Things I Wish I Hadn’t Bought and Why

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Ya, this one is kind of embarrassing, but I thought that sharing my mistakes might help you save some money. I have found that once you buy something, it’s hard to recoup the full cost. Sure, you can sell it online and make a few bucks, but I have learned the hard way that you will lose some money if you make that a habit.

We Frugalites are a generous and diverse group. So, once I share my own spending errors, I hope you will chip in with yours in the comments below. That is, unless you don’t have any!

Off-Grid Laundry Machine

Sometimes, it can be hard to find the balance between daily conveniences and preparing for the apocalypse. When I bought my off-grid laundry machine, I somehow missed the mark. I don’t have laundry facilities in my eco-cabin, and I thought this little gadget would replace that. Nope. And it was expensive!

It has such a small capacity per load that I was spending all my time running it just to keep up. With all those moving parts, I don’t have a lot of optimism that it will last very long under heavy use. The springs required for it to function already seemed to be stretched. I’m too busy with other homestead projects to replace them so that I can sell it. Come the apocalypse, I guess I’ll be out with everyone else, banging my laundry on rocks by the riverside!

Small Fridge On Sale

Remember that saying, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” Well, if you see a small fridge on sale, DO, dear Frugalite have a look inside! You might save yourself the endless headaches that my very-well-priced small fridge has given me. You see, it has a small (very small) freezer up top. And no defrost setting. The little freezer very quickly over fills with ice, even when full of stuff. And this requires me to defrost it….without a defrost setting.

This takes a lot of time and melting water and mess and it must be done regularly. There’s no way to turn the freezer part off. So, what I thought was an a-MAZ-ing deal has turned out to be a real headache and the object of my ongoing irritation.

Expensive Unused Tools

I had initially thought that I would put all the siding on my eco-cabin. After all, I had strapped the entire exterior of the cabin myself, using around a thousand 5-inch screws in the process. Hmmmm. Turns out that working with steel was a heck of a lot less forgiving than rough-hewn wood strapping. After a few trials with all of my new tools, I realized I was in over my head!

Thankfully, I found an up-and-coming contractor who was willing to do it for a great price. Regretfully, I had optimistically already bought several tools and saw blades for the job. Due to our current economic times, the local hardware store where I had bought much of the materials to build my eco-cabin had tightened up its return policies. I have heard this is a trend and let the buyer beware! I was suddenly unable to return the expensive saw blades I no longer needed. I was offered a gift card for the amount of the saw blades, which I accepted even though I don’t need to buy any more materials for the build at this time. I will be very cautious about any further purchases from this hardware store now that I am aware of how difficult it is to return anything.

Plastic Shelving

Perhaps you’ve had a better experience than I have with your own plastic shelving. If you have, I am happy for you! I bartered away my two solid oak corner shelving units for some stuff I wanted and need someplace to put my plants and other things. Perusing the flyer for another local hardware store, I saw plastic shelving on for an amazing price. The online information claimed that each shelf could hold a load of approximately 200 pounds. I was impressed. Once I put them together and saw how flimsy they actually were, I was so disappointed! They are still here in the eco-cabin in all their plastic flimsy glory, but I hope to replace them with a solid wood cabinet of some kind in the near future

My Speciality Ladder

I needed a ladder. Why did I buy a specialty ladder? Because I didn’t know any better. To be honest, it sounded cool. It could adjust so that each end could be a different height, sitting on different stairs on a staircase. It could convert into a step ladder. It could break down into two separate small “Vs” that could hold a scaffold. It all sounded so wonderful!

Fast forward a few years. It’s lying in the grass. The main reason is that it is so darn heavy that it’s hard for me to lift to its full height. The ends are wider than the main section, and these are somewhat awkward to place and step on. I bought a ladder. Yup. Just a plain extension ladder. I like that one a lot better.  I thought I needed all those things when all I needed was a plain light ladder. At least it was on super sale! If you paint on staircases for a living…would you like to buy my specialty ladder?

