15 Things We Buy, Then Never Use

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We all buy things we need and subsequently use.  In this digital and mobile age, it's easier than ever to buy anything you could possibly imagine... with almost everything being shipped right to your door. This is convenient, but it also leads us to pay for plenty of stuff that we probably don't need and will never use.

In no special order, we're going to list 15 items that people notoriously buy and then never use.  Let us know in the comment section below if you don't agree with us or think we should add other items to this list.  

1) Exercise equipment

It must be the urge to better ourselves that leads us to buy exercise equipment that we don't end up using.

Even the shrewd number-cruncher can get sucked into this one. Maybe your cost analysis showed that the lump sum would be less than the present value of that annual gym membership. Guess that would make sense if you actually used it.

2) Obscure Kitchenware

Maybe we buy obscure kitchenware because we are not as good in the kitchen as we'd like to be, and cooking gadgets seem like a shortcut to fillet like Flay.

Obscure kitchenware is the worst. There is a reason the breadmaker in Old School gets regifted multiple times. It doesn't matter if it has three speeds if it just sits at a standstill gathering dust. And bread is probably one of the cheaper things at the grocery store. Paste Magazine highlighted some new, soon to be neglected kitchenware including the chef'n banana slicer, the one-click stick butter cutter, the roll and pour, the Hog Wild twirling spaghetti fork, and Hoomool pizza cutting shears.

3) Zipcar

So maybe you paid for and actually used Zipcar, but it's all about the fixed costs here.

It's a fine service, but the setup is a sure way to find yourself paying for something that you may not use. The company charges you a $65 annuity whether you use a car or not, and tack on $20 for an additional driver. So unless you are zipping around every day, in which case you should probably just lease a car, you might forget you paid for this until your automatic annual renewal kicks in.

4) Cable

Cable is something you might pay for and use, but you probably use such a low percentage of it that you're paying for a service you might as well not be using. It's time to embrace the trend towards online streaming. 

For the first time ever last year, the number of cable TV subscribers at major providers was about to dip below 40 million, according to Business Insider. The writing is on the wall and it seems that the cord cutters aren't plugging back in any time soon. And recently, Time Warner's HBO announced that it would offer a long-awaited online-only service in the U.S. next year, which will let viewers without a cable or satellite-TV subscription tune into Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire.

5) Weird Shoes

Mr. Gump said it all: you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. In spite of this wisdom, you have probably bought some strange shoes that you never use.

For ladies, it tends to be designer, but then the shoes hurt her feet or she may feel they are too weird after buying them. The weirder the better, and the more likely that she'll drop some serious coin and never use them. For guys, it's the colored soles. It just doesn't work to be so loud under there often enough to own a pair, but you might have thought you were the exception and bought some and now are too proud to get rid of them on principle.

6) Linen Suits

The oppressive weather in some areas makes the linen suit an easy trap, but it probably sits in your closet more than it blows in the wind on some pier. Plus, its natural state is wrinkled.

So anything is better than the short suit or suitsy, but linen just lends itself to paying upfront for a seasonal fabric that you forget to use or feel funny using. So unless you're forced to get matching linen zoot suits for your friend's destination wedding, just man up and wear a lighter wool blend.

7) Magazines

Given your modern lifestyle, you may have some magazines that you pay for but never have time to read.

Newsstand sales of U.S. consumer magazines dropped 12% in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier, while paid subscriptions declined 1.8% and digital editions continued to expand their presence in the industry, according to The Wall Street Journal. The problem with digital editions is that there are often so many distractions on your phone or device that you can't even get through a page without a text popping up.

It's a modern dilemma. With hectic work, lots of school, and all that binge streaming to get through, sometimes it's too easy to get caught paying for a bunch of publications you can't find time to read.

8) Boat

They say the two best days in the life of a boat owner are the day you buy the boat and the day you sell the boat.

Many reasons make owning a boat expensive, and unless you live on a lake, river etc., it's a lot harder than you initially thought to just take off and get out on the water. Consider the following before you buy a boat that you may never get around to using: purchase price, taxes, insurance, registration, mooring, trailer, off-season storage, maintenance, gas, safety items, navigation equipment and recreational equipment.

9) Funny Furniture

While we all want to be different in our own special way, strange furniture is a sure way to pay for something that you or your guests might not use.

Some people treat their homes like museums, which is fine. But that means you can look but not touch, in some cases. Apparently all couches aren't meant for sitting. Others are just awkward or uncomfortable. The key here is if you buy some weird piece of furniture, then it might make you feel weird to use it. If that's what you're going for, that's great, but it might not get that much play among the more common folk.

10) Super Fancy Clothes

We all want to look nice, at least presentable, but if you buy some really fancy threads you may not ever want to wear the thing because you're scared of ruining it.

For guys, it could be that suit or a pair of shoes that costs more than your rent. You think twice about putting those things on before you step out into the night. For ladies, it could be that really fancy bag that never leaves its sheath, that is in its special box, that's still bubble wrapped and hidden away just in case.


11) Apps

Some apps are quite useful. They save you time and money and can give you access to a wealth of knowledge and entertainment. However, according to a recent study by Localytics, 20% of apps are used only once.

Some apps just might not be worth buying. For example, "Razor - Electric Shaver Simulation" claims it's "easy to use and guaranteed to never nick." It's also guaranteed to never "work" and costs 99 cents.

12) Extended Warranties

Extended warranties are almost always a waste of money, according to CNET.

Take an extended warranty for a flat-panel TV. "Extended warranties are just insurance for your TV. The plan provider is betting you won't have to use it, and you're hoping the same thing. Flat-panel TVs have proven very reliable, so it's unlikely you'll need to repair a TV," CNET wrote.

13) Gym Memberships

Gym memberships can also become a money waster. It's not easy to cancel a gym membership when next week is always the week you'll finally begin that New Year's resolution fitness routine.

But inevitably, many people end up throwing away hundreds of dollars a year or more on memberships they don't use.

A 2013 poll found that those who make fitness a New Year resolution rarely last beyond three months but often find themselves locked into costly 12 month contracts - with the average annual spending of those polled coming in at over $1000, according to the Daily Mail.

14) Musical Instruments

Musical instruments can be costly and can end up just collecting dust instead of creating beautiful melodies, if you're not careful.

According to the National Association of Music Merchants, instruments have been falling in price due to increasing Chinese imports and a modest decline in high-end instrument sales. This might be why it makes it easier to buy an instrument and not feel guilty about abandoning it soon after.

Maybe you were inspired to buy an instrument by a ukulele fad or a simple recorder requirement, but the song is still the same: some instruments are bought and soon forgotten in a closet or a corner.

15) Cookbooks

Cookbooks generated approximately $228 million in annual revenue in 2013, driven by consumers with tight budgets, increased leisure time, and healthier lifestyles, according to IBISWorld.

So we buy the books, but do we use them? When did you last crack open that tome on the "new" Mediterranean diet? Why not just use the Internet to find recipes? One reason the cookbook might be used more infrequently is that they are less and less about actual cooking.

"Cookbooks are not about recipes anymore,'' Doe Coover, a literary agent who specializes in culinary books told Boston.com. "Publishers have come to a realization that people don't buy cookbooks to get recipes, because they can do that on the Internet - from Epicurious, to AllRecipes, to the various search engines. Cookbooks have become about the 'who.' Having a strong voice, having a story to tell, having a platform or a particular point of view is everything in a cookbook now," Coover said.

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