Buyer's remorse is the term given to the feeling a person often gets after making a large purchase. Although excited at the time of the purchase, once they've spent a lot of money, many people feel a deep regret and concern that they made the wrong decision.
Buyer's remorse takes many different forms, most of them typified by a high level of anxiety, usually about having made the wrong decision. Sometimes it strikes when a person makes a purchase they may not have actually had the money or credit for, and after buying it they begin to realize that they were living well outside of their means, and worry begins to grow over the consequences. This is especially true of purchases such as buying a new home, which is one of the most common triggers for buyer's remorse, due in no small part to the huge amounts of money usually involved.
This feeling may also focus on the worry that a purchase was made at the wrong time, and that by waiting a better deal could be had. This is especially common in the technology sector, and in automobiles, where new generations of products are released regularly. A person might make a purchase and then immediately begin wishing they had waited for the next generation to come out, as their product will soon be outdated. This type of buyer's remorse is largely unfounded, since the same case can be made at any point in time, as new generations are constantly being rolled out. It is especially prevalent when a new generation of a product is immediately released, however, leading the buyer to wish they had waited a week or two before committing to a purchase.
Buyer's remorse may also express itself as extreme guilt over the buying act itself. Especially with people who may have a problem with over-consumption, after making a purchase they may begin to feel regret for having once again succumbed to an addiction. This may also manifest as a concern for how others will view their purchases, especially if they may easily be viewed as frivolous or in bad judgment.
Psychologically, buyer's remorse makes perfect sense. A consumer switches from one state to another when making a purchase, where the state before they've made the purchase has enormous positive influence, and the purchase afterward loses a great deal of that. Before making a purchase, a buyer is faced with a great deal of choices, giving them a sense of agency and power in the world. They have money or credit to spend, and get to exert their dominance over the marketplace by placing their purchasing power.
After the purchase, however, all options have vanished. Buyer's remorse may set in as they see themselves locked into a single decision, which may or may not have been the best, and seek their purchasing power reduced. No longer acting from a position of control, many people react by seeking to distance themselves from the purchasing act, to reaffirm their sense of having had a wide field of choices. Buyer's remorse is, in this way, seen as a very simple state of cognitive dissonance, where the desire to retain complete control and infinite possibilities clashes with the reality of actually exerting that control by limiting those possibilities.