I don’t know about you, but buyer’s remorse is huge for me; so much so that I’ll go out of my way to avoid it (with inordinate amounts of research) and get irrationally upset whenever it hits me (which, thankfully, isn’t too often).
In a lot of cases, buyer’s remorse stems from a paradox of choice. Too many choices leads to impatience, impatience leads to impulsive online shopping, and at that point, regret is waiting right around the corner. Sound familiar? Tired of it? Then here are several common purchases that tend to result in regret — avoid them unless you have a really good reason not to.
1. Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo has been surprisingly well-received since it debuted in 2014. The 4.4 rating out of 5 stars may not hold much credibility, especially given that it’s on Amazon’s own site, but that kind of approval is hard to get these days, so kudos to Amazon.
But we still think you might regret getting one. At just shy of $200, the Amazon Echo is pricey — and even if you like the device, you may regret dropping that much cash on it. That’s why we recommend getting an Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Tap instead. Both are significantly cheaper.
Sure, we’ve highlighted some of the creative uses for Amazon Echo before and it’s true that this device can do a lot of cool stuff. It can even integrate with all kinds of third-party devices, allowing you to control aspects of your home using only your voice. But once the novelty wears off, you’ll realize that the Echo Dot or Tap can do just as much for less.
2. Other “Smart” Gadgets
A “smart” gadget is any device that has internet connectivity, such as a smartphone, smartwatch, or smart TV. And while many smart gadgets are useful, most of them have very specific use cases and the rest of them are useless gimmicks.
Take the Nest smart thermostat, for example. It’s an incredible device with so many more features than meets the eye, but a lot of those benefits only apply to certain kinds of houses. Or smart door locks, which are convenient, but won’t keep you any safer.
Not to mention the risks associated with smart products. If a company goes belly-up, you could lose some (or all) of a device’s functionality. Smart devices are also more prone to errors and malfunctions, which means shorter lifespans and worse overall value.
3. Cutting-Edge Gadgets
I know several people who always need to have the latest and greatest tech, particularly when it comes to smartphones — and I also know that those same people often regret those right-as-they’re-released purchases. Not only is it a financially unsound habit, but it’s loaded with risks.
As an early adopter, you don’t have the benefit of user reviews and post-launch experiences. Consider the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which released in August 2016 — and was recalled two weeks later due to reports of exploding batteries!
Early adopters also pay an “early adoption” premium. The tech world moves fast, which means device prices plummet within months (or even weeks). A little bit of patience can save you a lot of money. If you bought a device for $500 and saw that it was half price a month later, how would you feel?
For these reasons, buying cutting-edge gadgets is almost always a mistake. The risks are too great and the benefits are few, which means regret is likely.
4. Warranties and Insurance
Generally speaking, device warranties aren’t worth it and extended warranties are definitely not worth it.
Consider SquareTrade, one of the more reputable providers of electronics protection plans. For a $500 laptop, you’d end up paying $120 up front for a two-year protection plan with a $75 deductible per claim (or $200 up front for no deductible), and it costs proportionally more for a three-year protection plan. For most folks, this is not a good financial decision.
Think of how many devices you have. How many of them are older than two or three years? Most of them, I’m betting. The truth is that more than two-thirds of the time, a brand new device will outlive its warranty — and by that point, it will be outdated enough that when it breaks, you’ll want to buy a new device rather than repair what you have. If you banked the original warranty cost, you’d already be halfway towards a newer, better device.
The same thing is true for insurance. The peace of mind of a service like AppleCare may be worth it to you, but chances are you aren’t going to need it.
And don’t forget that your devices may be protected under two other services that you probably already have.
- Credit cards usually offer some kind of warranty protection for devices bought using that credit card.
- Renters’ insurance and home owners’ insurance may cover things like damage to and theft of devices within your residence.
I bought a netbook back in 2011 and I still cringe about it to this day. I have never used a device as slow, frustrating, and uncomfortable as a netbook, so you can imagine how happy I am that netbooks have gone out of style. For those who don’t know, a netbook is basically a miniature laptop.
I won’t go on and on about this. If you’re thinking of getting a netbook for whatever reason this year, reconsider it right now. At the very least, you can get a comparably-priced tablet instead and connect a keyboard to it using USB OTG.
6. Desktops and Laptops
If you don’t have a tablet yet, you should really think about getting one. I’ll admit that I thought they were stupid until I was gifted one of my own, and to say that it changed my life would not be an understatement.
Unless you’re doing heavy graphical work, you don’t need a desktop anymore, and unless you’re doing processor-heavy work while traveling or commuting, you don’t need a laptop anymore either. The one exception is a Chromebook, which can be a surprisingly good alternative to a tablet.
