How to avoid “spending regrets”

Are you consumed by buyer’s remorse? Read this to help take control of your spending.

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Do you ever experience that sinking feeling in your stomach when you've overspent, overpaid, or bought something you don't really need? It's called buyer's remorse, and it’s more common than you might think.

Although going on a spending spree can spark feelings of joy, it can also lead to a far more uncomfortable emotion: regret. Our latest research revealed that over a third (37%) of us regretted at least one purchase we made last year, and we wish we could claw back an average of £572.

With the amount being spent on regretted purchases equating to 11% of the average discretionary spending this year, it’s worth us digging into this a little more and considering where we might be going wrong…

What makes people regret spending?

It would be easy to assume that expensive items are the biggest sources of regret – but our research identified smaller purchases as the main culprits. In fact, when we look at people who regretted spending money, ordering takeaway or delivery food topped the list of purchases people wish they hadn’t made (26%). This was followed by buying alcohol (18%), buying unnecessary items for the home (18%), and on-the-go fast food (16%).

Different age groups may naturally have different priorities – and that means regrets hit slightly differently. For example, three in ten (30%) of people aged under 35 who reported spending money on alcohol said they regretted it, versus an average of 13% across all age groups.

Those aged 35-54 stood out as being cynical when it comes to the cost of weddings, with 13% of those who spent on this regretted the expense of the occasion, versus an average of 8% of the total population...

Taking control

With many looking back on their spending with regret, it’s not surprising that nearly three quarters (74%) of people want to change their spending habits moving forward.

If you’re among this group, you may want to consider some of the priorities cited in our research. This revealed a big focus on reducing spending, with some of the main areas being eating out less (31%), buying fewer clothes (30%), ordering fewer takeaways (28%) and buying less coffee out (17%).

Creating a budget could also help you to identify areas to potentially cut-back on. You can find more information on how to keep track of all your spending on our Marcus website.

Ultimately, changing your financial habits and curbing any unnecessary expenditure comes down to you as an individual.  Learn more about your financial personality with this quiz, created in collaboration with Myers-Briggs, to identify your potential weak spots and help you to optimise your money.

The final word

Less money spent on superfluous items is more money that can be put aside to help you meet your financial goals. Then, what you do with it from here is your choice. You may want to lock your money away with a fixed rate account, or you may prefer to have easy access to your savings for purchases you know you’re not going to regret.

Learn more about Marcus savings accounts here

* We have prepared this information with care; however, it is only intended to highlight issues but it is not intended to be exhaustive.

Research conducted by Opinium, surveying a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults between 4th and 7th November 2022. All statistics referenced on this page are taken from the results of that survey.

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