Unfortunate Ways I’ve Wasted Money

Unfortunate Ways I've Wasted Money - picture of women in spin class at gym

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Karma’s a bitch sometimes.

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing about how dumb Bath & Body Works mailings can be. Yet, there I was – gift card in hand, a disgusted look on my face.

I didn’t plan it this way. In fact, I didn’t do anything wrong. I blame it all on my husband. Here’s how it went down:

Since a cousin’s wedding is coming up, I sent my husband to the store to pick up a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card. Everyone likes that store, right?

Unfortunately, he came home with this:


So close......
So close……

It says “bath” on it – I’ll give him that. But it’s not quite the same thing. Thank goodness it wasn’t a for some huge denomination, like $500. Whew. Disaster averted.

Now I just have to figure out what in the world I can spend that gift card on. I’ve got a feeling that a family member might just be getting it for Christmas this year, so perhaps it won’t be a total waste.

Unfortunate Ways We’ve Wasted Money Recently

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only silly incident that led to wasted dollars in the last few months. Here are some other unfortunate ways we’ve wasted money recently:

We Wasted a Babysitter….Twice

We usually get a babysitter so we can go out a few nights a month, and the last 30 days have been no exception. Unfortunately, we totally squandered those dates two times in a row. Let me explain.

The last few times we’ve hired a babysitter, we’ve gotten a last minute invite to our neighbor’s to play cards. Each time, we immediately abandoned our plans to go to the movies and went over to our friends, who just happen to be five doors down, instead. Usually we bring our kids over there, so it was weird paying $6 an hour for someone to babysit while we played cards and drank vodka within earshot. The good news is, we at least saved money by not going to the movies. #ForTheWin

We Joined a Gym and Cancelled….Again

Sometimes I think I’ll never learn. We joined a gym a few years ago and rarely went, so why did I think this time would be any different? To be fair, we did go – just not often enough to justify the $35 monthly fee. Now that it’s nice out, I would rather just exercise outdoors or in my garage.

Regardless, there is good news. The gym we joined this time was month to month, so we only needed to cancel to end the monthly expense for good. I’m glad it’s behind me, and I hope I remember how much I loathe driving or walking to the gym next time I get the urge to join one.

I Spent $32 On Ugly Paint

To save money and make our yard look a little nicer, we decided that we would do our own landscaping and stain our own deck this spring. But things didn’t go exactly as planned. When I went to Lowe’s, I decided on a maroon deck stain that I thought would go well with our paver patio. The problem? It went on this nasty maroon/hot pink hue.

I didn’t take a picture, but I thought it was really annoying that the real color looked nothing like the sample. I’m also glad that I stopped painting after I realized how freaking ugly it was going to be. $32 and a half and hour down the drain, I headed back to Lowe’s to pick out something more suitable. Fortunately, it looked much better the second time around.

Recovering from Unfortunate Spending

Even those of us who are frugal make mistakes sometimes. Let’s face it – unfortunate spending happens to the best of us, and all any of us can do is try to learn from it and promptly move on.

Now all I can do is laugh at how dumb we can be.

And next time, I’ll get my own gift cards and let Greg pick out the paint.

What are some of the dumbest ways you’ve wasted money lately? Were you aware the Bath & Body Works and Bed Bath & Beyond are two completely different stores?

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  1. Oh that is funny about the gift card!!! My husband would have done the same :-). I also did the gym thing so many times..how much money wasted. Would have loved to have see the ugly color..I can only imagine how ugly it was..LOL!

    1. It wasn’t great. I’m a lot better at picking out interior paint colors than deck stain/paint apparently.

  2. That’s funny about the gift card. I can’t tell you how many times I still mix up Bed Bath & Beyond with the Bath and Body Shop when I’m talking with my wife. They’re like tongue twisters!

    Our worst waste of money: One time we accidentally threw away a gift card! We were wrapping Christmas presents and our $25 to Chili’s for Grandma was no where to be found. The only possible explanation was that it got mixed up in the excess wrapping paper and tossed out. Such a waste ..

