What are your options when you have buyer's guilt?

Tuesday 12 May 2015, 2:27PM
By Harold French

Your pulse quickens, flickers of excitement coarse through your veins and your mouth almost waters with the thrill of anticipation. You want it so bad, you can almost taste it… and why not? A few less lattes this month means you can easily afford the repayments. So you whip out the credit card and you buy it – whatever, the new Apple Watch, a pair of Bottega Venata flats or a Dakota Johnson‘s doll pendant bag from Chanel.

Except when you leave the store, the coveted item clutched between your sweaty little paws, that sense of triumph, the joy of owning what your heart most desires, suddenly begins to slip away quicker than you can draw breathe. You might even begin to feel sick, or a little guilty. Perhaps a little nagging doubt begins to tick away in the back of your mind, and thoughts about your climbing credit card bills dropping into your inbox begin to accumulate like, well credit card bills.

Maybe you have a Gem Visa credit card, which means you have six months interest free to pay it off. That buys you some time… but you still have to pay it off before those six months are up… Suddenly you’re not dwelling on the joy of your buy any longer, you’re worrying about how you’re going to pay for it. You might even think about going back and returning it, but something stubbornly holds on and you keep walking.

Did you pay too much? Could you have got it cheaper on Amazon? Does this set you back on saving for that holiday you’ve been dreaming of? Will you have to give up Saturdays to overtime so you can pay it off before the interest free deal expires? What’s the Apple Watch good for anyway, after all, it doesn’t do anything more than your phone, does it?

The anxiety that you’re experiencing is perfectly natural. It’s called post purchase dissonance, or buyer’s remorse. And if you really can’t afford the item, then it’s going to be feel a lot worse, and it’s time to put those credit cards on ice.

If you have purchased something you really cannot afford, what are your options?

1. In terms of consumer law in New Zealand, you are not entitled to return items for a refund if you have buyer’s remorse, and “wish you hadn’t spent the money”. Some stores however, may let you return the item, so don’t be afraid to as least ‘ask’ the question.

2. You may also be able to sell the item. You’re most likely going to lose some money on the deal, but at least you will be killing off a big chunk of the debt.

3. If the item is not working properly, you are entitled to return it under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

4. Revise your budget, perhaps make plans to earn some extra cash, and enjoy your purchase.

You will find that if you go home and revise the budget, or actually begin a budget, you will regain some of that feeling of control. Once you are aware of the challenge, you can take pro-active steps to address it.

And next time, make a list of your desirables and plan your purchasing activity to fit within your budget or savings. That way you get to have your cake and eat it.