"A backyard garden is a cheap hobby, but an expensive grocery store," notes a reddit user on the Frugal subreddit thread discussing "Frugal Failure" stories. Mishaps in which being resourceful goes terribly wrong have beset the best of us; we make an effort to save cash and end up spending far more than we might have in the first place had we just spent the money.
Which isn’t to say that doing something yourself or striving to reuse, reduce and recycle is a bad thing — quite the contrary. It’s just that sometimes, our best intentions result in our most spectacular fails.
Here are some of our favorite flops from frugal redditers.
1. The $75 tomato
From exitzero: Blew my shoulder out turning the soil. MRI, physical therapy. I figured about $75 a tomato. And they weren't even that good.
2. Must love candles
From CindyCCC: My friend's husband is very frugal. He insisted that they use candles instead of electricity for years after dark. When they went to sell their house, they had to paint the entire interior from the soot from all the years of candle burning.
3. Shabby chic ain’t cheap
From weenur: I bought a bolt of vintage fabric for $300 and was going to use it to reupholster a vintage sofa (got it for free). I found out the cushions were rotten and so were the springs and wood. It was going to cost me $1600 to have it fixed so I could use the fabric. I went to Ashley and bought a new sofa for $700.
4. When the Schwinn’s not a win
From SavannahRamaDingDong: I saw an old Schwinn on Craigslist for $100. Went and checked it out, seemed good, maybe new tires. I didn't know what to look for. Turns out I needed new tubes, tires, break pads and then the accessories, u-lock, reflectors, helmet, basket. A couple Hundy later I ride it a mile to work (all downhill) which was great. Getting home is almost impossible, the vintage Schwinn is so heavy I can barely get up the hill home. There are only three gears, none of which make it any easier. I should've splurged for a newer, lighter bike that already had reflectors and perhaps a basket.
5. The ol’ upside-down belt trick
From coopooc: A few weeks back, a pair of shoes got jammed in the clothes dryer causing the belt to break. I've been feeling pretty handy lately and think, "I'll just crack it open and have a look." With the help of some YouTube videos, I was confident all I needed to do was replace the belt. Picked up a replacement belt for under $20, had it replaced in under 20 minutes. I then congratulate myself, I'm amazing, I just saved us at least $100 service repair bill!
And another example:
Three loads dried and I smell something burning. Run to the laundry room to find smoke billowing out of the dryer. I installed the belt upside down. The inside of the dryer is a mess of molten rubber and plastic. Melted bits stuck all over the place. And the smell, oh god the smell. Even if I could repair it again, I don't think the smell will ever go away. $20 repair ends up costing several hundred dollars to replace the dryer. And of course, we have to replace the pair. Awesome.
From rosebleu: Not me, but my sister. Her husband found a last minute ticket deal to the Dominican Republic online and bought it in great excitement … forgetting the minor detail that she didn't have a passport. No big deal, right? Nope. She only had her original birth certificate, not the state issued one. We're from Hudson County, NJ, which had a huge issue with identity theft a few years back. So now if you were born there you have to go to the state capital to get your birth certificate and the federal government doesn't accept the originals as proof of birth. So she had to fly to NJ, wait in line in Trenton for five hours to get her birth certificate, then drive to New York City and wait at the consulate and pay out the a*# to get her passport. Then she had to fly home. It ended up being like almost $1000 total.
7. The $393.30 movie
From pd1459: Last summer I was at home on a Sunday afternoon and I decided it was movie time. The movie I wanted was on demand for $3.99 on my television or I could get in my car and drive 0.75 miles to Redbox and get the DVD for $1.29. I decided to save the $2.70 and drive to Redbox. I drove over a curb at the store that had the Redbox and destroyed the wheel, wheel cover and tire. It cost me about $400 to fix.
8. Big-ticket transit
From neel2004: Last weekend, I took MARTA in Atlanta ($5) instead of parking downtown ($15-25) near the Georgia Dome for a Motocross event I had a free ticket for. We ended up missing the last train, and had to take a cab back to the train station where our cars were parked. $35 for the cab ride ended up being the monetary cost for the mistake, plus 3 extra wasted hours that would have been saved if we had just parked downtown...