Earlier this week we asked you for the worst things you’ve ever tried to do in order to save money that really didn’t work out, and you bowled us over with your responses! Over 190 comments poured in, some utilitarian, some hilarious, others, poignant. My favorite is the grandma who bought two caskets and used them to store linens because she didn’t like the idea of buying something so expensive only to use it once. So here they are, the 28 best of the worst money-saving ideas you’ve ever had:
(pictured: some folks who don’t like the cheap haircuts they got from beauty-school students)
1. “Waxing my eyebrows at home! I ended up having to draw one of them in for about six months until it grew back.”
2. Cheap kitty litter
3. Cheap toilet paper
4. Putting in a quarter of a tank of gas at a time hoping the reduced weight would improve efficiency. Driving with little fuel increases fuel evaporation and can shorten the life of your fuel pump.
5. “Letting my auto insurance lapse was a bad, bad idea, which I learned when I got into an accident… and then my wife got into an accident, three days later, with the same car.
6. “Bought a used pop-up camper to make summer travel cheaper. Of course, I then had to buy an SUV to pull the thing!”
7. Joined a “wholesale gift club” only to discover you could get everything cheaper on eBay
8. “I “waxed” my ’68 chevy with corn oil. The car looked great. Until I drove it. Then it latched on to every dustbunny, leaf, feather, bird turd and pebble on I-495. All mounted against a handsome understated ever-darkening matte finish. I even think a candy wrapper got stuck on it. After 2 days the exterior looked like a picnic table that had been left out in the back yard all winter.”
9. “Hand washing all my laundry. I did it for almost a year. Not worth it. I was doing laundry all the time.”
10. “Generic Oreos. NEVER AGAIN.”
11. Eliminating retirement savings or withdrawing from your 401k or IRA
12. Buying a house for the interest deduction without understanding it fully.
13. “I’ve tried buying bulk items at Costco as a “savings investment” and then ended up wasting them.”
14. “A few decades ago, my Grandmother was appalled at how expensive caskets were when you only used them ‘the once’. So she purchased two caskets and used them to store linens. A few years later, Grandma and Grandpa had to move but Grandma didn’t want her neighbors to know that she had two caskets so she forced my dad and his brother to move them in the middle of the night to the new house. She ended up selling them a few years later since they decided that they wanted to donate their bodies to science and then be cremated.”
15. “My hubby once brought home an extra fridge that some friends were getting rid of. The idea was to buy and store food in bulk, especially organic milk. As it turns out, Costco’s price per gallon for organic milk was about the same as the grocery store’s. We would have saved only $1/week or $52/year. Unfortunately, the fridge was an old one and would have cost about $100/year to run!”
16. “For a while, when I was younger, I’d buy large amounts of chicken breasts with bones in them from Sam’s Club. Then I would spend a long afternoon cleaning them, wrapping them, and freezing them for later. The problems were numerous! My hands would smell like raw chicken for a couple of days (soap and shampoo couldn’t get rid of the smell). I’m definitely not a butcher so it would take hours (I also removed all the fat). Lastly, turns out that I was RE-freezing the chicken, and the texture of chicken that you’ve done that to is pretty weird. It was way too much for me and wasn’t worth it.”
17. “Some years ago I got a great deal on a case of SPAM. Four cans later, the local food bank had 20 cans.”
18.”We have a 5-cent tax on disposable shopping bags here in DC. A few people, in protest of the tax, go to Maryland or Virginia to get their groceries. So instead of either paying $1 one for a reusable bag or 5 cents each for disposable bags, you pay for gas to go to Maryland or Virginia. Plus, Virginia has sales tax on food, which DC doesn’t.”
19. “Buying a Costco membership when I’m a single woman living in a small city apartment.”
20. “My elderly neighbor used to rinse out used paper towels then dry them. Over her gas stove.”
21. “Doing my own window tinting on a Jeep I used to own…all you need is a spray bottle, sponge and scissors. Sure.”
22. “Dollar store trashbags when I was fresh out of college. I could put like, a paper cup in the bag before it tore.”
23. “When I saw how much money I saved on my gas/electric bill by drying clothes outside instead of using my dryer, I tried the same thing with washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher. Not only did my gas/electric bill hardly notice the difference, but I must have broken 8 glasses and several plates because they were either hitting things in the sink, or falling over in the plastic dish drying holder. Went back to the dishwasher.”
24. “”Reallocating” paper towels from work.”
25. “To save money on rent, I moved into a big house with a gazillion roommates when I started graduate school, most of which were not students. I had found the place long distance and the person I had talked to sounded normal and the house sounded nice. I realized within a week that at least 2 of the roomates were batshit crazy and another had a long criminal record. No one did their dishes, two people were way behind on their bills so the electric was at risk of being turned off, and one girl had 3 cats and never scooped the litter box. I started apartment hunting within a week and moved out as soon as I could. Ended up in somewhat more expensive housing, but my quality of life greatly improved. Really cheap housing is cheap for a reason.”
26. “Buying anything major really cheap wastes money in the end. Tires, appliances, electronics. You end up paying more for repairs / replacements than it’s worth. With things like printers, the planned obsolescence will get you too, but it’s not like you have a choice.”
27. “Years ago, I thought I lucked out and found a deal when I rented a townhouse in an expensive part of town and was only paying half the rent of anyone else in the neighborhood.
Well…more rent might have paid for new windows (it was a Victorian house with ORIGINAL windows and doors!), insulation, a fix for those leaky bathroom pipes that caused ceiling damage in the room below, a roof that didn’t leak, wiring that was up to code and didn’t cause a brown-out when more than two window A/Cs were running at a time in the entire building, a water heater that continued to work for more than a month at a time, and extermination fees (both mice AND rats!).
The rent was so cheap, though, that I stayed there for almost 7 years, hating every moment that I was home.”
28. “Getting married just to save on income taxes.”
Can you beat those? Leave your worser money-saving idea in the comments.