Ten Things I Want to Buy, But Won’t

I, like a lot of people, have a list of things that I would like to own. There can be a lot of fun in fantasizing about all the things you’d like to have and the fun you’d have owning them. However, the smart consumer understands that reality is somewhat different. The things that we think would be great to own may not be so in reality. The things we want may not turn out to be as fun as we thought, or they come with hidden costs that we hadn’t anticipated. Sometimes when we get the things we fantasized about, regret sets in because we realize we wasted our money.

Below are ten items that I’ve fantasized about owning (for years, in some cases) but which I know I’ll never buy. These items are incredibly tempting to me because they look like fun, or they seem like they’d make my life better in some way. Or they’re just cool. However, I know myself well enough to know that, ultimately, they will become pains in my rear end in one way or another. Every time I’m tempted to buy something off this list, I remind myself of the reasons why it won’t work for me and I pass it by. It’s hard sometimes, especially when it seems like most of the known world has the item and finds it incredible. I have to remind myself that I know how I work and that these things just aren’t for me, no matter how much they may be beloved by others. So here are ten things that I want but won’t buy, and why.

A Wii: It looks like fun, but I know from previous gaming experiences that, after about three weeks, the thing will sit on the shelf and barely get used. We just don’t have a lot of time to spend playing with it and the free time we do have, we choose other activities. I’m sure it’s fun, but it won’t fit in with our lives and would end up being a regretted purchase.

A brand new car: I like cars and I’ve always wanted a brand new one. Mostly just so I can say I had a new car. However, I cannot stomach the thought of losing so much to depreciation and paying higher insurance premiums and property taxes. No amount of “newness” can make up for those shortcomings, in my mind. I would end up hating myself very soon after buying the car and noticing the “wasted” money. I stick to used cars, but I do enjoy wandering car lots and test driving some new models. It satisfies my urge for the new car smell.

A big screen TV: When I go to Best Buy I am drawn like a moth to the TV section where I am mesmerized by the huge TV’s. The pictures are so sharp and clear, it’s wonderful to see. I think about bringing one home, but then I remember: We don’t watch enough TV to make that purchase worthwhile. Certainly the few movies and programs we do watch would look better, but we don’t spend enough time in front of the screen to give it its due. What we do watch looks just fine on our old twenty-five incher.

A big, new motor home: We have an older model motor home that I really like. It gets great gas mileage (better than some of the new ones) and has all of the features I need. But when I pick up an RV magazine, go to an RV show or campground, or go to the dealer for parts, I just can’t help wanting a newer, bigger model. I see all the new ones and they’re so pretty with their new fixtures and floor plans. Of course I’d like more space. But the reality is that a new one would cost me more in taxes, insurance, and fuel. And the depreciation when I drove it off the lot would kill me. Losing thirty percent on a $100,000 purchase would make me ill. So I keep my older motor home and spend my energy and money keeping it in tip top condition so it will serve me well for years to come.

A membership in the Disney Vacation Club (DVC): DVC is a timeshare program run by Disney. We go the Disney World a lot, so it seems like something that might make sense for us. But after running the numbers (multiple times with the same result) we’ve proven that it won’t work for us financially. The way we choose to vacation at Disney is not compatible with getting the most use out of the points. It’s a big investment with annual dues and fees that wouldn’t give us the value we would expect. Sure, it would be cool to “own” part of Disney, but it’s not the right financial decision for us so I just keep on enjoying my vacations there and “renting” part of Disney.

Stainless steel appliances: I like the look and I know they’d look great in my kitchen. But they work the same as other colors and I don’t want to spend my life wiping fingerprints off the finish to keep them looking good. The constant cleaning would quickly annoy me and once I became annoyed, I would resent the appliances rather than appreciating how nice they look in my kitchen. I’ll just stick to white and spare myself the aggravation.

A designer purse: I like handbags. All the different designs and colors are fun to look at. But I cannot justify paying $500 or more for a bag when all I really carry with me is my phone, wallet and Epi-Pen. Hardly worth the price for even a $20 WalMart bag, let alone a designer purse. I know if I bought one I would be afraid to use it for fear of damaging it and that it would sit in the closet most of the time because I work from home so I don’t go out much. My need to carry stuff just isn’t that large.

