Splurges that stung
Just before the pandemic descended, Suzanne Lawler of Pacifica, Calif., made a purchase that didn’t seem so bad at the time. Ms. Lawler, a retired legal manager, had just sold an item she had inherited, pocketing about $90,000. Then, on a trip to New York City with a friend, she “fell in love” with a Celine handbag at a luxury consignment shop in SoHo. It was a stunner, she thought, and in orange python, it was one of the team colors of her beloved San Francisco Giants. The price: $3,000.
But Ms. Lawler, 68, hasn’t used the bag — and she gets upset whenever she goes into the closet where she keeps it. Her attempts to resell it have failed — either resellers reject items made of real python, or individual buyers don’t want to pay her asking price.
But she’s luckier than most. “I don’t need the money,” she said. “If I had donated it to my favorite charity or spent it on something a little bit more appropriate and in line with my values, I would have felt much better. Every time I go into that closet, I feel like crap.”
Patti Henry didn’t intend to have multiple unused plane tickets gathering dust for months. The pandemic forced her to cancel one trip, and when people could fly internationally again, Ms. Henry, 60, a physical therapist in Portland, Ore., “went on a travel binge” and bought tickets to more locales.
There was the $500 ticket to Mexico City, a trip she had to postpone when the Covid outbreak grounded flights. Then there were two tickets, totaling $900, to Tahiti for spring break — a trip she also had to cancel. After that: A plan for a jaunt to Peru, costing $2,000, that didn’t pan out. Although she finally got to take the Mexico City trip, Ms. Henry is stuck with a number of airline credits that she has struggled to use for a variety of reasons: scheduling conflicts, communication issues with some of the smaller airlines she booked with — and most painfully, price increases that have made it hard for her to bring her whole family of four along for the ride.
“Everything has just gotten so expensive. It’s just absolutely ridiculous,” Ms. Henry said. She said she would continue to rebook and eventually use the tickets and was hoping for refunds for some of them.
Avoiding impulse buys
Although buyer’s remorse can be impossible to avoid entirely, there are ways to avoid overspending on things you just don’t need.