Thrifty Treasures: 40+ Times Cheap Products Were Better Than Expected

By Aakash M December 13, 2023

This article was originally published on healthandwellnesnews

It’s always said that having hope is a good thing because the universe is known to reward you in its own mysterious ways. Have you ever bought an item that you didn’t expect much from, but it still works amazingly to this day? We think you’d agree that those are the best purchases in the long run—both from a sentimental and a value standpoint. Sometimes, the costly buys turn out to be of no use, and the sketchy ones become our lifelong companions.

It could be anything from a nail clipper to a jacket. These things are simply accidental heirlooms that we pick up throughout our lifetimes. On that note, let’s take a look at 45 times when people bought insanely cheap items that looked sketchy but turned out to be their best buys.

Decade of cooling

Take a look at this box fan. It wasn’t really a purchase since a man found it inside the dumpster of his college apartment in 2008. He used the fan 24 hours a day for almost 11 years (except when it was winter).

Barabgsebelah / ig

There were very few times when it wasn’t used to that extent, and there used to be stretches of time when the fan would never be turned off. Only recently, one of its critical components burned out. So basically, a free fan provided 14 years of air circulation!

Best thing ever

We have a lot of stories on this list, but this one is probably the most wholesome of them all. Wanna know why? It’s about this cute dog. This dog was a stray that was adopted by a couple, but there’s a twist to the story.

Me_and_my_labrador / ig

Unfortunately, the dog couldn’t stay with its first family; the couple returned him to the shelter since he was too high on energy. As a result, the shelter cut the dog’s adoption fees in half. So, the person above adopted him for $45, and according to him, it’s the best $45 he’s ever spent!

Pros and cons

Take a look at these army pants. These were bought for $20 from the military surplus store. When you weigh the pros and cons of this product, you’ll realize that it’s actually a pretty good purchase, especially for those who are fashion-forward.

Beams_plus_harajuku / ig

The good part is that they’re super rugged, roomy, and comfy. They’ll fit you even if they are the wrong size. They have more storage than a medium-sized car! Well, not really, but they are still efficient. Also, they were purchased at a locally-owned shop!

Moving bricks

Once, a person had a lot of bricks in his backyard. He wanted to get rid of all of them for $5, given that the party comes and picked up those bricks because they were cumbersome. So, a person volunteered with a friend.

Artist Photographer 3D / shutterstock

When these guys arrived, they saw that there were more than 50 bricks, but these were antique Louisville Fire Bricks! So, this guy took half of them, paid the owner $20, and educated them about the bricks. Today, each brick goes for a price of $20.

Affordable and reliable

This story takes place in India. You’ll probably get things for cheap there as compared to other countries because of the standard gap in the currencies. It’s not cheap for the locals, but for a person who has come from abroad, things are definitely affordable.

Drtylerhales / ig

In 1999, a person was in Mumbai when he broke a filling. He had no option other than to visit a local dentist. All it cost was $7, and to this day (more than two decades later), it’s going strong. The same thing would cost around $50-$150 in the USA!

Main knives

A person once went camping, but he forgot the knives, which were really essential for meal prep. What a rookie mistake. Anyways, he visited a local grocery store and bought a package of three no-name plastic knives with plastic handles.

Jonathan adato

He bought those knives for a very low price, and they were all of various sizes. Fast forward to this day, they are his best knives, and they are still in excellent condition! He calls those knives his main knives.

Recliner coincidence

One time, a guy was giving some college girls a Lyft ride. One of the girls asked the other girls about how their “Criagslist thing went,” which made the driver curious. The other girl answered something along the lines of, “He complained, and it went back too far.”

Doublelovingmama / ig

The driver realized that they were talking about a recliner, which was something the driver had been looking for for a long time. He interjected and asked about it. They were selling an electric recliner for $20. He took it!

Do it yourself

This story is of a person who once built his own mattress. He was online shopping when he came across one of those mattress-in-a-box companies. He also saw that they had a lot of diagrams on their websites that showed the layers of foam they used to make their mattresses.