An iPhone: I am an Apple girl and have been before Apple was “cool.” Of course I drool over the iPhone. Of course I wanted it the minute it came out. But I don’t really need it. I use a basic prepaid phone because I don’t talk on my phone that much and I don’t “need” texting, email, Internet access or fun applications on my phone. Would they be fun to have? Sure. But they aren’t something that I need in order to live my life or get my work done. And I definitely don’t need or want the contract and steep monthly payment to AT&T that is required to use the iPhone. So I pass on this one, but I still drool when I’m in an Apple Store.

A subscription to “People” magazine: I love this magazine. It fills my desire for simple, trashy, easily-digested, diverting news. But the price tag, $120 for a year (give or take), is outrageous to me. I don’t always have time to read things when they come in, so I know a lot of unread issues would sit on my coffee table for weeks, reminding me of the folly of my purchase. Instead, I’ll take a lazy Sunday and read a few issues at my library for free, or I’ll wait until I’m stuck at the doctor’s office and plow through the copies in the waiting room. I get my diversion on my schedule and for the right price: free.

A “treadmill pool” Every time I see these things advertised in magazines, I think how cool it would be to have one. I love to swim and to have the ability to do laps without the hassle and maintenance of a real pools seems like a neat idea. But I have to remind myself of two things. One these treadmill pools still require a good deal of maintenance; maintenance that I don’t want to do. Two, as much as I like to swim, it doesn’t agree with me. I get ear infections and stinging eyes, no matter what kind of goggles or earplugs I buy. But man, that treadmill pool still looks cool.

I know that some people would say that life is short, that I should go for the purchases, especially if I can afford them. Many would say that I’m depriving myself of things that would bring me joy. I argue that it’s not about deprivation at all. It’s about using my money in ways that I know will leave me with no regrets. In addition to the list above, there are many things that I want and actually will buy. I will pay to travel extensively. I will buy new books and music that bring me pleasure. I will pay for experiences such as theater productions, sporting events, and adventures that I know I will enjoy. The difference between myself and others is that I know myself well enough to know what will bring me joy and what will not. I know that, no matter how appealing those items listed above are to me, they will not bring me long term happiness or even fun. They will quickly become annoying or stuffed away somewhere, never to be seen again. Instead I choose to spend my money on the things that will give me lasting pleasure.

Everyone is different and I wouldn’t expect you to have the same wish list as me. You might value stainless steel appliances, for example, and that’s fine. I’m certainly not saying that everyone should think like I do. But you should get to know yourself well enough, and be honest enough with yourself to know when something just isn’t worth it to you, no matter how tempting or desirable it might seem. Knowing this and refusing to give in to hype, gloss, or hoopla surrounding the item will save you a lot of money in the future.

So, what’s on your wish list that you’ll never buy, or what did you buy thinking it was perfect for you but later turned into a money regret?

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19 Responses to Ten Things I Want to Buy, But Won’t

  1. SaveBuyLive says:

    I’m with you on several of these.

    I want a new car, but right now can’t really afford one. I think it’s probably not a bad idea to buy a reliable car (like a Camry) new, and then drive it until it dies. That could be something like 15 years. And if you did that you wouldn’t have to worry about inheriting someone else’s car problems.

    If you lived in the Midwest you’d be drooling over a big screen TV. Because there is nothing else to do during the 6 months of winter that we have. I’m really not sure how I’ve managed to avoid buying one given how long I’ve been stuck up here.

    I really really want an iPhone. The price of the iPhone isn’t really keeping me from buying it. It’s the subscription costs which will be nearly double my current monthly bill. I’m also the ONLY person where I work who doesn’t have an iPhone or at least a Blackberry.

  2. Leslie says:

    Go to a thrift store and buy a designer purse. I was at a local thrift store the other day that donates all their profits to Alzheimer’s research and saw two Coach bags in perfect shape for $25 each (nice leather ones). I bought a Tumi bag at a consignment sale for $18.

  3. Julie says:

    I don’t have anything on your list, nor do i want them, except a new car. We buy a new corvette every few years and love them. My husband’s motto is “life is too short to drive an ugly car”.