For checking email, browsing the web, and handling tasks and errands that are available as mobile apps, a tablet is more than great. Just remember to take these considerations into mind before buying one.
7. Tablets and E-Readers With 4G LTE
If you do end up going with a tablet, be very deliberate in your decision to get one that supports 4G LTE or one that is Wi-Fi only.
Think of all the locations where you might use your tablet — home, school, work, library, subway, park, etc. — and think of how many of those places have Wi-Fi access. Most of them, probably. And of the places that don’t have Wi-Fi, will you really need 4G LTE? Most likely not.
And while there may be important differences between the two, the same holds true for e-readers: you probably don’t need 4G LTE. If you need to download ebooks to your device, you can plan ahead and load them up when you have Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi is everywhere these days, so you may regret paying more for 4G LTE capabilities (not to mention that a 4G LTE data plan isn’t free, either). This is an easy decision, if you ask me — easier than deciding whether to get a tablet or e-reader.
8. Low-Capacity SSDs
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are standard for home computer storage these days if you have a desktop or laptop. The trouble is that SSDs are more expensive than hard drives, so people tend to skimp on capacity when shopping for SSDs.
128 GB might sound like a lot, but you have to remember that most of that space will be taken up by the operating system, the apps you install, and the various caches that are used by web browsers, music streaming software, and other apps. And don’t forget that SSDs need about 20–30% empty space for optimal performance!
A 128 GB SSD is effectively closer to 64 GB or 32 GB, so I don’t recommend anything smaller than 256 GB. Any less and you’ll wind up regretting it — especially if you’re ordering a new Macbook Pro or iMac and won’t be able to upgrade the data drive after the fact.
9. Digital Music Albums
I’ve personally never bought music from a place like iTunes. Rather, I skipped right from CDs to Pandora, then Songza, and now both Spotify and Amazon Music. Given the current landscape of digital music, buying doesn’t seem to make much sense anymore.
This is because digital ownership of media doesn’t exist, so any music you buy on iTunes, for example, isn’t actually your own. If you care about ownership, you’re better off sticking with physical CDs or going even further back to vinyl.
Why spend $8 on one iTunes album when you can pay $10 per month for full access to millions of songs on Spotify, Google Play Music, or Apple Music? All of these services also have offline playback for when you don’t have Wi-Fi and can’t stream. In a lot of ways, it is the smarter option.
10. Cheap Headphones
Headphones are one item where spending a little more goes a long way. Whether you’re shopping for practical Bluetooth headphones or something a little more traditional, you do not want to cheap out here.
And if you’ve ever wondered why your headphones keep breaking, this could be why. Would you rather spend $30 every year for headphones that keep breaking or $100 once for headphones that last five-plus years?
However, when your headphones do break, don’t rush out to buy a replacement without first trying to fix them yourself.
11. DVD Players
Now that streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu are well established, and now that we’re starting to see niche streaming services as well, it may seem like DVDs are obsolete — but there are reasons to stick with DVDs, such as offline playback.
On the other hand, there are no good reasons to buy a DVD player. They’re expensive and they’re unnecessary. Most computers and gaming consoles can play DVDs, and if yours can’t, you can just buy an external DVD drive. Then all you need is an HDMI cable or a Chromecast, and you can stream your DVD right to your TV.
12. GPS Device
Whether you’re driving your car or searching for a geocache, the GPS navigation abilities of a smartphone are more than enough. There aren’t many benefits to using a dedicated GPS device over using a GPS app on a smartphone.
I can only think of two good reasons to use a dedicated GPS device instead: if it comes with a dashcam or you’re going to hike or camp deep in the woods and you need a better signal and better battery life.
13. DSLR Cameras
Photography has been a huge craze over the past few years (I know because I hopped on that train two years ago myself). Everyone thinks photography is easy and that “anyone can do it,” because “how hard could it be?” — until they drop $1,000 on their first DSLR and realize they have no idea what they’re doing.
If you want to pursue photography, go for it. All I’m saying is that way too many people have regretted their DSLR purchases because they underestimated just how hard photography is. The learning curve is massive, and the truth is that amazing photos can be taken without a DSLR, so don’t rush into it.
If you decide to get one anyway, make sure you consider all of the important details. And make sure you buy used or refurbished whenever you can (at least until you become a professional) as that’s the best way to save money on a DSLR.
Which Tech Purchases Do You Regret?
Do you have an expensive smartwatch that you never wear? Did you buy an off-brand tablet only to have it malfunction within months? Were you hoping to be a professional photographer, dropped $5,000 on new gear, only to discover that you didn’t like it very much?
We want to hear your stories! Tell us below in a comment about any time you regretted a tech purchase, whether that regret was instant or took months to set in.
Image Credit: Phovoir via Shutterstock.com, Evgeny Atamanenko via Shutterstock.com