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10 Common Spending Regrets

Wasted money on a purchase? Here’s a look at items people buy and wish they didn’t


1) The time-share industry, known for its seductive marketing practices, plays on people’s fantasies of owning property in popular vacation areas and being able to travel the world by simply swapping time-shares. In reality, many time-share owners find that ever-increasing “maintenance fees” turn their fantasies into financial nightmares. Swapping — let alone ever selling — their time-shares is next to impossible.

First-Generation Technology

2) Consumer electronics and other technology tend to both improve in quality and drop in price after the bugs in the first-generation are worked out and market demand increases. If you camp out to be first in line to buy the latest gadget, you’ve probably learned this lesson the hard way.

‘As Seen on TV’ Products

3) From kitchen knives that claim to cut through steel bars, to electronic belts promising to remove body fat overnight, many products sold only on TV fall short of their sales pitches. Miracle products offered at an “unbelievably low price” or even for free usually come with high shipping and handling costs. And if a product fails to perform as promised, getting your money back requires, many times, a true miracle.

Elaborate Weddings

4) With the average American wedding now costing more than $28,000, many newlyweds later regret not saving a bit of that small fortune for other things, such as a down payment on a house. Of course with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, it’s little wonder so many people regret the cost of their weddings, elaborate or not.

Extended Warranties

5) So-called added protection plans commonly offered on consumer electronics and appliances are almost always a great deal — for the party selling them. Remember, most products come with a manufacturer’s warranty to protect against defects and provide some level of consumer protection without having to pay extra.

Trendy Fashions

6) Americans spend about $250 billion on clothing and accessories every year, fueled in large part by a desire to sport the latest fashions. Buying quality apparel and classic designs will save you money over the long run.

Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

7) Whether it’s an expensive audio course you saw advertised on late night TV for getting rich by buying real estate, or just plunking down a couple of bucks a week for lottery tickets, the odds are severely stacked against you when it comes to making your fortune in a way that seems too easy to be true. Watch out for “collectible” items, too; they rarely increase — or even retain — their value over time.

Gym Memberships/Exercise Equipment

8) If you buy them and actually use them, great. An estimated 60 percent or more of gym memberships go unused after an initial visit or two. A sign posted recently at a local thrift store where I shop — a veritable graveyard of donated exercise equipment — reads “We Are No Longer Accepting Donations of Used Exercise Equipment (Even If Never Used).”

Pet Toys and Novelties

9) My wife will never learn that our cats will sleep anywhere and everywhere other than the elaborate “kitty condos.” And if kids are notorious for losing interest in new toys the same day you buy them, pets are even worse. Fido didn’t pick that new chew toy you bought; that’s why he chews on your slippers.

Prepaid Funeral Plans

10) OK, so maybe this isn’t one you’ll literally live to regret. Funeral packages are often complicated, overpriced, costly to cancel and don’t deliver all that you think they do. Sure, make plans for your own final arrangements and even set aside money specifically to pay for them, but don’t fall for prepaid funeral plan rip-offs.