    1. I’ve lost a gift card before too, but it was one I got for Christmas. Who knows where it went…..

  3. I bet you could have returned the paint. Is there any reason you couldn’t return the gift card since you had the receipt?

    1. You can’t return gift cards to Kroger – or most stores for that matter. It doesn’t matter if you have the receipt.
      I maybe could have returned the ugly paint but it was a poor choice on my part so I don’t think that would be fair at all. They probably couldn’t resell it.

  4. Most places have a love your color guarantee policy, or at the very least can mix more tint into the can – in your case add more brown or black might have worked?

    I used to be too cheap to pay for sample paint pots or for “good” paint instead of hardware store paint. I have learned my lesson to pay the $5 for a tester if it’s a tricky color like whites or grays. I also learned that Sherwin Williams is 2X the price of Home Depot paint, but holds up and levels better in half the number of coats. SW has a LOT of sales, so I wait for those and pay roughly the HD paint price.

    1. It was deck stain, not paint, so I don’t think mixing would work. I don’t think I should have returned it either. What can Lowe’s do with an open can of deck stain? It was my fault for picking a color that looked crazy, so I was willing to eat it.

      I do okay at picking interior paint colors. I have actually painted our old house, our new house, and one of our rentals in the same color- oyster while. I already knew I liked it, so I just went with it. I like plain walls for some reason.

      1. You can still mix/tint stains ๐Ÿ™‚

        Good for you that you know a color you love! My house doesn’t have a ton of windows downstairs, so I feel like colors often show up differently than they do in the store.

        1. But then I would have to buy something to mix with it. It would be like doubling down on my already poor deck stain choice! =)

  5. I spent $50 bucks last month to repair a car window that wouldn’t go up because the lock was on. Genius! I’m still getting over that one.

  6. I’ve been in the same boat with paint before–it’s so hard to tell what the color is until you actually paint it on! Funny enough, I was also burned by a maroon/eggplant color that turned out to be extremely purple. Fortunately I found the right color on the second try.

    1. I’m just glad I stopped staining the deck after about 20 minutes. I knew I made a mistake and decided not to double down by painting the whole thing!

  7. Hmmm…. I don’t know how you can mix up those two stores. One has a bunch of stuff that people get for weddings and the other has more soap that should exist. Maybe this was all a clever plot by Greg to make sure you never send him out on an errand he doesn’t want to do again. If so, well played sir.

  8. Hee. Yes, the gift card thing is funny ๐Ÿ™‚ But you know, the thing that really struck me was: babysitters are $6 an hour!?!? You officially live in the cheapest place ever!

    1. My babysitter is 14 years old. There is no way I would pay more than that.

      1. LeRainDrop says:

        Yeah, I second that — great cost of living! When I was a 14-year-old babysitter, I was paid $6/hour for two kids, but that was 20 years ago!

        1. Hey, if babysitters in the hood want more money, they’ll have to ask for it! I just pay what they ask! =)

  9. Wow, $6 an hour is seal for a sitter. I used to charge between 15/20 in my babysitting days (not very long ago).

    As for the paint, I really want to paint our new digs. Think we’ll start with a little sample first.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. We usually paid our sitter at least $10 an hour. We’re beyond that point now that our kids are older.

    2. My babysitter is 14 years old. There is no way I would pay her or anyone else $15/$20 an hour to sit here and eat mac-n-cheese. We use a few babysitters in the neighborhood- two charge $6 an hour, one used to charge $5, and another charges $8. Remember, I live in Central Indiana! I don’t set the prices!

      1. Holy cow – here’s how old I am – when I was babysitting, $1/hour was considered a good rate! I mean . . . you could earn a WHOLE FIVE DOLLARS in one evening!

  10. That gift card mix up is hysterical – I’d probably do the same exact thing as I always confuse the two. We’ve got a good friend who used to be an interior designer and we ask for her help on paint colors – we’ve made way too many stupid mistakes with picking out paint that we know when to stop.

    1. I painted our new house the same color as our old one in the interior. I already knew I liked it and I knew it would go well with our furniture and decor.

  11. My husband always mixes up those two stores, too! We joined a gym two years ago and that was a huge waste of money. I was pregnant with our second when we joined and we only ended up going a handful of times. Then after she was born I tried going again (we were in an 18-month contract….) and she screamed her head off in the daycare center and I was always called to come get her!

