16 Useless Items People Tend To Buy When They Retire

Stephanie Allen

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Every working person dreams of retiring. Not having to report to work every day and being on their own schedule is a nice way to live. However, for all the benefits that retirement offers, there are also some pitfalls, especially when it comes to spending. 

Retirees tend to buy things they don’t need, and it costs them money they could use for other things. If you’re already retired or considering retirement, save money by not buying these items. 

1. Books

Mature Woman reading book
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Retirement is the perfect time to get caught up on all the reading you wanted to do while working but didn’t have time for. The instinct is to go to the nearest bookstore or online bookseller and shop away.

This is a big mistake. Even if you’re an avid reader, buying books makes no sense when you can check them out from your local library and read them for free. If you have a library card, download the Libby app and access ebooks and audiobooks from around the world – for free!

2. Craft Kits

DIY crafting
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Another aspirational activity retirees like to engage in is crafting, so they purchase craft kits to make anything from origami to afghans. Are those kits put to use, or do they just collect dust?  

A better alternative is to pinpoint one or two areas of interest—like pottery or crocheting—look for free or low-cost in-person or online classes and groups, and only buy the supplies you need. 

3. Coffee House Drinks 

Caffè Latte
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This might be the most problematic habit to break if you’re accustomed to getting that morning cup of joe from your favorite coffee shop. It’s easy to justify paying for those beverages while working because you have a steady paycheck. 

In retirement, you must budget your money more since you’re no longer earning wages. It’s much more cost-effective to make coffee at home. It’s also a perfect opportunity to experiment with different flavorings and types of coffee.

4. Dinners Out

Old man having dinner with family
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Retiring doesn’t mean giving up the treat of dining out, but it should be viewed as an occasional treat instead of a regular activity you do several days a week.

Depending on where you live and what’s being ordered, a sit-down dinner for two people at a casual dining restaurant could cost $100. That’s several days' worth of groceries right there. 

5. Exercise Equipment

Home fitness workout woman training on smart stationary bike indoors watching screen connected online to live streaming subscription service for biking exercise. Young Asian woman athlete.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Today’s home exercise equipment is much more advanced than was available in previous years. Their internet connectivity (Internet of Things) makes it seem like you have a personal trainer guiding you along. 

It doesn’t take thousands of dollars to get a good workout. You can walk or jog for free, take low-cost or free tai chi or yoga classes, or join a gym with a low monthly fee.

6. Extravagant Gifts 

Friends with gift
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Retirees, except multimillionaires, must be mindful of their budgets. Giving lavish gifts to friends and loved ones is an easy way to overspend.

You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to show people you care. It’s okay to give a more budget-friendly or homemade gift. It’s the thought that counts. 

7. Extended Warranties 

credit: depositphotos

When buying electronics, you’re asked if you want an extended warranty. Generally speaking, extended warranties aren’t needed and can be costly. 

The warranty may have terms that don’t cover all potential issues with the device. You might also be able to return the product to the retailer for an exchange, refund, or store credit. 

8. Gardening Supplies and Plants

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If you have a green thumb, working full-time and taking care of household responsibilities might make it challenging to pursue your passion for gardening and cultivating plants. Retirement frees up your time to do just that. 

It’s easy to go overboard and buy gardening supplies you’ll hardly use and plants that may be too high maintenance to care for, even with a relaxed schedule. Start slowly, only buying what you need, and go from there. 

9. Golf Equipment 

Best golf travel bags

The idea of the retiree spending their days on the golf course isn’t a stereotype; it’s rooted in fact. A lot of retirees enjoy playing golf.

If you’ve never played before, you may be surprised that it’s an expensive sport requiring an investment in equipment like clubs, balls, tees, shoes, gloves, and other accessories. For some items, you have to buy new, but quality pre-owned golf clubs are much cheaper than new ones. 

10. Health Supplements 

Image Credit: Pexels.

Watching daytime television and listening to the radio means being bombarded with ads for health and nutritional supplements. Their sales pitches are hard to resist because they promise to make you feel good.

Don’t fall for it. Those supplements may be helpful, but they’re not exactly cheap. If you’re concerned about the need for health supplements, check with your primary care doctor for specific recommendations. 

11. Home Improvement Supplies 

rent out powertools
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Entering retirement is the perfect time to start or finish all the do-it-yourself home projects you never had the time to finish while working. Stop and take a minute before buying out the hardware store.

Make a list of the projects you’d like to do, then narrow it down to one or two things you can realistically complete. See what supplies are needed and check to see if you have them. Only buy what’s needed to complete the project.

12. In-App Purchases 

Happy Old man
credit: depositphotos

Playing free games online or on a mobile app is a fun way to pass the time. These games typically offer in-app purchases for extra coins or lives to help players win and advance to the next level.

As easy as it is to spend a few dollars here and there for those in-app purchases, try and resist the urge. Those purchases can quickly add up to more money than you ever planned on spending on what’s supposed to be a free game. 

13. New and Luxury Cars 

Big Gifts
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Buying new cars as a working person makes sense because of the need for reliable transportation to and from the job. But once you’re retired, is a brand-new car required when your current vehicle works just fine?

If you don’t have the kind of disposable income in retirement that allows for such purchases, stick with what you have. Your long-term budget will thank you. 

14. Subscriptions 

subscription overload
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If it seems like there’s a subscription for nearly everything, you’re not wrong. From magazines to newspapers, streaming services to clothing, there’s a subscription you can sign up for.

If you add up the monthly cost of things you subscribe to, the total may shock you. Use a free app to identify, manage, and cancel excess subscriptions. Take advantage of new subscriber discounts to lower your monthly costs.

15. Tech Gadgets 

upgrading tech
credit: depositphotos

Technology is ever-evolving, which means new products always come out. While it’s nice to have the newest gadget with cool bells and whistles, they’re not essential.

Instead of buying the newest smartphone or tablet, buy one on the market for a few years. Not only are they less expensive, they don’t have the glitches many new tech products have.

16. Timeshares 

Timeshare rentals

At first glance, timeshares seem like a great way to have a guaranteed vacation spot over trying to book a hotel. Once you know the problems with timeshares, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

They’re usually a lifetime commitment, are hard to sell, and may come with expensive maintenance fees. Instead of spending money on a timeshare, look for a reasonably priced hotel or private home rental. 

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