Daniel goychman / ig

This guy then went to a foam wholesaler and ordered the various types of foam he saw on that website. He simply stacked all of that on each other, and it has been the most comfortable thing for him for the past two years. It cost him just $300.

36 years and counting

This one time, a man bought a blanket in Mexico. The year was 1986, and the price that he had to pay for the blanket was $5. Back then, it was still a cheap purchase, and you wouldn’t really expect a lot from such a product.

Bombshell_deluxe / ig

Today, more than three decades later, the person still has the same blanket. According to him, it is still super comfortable and super soft to use. Over the years, it has been washed and abused multiple times, but it still is in fantastic shape.

Nail clippers

Here’s an amazing story for you guys. A person was traveling to Japan and was in dire need of nail clippers. He searched everywhere, but in the end, all he could find was this Hello Kitty grooming kit, which he got for a meager price.

Anngirlbest / ig

There weren’t any expectations from this product, but it turns out that they were the best nail clippers this guy has ever owned. The biggest surprise is that this story is 20 years old, and to this day, the nail clippers are sharp and functional! 

From the dollar store

A broke couple bought seed packets from the dollar store while they were in college. They didn’t have much money, but they really wanted to celebrate spring. So, they got these seed packets when they were buying other cheap items from the dollar store.

Marthasorchard / ig

The price was four seed packs for $1. The couple bought it despite their low budget. They went home and placed these seeds in cans. They regularly watered them, and in some time, these seeds turned into huge and beautiful tomato plants! They sold the extra produce for $25!

Good usage

This time, a person bought a small-sized house trailer for the price of $6,300. The person had some barking dogs with him, and he said he’d take guns or cash as payment. Sounds like a pretty dodgy transaction if you ask us.

Seyyar_hane / ig

Long story short, the guy bought the trailer and worked on it a bit. After a few changes and some minor fixes, the little house trailer has now been transformed into a home for homeless youth. It has been a couple of months since that fateful day!

Vinyl story

If we’re talking about incidents where cheap buys turned out to be really good, there’s no way any list would be complete without a story of somebody buying a record for cheap. This story is of a guy who bought a record for $1.

Stef_wolf / ig

There wasn’t a label on it, and it looked like an ancient vinyl acetate record. “That’ll be the day” was handwritten on it, and that’s pretty much it. Upon playing it, the guy realized that it was a live Buddy Holly recording! He went on to sell it for $970.

Small beginnings

This one time, a person randomly came across a wedding videographer on the Internet. He then booked the photographer for a minimal price, which also made him assume that the images and videos wouldn’t really be the best. That’s a fair assumption.

Lifeguardskins / ig

A fortnight after his wedding, the videographer emailed the guy. The email contained a well-edited video of extremely high quality! The videographer also had a drone! Now, this guy recommends that videographer to everybody who plans to marry. There’ll surely be a price hike now.

Friend for life

If we’re being honest here, you’d never regret buying a pet unless you buy an animal that isn’t supposed to be a pet in the first case. All in all, a pet is a friend for life. So, a person bought a turtle for $5 in Chinatown, Chicago.

Alexandraoros / ig

What was initially a cheap buy turned out to be an excellent investment. The turtle is doing really well, and she’s turning three this year! Her name is Al Capone (apparently because of her Chicago origin), and she’s treated like the queen she is!

A good purchase

This story is about a lady purchasing a bra. There were many things that indirectly implied that the bra was not worth being purchased, but guess what? It was a fantastic purchase! Firstly, she purchased the bra from a grocery store.

Sanjaghak_smd / ig

Next, the bra was marked down to $2, and the sticker read “Final Sale, No Returns!” and other such things that would make you feel dicey. The cashier also asked if she was sure about buying this bra. It turned out to be one of the best bras the lady ever wore!

Back scratcher

The thing that you see in the image below is called a back scratcher. It’s something the wife of this person got for $3 around 15 years back. There were no expectations from the product, but today, it’s literally the husband’s companion for life.

