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Informal Poll: When being a cheapskate backfires

This week on Marketplace Money, we're after your stories about being a cheapskate.

Oh no, it's not what you think - we're not looking for the typical "I'm so good, I saved money by doing ______."

We want to know about a situation where you did something to save money... and it COST you. A cheapskate disaster, if you will. For example, how about that time you bought a $5 table at a garage sale only to spend hundreds refinishing it and almost ruining a relationship to boot.

So post your stories below. We'll share our faves on the show next week...

And the best story (as judged by our esteemed production team) gets Karl Cassell on their answering machine!

Wait -- we can't do that -- how 'bout a limited edition Marketplace Money piggybank? Seriously, we can do that.

About the author

Matt Berger is the former Digital Director at Marketplace.
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I just purchased my first home only to discover the tub was backing up. Had a plumber come out to snake the drain only to find it wouldn't work because of various reasons. He estimated $500 to replace the pipe from the tub to the stack. How hard is it to replace a pipe, I thought? If he could do it in 3 hours, I could do it in 6 and save some money, I thought.

Well... $300 in tools, many wasted hours, and several weeks of showering on top of a wooden platform I'd constructed to keep us from having to stand in backed up tub water later, I barely was into the pipe and decided to call a plumber. It took him 1.5 hours for a grand total of $127.15.

Our tub now flows wonderfully and my girlfriend has yet another thing in her book of things that she will never let me live down.

In the early 1980's I was a student with limited income and needed surgery. I went to a teaching hospital where along with having the bargain-priced surgery performed by a resident I also picked up two nosicomial (hospital-acquired) infections. I ended up with two species of cell-wall-deficient bacteria (Mycoplasma fermentans and M. hominis). After almost a decade of searching and spending a considerable amount of money seeing multiple medical specialists in the southwestern United States, I was eventually diagnosed by PCR tests that found the DNA of the organisms hiding in my white blood cells. I spent the remainder of my inheritance on treatment (weeks of I.V. antibiotics). This has resulted in an autoimmune disease which continues to affect my life nearly 30 years later.

In the early 1980's I was a student with limited income and needed surgery. I went to a teaching hospital where along with having the bargain-priced surgery performed by a resident I also picked up two nosicomial (hospital-acquired) infections. I ended up with two species of cell-wall-deficient bacteria (Mycoplasma fermentans and M. hominis). After almost a decade of searching and spending a considerable amount of money seeing multiple medical specialists in the southwestern United States, I was eventually diagnosed by PCR tests that found the DNA of the organisms hiding in my white blood cells. I spent the remainder of my inheritance on treatment (weeks of I.V. antibiotics). This has resulted in an autoimmune disease which continues to affect my life nearly 30 years later.

Wow, of all these, this one takes the cake.

In January 2010 my husband and I were in a local drug store. There were "Mr. Beer" home brewing kits for sale; but not just for sale. They were about 75% off...which should have been a sign. After the discount a brew kit ended up being $7.00, so my husband insisted that we get a home brewing kit. He said it would save money, because the amount of beer we could brew in one batch would be cheaper than buying a twelve pack or whatever. I thought it was a ridiculous idea; who wants a big, plastic keg and seven 40 oz. bottles hanging around the house? Yes, seven! Not six, not twelve, but seven.

He managed to wear me down, and we bought the kit. That night he read the directions carefully, sanitized the bottles, and away we went. There was a packet of yeasty goo that was required for the beer, and a packet of some sort of powder, but the rest of the ingredients were ones that we had to gather from the kitchen. We ended up making a beer with honey and golden syrup (my husband is Australian and his nan had brought some over previously. It's really strong). I got dragged in as the "brew master's assistant" as he called me, and had orders barked at me as I had to slowly stir boiling water and such. After a while we had beer...or so I thought. we had to add sugar to it and let it sit in a cool, dry place for two weeks! I lost almost an entire shelf of pantry space so that giant bottles of beer could sit and ferment, and I only have three shelves of pantry space.

After two weeks we tried one of the beers. It tasted a lot like every other beer I've ever had (I am not a huge fan), but my husband said it tasted absolutely horrible! My immiediate reaction was, "Great, we're done, throw it out", but his reaction was, "No, I might drink it". Might drink it? Needless to say, we threw the beer out a few weeks ago. Yes, five months later! I lost money on a beer kit, and pantry space for over five months that could have been used for green beans, rice, or something else that would have sustained our family better than home brewed beer! There's a video of he and a friend trying it back in February posted on youtube. It's not the most exciting video, but it's proof!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8z4wnzaYkk

Kenneth was born twenty-four years ago. Pampers were expensive. So after the gift of Pampers and diaper service, I started buying cheap diapers. After all they were going in the trash after use. The worst mistake. Cheap diapers equals damaged baby cloths, damaged parent's clothing Worst yet, relatives and friends clothing. Once I was asked if he was wearing a diaper. Moral of the story?