    1. I just love being outdoors. I would much rather exercise outdoors when it’s nice, which is pretty much from March through October here.

  12. Well the good news is you can now stock up on whore scent, right?!

    1. Ha! Maybe…. I’ve really wished I smelled like coconut lately.

  13. ha ha! That sounds like something a “husband” would do. Clearly there is a difference! ๐Ÿ™‚ My iPhone turned into a debacle. I don’t even want to explainโ€ฆugh! But yes, you just have to move on, learn, and grow. Personally, I’d like a growth experience that doesn’t involve spending money. Just saying. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Hey it happens to all of us. But $6 an hour for babysitting is pretty awesome…not sure we could find someone for that price. Though we have grandparents who’ll do it for free fortunately.

    1. You live in NYC, right? I’m sure that’s why!

  15. I used to get those confused too, haha. Sometimes I have to show my bf pictures of things and places when I send him to the store because he definitely gets confused sometimes, but whatever works. I hate spending money on things that we already have but we couldn’t tell that beforehand due to lack of organization. I also hate spending money on bad movies at the theatre. So if there’s not something playing that I’m really interested in seeing, I just won’t go for the sake of going.

    1. Honestly, I would rather just rent movies at home. Greg is the one who likes the theatre experience!

  16. Ugh, we’ve made the ugly deck stain mistake before too. It’s really hard to eat a meal on a deck that is a color that makes you want to puke. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Ugh, I thought I was saving time and picked out the color for our rental property online. Turns out beige online is mustard yellow in real life. Lesson learned.

    I don’t think men know the difference at all in stores that sell bath or mostly women’s products. Just last night I was reordering conditioner online and couldn’t remember the exact type I just knew the brand was Dove, so I asked Jim to tell me what it was when he went downstairs. His answer,”Dove.” I don’t think he knew they make more than one type of conditioner, but if I bought the wrong razors, we’d hear about it for weeks!

    1. Oh, my husband wouldn’t know that either. He uses whatever dang shampoo magically shows up in his shower!

  18. You can find a babysitter for $6 an hour?!? I think I need to move! I will admit that even I sometimes get Bed, Bath and Beyond and Bath and Body Works mixed up, so I completely understand Greg’s mix-up. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve made a few paint mistakes before, but it’s usually that we give the paint gurus a color to match, they mix it up, and when we got home it doesn’t look like the same color on the wall. Both Home Depot and Lowes will take paint back if the mix didn’t come out right, which saved us a lot of money when we were trying to sell our last house.

    1. Unfortunately, I think the deck stain color was my error. That’s why I didn’t return it. I thought a dark maroon color would look good- but nope! We did brown instead which is what we probably should have started with. We basically restained it the color it already was.

  19. Yes I was aware that they are two different stores. And luckily I haven’t made any missteps in spending lately. Makes up for the years of missteps I have made in the past ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. You should buy your gift cards online for a discount at Giftcardgranny.com. I’m surprised a frugalista like yourself pays full price for gift cards! I just bought a Macys $60 gc for $51.00. Combined that with sale prices and additional $20 off $50 purchase to get a great deal on niece’s wedding gift.

    1. The wedding was last weekend- we were late! I didn’t have time to order one and wait for it to come in the mail, unfortunately. I get an F for planning on that one.

      1. And I just noticed you wrote a blog about discount gift cards. LOL!

        If you have any nieces, just keep the gc and give it to them for a gift.

        So funny–my husband would do the same thing. After 36 years of marriage, I’ve learned to write down what I want him to buy. Frankly, I have to do that myself when I’m looking for a particular item.

        1. Oh yeah, somebody’s getting that baby for Christmas. OR- I might spend it on my five-year-old for her birthday. She really likes lotion and hand sanitizer for some reason =)

  21. We recently wasted $20. We were going to go camping at Colorado National Monument but then we came home and were too tired to go back.

  22. I had a paint issue similar to that when I bought my house and was painting too. I got a paint that was supposed to be a brownish color and it definitely turned out to be an ugly puke green color… Ugh! Money and time wasted on that one.

