Is there any popular phrase (proverb/idiom/slang) for describing someone who ended up buying something much more expensive than what was originally needed?

Somewhat like:

Person A needs a bike, instead he/she paid for a Mercedes.

Ideally, whether the person succumbs to sales pitch or to his/her own greed isn't the point the phrase alludes to.

  • 2
    If the implication is specifically that the seller "fleeced" a naive buyer, it's more of an idiom than a proverb, but you might say "They saw you coming a mile away." Oct 28, 2021 at 16:15
  • 1
    'They bought the shop' has on occasion been used to describe an over-enthusiastic enterprise, but I can't find a supporting reference. Oct 28, 2021 at 16:17
  • 1
    @AndyBonner, prefer no implications. Question is updated.
    – abbr
    Oct 28, 2021 at 17:17
  • The sales technique is called upselling: The slick salespeople upsold me a Mercedes. Oct 28, 2021 at 20:27
  • You say that someone has bought something with "all the bells and whistles" if they've added on every possible optional feature or cosmetic improvement. Oct 29, 2021 at 15:22

4 Answers 4


A fool and his money are soon parted

(Idiom) Used to say that a foolish person spends money too quickly on unimportant things m-w

This phrase is typically used to describe someone who loses their money quickly, either by being tricked or spending it wastefully. knowyourphrase.com

(Idiom) Said to mean that it is easy to persuade someone who is not sensible to spend their money on worthless things Collins

'A fool and his money are soon parted' is quite an early proverb in the English language and, as such, might be thought to contain the wisdom of the ancients.

The notion was known by the late 16th century, when it was expressed in rhyme by Thomas Tusser in Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, 1573:

A foole & his money,
be soone at debate:
which after with sorow,
repents him to late.

The precise wording of the expression comes just a little later, in Dr. John Bridges' Defence of the Government of the Church of England, 1587:

If they pay a penie or two pence more for the reddinesse of them... let them looke to that, a foole and his money is soone parted.


  • Thanks but it is more about wealth management than oversold.
    – abbr
    Oct 28, 2021 at 19:07

Their only customers are people with more money than sense.


The idiom to pay through the nose gets close. Collins says

If you say that you paid through the nose for something, you are emphasizing that you had to pay what you consider too high a price for it.

FreeDict quotes Farlex Dictionary of Idioms and defines the idiom as meaning:

To pay an exorbitant amount of money (for something), especially more than is reasonable.

Note that the idiom is labelled as informal.

Otherwise you can just use pay a fortune for followed by a word conveying the notion of insignificant value (like a trifle for example).


From the point of view of the person who intended to buy a bicycle but wound up buying a Mercedes Benz, there is an expression or idiom that might summarize the person's attitude regarding the purchase:

"In for a penny, in for a pound."

His or her thinking might be along the lines of "Well, I've been willing to part with 100 dollars for a bicycle, I may as well part with 100,000 dollars for a Mercedes."

From here:

To be steadfastly dedicated to a particular course of action despite the fact that it is undoubtedly expensive and time-consuming.

The car buyer above is dedicated to the course of action of buying a vehicle. Despite the expense of spending a thousand times more for a Mercedes than a bicycle, the buyer channels their original and intended course of action into the buying of a car.

The same could be said of the smitten boyfriend who goes to a jewelry store to buy a charm bracelet for his latest flame. Intending to buy a 50-dollar charm bracelet, he ends up buying a finely filagreed, 18 karat gold bangle for $1000.

I could multiply examples, but won't.

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