How I’ve managed to regret $1,547.77 of impulse pandemic purchases in the time since all the toilet paper was hoarded.
Before, I begin, congratulations to the digital marketing managers who have successfully targeted me. You’ve won this round, although equipped with 93 minutes of ways to fight back thanks to The Social Dilemma, next pandemic, you won’t be so lucky.
Each item in this list has been evaluated by only me and assigned a value using the common numeric ranking scale, 1–10. By the time you finish, this list will loosely be referred to as “peer-reviewed” thanks to you, a peer, who will have just reviewed the list.
If you have a relationship to any of these products, or anything better to do with your time, I apologize for capturing you on my web. But while you’re here, please join me in mocking these purchases to feel better, or less alone.
We are all fools.
“In life, you will learn best from your experiences. Even if those experiences leaves you with complete regret, a lack of fulfillment, and an empty wallet .”
Item: Wireless Charger Qi Chargepad+
On the heels of an iPhone upgrade high, my BS detector did not sniff out the subtle upsell I was falling victim to. Carefully placed on the Verizon representative’s desk, ready for a tutorial, was the Ventev wireless chargepad.
“Would you like to also leave with a wireless charger? They extend the battery life of your phone,” I was asked.
What’re another $35 bucks, I thought, feeling flush, “I sure do,” I replied.
Today, seven months later, I share with you that I should have responded unequivocally “No!”
I have not had one good day with this product. It rarely detects the phone unless placed perfectly on the pad without a protective case, but I am no savage, recklessly moving through life without protection. The charge is more than 2x slower than that of a wall outlet, and my new phone came with a charger, as did my previous 3 phones. There was no need for another charger. This was my single dumbest pandemic purchase.
Item: Bamboo Palm — Indigo
Intentionally submitting my partner to the wheels of this public bus, I’ll share that I did not run point on this purchase. My partner did. In a home with 20+ fakes plants that require zero maintenance, it was decided that we needed a real one. A $195.00 Bamboo Palm to be exact.
I’ll also share that this plant died within days of arrival.
A fact, which shouldn’t be a surprise. This is what we do. Plants under our care, pass quickly. We’ve pleaded guilty to houseplant murder in the first-degree before, skipped town, and have been on the run since.
But, as the Friday night detective dramas that my father watches warn, those who kill, kill again. So, here we are, with soil on our hands, prepared to offer thumbprints that will positively return no green, guilty of yet another crime.
Item: Lil Uzi Vert Livestream
The live streams must stop. I’m exhausted. Restricted to emoji bursts, and comment sections, nevermind a traffic jam of wanna-be influencers going live, I cringe when someone I’m a fan of is “going live.”
When Lil Uzi Vert announced he was doing a live performance, I believed it to be a step-up from the offerings of Instagram, Youtube, and Twitch.
I was wrong. The show started 17 minutes late, the stage was poor, the stream began glitching halfway through, and the hour-long show ended after 35 minutes.
And, I had to download Tidal to access it. Gross.
The unfortunate truth is that one small mistake like this can negatively impact an artist's brand nevermind the entire live entertainment e-space. At this stage, the only live e-shows I trust right now are those on Yoop, the emerging platform that not only has the best-in-class production but is the first-of-its-kind eConcert platform that breaks the 4th wall.
Item: Heavy Jump Rope
This may sound, and even look cool in a TikTok video, but do not be deceived, even at this price point, this item is a poor purchase. After 1 day of using this, it became stiff and now is more akin to a failed stone age tool. What makes this worse, is that I originally purchased a similar looking product from a targeted Instagram ad which took more than 2 months to arrive, and when it arrived it was the wrong product. On that day, my irritated impulse drove me to Amazon, where I purchased this without pause. Serves me right.
This would have been rated a 2, but it came with workout gloves that have helped my grip on our backyard pull-up bar (see below).
Item: Ultimate Backpack Chair with Cooler
If this purchase doesn’t shout “I live in Florida”, well then, the visor I wear to the beach most definitely does.
When my parents asked what I’d like for my birthday (Yes, at 29 my parents still present me gifts for my birthday), I thought a pair of beach chairs would be the ultimate birthday and housewarming gift for my new home in South Florida.
Embarrassed by the level of analysis that went into selecting these chairs, I’m quite pleased with the accessories: Backpack straps, cooler, dry slot, arm drink holder, arm phone pocket. The poor review stems from their lack of use.
In the 6 months since the pair arrived, I’ve only used them 3 times. That’s one use per every two months and a price-per-use at $36. Even though these may be the creme-de-la-creme of beach chairs, worthy of tailgates at all stadiums with exception to Buffalo, they have little utility.