  23. Haha legendary move by Greg picking up the Bath & Body Works gift card! So awesome! You could cut your losses on a site like Gift Card Rescue, but then you truly do have to lose money to get out of the gift card. Also – $6/hour? Isn’t that below the minimum wage? I think the feds will come knocking after they see this post ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. She’s fourteen- not even old enough to get a job for heaven’s sake! That’s what everyone charges around here!

  24. I love the gift card story! When I saw you post it on Facebook, I wondered if you planned to just give it as the gift. I am not sure how I would feel about a Bath and Body Works gift card as a wedding gift. I recently wasted money at a happy hour because I ordered a drink that I thought was on the happy hour menu but learned the hard way when the bill came that it wasn’t. I hate when that happens because I totally could have drank anything on the happy hour menu, I just didn’t pay attention to the details and overspent when I didn’t have to.

  25. I love the gift card story and I think we ALL can relate to it. Sometimes I even think men do it on purpose so they never get asked to pick up gifts again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. catherine says:

    Oh man we’ve all done it. Last week my husband sent to me the store for a treat (we get a treat on friday) his choice was this special gourmet popcorn- they didn’t have it so i improvised and it backfired. it was the one flavor he couldn’t even be in the same room when it was opened he hated it so much….it was only $4 but still kills me a little. I’ve definitely done wayyy worse and more expensive screw ups ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Oh, my husband always mixes up those two stores, too! And um, we need to get your 14 yr old babysitter on the PFBlog circuit… girl needs to amp up her side hustle game!!

  28. I giggled when I saw the BB gift card ๐Ÿ™‚ And-I’ve purchased ugly paint before…and painted the whole room twice (ugly color) before admitting that the color wasn’t going to work.

  29. I had used 1 and a half-year gym membership. Imagine how much money I wasted. I should have just used it to buy gym equipment so that I could still work out at home. Now, I got a pair of dumbbells and roller.

  30. At $6 an hour, you’re getting off lucky — even if it’s wasted money. Most now charge at least $10-12. My mom did some babysitting when she went back to school a few years ago. She got $15 an hour.

    You can always use the bath/body stuff for gifts later. Everyone loves pampering stuff.

    1. Actually, I’m not getting off lucky and most don’t charge $10 or $12 here. We’ve used several in the neighborhood and they all asked for $6. One asked for $8 but she was older. That’s just what things cost around here. 30 minutes away, you can also get a really nice ranch house for about 90K.

      And yes, I realize I can use the gift card as a gift.

  31. The Bath & Body Works vs. Bed, Bath Beyond gift card mix up is highly cute – and probably worth the $25. Not only is there “bath” in both, but also alliteration with “b” – not to mention the “&” – so totally understandable. It’s a Christmas gift that someone will really like : )

  32. We are working so hard to pay off debt right now, so every time we end up wasting money I feel so defeated. The latest mistake was missing out on the free rabies vaccine clinic. Granted, I had just arrived home with a newborn, but we totally forgot about this free opportunity to get our dog vaccinated – necessary for her license renewal. The dog warden sent us a warning, so we had to take her in to another clinic and pay $20. The cost was less than a vet visit, but still money that we didn’t need to spend. I guess we just have to realize that everyone makes mistakes and focus on our wins instead of these losses.

  33. I am laughing to myself because I have made that same exact gift card mistake. I will have to show my wife this post so she knows there is just something wrong with how some husbands read through things when not fully engaged with the task.

  34. Loved the gift card story, as it sounds like something that would happen in my house! My husband has told me more than once that while shopping, he just doesn’t have an eye for detail. So I generally avoid giving him shopping tasks, unless it’s something straightforward that he’s bought before.

  35. That’s funny. In my home town, people would confuse Bath and Body Works & Bed Bath and Beyond all the time.

    As for as wasting money on purchases you end up not using, I find that online retailers a lot more flexible in terms of returns, price drops, and other related policies. I’ve been an avid customer on Amazon for years and whenever I’ve had a problem with a product, I’ve received refunds, an extended return period, expedited shipping, etc.

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