Finance Experts Reveal the Worst Purchases They Ever Made

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vzphotos / Getty Images

If you’ve ever bought something only to wind up wishing you could take a mulligan on the purchase, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. 

GOBankingRates asked a variety of people who specialize in money, finance and business to share the worst purchases they’ve ever made, and it turns out that the pros are susceptible to making many of the same shopping mistakes as mere mortals. 

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Some of them bought used items that had to be replaced so many times that it would have been cheaper to buy new in the first place. Others got roped into ongoing expenses that they struggled to get out of. In other cases, ultra-low price tags lulled their skeptical side to sleep and allowed them to miss clear warning signs. 

In each and every case, however, a professional in the world of finance learned a hard lesson about money themselves. Here’s a look at the worst purchases these finance experts made. 

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A Truck That Was Too Good To Be True

Melanie Musson, a finance expert with ExpertInsuranceReviews.com, let the prospect of a good deal lull her into complacency when she found a three-quarter-ton diesel truck with a price tag that belied its single-digit age.

“It was such a great deal that we bought it without having it checked out by a mechanic,” Musson said. “As ridiculous as this sounds, we bought it after it stalled on our test drive. We assumed it was just a fluke. It wasn’t.” 

The reason for the enticingly low price was soon revealed as the truck quickly became a money pit.

“Just when we think we’ve replaced everything so it will undoubtedly serve us well for a few more years, another something major goes,” Musson said. “The truck is the worst thing I’ve bought.”

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Used Baby Swings

Sometimes, it pays to buy used — but according to Jacqueline Gilchrist, founder of Mom Money Map, baby swings are not one of those times.  

“I purchased a used mamaRoo from a local seller,” Gilchrist said. “It was initially working when she showed it to me in person. Within the day, it stopped working.” 

She ended up buying two more used baby swings, both of which had life spans measured in days. She spent hours watching YouTube tutorials on how to fix the most common problems, all to no avail. She did, however, learn a lesson in the pitfalls of trying to save a buck by buying some things previously owned.

“Watching all the YouTube videos made me realize how sensitive these electronic baby swings can be,” Gilchrist said. “You can’t return the items because they were purchased used.”

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A Cheap Desk

For home office workers, students and anyone else who spends long hours on their computers, a good desk is not an amenity — it’s a must. Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews, learned that lesson the hard way when she moved out of her dorm and into an apartment in college. Broke and on a tight budget, she made a choice based purely on cost. 

“I bought a desk from Walmart that was maybe $100 in 2006, and it honestly wasn’t even worth that much,” Ramhold said. “I put it together and it was fine — until we had to move apartments. Even with the moving truck packed, that desk didn’t survive the trip and broke en route so that it never sat evenly again. I would’ve been better off sticking with a lap desk or even a folding table.”

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A Timeshare

Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance, fell into a trap that snared countless others before him with the promise of a vacation property with shared expenses.

“A purchase I’ve made that I’ve only regretted was buying into a timeshare,” said Snead, whose already unfortunate decision was compounded by the fact that he went in on the deal with friends. 

“Not only did I not visit the timeshare enough for the purchase to feel worthwhile, but scheduling conflicts and unequal cost splits created conflict with friends that could have easily been avoided,” he said. 

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A Treadmill

Ronald Williams, a personal finance advisor and the founder of BestPeopleFinder, looks back with regret on the purchase of a treadmill. It was supposed to whip him into shape, but it wound up raising his heart rate for all the wrong reasons. 

“Before purchasing, I researched well, but it never worked perfectly,” Williams said. 

From a sensitive touch panel to clumsy speed adjustment, out-of-the-box headaches were only aggravated when he tried to get it fixed. The seller sent technicians to fix it, but they concluded that the problem had to do with the treadmill’s software and was therefore out of their hands. 

“I just got fed up and sold it,” said Williams, who decided that for all the expense and aggravation, he probably would have been better off putting one foot in front of the other outside for free. 


A Tesla (Sorry, Elon)

Tesla has amassed a cult following while ushering in the era of the EV, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have its detractors. 

“The single worst purchase decision I ever made was buying a Tesla,” said Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit. “They really were the best game in town for electric cars for quite a while, and the look, feel, and luxury features really seemed incredible.”

That began to feel like a veneer when the issues with service, repairs and software updates began piling up.

“There are so many little annoyances that come with Tesla ownership that simply aren’t a problem with other cars,” Seuthe said. “Their handles can freeze shut in the cold, making it impossible to get in. If your car decides to do a software update right before you have to leave for work, well, that’s too bad, isn’t it? It’s pretty reliable in the mechanical sense, but when I do need to take it into the shop, I’m usually looking at spending hundreds of dollars even for basic maintenance.”

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