Justme_chet / ig

He uses it to scratch his back, make gestures while talking, fend off the cats, and also to bother them! He also uses it as a tuning fork to annoy his wife. The husband jokes that if there’s ever a fire in the house, he will take his back scratcher with his wife and cats!

Tour guide

People always say that if you’re traveling, don’t always think of saving some money because you never know if that would leave you void of a much-needed experience. But that’s not what happened when this person was touring the Vatican.

Rometourguideitaly / ig

The tour guide approached the person outside the Vatican and offered the best-discounted tours. According to the person, the guide looked more than a little sketchy. But it was a fantastic discounted tour and was a highlight of their trip!

An affordable ring

Once, a man bought a $70 ring from JCPenney. He bought the ring for his wife, who has now been married to him for 22 years! Well, without even hearing more, we’d say that it turned out to be a good investment.

Em_namba / ig

Anyway, even according to the man, it’s a pretty good investment because if you divide the price by the time, you will get a yearly payment of $3.18 per year. The wife has thrown the ring a couple of times, but it hasn’t been damaged!

Real estate

In 2006, a man purchased a gutted home after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That’s a strange purchase, but whatever floats his boat. The house had a lot of water in it for a long time, and there was also around 2 feet of muck.

Angelaconners / ig

Maybe for these reasons, the house cost him just $16,000. He then invested in appliances worth $50,000 and did most of the work on the house by himself. After a year, he rented it for $1,800 a month, and a few years later, he sold the house for $300,000. 

Fly safe!

A guy once bought two plane tickets for a flight from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Dublin, Ireland. He bought the ticket from a sketchy site, and the flight involved three layovers and two airlines. On top of that, the company had pretty bad reviews almost everywhere.

Jonathan adato

We don’t know what would made the guy still buy the ticket. Anyways, there were four flights, and the duration was 20 hours. Also, there was a layover in Portugal, which was sketchy as well. Despite that, he flew with no problems for $200.

Family heirloom

A man once purchased a fake wood mantle clock from ValueCity. It was plastic and sold for $10. He purchased it simply because he needed something for his first apartment. He received a lot of compliments on the clock, which was a surprise.

Maqsoodshah01 / ig

People even used to ask him if this clock was some sort of a family heirloom because it looked so old! The clock lasted for ten years, and it was broken by some movers during a move. The guy grew to like his purchase!

Great value for money

Twenty-five years ago, a man bought a cool-looking long-sleeved tie-dyed T-shirt at a thrift store. The price? Well, just a quarter of a dollar! You can’t possibly expect the t-shirt to be of excellent quality for that price! That is dirt cheap by any standards!

Shopp.wear / ig

Despite all those things, the guy still has the T-shirt, and he used it to the fullest extent from the time he bought it till now! He still uses it, but he has downgraded the T-shirt to something that’s worn only around the house.

RIP

This one time, a person bought Target brand boat shoes for $17. This was about six years ago, and he used to wear them very sporadically—for instance, during trips to the grocery store. Later, he realized that those shoes were great shoes for playing disc golf.

Qwenteen / ig

That was the moment when he started using the shoes more regularly. To his surprise, the shoes lasted for 1.5 years, and during that time, he used those shoes very roughly, with a lot of planting and twisting on concrete! He went back to buy another pair, but they were discontinued!

Sponges

This time, it’s about melamine sponges that were bought from China. The person who bought these didn’t really like having to buy small packs of those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, so he often tried to purchase these things in bulk.

Caramelkatao / ig

He finally found the ones in bulk, and he called them Mr. Wei’s Magic Erasers because he actually bought them from a person called Mr. Wei! Thank you, Mr.Wei, for your contribution to frugal living. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Garage sale stories

A man once went to a garage sale. A 12-year-old girl was in charge of the sale, and although the guy didn’t know anything about turntables, she had a set available for $20. She didn’t know if they were working, and she just wanted to get rid of them.

Hifi.retro / ig

After a bit of back and forth, the guy bought it for $20 and took it straight to a pawn shop. The people at the pawnshop came back with a whopping $1200 offer for him! That was the best $20 he had ever spent.

