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Buyers Remorse, Don’t Fret About Regret

‘Tis the season to regret, all those expensive purchases that put you in debt. Buyers remorse does not just apply to major purchases like a new home or a car, it can happen just as easily on a trip to the mall. Besides guarding your purse or wallet, how can we avoid feeling ripped off even when we’ve willingly given our money away?

What Is Buyer’s Remorse?

How does it happen and what can be done to get over buyer’s remorse so you can move on with your life?

Christmas shopping and guilt

Photo:By Shinjiman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Buyer’s remorse is more than just the regret one feels when buying something that is maybe more expensive than they can afford, it can happen even buying a cup of coffee. There are psychological factors at play and an extra dose of guilt that is usually handed down through the generations. Simply put, if your parents were savers and penny pinchers, you’re likely to feel guilty with every purchase (major and minor). It’s not so different if our parents were frivolous spenders, the result is often shopping therapy for all problems followed by shame and lingering guilt. Neither extremes are healthy, but it is up to you to break any spending habits handed down from your parents.

buyers remorse for self gifting

Photo:By Shinjiman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Buyers Remorse Is A Common Human Emotion

Blaming our parents for our problems aside, buyer’s remorse can be physically debilitating and cause severe depression.  Often buyers remorse involves anxiety, increased rate, insomnia, self condemnation, eating problems and resembles addictive like symptoms. Different than being a shop-a-holic, buyers remorse is described as a form of cognitive dissonance, where the desire to have the complete control (purchase power) has disappeared after the purchase.

Even the federal government recognizes buyers remorse as a common experience and the FDIC has established laws for consumer protection spelling out the “Right of Rescission” on purchases, allowing consumers to change their mind in writing for up to 72 hours from the completion of initial purchase.

regret and buyers remorse

Photo:Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Wikimedia Commons

So how does this happen to us, even when we have nothing to feel guilt about? Unfortunately the musical chords to play your heart strings are widely known. Retailers know how to push your buttons and target marketing has never been so customized and aggressive with internet shopping and social media sharing. What you buy is not private information, but how you feel about it is. Needing to purchase something to make you feel more attractive, professional, or healthy is exactly what retailers want you to feel; you need those “things” to feel a certain way.

Everyone likes nice things and cool gadgetry, so don’t feel guilty about it, unless you’re sacrificing your mortgage, car payment, credit card bill or other necessity, you deserve the things you buy for yourself and others. Giving gifts is supposed to feel good, not just gifts for others but for yourself as well. Who knows better than you exactly what you want?

The definition of splurge, depending on the source varies slightly. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines splurging as to spend more money than usual on yourself. The urban dictionary says that splurging is “spending freely with no remorse and very little consequence to your bank account”.

You’re not alone if you purchase gifts for yourself during the holidays, according to market research by Prosper Insights & Analytics the number of “self-gifters” is on the rise in the last two years. Retailers are aware of this lure and more stores are offering buy one get one free deals, gift cards with purchases (for your use later) and “complimentary” gifts with purchase to add a personal reward for the gifter looking for deals and steals this time of year.

Now that you know exactly what buyers remorse is and how it works psychologically, you can drop the guilt and save it for your News Years Resolutions. Move on with your life and embrace the YOLO philosophy. As long as you’re not forgoing other financial commitments, there’s no need for you to feel buyer’s remorse. Here are the main reasons for you to not fret with regret this shopping season.

  1. YOLO-(You Only Live Once)

  2. If you can afford it, you deserve it

  3. Only  YOU know what YOU want the most

  4. Deals offered this time of year are really deals, deeply discounted from any other month ultimately saving you money (especially on bigger ticket items like TV and major appliances)

  5.  The joy of gift giving should apply to everyone, including you!

About Tonya O'Dell