No grandchildren yet, but they will get a years worth of good diapers Pampers and I am paying for their college books.

I was raised to be very budget conscious by my parents and married a man from the upper middle class who was much more conscious of quality. Now that I'm trying to live life on my own, I feel a battle between the two. I also really like things to satisfy my eye.

My bike was stolen a couple of years ago and I wanted a new one. I had previously used my bike for commuting and recreation, but we were in an-inbetween zone where I had to drive to work, so my new bike could be purely for pleasure. I had rented a road bike in France once and had loved, loved it. I wanted another one, but didn't have the $1000 to spend.

I spent a few weeks on craigslist and weighing all the different options. On there, the used road bikes still seemed really expensive. I finally contacted one man who had a red and white Schwinn that looked like a road bike (curved handles, the shape, etc, for about $60-75. All the road bikes at the used bike store near campus were $100-150 or much higher, so it seemed like a good deal.

I rode the bike around and it seemed great. I made sure the gears changed and the brakes worked. I inspected it for what I knew. The bike was a "hypbrid" woman's bike from the 80s, so not really a road bike and also quite heavy compared to today's models.

I bought it and took it out the first weekend for a ride. My chain fell off four times or so. I took it to a bike shop and it turned out the chain was completely shot and the gears on the back wheel were bent (how did I not notice that??). In order to get the gears replaced, we had to drive an hour+ to another bike shop that had a gear that would fit. Then the new chain and gears and new lock was about $75. So the bike was close to $150 and probably not as nice as one I would have bought from the used bike store.

So I enjoyed it for a little while, then came the separation and needing to move to a new state for a job. Is it cheaper to rent an SUV or a Uhaul for my move? Will everything fit in an SUV? It seemed easier to go with the SUV (that way I also had a vehicle in my new state to buy things I needed before going vehicle free). Well, almost everything fit, except for the bike. I'd already been storing the bike at a friend's house for several months because I was staying with my Grandma. I had tried to sell it the last time I was in MI, but the used bike store was only willing to give me $20. And I did still like the bike.

So I thought I'd just take the $20 and leave the bike in MI. Only, I had one day to fill up the SUV and say goodbye. When I picked up the bike at the friend's house, the bike store was not yet open, so I chained up the bike in front of it, intending to come back while it was. But I didn't get back in time (it's only open from like 12-4 on Sundays).

So, the $150 bike sits locked up in front of the bike store and now I need a bike here so I have at least some kind of vehicle beyond my feet. Ugh. I may try to sell it on Craigslist and just send the keys to the chain in the mail. Or else contact the bike store for the same purpose.

I gave my student daughter my 10 year old RX300 Lexus two years ago. After a while of using it, all 4 tires needed replacing. So I sprung for the cost of the tires. Then, 1 month later the engine blew up. So I thought-gee, I just spent the bucks for new tires, so what's a couple thousand dollars for a replacement engine with only 65K miles (mine had 200K+ miles), and then having practically a new car again? HA! Upon driving the replaced engine car out of the seedy shop that replaced it, I soon realized the transmission was slipping. Long story short, because I didn't want to waste the $ I spent on new tires, I wound up not only replacing the engine, but the motor mount, transmission, the car's computer, etc. etc. etc...for a total of over $11,000. Needless to say, I still have the car, and will still be paying for the repairs for 2 years to come! And no, my daughter did not get it back!

This is laugh-out-loud funny! Seriously, it was the best story of the bunch. I loved the addition of the yellow "Body on Board" sign. Thanks for sharing it!

During the heady dotcom boom I tried a website called CyberRebates.com after a few friends tried it successfully where the idea was you bought an item at a very high price but then you'd get a rebate for 1005 of the purchase prices. Thus while you overpaid it was to be temporary and in the end you got the item for free.

I bought a CD player which retailed for about $120 at a local electronics store for over $500. Everything was fine until CyberRebates.com went bankrupt and was unable to fulfill its rebate.
http://pcworld.about.com/news/May242001id50964.htm

In the end I ended up paying 4 or 5 times what the CD player was worth.

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