Let’s Call Them Learning Experiences

Ya, I wish I still had the cash in hand that I spent on these items, but I hope my mistakes can help you. Could you see yourself acting on any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have your own “wish I hadn’t bought that!” you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

Picture of Colette


Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

32 thoughts on “Things I Wish I Hadn’t Bought and Why”

  1. Plastic shelving, oh yes they are the worst. I thought yea, good deal for this.I put it together and then it was a mess. Fortunately it was within the return window.

    Buy once, cry once is my lesson here. I have “not cheap” folding heavy duty metal shelves; no regrets with that.

    Heavy things, yes again.I saw a brand new 8qt instantpot at the thrift store for cheap. I was excited until I started to carry it around the store….ouch.Yup it went back.

    1. Hi Corsaire, I’m glad you were able to return your own plastic shelves! Heavy duty folding metal ones sound like a dream to me. Thanks so much for sharing your own experiences with us all!

  2. I bought a large amount of yarn from an online site to use to make the lap blankets that I crochet to donate to nursing homes. Only after I received it did I find out it was made in China. I have no objections to yarn from Turkey or India but have avoided Chinese-made products as much as possible. Now I have to either use or donate the yarn. Neither of which I like the idea of. I will probably go ahead and make the blankets but will regret my expenditure all the time I do it. I know now to stick to brands that I can see in a store and learn the source.

    1. Hi Mary, I’m the same way with Chinese garlic. Can’t stand the stuff and avoid it at all costs. It is so lovely what you are doing making those lap blankets. I’m sure that the receivers will treasure your lap blankets, even if the yarn source is one you would prefer to avoid. Wishing you the best with this wonderful project!

  3. First of all – if you need a field expedient washing machine, a five gallon bucket and a clean toilet plunger saves a lot of time and effort over banging clothing on rocks! My folks used that method for a couple years.
    I have made a lot of purchases I regret. Most of them were only a few dollars but they added up so much over the long run. Art supplies I didn’t end up using were a common factor. I hear you on the plastic shelves! I have several heavy duty plastic shelf units that I’m still using years later, and they hold up, but they are ugly and they sag a bit in the middle. So eventually I want to replace them.

    For larger purchases, I would say poor quality tools are near the top of the list. Too many times I’ve had to buy a tool and only had a small amount of money so I literally couldn’t use the “buy once, cry once” motto because I just didn’t have it. Even so, that tool quickly breaks or doesn’t do the job, and I have to replace it later.

    1. Hi Redbranch, Thanks so much for sharing your own very human experience with purchases. I guess they say hindsight is always 20-20! You make a great point about the quality tools issue. It can be very difficult to manage purchases like these on a budget. I have certainly found that in my own experience! Sometimes, it was my own lack of experience that saw me buying the lower quality tool. Sometimes, I was saved by a friend or contractor and bought what I saw they used, as they were more expert than me. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to make thoughtful contributions to the Frugalite community. Wishing you a great rest of your summer!

    2. I have the same, but I added a hand wringer to it as I don’t always have the strength to wring out clothes well enough. I bought the wringer from Lehmanns in Ohio which serves the Amish community. Not terribly expensive and made to last!

      1. Oh, Cygnet! I would love to own a handwringer! I will definitely look into this! Thanks for sharing that great source with all of us!

        1. You could possibly use a mop wringer, the kind that custodians use for string mops. You can step on the handle and pull up your clothing, and it will be pretty well wrung out.

          1. Hi Gina, Yes, I’ve heard that these can be quite useful for this purpose. I have been giving a few models a try. My challenge is that the eco-cabin is so very small and I’m trying to declutter. I’ve decided to live without a lot of extras until the apocalypse actually arrives! Thanks so much for raising this issue, as I think there are many Frugalites that would also like to give it a try!

  4. Tools

    Project Farm on You tube tests all sorts of tools from all price ranges. Many times the cheaper alternative outperforms the expensive brands. Worth a look if you are in the market for tools.

