Updated: Nov 9
Expensive Clothing & Accessories
Nothing wrong with designer clothes and luxury fashion. Though many consumers are pushing back against “fast fashion.” They feel buying high-quality items second-hand is more eco-friendly.
Even baby and toddler items have become more acceptable in the second-hand market as many affluent parents are avoiding 100% new apparel to keep landfills free of clothing with designer labels.
*3 million tons of textiles are incinerated and 10 million tons get sent to U.S. landfills annually.
The fashion industry does a good job of enticing people who love new clothes. Social pressure has accounted for untold high-interest store credit card accounts over the decades.
So it’s no shocker that expensive clothing and accessories are the first two things not worth the money on our list.
Over the course of 20 years, imagine how much wealth could be piled up if we just built up willpower on one clothing or accessory item. Shoes for example. Or handbags.
The most expensive item on Amazon’s shoe department?
$950 for women. $389 for men’s shoes. Those prices can kick a retirement date back a couple of years!
What about gadgets that aren’t worth the money though?
High-end Electronics & Gadgets
High-end electronics can short-circuit a budget. Not only the latest gadgets, right?
The tech upgrades get us too. Netflix offers tiered pricing for adding more screens. ESPN+, the same thing. Not to mention smartphone upgrades.
Even business software that helps earn revenue can cost more and more with every upgrade to the Saas. Because bells and whistles equal more productivity. Well, not always. We can save money on hardware and software by pausing before we automatically assume we need the latest upgrade.
Good questions to find out if something is not worth the money:
● How many streaming services can we watch?
● Why is there a TV in the kitchen?
● Do we even use all the business software features already available on our apps?
● Will this new phone do anything useful versus only being ‘cool’?
TVs aren’t worth the money when you own too many. A new phone every year is too high a price for upgrading. And surround sound is hard to justify when no one else can tell if your system cost $200 or $2,500!
Did any tech item make the cut for most expensive items on Amazon list?
Not on the top-10 lists we browsed. But the #2 item on one list, a 1901-S American Silver Morgan Dollar. cost $1,099,995. Only rated 3-stars in case you are wondering.
Top-of-the-Line Home Appliances & Furniture
Home appliances are not getting any cheaper. Home Depot’s most expensive refrigerator is currently $14,122 while the most inexpensive fridge is $549.
Appliances don’t seem to be lasting as long as they did back in the day either. At least with appliances you save time since the machines are doing the work for you.
With luxury furniture, well, sofas don’t do a whole lot. Sure, we all need to rest and refresh when we work hard. But furniture upgrades have set many new homeowners back from the moment they move in.
You have to wonder how many Rooms To Go payments prevent couples from paying extra on the mortgage and paying off their home earlier. Ask anyone who’s been around the block and they will tell you furniture holds its value worse than a new car (which we’ll get to).
Yes, some furniture is nicer than other pieces. Some is built to last also. If you can get value out of a piece of furniture and it can be passed down generation by generation, that’s one thing. But to make payments, even interest-free, on something you sit on, is not a sound financial tactic.
● Used appliances (some come with warranties)
● Used furniture (shop around to locate well-cared-for items)
● Appliance repair (yes, repair persons still exist)
● DIY furniture refurbishing
*By the way, one of the most expensive items on Amazon was a Rolex with a price of roughly $170,000. No bang for your buck with the review once again - not a glowing one at 2.5 stars.
New Cars & Motorcycles - Wreck Your Savings?
I don’t think it’s necessary to say how bad an idea luxury vehicles are for people trying to save money. If the scammers on YouTube showing off fancy cars they likely rent for photo shoots don’t tell the tale about luxury vehicles, I don’t know what could.
Thing is, all new cars are a bad idea. They don’t go up in value as a rule. And new vehicle values plummet the moment you drive off from the dealership. Losing 9% to 11% of its value immediately. Then after one year, the shiny new ride will (on avg.) only be worth about 80% of what you paid!
Motorcycles may save fuel costs but you’re in the same boat with new motorcycle depreciation. Perhaps worse, since the market for used motorcycles has fewer shoppers than automobile shoppers.
Car payments can set savings and ultimately retirement plans back. However, purchasing a used vehicle, even with payments, is a smarter move than ever buying a new vehicle.
And yes, I know many people who believe the tax write-offs make new vehicle’s worth buying. I would encourage you to have a certified tax professional break down those comparisons for you before going that route.
Vacations & Travel
Could I make a case for vacations being worth the money? Yes.
● Work breaks reduce stress
● Vacations have been shown to benefit couples’ relationships
● Unplugging is beneficial to mental health
The problem is taking trips that are too expensive and end up busting a household budget. Travel memories can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, so can credit card debt resulting from overspending on travel.
Luckily we now have travel comparison sites to help save money on vacations. Price-shopping travel can help ensure you don’t take vacations not worth the money.
Also, there are countless people online sharing their travel experiences. Many do so on a shoestring budget with unique freelancing jobs. Even corporate remote work post-pandemic.
We just have to beware comparing our travels to other people’s adventures. Keeping up with the Jones stops so many people from saving and slows down opportunities to invest. Honestly, many in retirement will tell you they care more about who they do things with versus what and where they do the activities.
Education is invaluable. That said, college debt is rampant and a heavy burden for young people.
Some schools have such inflated tuition that it makes no sense for many students to choose these universities. Not when other worthy schools exist for half the cost. A fourth less in many instances.
Certain degrees are not worth the money either. Math has to be a factor when young people are choosing their career path. Budgets eventually come into play once they graduate.
Especially if they are taking on student debt to pay for degrees that may leave them unable to pay off loans until they are drawing Social Security. A real issue, not hyperbole.
The best career advice I’ve ever read goes like this…
When possible, intertwine what you’re good at with what you enjoy doing. This should give you several options and hopefully a few that pay very well.
Too bad Amazon hasn’t cut the cost of college somehow. But you can get help from Amazon with school loans if you go to work there.
Or if you happen to own a signed Cal Ripken JR. rookie jersey, that might pay off your college debt. This Ripken jersey is one of the most expensive items on Amazon at $801,818.
Recap of Things Not Worth the Money (with extras below)
Here’s the list of the items we noted as not worth the money.
Multiple big-screen TVs
High-end surround sound
Too many streaming subscriptions
Extreme appliances with bells & whistles galore
New furniture every few years
New cars or trucks
Colleges with outlandish tuition
Degrees with high costs but low earning potential
Bonus items that can be too expensive compared to their long-term value.
Bottled water - Only been around a relatively short while, so clearly we could get by without wasting $2 on this item that hurts our budget and planet.
Purebred dogs - Some people have a love affair with certain breeds. Perhaps they grew up with German shepherds and that’s understandable. When that’s not the case, though, there are endless options for adopting a dog in need of a hero to take them home.
Alcohol at restaurants - Talk about a big markup on items! The same can be said for soft drinks too, though. Water is one of the few free things in life. A family of four can save $10 with H20 and over the years that adds up to… well, you get the point.
Brand name prescriptions - Knowing your insurance policy in and out can save you major money. Generic drugs are often as effective as the brand name. Check your prescription plan and with your doctor, of course.
Organic foods - Organic M&Ms aren’t a real item. But it is wise to consider if it matters if certain foods are organic or not. Some, we should avoid regardless. And some super foods, we should research the gains, if any, of paying double or triple for organic versions.
We will close out here. Just know, the best way to avoid buying items not worth the money is to be intentional with your money.
How you earn it, how you spend it. Calculated decisions daily and in the long run are rarely regrets.
Investment advice offered through Private Advisor Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor.