How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

by Chris Bjorklund
shopping bags

I had a slight case of buyer’s remorse the other day after impulsively buying a mint green cardigan sweater online. After it arrived, I realized it wasn’t the right color for me, the style was all wrong and it was too big. I could have returned it, but I got out of that hassle by selling it to my sister-in-law, who loved it.

We’ve all experienced buyer’s remorse at some point, and I hope that for you, it didn’t involve a major purchase like a home, a pet or a car. Financial experts offer a few suggestions on how to avoid big mistakes: Become an expert on what you’re going to buy, become a conscious spender and take your time on big decisions.

When you do the research for a big purchase, it often involves learning about the product, the seller and the competitors. I needed a new roof recently, and at first I was overwhelmed by the choices of materials and installation options. I spent time interviewing different roofing contractors and comparing estimates. I followed up with more questions as I came closer to a decision, and by the time I signed a contract, I had confidence in my choice and didn’t have one ounce of buyer’s remorse.

Being a conscious spender means evaluating your priorities when it comes to making major purchases. Maybe you know you’re going to need another used car this year, so you’ll have to put off that family vacation to Hawaii. These are the tradeoffs conscious spenders make that help reduce their chances of having buyer’s remorse. People also have regrets when they impulsively buy things they know they can’t afford or will rarely use. Timeshares and vacation homes are good examples of that.

If you regularly experience buyer’s remorse, consider establishing a waiting period before making a major purchase. “Sleep on it” is common and sound advice. Ask yourself, “Will I regret this purchase? Do I really need this?” Also know that the Federal Trade Commission has a three-day “cooling off” period where you can cancel some kinds of sales made in the home or at a temporary location. If you have the three-day right to cancel, it will be noted in your contract along with how to exercise your cancellation right.

P.S. Fun fact: The word “remorse” has Latin roots and means “to bite again,” so if you have remorse, it means your earlier actions are biting you back and making you feel regrets.