  4. simpleyme says:

    I want a hot tub but the reality seems to be when people buy them they do not use them much,i am not sure i have the will to take care of it

    I would also like a beach house but once again how often could i get there?
    so instead we just rent a nice room at the beach once in a while (with a hottub)
    we probably will by both of these things but need to wait until we are ready for that kind of time

  5. Broken Arrow says:

    What I like is the basic strategy you have implied in this article, which is to have a reasonable assessment of the downside. The Wii, for example, you know that it’s going to sit and collect dust.

    For me, knowing the downside not only helps me make a good buying decision, but also helps me dampen these buying itches….

  6. Scanner says:

    Have you been reading my posts about the pool treadmill (ha, ha)? I feel that was directed at me.

    Seriously, here is an alternative that I bought for $83.00


  7. EEinNJ says:

    I don’t really lust after stuff anymore. There was a time, but along the way I learned that your possessions can own you. After the shopping, anticipation, and initial buzz of buying something is over, now you have a thing to pay for, store, maintain, and ultimately dispose of. If it’s something big, like a fun car, a boat, a vacation home, these things can turn into expensive burdens that aren’t easy to get rid of.

  8. Monkey Mama says:

    I always say I have had enough stuff to know that stuff isn’t everything. That a lot of stuff sits in the closet unused, etc. It’s more of my less well-off friends who lust after things and think being able to buy anything would equal happiness.

    A simple fix is buying used things – you can have your cake and eat it too in many regards. Also, for anything that costs a lot of money to maintain (cars, boats, horses, etc.) it’s really important to consider the true costs of some of these purchases. Just thinking it through, you can often avoid costly mistakes.

  9. rsenwood says:

    I agree with everything except the purse. It doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘designer’, but when I graduated from college, I had some gift money, and splurged on a $300 purse. I’ve carried it every day since then, except on trips to third world countries, where I carry a woven bag purchased in one of those countries for about $2. My experience with poorly made bags is that they fall apart quickly, meaning they have to be replaced frequently. so in the last five years I would have gone through five to ten $20-$30 bags. That’s $100 to $300. I plan on keeping this purse forever, becuase it’s very classic and well made. It’s one thing to buy expensive handbags and treat them as trendy throwaway items, but in the long run, you’re better off investing in a high-quality handbag and keeping it forever. Having a mentality of throwaway consumerism will keep you poor, and sucks up resources and generates waste. If you plan on using that $20 bag every day for the next five years, good for you! Odds are, that $20 is manufactured to last about six months at best.

  10. C.S. says:

    The only thing I would have to disagree with would be on the “designer” handbag. I do love my labels, but generally, “designer” pieces are made to last. I can buy the cheap misfits at TJ Maxx or the trendy items at H&M, or I can invest in quality pieces that will last a long time. In other words, the previous poster has it right – you can spend $20 at WalMart or Target for a bag that will fall apart, or you can get two to three purses that you will carry for the rest of your life. (And try eBay … I got a Kate Spade bag that’s perfect for both the office and the weekend for $20.)

    I will say that the SJP line at Steve & Barry’s is all under $20, and is better made than most cheap clothing. But to me, quality is always better than quantity (and some initial sticker shock.)

    And I really, really want an iPhone, too. I don’t use the phone that often, but I know I would use it for the Internet access along with music. But I still can’t justify that price to myself. I also can’t bring myself to go back to AT&T.

  11. Debbie M says:

    Interesting. I was thinking my list was different, but now that you mention it, iPhones are cool (except for that expensive monopoly on the phone contract).

    Also on my list:

    * mansion – too expensive and hard to maintain
    * big piece of wooded land full of hiking trails – too expensive and too far away
    * my own ballroom dance hall and set of ultimate frisbee fields – too expensive, I’d rather retire early
    * paint job for my car to make it a prettier color – just a waste of money
    * glamour shots, quick before I get too old – too late 🙂
    * mansion in a big piece of wooded land full of hiking trails, with a big ballroom dance add-on and several large open fields for ultimate frisbee with my freshly painted sparkly midnight blue 17-year-old car in the driveway. Oh, wait, I sort of mentioned that already.

    The buying-used strategy won’t work for me, but the occasional rental strategy does.

  12. mickeylily says:

    it’s easy to get a designer purse, if you don’t mind discount items. You can easily find such items at followsales.
    I once found a Bottega Veneta 50% off, and saved about $1000~ there.

