10 Expensive Things You Shouldn't Buy

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Unless you are Dr. Dre and Apple just bought your headphones for billions of dollars, or Jack Ma and your company's IPO was recently the largest in history, chances are you don't have an unlimited cash stream at your disposal.

While you dont have to be a billionaire to purchase any of the items on this list, most of them are luxury items that usually only people in the upper tax brackets can afford. Others are expensive items that folks with regular jobs or their children might want.

All of these expensive items however are things that you can do without regardless of your budget. 

What follows, in no particular order, is a list of 10 things that you probably shouldn't buy...


This choice definitely deserves a caveat. For regular bikers an expensive bike is a great investment, if you live in the suburbs.

Expensive bike thefts are on the rise in places like New York City where grand larcenies of bikes are up 64% this year with 559 bikes over $1,000 having been stolen as of October. The largest number of thefts occur in high density neighborhoods like the West Village and NoHo. Between 800,000 and 2 million bikes are stolen nationwide annually. 

Vacation Homes

The negative cash flow associated with vacation homes despite the potential for positive cash flow through collecting rent is reason enough to think twice about purchasing that exotic getaway.

Maintenance costs like insurance, utilities, marketing and other expenses will be a constant drain on finances if one does decide to purchase their future retirement home.

College Textbooks

As the cost of college has gone up exponentially over the past two decades, so has the cost of college textbooks. The cost of text books rose over 80% between 2012 and 2013, according to the Government Accountability Office. The College Board estimates that students in this country spend an average of $1,200 per year on books and supplies. 

After paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition each semester to go to college it would be pretty silly not to do the reading for your courses. However, there are cheap alternatives to buying new books from your campus bookstore. Buying used books, renting them, or checking them out at the library could save a student (the parents) hundreds of dollars a semester.


Unless you live somewhere where using a snowmobile on a daily basis is a necessity, then snowmobiles definitely fall into the 'rather rent than own' category. Maintenance and fuel costs make owning a snowmobile/ATV/jet-ski something you should think long and hard about before committing to.

Designer Denim

Designer jeans from brands like True Religion and Balmain can run you thousands of dollars, while denim from Levis that will last you years can cost under $100. The quality of denim between the brands is pretty much the same but the markup that yields profit margins between 40% and 50% causes the discrepancy in price.

The production cost for the average pair of True Religion jeans is $50, while the average cost for a pair of jeans made by the company is $350. 

Recreational Vehicles

Recreational Vehicles also fall into the 'better to rent than own' category due to the potential for a minimal lack of return on investment.

A person who spends $50,00 on an RV, a modest amount for that vehicle, and uses it 30 nights a year for 10 years would have ended up spending $167 per night for the vehicle.

Add that to the fact that the diminishing resale value of RVs make it impossible for an owner to make a return on his original investment and RVs earn their spot on this list.

Extended Warranties

As the popularity of extended warranties continues to grow, so has the breadth of items one can buy an extended warranty for. Sales of extended warranties have grown between 15% and 20% over the past three years.

Most items like electronics already come with a manufacturer's warranty that covers most product flaws and malfunctions. Add in the fact that most products tend to malfunction early, while still covered under the factory warranty, and buying an extended warranty turns out to be a bad idea.


Boating is a great recreational activity for you and your family. What better way to bond with your kids than teaching them the finer points of boating?

However, with the maintenance costs being so exorbitant the old adage that the happiest two days in a boat owners life is the day he purchases the boat and the day he unloads it, is often proven to be true.

Time Shares

While a week long vacation for two for $600, as long as you are willing to listen to a 2 hour presentations about a time share sounds like a great deal, many investors will tell you that under no circumstances should you actually purchase the time share.

Besides the fact that it is often more cost effective to rent a time share than buy it, time shares come with a bunch of hidden costs, and owners should expect to lose 50% of their investment upon resale.

Hotel Minibars

Unless the hotel is offering some sort of outrageous flat rate all you can grab mini bar deal, it is probably a bad idea to indulge in the convenient mini fridge in your room.

Hotel guests seem to be catching on to the ridiculous mini fridge markups and are purchasing fewer $7 bottles of water. Mini-bar sales have fallen 28% from 2007 to 2012, according to a study by PKF Hospitality Research.

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