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The Pandemic Purchases We Most Regret

Rebecca Cohen  |  February 25, 2021

We came, we shopped … and we regretted. Here's a look at some of the things we wish we hadn’t pulled the trigger on this year. 

In 2020, online shopping rates grew by an incredible 44%. The main reason was of course because in-person shopping wasn’t the safest option during the pandemic. We were ordering everything we could online, from groceries and toilet paper to craft supplies and new laptops, and everything in-between. Many of these items were essential for work, comfort, or survival, but a lot of them weren’t. And let’s be honest, sometimes we bought items because it just felt good to have a little treat come in the mail for ourselves during what was, at times, a very bleak year. (We’ve all heard of retail therapy, right?)  And when you’re living through a pandemic, sometimes a few extra boxes of joy showing up on the doorstep is what’s needed to get by… Even if you came to regret those pandemic purchases. 

And while many of us may be loving our at-home manicure kits, heat lamps, and basement gyms, there are definitely things we all added to our carts that we really, really shouldn’t have… Well, most of us, at least. We checked in with women in our private HerMoney Facebook group to find out what they most regretted buying during this strange season, and just one women — Fern W. —  said she only bought the absolute necessities, then actually sold some things she already had that she no longer had use for, and then donated the rest. “Less is more,” she wrote. Maybe she’s onto something. 

For the rest of us, here’s a look at what we wish we hadn’t bought: 


While we’re all for chef’ing it up from home, buying expensive gadgets we don’t need is something many of us could have avoided in 2020, and top the list of pandemic purchases we regret. Nancy M. can attest to that, saying that she regrets buying “too many kitchen gadgets” during the pandemic. 

Jan M. bought a Vitamix she’s used just three times, and Anna W. purchased an Instant Pot that’s been sitting in her basement unopened since it came… Melissa A. thought she was hopping on the air fryer trend, but found it’s just too small to cook most things and is looking to get rid of it. 


And then there’s those of us who chose to buy new clothes this year. New clothes *besides* sweats or activewear. Karen P. says she has no idea where she thought she was wearing her new purchases this year. Beth P. was lucky enough to return the clothes she bought since she shipped them back right away. And Heather M. regrets buying nice maternity clothes since her baby came before she was able to go anywhere! 

HerMoney’s Editor-in-Chief, Kathryn Tuggle, also regrets buying new clothing at the beginning of the pandemic, since she got on a diet and exercise kick and actually lost weight over the course of the year. “No highly caloric happy hours, no dinners out, less public transportation, and more walking… it adds up!” she says. But now many clothing items that she’s only worn once or twice are no longer a good fit. Thankfully, they’ll find new homes — “I just did a big closet clean-out and donated three bags to my local Goodwill,” she says. 

Self Care

We’ve all been doing what we can to take care of ourselves this year, as self care and caring for our mental and emotional health is so very important, even though there are some pandemic purchases we regret. Emma K. says that she’s thrilled she started seeing a therapist this year, but the bills are making her wish she opted for a doc who accepts her health insurance. We totally understand — those out-of-network doctor bills can add up so frighteningly fast! 

If you’re looking to talk to someone, first, know how wonderful it is that you’re taking that step. You truly can’t put a price on mental health. At the same time, we know that going into debt only adds more stress to our lives. Here’s HerMoney’s guide for how to get mental healthcare without breaking the bank, and how you can help prevent a depression diagnosis sending you into financial trouble


To keep busy, many of us filled our online shopping carts with things to keep us occupied. 

Debbie G. knows a thing or two about pandemic hobbies. She writes: “First I went through my sewing phase and I bought way too much fabric and sewing supplies online. Then I went through my succulent plant phase and I bought 50 little plants that I am now one year later trying to keep alive. And my latest is the baking phase with my new bread machine.”

Dayspring C. hopped on the roller skating trend and spent more money than she’s proud of on roller skates and equipment. (Yes, they’re still in the box.)

Kathy D. and her partner really thought they were going to get into pottery, so, naturally, they bought a pottery wheel. And they’ve only used it twice. 

Yolanda I. says she regrets her Luminess Air (a tool that lets you apply airbrush makeup from home) since she rarely puts on any makeup anymore… But we all have fingers crossed that we’ll be getting dressed up to go somewhere nice really soon! 

Hopefully if you made purchases you regret in 2020, you learned something from the experience. In 2021, let’s all resolve to take a beat before clicking “buy” online. Sleep on your wants, add it to your cart and think about it for a day or two, and only pull the trigger if you really (really) think what you’re buying will add to your everyday life. 

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

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