5 Silly Things I’ve Bought to Feel Like a Grownup

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As a grownup I've bought many things, some of which make me feel silly. Here are 5 things I've bought as an adult that I now regret.

Although I’m 31 years old, I’ve always had a hard time feeling like a grownup. I still refer to myself as a “girl,” I don’t wear makeup, and I will always be a jeans-T-shirt-and-sneakers kind of girl, which never seems to allow you to look over the age of 20. New acquaintances are sometimes surprised to learn that I’m in my 30s, especially when I’m rocking my favorite pair of Converse sneakers for the day. I know I’ll appreciate that in the future, but right now it doesn’t always feel great, and I can be a little insecure about it.

Unfortunately, that feeling of insecurity has caused me to spend money in some questionable ways in the past in order to help me feel like an adult. So silly, but sadly true! Here are five silly things I’ve bought to feel like a grownup and what I learned from each embarrassing purchase.

1. A $350 Purse


One of the first purchases I remember making to feel like an adult was a $350 purse that I purchased a few months after I’d gotten a new job at the age of 23. I had negotiated a (small) pay raise from my last job, so I convinced myself that I “deserved” a new purse for moving on up, oblivious to the fact that the purse cost about half of my weekly paycheck, from my net earnings no less. That was eight years ago, and I still carry that purse today, partly because it was a quality, leather bag and partly because I still feel guilty for spending so much money on it, so I’m going to carry it until it falls apart.

What I learned from that purchase: Instead of taking half my paycheck to buy a purse, I should have opened my first IRA which, at that point, had yet to be established.

2. Supermodel Heels


After watching an episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills one day (when I still had cable), I decided that I needed a pair of nude heels to make me look taller, fancier and more professional. You know, so I could look like Yolanda Foster, former supermodel and current millionaire. 

I purchased some expensive nude shoes that had sky scraper heels and, like so many of us do, I took them home and wore them to work for three weeks straight let them languish in my closet for months until I finally gathered the courage to wear them.

When I finally did wear them, I realized how insanely uncomfortable they were, even when I was sitting at my desk. I felt stupid when I wore them because they were so ostentatious, and I could hardly walk in them because of their height. They just weren’t for me, so after feeling bad every time I laid eyes on them in my closet, I finally donated them.

What I learned from that purchaseCutting cable can save you money in more ways than you think, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aren’t exactly real, and I am a happier person in a simple, yet comfy pair of flats from Clark’s.

3. A 30-Foot Boat


I’ve written on Frugal Rules before about the worst purchase I ever made, which was financing a 30-foot cruiser boat so that I could be around a certain group of people. I won’t go into it in-depth again, but it was definitely my worst keeping up with the Joneses moment ever. I financed $30,000+ to keep that boat so I could feel fancy, and I ended up spending more money on it than I did on my house at the time.

What I learned from that (dumb) purchase: Debt makes me really unhappy, and a boat does not make you feel cool, only poor.

4. A Luxury Car


For so many years, my dream car was an older model, black 3-series BMW. I drooled over them for years as I drove more economical cars, like my old Saturn and Mazda, both of which were low maintenance options that got great gas mileage. But after my husband found a great deal at a local used car lot and my co-worker encouraged me to go after my dream car, I decided it was time for an upgrade.

The first month I had the car, it couldn’t even make it up the hill in my driveway a few times, so I knew immediately that something was wrong. The car was pretty, but it was a lemon, and I’d been had by a seedy car salesman. Luckily I paid cash for the car and was able to get out from under it relatively easily, but the whole process left a bad taste in my mouth about so-called “luxury cars,”  and convinced me that they are something that I will never own again.

What I learned from that purchase: The most luxury I need in a car is one that gets me safely where I need to go without a lot of gas or costly repairs.

As a grownup I've bought many things, some of which make me feel silly. Here are 5 things I've bought as an adult that I now regret.

5. A Big House


After I got married, I felt like we needed to buy a place of our own because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you get married… right? Even though we had only a few thousand dollars to our (newly married) name, we went house shopping.

We only had a three percent down payment, which nearly emptied our bank account, and I fell head over heels for a huge, vintage charmer on a busy road in a bad part of town that needed tons of maintenance. I had stars in my eyes that wouldn’t allow me to see the negatives of that house. Fortunately, I got lucky and was able to sell that house two years later for what I owed on it.

What I learned from that purchase: A house is a business transaction and should not become an emotional decision.

Looking back, I think I made these purchases because I wanted to feel like a grownup and I wanted people to take me seriously, but buying things to try to get to that point is a bad idea for so many obvious reasons.

I’m thankful that I can look at these purchases now and recognize what insecurity I was feeding by making them. Seeing my old spending patterns, embarrassing as they may be, helps me avoid bad purchases in the future, and all that money, even though most of it’s gone today, really did teach me a valuable lesson. Sometimes I may not feel like a successful, professional, pretty, or fashionable adult, but as a person, I think I’m still pretty great. 🙂

How many times have you regretted making a silly purchase? Have you ever made a purchase to help you feel prettier, smarter, sexier, or faster? What is one purchase you wish you could ‘un-buy?’

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog


  • I’m 31 as well. Still in doubt that I’m an adult. One of the best moments I’ve had in a while happened a few weeks ago when my Mom admitted “none of us know what we’re doing.” We’re only adults in the eyes of other people. Keep up the great work!

  • Mona Miller says:

    Loved it! Nothing like the Truth as a refresher course!?

  • Our recent home remodel made me feel like an adult. Not only did we figure out the remodel for it ourselves and pay in cash (which seems like such an adult thing to do), but I got a new couch! This is the first really nice furniture I have ever had.

  • I made the decision to live in a one-bedroom apartment soon after getting my first career job out of college. That was a silly thing I did to feel like more of a grownup. Looking back, since I live in such an expensive area, I should have opted for a roommate. Now, I’m planning to move a lower COL area next year where having a one-bedroom apartment makes more sense.

  • The first summer I was in grad school I waited tables and managed to pay my bills. But, I didn’t get any work done, so the next two summers I took out loans so that I could “work on my dissertation.” That’s what good academics do, right?

    I spent both summers goofing off instead of academic diligence and years paying off the unnecessary loans, and never did finish the dissertation. Should have just waited tables.

  • I think we rushed into the home-buying process as well. Thankfully we have an apartment setup in the basement so we have been able to make rental income off that, otherwise it would be such a burden.

    I’m doing everything I can to be content with our small(er) house. I keep telling myself the longer we can stay here the better off we will be. It’s so tough, though, to not be tempted by some of the bigger, nicer houses. Just gotta keep my head down and not get sucked into that stuff!

  • Rebecca says:

    What strikes me the most about these purchases is that you’ve corrected all of them, as best you can. You sold the house, boat, and car; got rid of the useless heels and are using the purse until it falls apart.

    Way to make the best of a not-so-perfect situation!

  • Amanda says:

    At least you are able to recognize the mistakes, fix them and learn from them! That’s very grown up!!!

  • I wouldn’t call this silly, I would call this massively silly. lol.

    Yes, there really are times in our lives that we made big big mistakes. We hope we didn’t but we did. The best thing that we can do is learn from our mistakes and move forward so we can make better decisions in the future, which is what you did. So, kudos to you.

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