How to Cope With Buyers Remorse

By in Personal Finance, Saving, Wealth | 12 comments

“The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” John C. Maxwell

I don’t think I made a mistake here, but my perfectionism needed a bit of a lashing.

MAIN TOPIC: A Surprise at Wal-Mart

There it was on display, a 6000 series Kodak printer with fax and scanning capabilities for $169.00. My heart sank. A routine trip to Wal-Mart, fraught with distress.

After diligent research, I bought a 9000 series Kodak printer from Amazon for $199.00. I thought I got a good deal.

Back to Wal-Mart where I quickly scanned the specs on the display model, and couldn’t find any difference between those of my printer and the one on display, except a $30.00 price difference. I knew the list price on mine was $249.00, so I was pumped to pay only $199.00; until today.

 I understand that a 9000 model is probably better than a 6000 model, but the specs looked the same!

I was upset. Did I paid an additional and unnecessary $30.00? Typically, this type of mistake REALLY BOTHERS ME.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Positive Self-Talk

What I experienced was classic “buyers remorse.”  It’s the feeling of regret one experiences after making a purchase, frequently a large one like a car or house. I recognized it immediately, as I’m apt to be a comparison shopper (even after I’ve already bought the item in question).

Fortunately, I have a lot of experience with “positive self talk.” With a Masters degree in counseling and a close relative who’s a clinical psychologist, I’ve been practicing this cognitive behavior therapy technique for a long time. So here’s what I said to myself.

“You have several choices. You can spend time obsessing over paying $30.00 more for a comparable item, or you can forget about it. That’s right. Just move on, and enjoy the rest of the day. You got the printer several weeks ago, you like it, it works fine and even if it wasn’t the rock bottom price, what difference does it make?”

The way I see it is this; when you have a purchase to make, spend some time finding the optimal item for your needs. Negotiate or find the best price and buy it. Afterwards, do not deliberately look at the prices on comparable items to determine whether you made a “good deal” or not. In fact, regarding electronics, frequently their prices decline. Expect that there may be a similar item with a lower price at a future date.

It’s kind of like investing in the stock market. If you purchase a mutual fund, and then the price goes down, are you going to berate yourself? Hopefully not. Prices on all items vary. They go up and down.

After you buy, move on. Enjoy your life. Avoid regret and increase your WEALTH IN LIFE.

ACTION STEPS:

 Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

  • Challenge yourself to keep focused on the present.
  • Try this for one day, see if your life satisfaction improves and your self criticism declines.

Have you experienced buyers remorse? How did you handle it?

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    12 Comments

  1. I use the same technique, but I didn’t realize it had an official “name” as self-talk. My husband is in charge of the electronics purchases and he always shops around for the best price. But like you mentioned, electronics prices drop from one week to the next, or so it seems. The best thing to do is just be glad you shopped for the best deal at the time and felt good with the price you bought the item for.

    Little House

    February 3, 2011

  2. Hi Little House, Sounds like you are right on track with getting rid of those pesky and nagging self doubts. Good job!

    Barb

    February 3, 2011

  3. when i bought my nissan rogue back in september, i was suffering from a very severe buyer’s remorse. I figured I’d just wait it out, but I still have that remorse today, even though it’s not as severe as it was before. I don’t think it’ll ever go away until I buy a different car.

    Charles

    February 3, 2011

  4. Don’t forget that you had the product and used it for a while before you saw the lower price. That has a value too!

    krantcents

    February 3, 2011

  5. I stop comparison shopping after I purchase an item. It’s just added stress that I don’t need.
    When I sell a stock, I stop tracking it. :)

    retirebyforty

    February 3, 2011

  6. @Charles, Do you really not like the car? Or is it that you think you overpaid? Whatever the reason, it’s probablly not cost effective to buy another one. Give yourself a break, you’re not perfect and no one makes the optimal choice every time!
    @Krantcents-That is a really important point. I did use the printer for a few weeks before I saw the other one, and that definitely was important to me. Thanks for the added perspective.
    @Retire-Great discipline and a good message for all! Sometimes, I just can’t help myself :)

    Barb

    February 3, 2011

  7. I try to just tell myself I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. I hate when I find a better deal after the fact though!

    Everyday Tips

    February 5, 2011

  8. I’m with you Babs, put forth a decent effort up front, but don’t sweat it afterwards. Returns are typically not worth the headache.

    Car Negotiation Coach

    February 5, 2011

  9. Hi Everyday-I like your simple “self talk;” I’m going to file it away; “I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.”
    Hi Car- I couldn’t agreee more. When I looked at that $30 price difference, I immediately said, it’s no worth my time to pursue it further (also, I had already unpacked and used my printer). Good point.

    Barb

    February 6, 2011

  10. We recently bought a couch, and after noticing some damage after unwrapping it and doing a bit more research on the company we have buyer’s remorse. The company has a ton of bad reviews, but i’m surprised because there are so many outlets and the stores are very nice. Call us suckers for having fallen for it… hope we can resolve this issue soon.

    Kevin@InvestItWisely

    February 11, 2011

  11. Kevin, I would contact the company and inform them of the damage. See if you can get any sort of compensation. Hopefully you like how it looks. As a veteran furniture buyer, I’d say it will get somewhat junked up anyhow,so although it’s disappointing over time, if the couch is comfy and you like how it looks, you’ll feel fine.

    Barb

    February 13, 2011

  12. I am glad to learn I am not the only one with buyer’s remorse when buying large items, in my case a car. It’s my first car, I am the first of my generation in my family to own a license and a car. I should be WAY HAPPY and PROUD but instead I am torn with distress. Will I have enough money for all the expenses, will I have to give up many creature comforts for owning a car, what if I wreck the car, will I not have enough money for my annual trip to see my long-distance life partner?
    I need the car, really I do. Yet I can’t shake the money-worries. Hope it will go away, I am currently avoiding the car at all costs so not to remind myself I just put 4k into it. That’s four round trips to see my partner!

    Nina

    March 26, 2013

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