Things I Wish I Hadn’t Bought

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5 Things I Regret Buying

Well the title explains it all. I’m pretty forgiving with myself but wow have we ever made some really, really bad financial decisions.

5 Things I Regret Buying

1. That damned car. We were tired of old cars that were cheap but needed tons of repairs in their short life so in late 1999 we went to a car dealership and bought a brand new 2000 Saturn LS. There was nothing wrong with the car, I loved it, but it was a stupid buy.

First, it was brand new and the second we drove it off the lot we went upside down on the loan. Second, while we had a big down payment (enough to buy us a decent used car!) we had to take a loan, which meant I had to get a night job to pay for it. We also didn’t think about the future, even when I was able to quit my job we didn’t expect that we would be expanding our family very quickly and we outgrew the car within a few years. We were able to pay the car off and sell it but Saturns never did have good resale value. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

2. Those damned aquariums. I remember exactly how it happened, and frankly, looking back I think maybe my husband and I had a bit of an animal hoarding problem back then. Anyhow! My husband was eyeing up a big aquarium, he had always wanted to a salt tank and I loved animals but because we lived in an apartment we were restricted to fish. Let’s not mention the tortoises, the stray cats, the frogs (including poison arrow!), the newts, and certainly not the snakes.

We didn’t have enough room on our card to buy the tank, which was marked down to JUST $200!! What a steal (insert rolling eyes here). Ok, some back story…my husband had just changed jobs and we knew nothing about 401K plans and whatnot back then, and we were in our early 20s so why bother saving for something that’s gonna happen in 55 years when we can get what we want TODAY?

Do you see where I’m going with this??

So yeah, he didn’t roll over his 401K so they sent him a check and we went home with two enormous fish tanks and everything needed for a salt tank and a cichlid tank (neither of which are easy fish to care for, fyi). The fish did bring some joy but one day we woke up to find them all floating upside down, the heater tripped and the water became too cold too fast. So, that was about $900 total down the drain (literally).

3. That handheld vacuum. There was nothing wrong with the vacuum itself, this one is more about the attitude that led to buying the vacuum.

Ok, so you know how I talked about getting a job in #1? I sold hardware at a popular department store, and I did quite well because I was young and pretty and old men like buying tools from young women. It was easy work and I cleaned up in commission. I also got a store credit card with a $1,500 limit and that’s a big limit for a barely 20 something making about $10/hour (remember that minimum wage was only $4.25/hour back then).

I decided one day that it was really hard to clean out that damned car without a proper handheld vacuum, so I went in to work early and bought one on my charge card. Stupid stupid stupid. Did I EVER clean my car? No. I ended up lending the vacuum to a neighbor who moved out in the middle of the night along with my vacuum. I bought the vacuum on the assumption that I would use it, but I didn’t realize then that I need to make changes in myself before I start buying things to accommodate whatever new habit I wish I had. Stupid stupid stupid.

4. That $33 gallon of milk
. We went through a rough time a couple years back. A series of misfortunes and stupid decisions led us to a very dark time. Once I found myself in the situation in which we had less than $1 in checking, two days until payday, and out of milk. What I SHOULD have done is made do without the milk, even though my kids were little no milk for two days wouldn’t hurt them long-term. But I was lazy and overwhelmed and the toddler wanted a bottle…so I went to the store and bought a gallon of milk and paid a $30 overdraft fee for it.

5. That $5000 furniture. We sold the only house we ever owned in 2006. Do you remember 2006? It was a very, very good time to sell a house. We made a lot of money. Did we pay off bills with the money? Sure did. We paid off the minivan we had to buy when we outgrew that damned car mentioned in #1, and some credit cards..but holy crap were we STUPID with the rest of the money.

My husband had been laid off months before we sold the house and the bills piled up. He finally accepted a job in another state so we sold the house and packed up. After suffering through unemployment we thought we deserved a treat! We bought a (used, thankfully) second car that we didn’t need with cash (we had to sell it less than a year later when he lost his job again). We rented a gorgeous house we couldn’t afford. A motorcycle. Designer knives. And a $4000 living room suite and $1000 dining room table.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Within two years my young kids (I had five by this time) had destroyed all of the furniture. One kid took scissors to the couch. Some kids had spilled stuff on the couches and caused stains we couldn’t remove. Two years of daily living tore the table to shreds. We paid way too much for really, really crappy furniture.

We made a lot of mistakes and it took us to a bad place, but they are hard lessons that we needed. Fortunately we’re much smarter now and buy only with cash, always look for used or the best price new, and mostly we now know that one doesn’t deserve things more than they deserve love, happiness, and security.

Your turn! What were some of the not-so-smart purchases you regret?

5 Things I Regret Buying

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3 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Hadn’t Bought

  • Anita

    Yikes, way too many to list but one of the biggies is when we bought a new camper. We took too big of a loan for too long and when we finally paid it off it was falling apart. I would never have another camper.

  • Clearwing

    Thank you for sharing! I think it is hard for people to talk about purchases we regret. I am still really embarassed about buying a few protection plans (added warranty that covered tires, etc) for a car and crappy set of computer speakers a salesperson recommended over the ones I wanted. Actually any purchase on credit that I made after paying the cards completely off a few years back. I feel like we have some in common. Apparently, be smart about cars and don’t have consumer debt on credit cards!

  • Alison at NOVA Frugal Family

    Interesting thoughts…especially the milk purchase. I was normally a really frugal person and then I got a job and worked really hard like 12 hour days and the pay finally went up from barely making it by to making a good pay check and I went through a little spending spree where I ate out (because I deserved it) and bought lots of things (because I deserved it) and then realized that even though I could pay for all the things that I was doing that it was silly!