Buyer’s remorse is quite common. Many people feel sad, let down or guilty after making a purchase. This is true for impulse purchases as well as those planned for some time. In certain cases, the remorse will be so strong that the item will be returned, even if it is in no way defective.
If you suffer from frequent buyer’s remorse, examining your feelings can teach you a lot about your spending personality and give you the tools you need to make better choices. Understanding why we buy and how it makes us feel afterward gives us insight into our needs and values and where we fall short in fulfilling them.
Why the Remorse?
What was it about the purchase that made you feel remorse? It’s not always obvious, so here are some questions to ask yourself to try and pin it down.
- Was it an impulse buy that you really can’t afford?
- Do you feel insecure or anxious now that the money is gone?
- Do you feel guilty for indulging yourself?
- Did you buy it to fill an emotional need or to help yourself forget something distressing?
- Do you feel like you were pressured into buying it?
- Are you addicted to the high of buying?
- Do you feel like if you’d looked harder or waited longer you could have scored a better deal?
Your reason for buyer’s remorse can be any of the above, or even a combination. As you can imagine, each of these reasons has a very different solution, so it’s important that you understand why you feel remorse, as there is no one size fits all way to make it better.
Spending Should be Emotional – But Only a Little
While logic should play a big part in our finances, I don’t know that there is a way to remove all emotions from the process and that’s a good thing. For example, you might wince a bit to see the total when you pay for your groceries and aim to do better next time or you might feel good for keeping the total under your goal and be motivated to keep up the good work. Or you could feel proud of yourself when you transfer money to savings or worry a bit that you’re not saving enough and look for ways to cut spending so you can put away more in the future.
Buyer’s remorse can be a useful emotion as it keeps our spending in check. However, in some cases, it can also serve as a warning sign that our spending is out of control and it can also be a signal that we need more balance in our lives and our relationship towards money.
Spending money to fill non-material needs or desires is destined to end in unhappiness. There is nothing wrong with a little treat as a pick me up on a rough day, of course, but if your only tool to make yourself feel better is by buying things, it is a problem. If this is the cause of your buyer’s remorse, you’ll need to find productive ways to deal with negative emotions and their root causes.
Likewise, if you experience lingering remorse and guilt every time you spend money, even if you can afford it and it’s something you truly want, it’s a sign that something is out of balance. Saving money is great, but you should also get to enjoy spending some every now and again, too. Ask yourself if you feel bad about spending the money because of anxiety over having enough or because you feel guilty about doing things for yourself and find ways to help yourself feel more confident and secure.
It’s good to delay gratification and do our research to get a good deal, but again, it should be proportionate to the expense. Constant second guessing yourself and feeling an undue amount of anxiety at missing out on a deal can negatively impact your happiness. Although we can learn lessons from poorly timed purchases or not doing our research, for the most part, once you’ve made a decision to buy, it’s pointless to obsess over whether or not we could have made a better deal.
By looking at why we feel buyer’s remorse, we can learn a lot about our strengths and weaknesses and look for ways to improve ourselves, both financially and emotionally. Money is only part of the picture when it comes to living a healthy, successful life.
Do you feel buyer’s remorse? How do you deal with it?
Photo Credit: NoHoDamon