One thing hasn’t changed.

Once, a guy got an adjustable phone mount at a dollar store for his iPhone 4. Well, back then, the iPhone 4 was the latest in cutting-edge cellphone technology. A lot of things are different now, except for one thing.

shopee.com.my

The one thing that has remained the same is the adjustable phone mount. Last we heard, the guy has upgraded from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone X, and probably a newer model now, but he still uses the same mount!

Chinchilla comfort

If we’re being honest, we’d say that this flannel shirt does look pretty good. This soft flannel shirt is from Costco, and guess what? It’s so soft that, according to the owner of this shirt, it feels as if a chinchilla is hugging you!

Earloftheshire / ig

For those who don’t know, a chinchilla is a rodent with ultra-soft fur. This guy has had the flannel shirt for around three years now, and there have not been any signs of wear, even though he wears it quite regularly during winter.

Snuggie

One time, a guy gifted his brother a snuggie for Christmas. On the other hand, his brother had jumped through many hoops to give him his favorite bootleg album. Due to the difference in effort, the man decided not to talk to his brother for weeks.

Whats.shanny.reading / ig

This happened seven years ago. To date, the man has been using the same snuggie for almost every camping trip for the past seven years, and it has been the most useful gift for him. All’s well that ends well!

Multipurpose product

Don’t get confused. We’ll tell you what’s happening here. You are looking at a 2-ft foam cube that also comes with a super-soft fabric cover. Can you guess the price of this thing? A person bought it for just $3!

Sweef / flickr

This might sound a little shady, but it really isn’t. You can also use it in many different ways. You can use it as a chair, a table, or even as a footrest, among many other things. The person who bought this thing is undoubtedly in love with it.

Sale on games

Oftentimes, online platforms have sales where you can purchase fantastic PC games for very low prices. Sometime during the lockdown, Grand Theft Auto V was available for free on Epic games! That was the biggest news in the gaming world.

Cozyxsky / ig

Gaming sales are a common thing, and gamers are often waiting for them. This one time, there was a sale on Steam where the price of a game was $2. The game was Skyrim! It’s one of the best action role-playing video games of all time!

Basic investment

Again, this image could cause a lot of confusion, so let us explain. This image is of a cat toy, and this cat toy is as basic as it can get. It’s literally just a feather on the end of a stick. 

Thecatlvt / ig

Who’d want to pay for a toy like that, right? That’s a valid question, but it was still just a dollar, so a person did buy it. It turned out to be a pretty good investment because this cat toy is one of the best sources of entertainment for his cat.

Unexpected comfort

This one time, a woman was traveling from a different city to work. Her uniform was a white shirt and a black bra. She couldn’t stop at home, so she stopped at the first store on the way and bought a white bra for $5.

Arielles_apparel / ig

It looked like it was her size, and there was no place to try it on. She had to buy it since she was out of options. It turned out to be the most comfortable bra ever! She bought it just to wear for a day, but she wore it almost every day for a year!

Thrifting

Once upon a time, during the mid-90s, a lady bought a button-down shirt from a thrift store. Now, you can buy things for cheap at thrift stores, but people often refrain from doing so because they don’t know about the quality and reliability of the product.

Bethrifty.store / ig

Today, the shirt is obviously older, but surprisingly, there is not a lot of wear and tear on it. The brand of the shirt is K-Mart, and according to her, it was made of rayon and other materials. It was certainly a good investment.

Rare sunglasses

Once, a man was on a road trip with some of his friends when he bought a pair of sunglasses at a gas station for $20. Those glasses turned out to be one of the best-fitting pairs of sunglasses for him!

Brittfore / ig

He received many compliments about the sunglasses, and people often asked him where he got those from. Sadly, he lost the glasses after five years, and they didn’t even have a brand name! He has spent a lot of money trying to buy sunglasses as good as those with no luck.

A hoodie that has seen it all

Once, a person bought a hoodie from Costco for a meager price. It was four years ago, and as you’d expect, he wouldn’t have ever thought that the hoodie would be of very good use to him. He thought that it’d start wearing down after a few uses.