  13. Neil says:


    I agree totally with the spirit of your list. You say you travel extensively and I think that is exactly the sort of thing that is worth spending money on (if you can afford it). Pay for experiences, prefereably ones shared with your friends and family) and the memories will be with you forever.

    Much better than a “thing” that will inevitably become obsolete/worn out!

  14. Natural says:

    i play my wii once a month. i don’t regret the purchase though. i’ll play a game when i get home. 🙂

    i’m with you on the rest of the stuff. i want a new car V6, stick shift, but i won’t and can’t do it.

  15. Breton Wench says:

    Ummm. the new car…..why? Husband and I have never bought (or wanted) new cars – we have always been able to pick up perfectly good second hand for cash – no credit arrangements there! Husbands current work vehicle is a 21 year old Renault Nevada – and she runs as sweet as a nut.
    ….and in 2 years she will be vintage!!!

  16. Meaghan says:

    What a great post! These are absolutely those impulse buys that you really want, but are soooo not worth it!

  17. eric says:

    i have a wii, i played with it for 3 weeks, now it sits, my kids rarely play with it and they are between 6 – 10. i had a new car once, your right, you hate yourself after you do the math, especially if you trade it in a couple years later and have to pay them to take it because it is worth a lot less than you owe. i got some new brushed aluminum appliances, they look like stainless, but do not need to be cleaned. and i got them for a great deal from lowes on a weekend, because thats when they put out their “scratch and dent” stuff, as long as the scratches and dents are behind the units, then i dont care, and saving anywhere from 10% – 60% is great. i got a big screen, i dont watch it much, but when i do! ohh im in visual delight, my kids watch it the most though, but then again, i did not pay full price, i bought it for 50% off on clearance from walmart. im with you on the motor home, we have a old camper, we use it one week a year, cannot justify spending $$$$$ for a new or even newer but used one. i have the iphone 3g, got it for $99 from att.com you must get one! i had a prepaid for years but once i started using $60 a month in prepaid time i went to att, all att to att cell calls are free, and the basic package gives me more than enough minutes and the internet has been a life save a few times, you must get one. magazine subscriptions…i was in your shoes a few years back except it wasnt people it was architectural digest, but i went on ebay and got a 3 year subscription for about $6…thats right, just six bucks, so go to ebay for the subscriptions. i havent been interested in a treadmill pool, but i wanted a hot tub, for years i wanted one, then the magical day came and i finally got one…guess what, it sucked, and i returned it 3 weeks later….then i started telling my stories to neighbors that had one, and guess what, they hated theirs too, they never used it, it cost too much in upkeep and electric (northern indiana its cold up here) and they usually would break down on year 2. and once they finally got rid of theirs they did not buy another one, i dont know anyone that has had more than one hot tub.

  18. Leopold says:

    Yeah, DVC. My sister tried to talk us into that when they first got involved in it. When it first came out (1997?), she got 350 points. It was over $30,000 and of course they didn’t have $30,000 so they had to finance it. Well, at 6% over 45 years, $30,000 present value, $0 future value: That’s an outgo stream of $1941 per year.

    ADD to that, the annual dues. Currently about $4 per point or another $1400 per year. Add the two together and you get: $3341 per year. Yeah, they are nice place, but this is really for people who are bad at math. Do you realize what you can get for 3300 bucks?

    One year she didn’t book her points early enough, so in addition to paying for DVC, and since they really wanted to go to Orlando, they ended up paying for a stay at another place. Bummer. These guys must be the best salespeople in the world, because while she is there, they sell her another 350 point plan at a different resort to supposedly help with that.

    THEN ten years later the kids are grown up and Disney is no longer in vogue. Because they couldn’t always get the times they wanted (waited too long to book), they were going to Florida in the summer, which they HATE. And . . . it’s costing them a discounted cash flow of nearly $7000 per year to do this.

    So happy I didn’t do this. I didn’t want to see Disney every freakin’ year. So we got to do other fun things with our $7000 per year. Went to Europe. Enjoyed Vegas. Etc. Etc.

    Just think people. Do you really want to hear ditzy music blaring in your ears when you are 70? Everywhere you go in Disney it’s noise. To each their own.

  19. Things says:

    I take an items list that I intend to buy, but impulsive buy something without thinking much about it.

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