Not really happy with this post, as I don't know if I captured what's running through my head. It's a bit about real and imagined buyers remorse, but not getting panicky about it. There's no doubt certain purchases become difficult to return or get rid of, and certainly possible not get out what you put into the purchase. By return, I mean any form of moving on from said item. It could be simple- the what was I thinking hat or distressed blue jeans that look like I tried too hard to look youthful. How many of us have clothing items with tags still on because we had remorse after said purchase and either no return option or realization until too late? Or the simple resell of an item after my own need has been satisfied. My older children's crib and double stroller both were expensive and I got pennies per dollar spent, but they did their job, so selling cheaply was ok.
I'm more talking those big ticket items that are long haulers. Once committed, they're in your life for the unforeseeable feature. Houses, cars, college tuition- particularly if it came with a student loan, and pets. What if you fear you've made a mistake? Without losing substantial funds or emotional cost, these aren't returnable or exchangeable. We've been there, or thought we were there. My daughter might feel she's there. House, pet, car, life. But really, unless a person truly was mislead, or the purchase, terms, or impact was misrepresented, I think the fear is normal, and probably good. It keeps me grounded in priorities, and not frivolous spending elsewhere. It also helps call attention to where we might need better or different help and advice going forward to make the purchase really work.
Take houses for instance. In the early 2000's housing bubble, misrepresentation on what a borrower could afford was rampant. Being honest for both inflated values and above a person's means crippled the economy. The ripples are showing still now and the past year's bubble has been a reminder. Today, I think the approval and vetting process helps avoid this to an extent. Investing in a private housing inspection is another bit of insurance. Still, when that first pipe bursts, or the furnace won't fire up in the first bitter cold day of winter, the fear kicks in again. It also might be an adjustment to new community, neighbors, shopping, and recreation options. Starting again, even if just a little bit farther away, is hard. Also, if used to putting a large amount aside into savings and not worrying about fun money spending, home ownership can make a person feel house poor, even though over time it's a solid financial move.
Here's my take. It's scary to commit years or even decades to a financial obligation, but consider the alternatives. Everyone needs to live somewhere, so a purchased home with a mortgage, in a safe neighborhood, that can be made your own may be as good a place as any, if an emergency savings is in place. The being beholden to your own means and opportunity, not your landlord, is powerful. Worst case scenario, your job takes you elsewhere or you outgrow and have to sell and buy again, which has new costs, of course, but you can learn from your first experience as a home owner. As for a car, I'm not a fan of auto debt, but when you absolutely rely on a trustworthy vehicle for your livelihood, a new to you car, with payments and under warranty might be the best option. Pets? They become family, and family is not always easy, but usually is rewarding.
I guess I'm thinking a lot on long haul purchases both because of my kids and how close we are to retirement. I feel we need to be smart, but not feel debilitated by any purchase or acquisition. What's the scariest purchase you ever made and were you glad you did? Any major regrets?