Dingvs_iii / ig

But that didn’t happen. Instead, during those four years, the hoodie survived a car crash, a transfer from one city to another, and three years in high school. It would’ve been here today as well if the person hadn’t forgotten it on the bus.

Comfort matters

This story is of a cheap purchase of a body pillow that turned out to be a very wise buy. A guy once had a major abdominal surgery. Because of that, he couldn’t find the ideal sleeping position for himself.

Azsungoddess / ig

Sleeping comfortably in one place had become really hard for the man. So, he bought a body pillow for cheap in hopes of it helping him, and it actually did! The body pillow really helped him get the pressure off of his front while sleeping! 

Family pool

Once during summer, a family bought an inflatable above-ground pool from Amazon. The pool was the choice of the mother-in-law, and basically, it was an impulse buy. They brought the pool for $300 with the intent to use it just a few times.

Nidhi1408 / ig

The wife was quite pessimistic about it, just like everybody else in the family except the mother-in-law. Here’s the twist. The family has spent almost every day in that pool having fun together. It is of great value to them!

Highly durable

This one time, a man spent $11 for a pair of 10-ft charger cords on Amazon. He did not expect much from it, but he did know that you often have to replace these things, which also costs extra cash.

Jonathan adato

However, this time, he bought these two cords for $11, which was three years. Fast forward to this day, he is still using the first one! He has not replaced anything, and he hasn’t even used the second one yet!

Plant transformation

In this image, you’re surely looking at some fantastic potted plants, but let us tell you that these plants weren’t always in such good condition. Surprisingly, these plants were bought in a pretty sad and misshapen state for a low price!

Bloominpotty / ig

Today, you can see how well-maintained these plants are. No matter how misshapen they look, these plants just need some love and nurturing. Once you give them that, you’ll see them grow into beautiful plants, which will be a great addition to your home.

Toaster risk

You can buy a decent toaster at Walmart for around $50-$100. But in this situation, a toaster was bought for a relatively cheap price. It could’ve been a risky purchase because if that thing breaks down, it could wreak havoc in the house.

The.chapelhouse / ig

Anyways, a person bought a toaster for $17 about 20 years ago with not a lot of expectations. He just hoped that the toaster would not spark and cause a fire. The toaster is still going strong to this day!

Highly recommended

For those who are unaware, Zenni is a glasses frame online shop. This time, a person was skeptical of the shop for a couple of reasons. For one, the prices of the glasses in that online shop were really, really cheap.

_1410.0 / ig

So, we’d say that his skepticism is justifiable and understandable. Irrespective of his feelings, he decided to purchase glasses from there, and to his surprise, the frames were unbelievably durable! He highly recommends the store with a rating of 100/10!

Audible!

Many people would be able to relate to this story because it’s not a no-name brand or a cheap purchase. It’s the story of Amazon’s Audible. A guy thought that he was making a mistake by paying for an Audible subscription.

Connor.kaminski / ig

To be honest, we think that many of us have already been there, and we thought the same thing as well until we tried it. Now, the guy has been using Audible almost every day for the past year, just like many of us do!

Portable things

Once, a person saw a flat-screen monitor for $40 at a thrift shop. It had a PC and cable input, a few USB inputs, and HDMI ports. It was just as long as the distance from an elbow to a fingertip.

Jonathan adato

All the buttons were working, but there was no remote. The guy was also told that there wouldn’t be any returns. Yet, he bought it, and to his surprise, it works amazingly! Don’t you just love thrift store success stories?

Best boots

These boots are probably the best bang for a buck. These boots were bought at the price of $12 at ValueVillage, and the person who bought them wouldn’t be wrong if they didn’t expect them to work that well. That’s not what happened, though.

Matschwiese / ig

These boots have been working really well! The person who bought them used these quite rigorously in Rural Alaska (that’s where they live), but there’s still no wear and tear. These boots are as watertight as they were when purchased two years ago.