  5. Hi, just a thought. Your mini fridge (especially if bought used) may have a bad seal or the door isn’t closing quite right. That would frost the freezer up quick. I have 2 mini fridges, one I bought used, that I keep my cheeses in and they are both excellent little units. My only complaint is that I can’t turn the temperature UP enough. Cheese likes around 50 degrees and the fridges won’t go above 40, obviously. When the freezers do get a little iced up (it’s not often), I just push them outside on my back porch, open the door and tilt it forward a bit. They thaw in no time!

    1. Hi Sita, That is so kind of you to share further ideas about dealing with this little fridge of mine. It is small, but unfortunately not small enough to move around. I think your idea of setting outside is really smart! How I wish I was nearby so that I could taste your cheeses. I just love cheese. Thanks so much for your kind sharing. It truly made my day! Wishing you all the best with your cheese making. How fabulous!

  6. Collectibles. DON’T DO IT! First, you will never get your money back. Second, they clutter up the place. Third, your decorative tastes change over time. I just sold my collection of depression glass that I purchased from 25-30 years ago; prices have gone way down since then, and no one really wants it. From now on, I will stick to family mementoes, photographs and things I have made. Or just nothing at all – I like the open space I now have.

    1. Hi Alice, Wow! We are on the same wavelength. I’ve decided that I need to get rid of my EXTENSIVE collection of old farm memorabilia. I, too, am simply enjoying the space that decluttering frees up. Thanks for the reminder of how liberating it can be to be free of stuff!

          1. Let me count the bad purchases…a 51 yo house, nope, can’t return and can’t sell it in the shape it’s in (way, way worse than we thought). Yes, we inspected it first. Yes, we have loads of experience with old houses and still got burned.
            Next. The awesome (snark) freeze dryer. Hint, it’s cheaper to just buy your lifetime supply of quality freeze dried foods. Really.
            Buying quality sanders for a project that’s going to kill a half dozen of them. There is a time to buy $25 tools at harbor freight vs $125 desalt or Milwaukee tools.
            New vehicles. Stopped that 38 years ago and have saved a bundle. Buy well maintained 1 yo or fleet vehicles, just none used on the Alaskan haul road unless you like rebuilding front ends.
            Fad exercise or sports related gear.
            On sale food you don’t know or like.
            Cheap laundry soap.

          2. Hi Toni, I am very sorry to hear about your troubles with your house. I applaud you for leaving such a goodnatured comment with your great sense of humour. You make a very good point about judging the project vs. the quality of the tool it will “eat up.” Thank you for sharing so generously with all of us other Frugalites. I think you saved us all some money with your honest opinions!

  7. i HAVE A DORM SIZE FRIG….small yes and does not automatically defrost. You just take all that is in it out and sit it in a freezer with ice or in your sink. Without power it can’t do anything. It will self-thaw and then you wipe it all out with paper towels or a regular towel, replace the food and you should be all set. I do it about once a month…

    1. Hi Wandakate, I am so impressed that you do this every month. That is truly what I should be doing! You are quite organized and I am going to take a page from you book on this one. I am going to look for some kind of tray I can tilt the fridge onto. The worst part of all of this is the leaking of the water! Thanks for sharing your own experience with your dorm size fridge. That is what mine is called, too, I think!

      1. Regarding trays, how about a baking sheet, a paint roller tray, or even one of those trays made for oil changes? That last might be the best, due to capacity, though I know you’re trying to declutter. A plastic tarp and a pile of towels works too I suppose.

  8. Deb in Central Texas

    Well, we have a large commercial upright freezer that has to get defrosted about twice a year. This time, we unloaded it, left the freezer door open and turned it off. My husband used his wet/dry shop vac to suck up the water as it collected on the bottom. Sure beat using multiple towels, and the floor stayed dry. It does have a drain hole, but are have no place to run a hose to let it drain that way.

