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10 things I wish I hadn’t bought

How many dumb things can a young man buy before he stops buying dumb things? At least 10, as it turns out.
/ Source: Special to

How many dumb things can a young man buy before he stops buying dumb things? At least 10, as it turns out. Contrary to popular belief, buying stuff doesn’t simplify your life. In fact, as these examples prove, it’s often quite the opposite.

1. DVDs
Why does every guy own Fight Club, The Matrix and Die Hard? We watch them once, then they gather dust. Last year, I sold mine at a garage sale to several men who assumed I’d lost my manhood in an industrial accident. Now, I use an online rental service. The DVDs arrive, I watch them, I send them back. Nice and simple.

2. High-end digital camera
Professional photographers need the most up-to-date digital cameras — not me. I snap pictures of friends, and maybe a mountain here and there; I don’t make 30-by-40-inch prints. Then why did I spend $1,000 on a 6-megapixel camera? I’m eBaying this beast, and buying a handy, fits-in-your-pocket consumer model instead.

3. Expensive television
Enhanced definition vs. high definition? 480p vs. 480i? Plasma vs. flat? I will not be sucked into the HDTV revolution, and I don’t care how wide your screen is. My picture is definitely bigger — because I bought a projector. Now, I watch on my wall. I’ll never be suckered into an expensive television set again.

4. Gym membership
Buy a year-long gym membership, and you have to go. Right? Sure. At the two-month mark, I was scouring the contract’s fine print for a way out. I never got that six-pack belly, and I’m down $600. Now, I jog every day and feel better than ever. I don’t need a gym for that.

5. Multi-dive scuba package
Learning to scuba in Honduras was so much fun, we assumed it would be great everywhere. Nope. The water at our next stop was cold and murky; the fish were as dazzling as the crap-eaters in your little brother’s aquarium. But since we’d bought the three-day package in advance, we felt compelled to dive. And dive again. And again. Next time: one trial dive, then buy the package.

6. Broadway tickets
In an attempt to butter up a cranky boss, I once plunked down seven large on Broadway tickets. My girlfriend and I got dressed up, took a car service into the city, went to a fancy restaurant and then to the show. Not only was it the most stressful night of my life, but also the most expensive. Now, I kiss butt the old-fashioned way: with a bottle of booze on the boss’s birthday.

7. Famous-chef cookbooks
Yes, women are impressed by men who cook. But there’s no need to drop $40 on cookbooks written by rock-star television chefs. Instead, go to and download recipes one at a time. It’s much easier, and your date will still be impressed.

8. AOL
I stopped using AOL back when people were digging bomb shelters for Y2K. Some of my friends, though, aren’t so smart. They continue to spend $15 a month just to get their e-mail. Why have a separate software program on your already-complicated computer?

9. High-end outdoor gear
Never shop with a rich friend who has a gear fetish. I walked out with a $300 tent, a $600 sleeping bag and a $16 plastic water bottle. A water bottle! I returned everything the next day. For less than half that, I bought equipment with only those features I actually need — including a $16 Thermos for both hot and cold liquids.

10. Engagement ring
For my next wife, it’s matching tattoos and a honeymoon that costs one month’s salary. Better yet, I’ll keep it real simple — and not get married in the first place.

Jeff Koyen is a writer currently living a very simple life in New York City.