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There’s always a scramble to get hold of the latest gadget. Some are so desirable that fans queue for hours outside stores to get their hands on new technology.

But for every must-have item, there are many unloved objects sitting in drawers and cluttering up wardrobes. Our research* found that more than 40 million of us regret purchases we’ve made in the past.

What are we spending our cash on?

When it comes to things we really can’t afford, top of the list are pets, holidays, gifts, cars and motorbikes. According to our survey, more than 8 out of 10 Britons wish they’d thought twice before shelling out cash for stuff. Of those people, 15% regretted their purchase because it cost too much.

It comes as no surprise that the most-regretted items are long-term commitments that involve ongoing costs. Some others are large, one-off outlays – like holidays – which can run over budget if people aren’t careful.

So, what items cause the most gnashing of teeth? Here’s what we discovered:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Stuff on holiday
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Gifts
  • Gadgets - like smartphones and tablets
  • Exercise / home gym equipment
  • Games

The gender gap

It’s also little wonder that men and women regret buying different purchases. When it comes to clothes, 72% of women wished they hadn’t bought them, compared with just 48% of men. And over twice as many women as men regretted buying shoes.

Men, on the other hand, were over twice as likely to regret buying games, electrical items and PCs.

And what is the biggest cause of regret? Yes, you’ve guessed it – realising that we ‘don’t actually need the item’.

How to cut back on your spending

While spending too much on unnecessary items is just a minor blip in some shoppers’ budgets, it can lead to real problems for many people. For example, overspending is one of the main causes of debt - along with job loss, divorce and other changes in someone’s financial situation.

But there are ways to get your finances back on track. Make sure you figure out whether you can really afford something before parting with your hard-earned cash. And remember that contracts can be more expensive than you think and can lock you in for months on end.

At thinkmoney, we have a team of Money Managers who can help you to get on top of your finances. With our Current Account, you’ll know what is left over every month after essential bills have been paid, so you can't accidentally spend the money you really need to be keeping for life's essentials. Find out more here.

* Consumer Intelligence research carried out a survey of a representative sample of 3,425 UK adults from 5th - 11th July 2013. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.

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