    My husband told me that back a while in England, there was a 4-5 foot pole installed in the yard by the laundry area/ clothesline. The person doing the Landry would place heavy or large laundry items (sheets, jeans etc) so that the item went around the post once, leaving the two ends in the persons hands. They then twisted the item together much like a rope until the water began to wring out, and kept twisting as long as they were able. How smart those ladies were!

    While I can’t come up with things I wish I hadn’t bought (and I’m sure there are many but they are not coming to mind) I can mention something I’m delighted with using. It it a two ended flexible flashlight meant to be hung over the back of one’s neck – the ends come down onto the chest. It is perfect for doing knitting or crochet or for reading. It points directly as what needs to be illuminated. I no longer turn on the bright overhead light to see what I a m doing, which saves electricity and doesn’t bother anyone around me. Since it is flexible, I’m sure it would also be useful to use to see into tight places such as under the sink or into a car engine, etc.


    1. Hi Debs, Thanks so much for your proactive and positive thinking! I love the idea of that pole to twist the large laundry items! Off-grid, too. It’s brilliant. These kind of ideas are priceless. I’m glad you shared a good purchase. Your flashlight sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with all of the other Frugalites. Much appreciated!

      1. Wringing poles have been around since medieval times. Set mine up about 20 years ago. I did get some plastic shoe racks from my son. They sagged badly so replaced them this year with a powder coated metal one. The top of it is a piece of the cheapest fake wood. When that top dies will replace it with a length of 2″x12″ lumber. Good thing we have some spare lumber in the garage.

        1. Hi Flowerchild, Amazing! I had no idea about wringing poles. I’m glad to have learned about them through the comments for this article. Ah, yes, I have owned a rickety shoe rack myself. I always like to keep spare lumber around. There’s always some use for it! Thanks so much for sharing. Wishing you a great remainder of your summer!

  9. Actually, yeah – I do regret one other major category of purchases that someone else above suggested. Collectibles. I really do regret all the money I’ve spent on action figures, collectible cards, toys, doodads, props, etc. I do buy or find a few useless things now but try to really limit it especially compared to before. Besides, I lost everything over and over again anyway with all my various moves over the years. I wonder what I could have done if I’d saved all that money and spent it on experiences or something else more worthwhile?

    1. Hi Redbranch, Yes, I agree! Alice’s comment earlier really resonated with me, too. I am currently in the process of trying to liquidate my farm collectibles and, with everyone struggling financially so much, it’s honestly hard to sell anything. The society we live in seems to put a lot of emphasis on buying stuff, and I do admit to buying some myself. I guess that hindsight is always 20-20, so I try to be compassionate with myself and my collection!

  10. Dear Collete,
    Whenever I find out that someone has fallen undo a scam like the one with the shelves, I get mad.
    There is a HUGE amount of fake products out there that you wouldn´t believe it. However, both of my fridges are the kind you mention. And they seem to last quite some time as mines have been running already for over 15 years (knock on wood).
    Regarding the ladder, at least you have it, and if you need to use it, maybe reaching out for someone’s help to work above ground level isn´t such a bad idea.

    1. Hi Jose, So lovely to see you comment today! I hope that you and your family are well. How is your mother? Yes, I believed what the flyer said about the shelves. I can just turn my head to the right and I will see them….they are ugly, too, as someone mentioned before! I hope to replace them this fall with a solid wood unit. I can take some consolation in the hope that my little fridge might last as long as yours. That would certainly take the sting out of the extra work it causes! Thank you for offering that silver lining to me. I find that I have truly realized that I am aging now and am more careful doing ladder work. It is always best to have a helper/watcher on hand. In order to build the eco-cabin, I did a lot of solo work, often up very very high, and lifting ten foot long boards into place. I am a very lucky person that I got through that ok. I am now much more cautious. I enjoyed your recent OP article on Prepping for Old Age. Reflecting more deeply on living in a rural area while aging has really opened up my eyes! Thank you for that and for your kind comments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New From The Frugalite


Related Posts

Malcare WordPress Security