TRULY, MADLY, CHEAPLY - Good Deals on Bad Buys

From on June 26, 2009 in General

sale.jpgPhoto credit: timparkinson

Truly, I am a sucker for a good deal. What I’m beginning to realize (in my wizened not-so-old age) is that sometimes a good deal can still be a bad buy. Not everything that you can get a bargain on is a smart choice for your home.

For instance, we have one of those nifty As-Seen-On-TV stores in our shopping mall. Since I NEVER order anything over the phone as a rule, I love this place because I can see all that glitzy stuff from TV in real life before I commit to it. Last year I bought that automated doggie toenail trimmer thingy for my mother-in-law because her dog has trouble walking if her toenails get too long yet she won’t let my mother-in-law use a regular trimmer. Long story short - not a bargain: it’s too big for such a small dog and it never gets used.

Here are 10 other inexpensive things you should avoid purchasing for your home:

  1. Kitchen cooking utensils made from plastic. They’re temptingly cheap, shiny, and colorful, but they inevitably break under pressure. I’ve lost brand new cheese graters, can openers, spatulas, and garlic presses that just couldn’t take the beating that comes with my culinary skills. Metal and silicone may cost a little more, but are well worth the investment.
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  3. Used electronics. Unless the previous owner can set it up, turn it on, and show you every single feature is in working order you, just never know what you’re going to get. Even if you find a bargain at a reputable second-hand store and a salesperson can show you that it gets power, you may still come home to find out the item has other problems that just weren’t evident upon first glance. Photo credit: D’Arcy Norman
  4. Cheap dishes. Most plates, bowls, and coffee cups that you can find a great deal on are not microwaveable. The contain clay or lead that allow the dish to get extremely hot in the microwave, causing you to burn your hand when you go to retrieve it. And of course, the lead can be a health hazard as well.
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  6. Specialty small kitchen appliances. No matter how much your kids might beg, things like those cheap, plastic-y slushy makers, peanut butter presses, sno-cone makers, and cotton candy spinners never work properly and chances are you already have quality small kitchen appliances that can do the same job and others as well. Photo credit: Dan4th
  7. Exercise equipment. I can’t even begin to count the number of friends I have (myself included) who have bought new or used exercise machines because they found a great deal and thought it would motivate them to get in shape. True motivation comes from within, so if you truly want a workout, join a gym or sign up for classes – it’s much easier to stick with an exercise regime when you have others around you, sharing your goals and encouraging you. If you truly want an exercise machine, research what you want, find the right piece of equipment, and then shop for a deal.
  8. Lamps. They come in all sorts of colors, shapes, and designs, but when it comes right down to it, most of the lights we use in our homes are attached to the walls and ceilings and come on with the flip of a switch. Table and floor lamps may be pretty décor, but they are inconvenient, need one MORE light bulb to change, and there never seems to be enough table top or floor space in the spot we think they would look perfect in.
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  10. Plastic kitchen storage containers. I used to love this stuff, but the more I learned about it the less I liked it. As a society we’ve grown to use every container in the microwave, regardless of whether it was made for that purpose or not and many containers can actually leak PVCs into our food by being nuked. Since then I’ve been hunting thrift stores for lidded Pyrex and Corningware. The best thing about these containers is that they go anywhere - the fridge, the microwave, and the oven. Photo credit: Collin Andersen
  11. In-cabinet organizers. It seems like such a great idea to be more organized on any level, but too often the great deals on in-cabinet organizers turn out to be a bust. Often times you bring it home to find out that it a) is too small or too large to work in your cabinet, b) takes up so much room in the cabinet that you can’t get all of your stuff back in the cupboard or c) just isn’t as handy as you thought it would be.
  12. Bath mats. I’m not saying bath mats are bad, but buying them in the spur of the moment can be. If you grab up a good deal on a bath mat, you’re likely to toss it on the bathroom floor only to find it’s too big, way too small, or doesn’t really match the colors of the room like you thought it would. If you’re in the market for a mat, take some measurements and know the minimum and maximum size it should be and take some towels or paint swatches with you to make sure the colors complement each other nicely.
  13. Anything you didn’t already know you wanted. This is a hard lesson to learn. Great deals spring up all the time, but you have to be firm with yourself—spontaneously spending money on something you don’t really need is a waste. Make a list of things you need and want and when you come across great deals only consider things that can add a check mark on your list.