The National Employment Savings Trust say that 85% of Brits admit to buying things they almost never use. But what are the biggest sources of buyer's remorse?
Clothes are an impulse shopping minefield. They're priced just within our financial reach and designed, displayed and packaged for maximum appeal. But there's so much that can go wrong. In fact, a recent survey suggests that 66% of people have bought clothes they've never even worn.
Among the many problems you may encounter are a poor fit, uncomfortable or impractical design, or simply one ill-judged cycle of your washing machine. So it makes sense to try before you buy. And if you're not sure about a purchase, give yourself a 24-hour cool off period before splashing the cash.
2. A smartphone or tablet
It may seem perfectly reasonable to upgrade to the latest smartphone, or invest in a lightweight, portable tablet to replace your clunky laptop. But you're also buying an impulse purchase generator. As well as the lure of an app store, carrying around a device that can instantly access online stores is a risky business. A survey by Rackspace Retail Research found that 17% of people had made more impulse purchases because of their mobile device.
To counter the threat, cultivate positive mobile habits. Setting up a free budget planner you can check online, on the move, will help you organise and keep track of your spending, and provide a clear view of how much you can really afford to spend on spur-of-the-moment treats. Our free Money Dashboard software is a great option, with an automatic tagging feature that helps you identify the biggest sources of impulse spending.
3. Extended warranties
Generally, we're pretty cautious about making a big purchase. But for some reason, perhaps an ill-judged temptation to protect a hefty outlay, we all have an urge to panic buy an extended warranty on the day, 'just in case'.
While there's nothing wrong with protecting your purchases, this kind of product shouldn't be bought on impulse. For starters, you might be able to get a better warranty somewhere else. The Office of Fair Trading has even announced the launch of a warranty comparison site, so you can fairly compare deals. It's also important to check you're not already covered in key areas by your credit card, or even your contents insurance. Finally, check the small print to ensure it covers every eventuality. The last thing you want is to find your phone isn't protected if you drop it.
4. Gym membership
Lent is a dangerous period for frugal savers. Good intentions can leave you with a gym membership you never use. And unlike most impulse purchases, this is the gift that keeps on taking.
Monthly subscriptions can be a nightmare to escape, and contracts can run for up to 24 months, with an auto-renew clause attached if you're not careful. Always think hard before signing any contract. Consider joining for a month, or paying-as-you-go for a few weeks, before committing to anything long term. To help you get started, take a look at our blog post about how to avoid a long-term gym membership.
If you've bought anything else you've seriously regretted, let us know in the comments below. And don't forget to visit Money Dashboard to keep track of your purchases in the future.
Posted by Marc Murphy, Marketing Manager at Money Dashboard.