Since they were a gift, I felt guilty being this harsh as I’m more the problem than the chairs, but then I realized that I indirectly spent my future inheritance on this and just feel disappointed.
Item: Outdoor Fitness Power Tower
After 3 straight months of push-ups, burpees, bike rides, and running, I grew weary of my own lack of creativity for home workouts. I convinced myself I needed a pull-up bar.
There were far more attractive products available, all better suited for my space, but attached were shipping times of 8–12 weeks. I didn’t even have a week of patience for this purchase. Trusting the reviews of this tower, an Amazon Prime order was made.
What I haven’t told you is that the park near my home has a pull-up bar. I could easily walk there, wipe down the equipment, and use it several times per week, but no, I wanted one available to me 24/7. Folks, this is an example of impatient and irrational purchasing behavior.
My review is mostly about the price, knowing that the alternatives were less than half, however, if I transform my body into a Zac Efron from Baywatch manikin, I’ll take all of this back, and elevate this rating to an 11/10.
Item: The Cookware Set
Price: $302.00 (15% off original price of $363)
A friend of mine once gave a pan as a wedding gift. On the day of the wedding, he brought it unwrapped and handed it to the groom. Everyone mocked him. But before you laugh, allow me to ask: Have you ever used a great non-stick, state-of-the-art, pan?
In the years since witnessing this event, each time I cooked on the stove with my inferior pan, I thought about this gift. Scrolling through Instagram this pandemic, I was targeted with an ad from Equal Parts. The design, the color, and the branding left me drolling. The discount code sold me.
The cookware set took more than 2 months to arrive, the customer service responses to my inquiries were short (read as rude), and though the inside of the pots and pans are sleek and functional, the underside marks easily and the exterior doesn’t wash well.
Entering month 4 of ownership of this set, I can confirm they are slightly overpriced, and it’s possible that my relationship to the product is being clouded by my purchasing experience. This could have easily been rated 6.5–7.2 without that.
Item: Paperweight 8GB
I am part of the old-guard, those who find peace in bookstores, eyes closed, sniffing pages, folding corners, leaving love notes that the author will never see. But, I know that the Kindle eliminates excess paper use and reduces transportation emissions. Still, I resent using it.
Early in the pandemic, expecting to sink into extended reading periods, I ordered 12 physical books. Now, with 9 left, do I cheat on my Kindle and still read the physical copies? I could never.
My physical books now are just positioned behind me during Google Meets ( I had a poor experience on Zoom this spring), reminding me to resent. However, when I return to travel, I anticipate that my relationship to this purchase will improve as I can bring all the books I want without additional space, weight, or cost, ultimately saving me money in the long term.
Item: Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan
I understand that a man purchasing his female partner an Aluminized Steel Loaf Pan for her birthday is every single thing we are actively working to change in our society, but, I did just that.
This was a true request.
And, it has brought us closer together.
This pan is the captain of our kitchen accessories. All that's missing from our relationship now are recipes, which are a bit more difficult since we are vegan and gluten-free.
Item: Drago Ceramic Teapot
To erase the vacancy on my desk left from the removal of product 0 (Venkat Wireless Chargepad) is my Orange teapot. It matches the room, it is used daily, it brews a full pot, and its loose-leaf steeping mechanism has expanded my cabinet offering. If only we could have guests.
During the 2019 holidays, I spent time in Vienna, and my favorite memory was sharing a pot of Jasmine Green Tea with a man named Mahmod who shared stories of his home in Iraq. I’m returned there every time I brew tea with my Tealyra. Quite lovely.
Item: Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha
On the days that I tire from loose-leaf teas, I walk .9 miles to a local coffee shop for an off-menu matcha latte that costs $5.08.
In recent months, I began craving these lattes more and more, which quickly built up a bill. With 60 servings per bag, this ceremonial grade matcha straight from farmers in Kagoshima, Japan is not only energizing and delicious, it’s a smart economic choice at less than $1 per latte.
Now, I assemble my own and can pursue different walking routes so that I don’t compromise the movement I was giving my body.
Item: Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper
Price: $29.99 (bi-monthly)
Let me make something perfectly clear: Toilet paper is the only item, that during evaluation, we consider if it would be a good item to intentionally put human feces on. When you consider that, your bar lowers just a bit.
During this pandemic, I started following zero-waste channels to educate myself on the adjustments that I could make to daily life to benefit our planet. I was introduced to reel as the 100% biodegradable toilet paper made from Bamboo, visited their website, and found they have an eCommerce function that would eliminate me from going to a store and inviting a health risk onto myself.
