We’ve all made purchases with good intentions: that season’s must-have sweater or exercise equipment to get in shape, but they ultimately go unused.
“We buy things because we have grand plans for ourselves, but we lose momentum or our willpower saps,” says Julia Scott, founder of BargainBabe.com. “Instead, we resolve to take action, tomorrow.”
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Here are a few commonly-purchased items that are often overlooked and go unused once home:
1. Gym Memberships and Equipment
We all have good intentions of getting in shape, especially at the start of a new year, but gym memberships and exercise equipment tend to lose their excitement pretty quick.
“Starting a workout regimen isn’t something that can just happen overnight, especially if you are new to exercising,” says consumer expert Andrea Woroch.
To avoid wasting money, she suggests taking advantage of gym’s that offer free trial memberships or punch passes to figure out if and how this can fit into your daily life.
“For those who prefer to workout at home, there are so many body weight exercises you can do in your living room for free,” she says. “Also consider working out outside, this way it doesn’t feel like work and you can do something fun while burning calories.”
Soup is cheap and typically low-calorie, says Scott, which is why so many of us hoard it in our cupboards.
“But we get hungry, and reach for microwave popcorn instead,” she says.
To avoid this is the future, she suggests planning out meals for going food shopping to make sure you only buy what is on the menu.
If you have a lot of cans gathering dust, consider donating the unexpired cans.
3. Daily Deals
The emails containing hefty discounts at local establishments that flood your inbox every morning are hard to pass up, but remember: they are only a good deal if you actually use them.
“Group deals via sites like Living Social and Groupon (NASDSAQ: GRPN) are often purchased in a hurry without much thought of whether it’s necessary, practical or will be used before the expiration date,” says Woroch. “These deals create a sense of urgency among consumers that worry if they don’t jump on the deal now, they will miss their chance to get that great offer in the future.”
Scott adds that the daily deals are often presented in a way that appeal to our desire to live exciting lives with our friends. “But everyone is so busy it’s hard to coordinate.”
Woroch says to only look for deals when you need them. “Groupon Now is a good option for those people who like to take advantage of the daily deals available that day,” she says.
4. Mobile Apps
Since apps are so inexpensive, it’s easy to rack them up, and not feel too guilty about it, Woroch says.
“At 99 cents, testing an app or game isn’t a big investment, plus it is quick and easy to download,” she says. “Most people only use a fraction of the apps they have on their phones, because there are just too many.”
Do a phone audit and only keep apps that you’ve used in the past month and when you find an app you think will be useful, wait a day before purchasing it to make sure you still want it the next day.
“We are constantly bombarded by deals and influenced by retailers marketing tactics that get us to buy, like ‘Buy 1 Get Half Off’,” Woroch says. “With such promotions, many people overbuy and end up with items they don’t necessarily need. “
Plus, returning clothes isn’t an option for many, Scott says. “We fall for a trend in stores, and then once home decide we can’t pull it off,” she says. “We buy things because we have grand plans for ourselves…returning purchases is admitting defeat.”
Woroch says to invest in quality staples that will last several seasons, rather than lesser-quality clothes. Also, make sure they fit properly before buying.
“Head over to your local consignment store to find clothes for less,” Woroch suggests. “And sell your unworn clothes.”