These 8 Common Home Buys Are a Total Waste of Money

These 8 Common Home Buys Are a Total Waste of Money

Jamie Wiebe
Nov 18, 2018
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

The sheer cost of maintaining, decorating, or renovating a home is staggering. And if this is your first time in the home rodeo, you might find yourself agog over astonishingly high prices. You mean paint costs that much? And how much is a saw?

Cheaping out can be tempting. But while inexpensive products may get the job done, they won't necessarily get the job done well—that dirt cheap paintbrush will just leave fibers attached to your wall. Splurging can be the difference between a quick DIY job with gorgeous results and a slow process that ends up ugly.

But there's good financial news, too: Some products usually considered must-buys aren't needed at all. (Spoiler alert: You don't really need marble countertops.) For a happier home life, stop wasting your paycheck on these eight things.

The Cheapest Option Out There

If Fido broke through your storm door (true story), pondering the replacement costs may give you a headache. You could spend $99… or you could spend $349. While you certainly don't have to shell out for the most expensive model, think twice before choosing based solely on "cheap."

Things like storm doors get a lot of use, especially if you have indoor-outdoor pets. You may be opening and closing them multiple times a day, and—as much as you try to avoid it—letting the doors bang closed. Low-quality aluminum doors will quickly get banged up and bent out of shape. Choose something slightly fancier to ensure your door lasts longer in this scenario, but also use the same philosophy with your other purchases.

Overly Specialized Products

Contrary to what the cleaning aisle at your local grocery store says, you don't need a dozen different cleaning products for every room of your house. You don't need a specialty bathroom scrubber—your all-purpose cleaner of choice will handle most of the messes.

You don't even need to buy cleaner, necessarily. DIY cleaning supplies are easy to make and save you a ton of money. Stock up on baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and borax, and you can craft almost any cleaner.

Disproportionately High-End Materials

Marble countertops look gorgeous and are a big trend these days, but, unless you're updating an ultra high-end home, you don't need to spend so much on one item. Spend appropriately for your home: A $200,000 bungalow doesn't need a $50,000 kitchen. And a lot of times, the trade-off looks just as fabulous. Consider cheaper countertop alternatives, before you spring for the expensive stuff, or find a fix for what you already have. The same goes for other renovation materials.

Cheap, Short-Term Solutions

Every time you swap out a dead incandescent lightbulb for a cheap 90-cent bulb from your grocery store, for example, you're wasting money. Not only do these inexpensive bulbs die quickly—meaning you'll be changing them again mere months later— but they require more energy and build up in landfills.

Save your skyrocketing energy bill by switching to LEDs or CFLs. While LEDs are slightly more efficient (and last for two decades), either choice is superior to incandescent. The same goes for things like cheap batteries that die in two seconds.

Bargain Basement Tools

Super-cheap tools may seem like a tempting buy. You want to transform your growing art collection into a gorgeous gallery wall, which requires a hammer. Hopping over to the nearest bodega or big-box store and buying their cheapest model might be easy, but it can hurt you in the long run.

Literally. When I desperately wanted to hang a new mirror, I spent a whopping $3 on a hammer. Not six months later, the head detached in the middle of hammering... and went flying across the room.

Yes, if you're only planning on using a tool once, buying cheaply is probably okay. But if you're adding it to your home improvement collection, splurge.

Crappy Paint

This is a pretty specific one. But you don't have to drop 50-plus bucks on the most expensive paint Benjamin Moore has to offer—but definitely avoid buying the cheapest. Pricier paints simply work better and require less work from you. (Less time spent with a paint roller is always a win in our eyes.)

Why is cheap paint bad? To reach that inexpensive price point, manufacturers dilute the paint with more solvents—or liquids—and use larger pigment particles. Because higher-quality paints use finer pigments and better resins, the result will be vivid and more durable.

...and Crappy Brushes

Ditch the dollar store paintbrush. These inexpensive applicators are far more likely to fray or send their fibers into disarray, making your paint application less even—and turning the process into a time-consuming mess.

Here's another way cheap-o paintbrushes waste your time: weak glue. Strands detach in the middle of refreshing your bathroom and stick to the paint. You'll either permanently encase random paintbrush strands in your wall, or spend precious time trying to extract them from the still-wet paint.

Custom Decor, When DIY Will Do

The mark-up on curtains is wild: At West Elm, for instance, curtains start at around $69. If your windows are odd sizes and you need drapery custom-made, that number increases dramatically.

Or, you could learn to sew. You don't even need to learn fancy stitching techniques—you don't even need a sewing machine, if you're really dedicated. (Café clips work beautifully, too.) This little bit of DIY-ing means you can quickly transform any beloved fabric into a gorgeous curtain—giving you a bespoke, dreamy living space.

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