We’re all guilty of it at one time or another, buying something we don’t need, then not returning it. Or worse, something we don’t even want. You know the feeling, you’re out shopping and you spot that gorgeous goldfish walker or the ingenious shoe umbrella and you convince yourself that you simply can’t live without it. Even if it means, say, going without a hot meal for a couple of days, or refusing to use your heating in the bleak mid-winter.
OK, these are extreme examples but wrack your brains and it won’t be long before something comes to mind. I’ve got a friend who spends all his spare time buying black t-shirts. He’s got hundreds of them, clogging up wardrobe space, and none of his friends can tell the difference between them anyway. Dave could be a rich man (well, maybe that’s pushing it) if only he learnt how to say no to a black t-shirt.
Then there’s my Mum. Many years ago she convinced herself life would be unbearable without a bread-maker. Fair enough. But the thing is she was gluten-free and didn’t even eat bread at the time (these were the days before we knew all about gluten-free bread). Did she consider returning the redundant bread-maker? No, like so many of us, she was embarrassed. Eventually she gave it to a charity shop.
A few years ago, a survey by Freeview showed that British people waste an astonishing £16.6bn a year on things we under-use that means we have on average £650 worth of wasted products in our homes. And yes bread-makers were in the top 10 most under-used items (sorry, Mum!).
The survey concluded that Britain is a nation of impulse shoppers, that women are more guilty of impulse buying than men and that we often splurge just to keep up with the Joneses.
As I write this, I’m thinking about the smartphone projector I bought last week. Of course I needed it. How can you get through life without displaying your iPhone photos on the wall?! And it was only £20. And I admit I’ve not managed to get it to work (all it shows is an image so dull and blurred you have no idea what it is). And yes, if I’m being honest I’m perfectly happy looking at my photos on the phone. But it did look great in the box. Of course, the most sensible option (apart from not buying it in the first place) would have been to return it straightaway, but I didn’t. Why not? The normal combination of embarrassment and laziness.
I’m not alone, though.
This month Money for Life is asking you to share your most regrettable purchase using #NoReturns to get people talking about those money mistakes and help you avoid making the same errors in the future.
So now it’s time for YOU to fess up. We want to hear from you about the most pointless things you’ve ever bought and not returned. Share a photo of the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever bought, something you’re just too embarrassed to return using #NoReturns on Instagram or Twitter. There are £100 Amazon vouchers up for grabs for the three best entries.