing with the purchase, surrendering all alternatives
  • renouncing the purchase

Buyer’s remorse can also be caused or increased by worrying that other people may later question the purchase or claim to know better alternatives.

Buyer’s remorse, when evidence exists that it is justified, is a classical example of cognitive dissonance. One will either seek to discount the new evidence, or truly regret and try to renounce the purchase. 


6 thoughts on “Buyer’s Remorse, You Wretched (but Wonderful) Beast

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  1. Aubrey

    This is hilarious to me, because I paid off a medical debt today (today!!!) and thought to myself, "I will never, ever have buyer's remorse from paying off a debt." Ha! It ALWAYS feels AWESOME.

  2. clint

    This is actually a good thing. It shows that your spending fast and spending diet have influenced your long-term behavior for the better. You might do better to stay out of stores as much as possible, and when you get the itch, try to do the hemming and hawing online before you make the physical purchase effort. In the long run, my guess is you're really going to appreciate the things you do buy because of all the thought and consideration you're putting into it at the front end. It does suck to have to return stuff, though … until you get that nice credit or cash back.

  3. Jessica Powers

    While the Wikipedia thing is interesting, I think anyone on a limited budget is potentially going to fee it too. When I was really strapped I'd often get my purchase home, and even if it was a cd I'd been waiting months for the release of, I couldn't stop tallying up what that money would have gotten me in essentials like food or gas. So, small or large, it's going to show up, even if we do have the cash available.

  4. Brenda Bruno

    I am new here, so I haven't heard whether she does a budget or not. I have found that by doing a budget at the beginning of every month I have removed all that remorse entirely. By giving every dollar a name I've successfully paid off all of my debt and set aside an emergency fund. I no longer fret over going out or buying something, because I've planned for it at the beginning of the month. I am encouraged and delighted to see so many other people tackling their debts as well. It wasn't easy, as I also had to face my demons/negative emotions. With that said, each of us can do our part to turn this country around. If we each pay off our debts, live within our means, and plan for retirement the change in this country will be phenomenal.


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