Ultimately, the quality of the paper is plush, it feels good, but more knowing that I’m protecting the planet, purchasing from a black-led business, and contributing to their multiple social impact campaigns will keep me as a monthly customer.
Item: Wireless Microphone System Headset
I’ll be totally honest. This headset is no better than reel’s toilet paper, but equally rating a product I put my mouth on the same as one I put my poop on felt wrong.
During this pandemic, I’ve decided to do more video. Strapped for cash having bought some dumb things (see above list) I was comfortable spending up to $50.
The UHF set came in under that figure and had some good reviews: add to cart.
With the help of this wireless headset, I’m now 15 episodes into a show that uses laughtivism to normalize sobriety and has collected more than 25,000 views.
The show has not only found a sponsor but has brought me private consulting opportunities in the space. This $44 Amazon purchase has returned its investment 100 times over.
True to form during this pandemic, I’ve looked to adopt practices that protect our planet. Often the lowest barrier to entry, and first-step, is adopting reusable water bottles.
The Freebirds BottleNo30 is designed by TrudyLines, a literal world-famous tattoo artist who has decided to apply her art to a new canvas, in a campaign to encourage conscious consumerism. Proceeds from each bottle plant 5 trees with One Tree Planted, and through Water Is Life, provide a clean drinking solution to an individual in need.
I have a piece of Trudy’s work on my arm, and now I have several more pieces of her art in my home, reminding me of her compassion, the campaign, and reinforcing that we as individuals can protect this planet. Call me an art collector, but I’ll purchase every BottleNo30 release.
Item: Frozen Desserts (Vanilla, Coffee, Chocolate)
Price: $10 > (Dependent on store)
Vegan Ice Cream. Need I say more?
I do this thing where I mumble words and make sure Ice Cream is the only pair that can be detected so that the person I’m speaking to responds with “What about ice cream?”
Then I say, “Sure, I’ll go get ice cream with you.”
It’s childish but effective in convincing yourself that getting ice cream wasn’t your idea. I have things to work on. One of which is my detective skills, because until writing this piece, I was unaware there were 8 Oatly frozen dessert flavors.
Item: The Athletic Club Subscription
Price: $24.99 (monthly)
Do you know about this? That you can order award-winning non-alcoholic beer that tastes better than regular beer and has been crafted to be gluten-removed (Upside Dawn), directly to your doorstep?
I became a monthly subscriber early in the pandemic to automate my consumption so that, without thinking, I could always have a few cold ones ready for after my workouts. Why? Well, non-alcoholic beer has been proven to be a great exercise recovery drink, amongst other things.
The Many Health Benefits of Non-Alcoholic Beer
German Olympians are no longer the only beneficiaries of the health-promoting properties of non-alcoholic beer
Other benefits of The Athletic Club include:
- 17 options to choose from
- First dibs on limited batch offerings
- Access to rotating seasonal beer styles
- Club member-only discounts
And now, the best purchase I’ve made during this pandemic….
Item: Duo Nova 7-in-1 (10 Quart)
I am a QVC queen at heart. You show me the word “coupon” in an email subject line, and I am clicking. Sure, the instant pot isn’t sexy. Gabriel from Emily In Paris, would probably scoff at it, but honestly, who gives a fuck what that cheater says!
Anytime I see a self-promoted #1 distinction, I get suspicious. Do you really have the world's best burger? Is Instant Pot really Americas #1 Pressure Cooker and Multicooker? You better believe it.
If you’ve ever burned rice, or have ever had a pot of quinoa boil over the top, staining your pot and stovetop, then you’ll understad this is not an infomercial, this is an instantmercial (Proud of myself for that one). The Duo Nova has made dinner so much more efficient, allowing me to multi-task dinner prep without having to “watch the rice.” I’m still in my infancy with the true power of this product, but have already mastered perfect rice, dry beans, and vegan chicken salad.
What I’ve learned in evaluating my pandemic purchases from foolish to brilliant is that I am an impatient, impulsive shopper.
I’m also a functional shopper.
I’m proud of my commitment to purchasing products that hold me responsible for the health of our planet and completely embarrassed by the vanity of the other items.
A positive has come from this though. To help remedy my impatient and impulsive purchases, I’ve instituted a 30-day purchasing hold, that has helped me not only save more and spend less but automates charitable donations and deflates my financial anxiety.
A Spending Strategy For The Financially Anxious
Spending less, saving more, and leaving room for philanthropy
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