From Trash to Treasure: 20 Stories of Sketchy Buys That Paid Off

We all love a good bargain, but sometimes a deal seems too sketchy to be worthwhile. However, there are those rare instances when taking a chance pays off, and a cheap purchase is one of the best investments we’ve made.

Sketchy Buys

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Someone asked, “What was a sketchy cheap buy that ended up being one of your best purchases?”

Below are twenty of the most interesting responses the thread received:

1. Hello Kitty Grooming Kit

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A dad commented, “I was traveling in Japan and needed nail clippers. All I could find is this cheap pink Hello Kitty grooming kit.”

“These clippers are the best I ever owned. They have stayed sharp and functional for 20 years. I’m very protective of them. Everyone in the house knows, you don’t touch Dad’s pink Hello Kitty nail clippers.”

Someone else wrote, “So weird, I have pink hello kitty clippers AND tweezers and I’ve had them for going on 15 years now.”

Who are we to judge? Hello Kitty is the best!

2. Seeds From the Dollar Store

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A Reddit user shared the following interesting recollection: “Seed packets from the dollar store. While in college my boyfriend and I were broke. Really broke. But I still wanted to do something to celebrate spring.”

“We were getting a few cheap things at the dollar store when I noticed they were selling these seed packets from a big old bin that you had to dig through. 4 for $1. No tax. I immediately begged to buy one despite our strict budget.”

“Boyfriend was incredulous but dutifully handed me a quarter. I ended up picking out tomatoes.”

“Well we got home and I carefully placed about 3 seeds in washed out cans. I watered them and watched them sprout. I loved tending to my little garden. I ended up with 3 beautiful HUGE tomato plants. It was a bumper crop. More than we could eat.”

“I sold the extra produce to my classmates. Made like $25. Good seeds!”

3. Sunglasses From the Gas Station

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Following is a poor man’s quest for his perfect pair of sunglasses, “At the end of a long road trip with some mates, I bought a $20 pair of sunglasses in a gas station just outside Chicago. They fit me better than any pair of sunglasses ever did, or ever will, and they made me look awesome.”

“For years I constantly received compliments about them and was asked where I got them. I lost them after 5 long years and have hated myself for it ever since. They were so no-name they didn’t even have a brand name on them at all, so I have no idea who made them. I have no way of finding that gas station, either. I’ve literally spent hundreds of dollars trying to find sunglasses that come close to that same perfect fit/style, but I can’t.”

Riveting *wipes away tears*

4. A $5 Turtle From Chinatown

turtle in water.
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A Redditor wrote, “I bought a turtle for 5 dollars from Chinatown in Chicago and she’s turning three this year. Her name is Al Capone (we call her Al) I am hoping she will outlive me because I can’t imagine losing her. Don’t worry I study biology and environmental science (going in a PhD program) she is treated like a queen.”

Awww, we wish Al a long and happy life ahead!

5. Thrifted Clothes

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Someone commented, “I bought a button down shirt from the thrift store in the mid-90s that I still wear today. It doesn’t have much wear on it either. I think it’s made of rayon and something else. The brand is K-mart. They don’t make ’em like they used to.”

Another user shared, “My favorite dress shirt is a brooks brothers I picked up for like $4 from a thrift shop. The new ones are just as good but they are like $80.”

That sounds like a great bargain! Time to go thrifting, brb.

6. How the Turntables….

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One User shared, “Went to a garage sale, a little girl was in charge, she was like 12. I don’t know s*** about turntables but she has a set on a table, I ask how much, she tells me 20 bucks. I ask her if they work, she tells me she has no idea, her dad got new ones and wants to get rid of them.”

“I wait for dad, she tells me he’s sleeping, she says “Dude, just take them”, I’m like, no 20 can’t be right maybe 200? She looks at me like I’m stupid, fine, I’ll take them. I drive straight to a pawn shop and see what I can get for them, or if they even work. They f*** work, dude looks up prices and comes back with a 1200-dollar offer. Best 20 bucks I ever spent.”

From a $20 investment to an $1180 profit within a few hours, wow!

7. Tickets to a Britney Spears Concert

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 22, 2016: Britney Spears, Madame Tussauds wax museum.
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This story might make you feel jealous (read: a lot). A Redditor shared, “Bought some Britney Spears tickets in a back alley near the Philips Arena downtown Atlanta from this sketchy guy. Our dumba*** were all excited because it was a great deal for the seating.”

“Keep in mind, this is when tickets are printed from home and they’re huge to scan. The pair that we bought were the OG Ticketmaster tickets…ya know, the tiny pair that you had to wait at FYE in the mall for.”

“The dude told us to get in line and go through the main first door, they don’t scan. F***. We knew we were scammed immediately. Then they physically examine our tickets and say, I don’t know why these aren’t scanning, but your seats are that way. Walk all the way down to our numbered section, and there’s one guy sitting in a chair by this massive wall with a single door to walk through.”

“Homeboy physically examined our sketchy tickets. He’s like, hmmm, never seen these before. But he said, this way, please. And I’ll be d*****, we are seated in the section where local business buy the suites and s** for their employees. Food and alcohol was free. We had phenomenal seats, and got a free shirt and program.”

“I still can’t believe it happened.”

8. Flannels From Costco

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Someone wrote, “Costco fluffy flannels. It feels like a chinchilla is hugging you and I’ve had mine for three years with no signs of wearing down despite almost daily use in the northeast winters.”

Another added, “I got a fleecy flannel robe from Costco and it’s held up so well. Already had it for 5 years and no signs of wear and tear! It cost $15.”

Must hit Costco before winter is here!

9. Amazon Mattress

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A Redditor commented, “Bought a $4000 mattress from a furniture store, and it wasn’t very comfortable, plus serious buyer’s remorse. Returned it within 30 days for a full refund and decided to take a chance on a $400 mattress on Amazon. One of the best purchases I have ever made. Super comfortable and far cheaper than equivalent “store mattresses.”

Goes to show that expensive isn’t always better.

10. Vasectomy Reversal Surgery

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Someone said, “Searched around for a vasectomy reversal. Everything looked to be 15-20 thousand. Finally found a guy in Rhode Island for less than 3000. This guy was alone in an office in a strip mall. Took cash only which was very sketchy to me. I was afraid I’d be put in a bathtub full of ice.”

“Well that didn’t happen but even after the procedure I was certain it didn’t work and maybe the guy was a quack or scam. This was over three years ago and my wife and I could not get pregnant for some reason. I figured I knew the reason.”

“Well I was wrong. Turns out it was her the whole time and my surgery worked perfectly. After a few visits to a fertility clinic we are now 26 weeks pregnant with a baby boy due in November. Definitely a sketchy cheap buy that ended up being one of my best purchases.”

Ummm…Would you ever opt for a sketchy surgical procedure?

11. Plane Tickets

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One user shared, “I bought plane tickets from Pittsburgh to Dublin, Ireland from a sketchy sight. It involved three layovers and two airlines. The company had a 1-2 star review on every website I went to and didn’t find a single positive review, but I bought the ticket anyway. After 20 hours, 4 flights, and a really sketchy layover in Portugal I flew across the Atlantic with no problem for $200.”

Would you ever take a chance on an airline with horrible reviews for a significantly lower price?

12. A “Priceless” Bag

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A Redditor shared, “15 years ago I was getting deployed for the first time. I wanted a backpack as a carry-on, but it had to be solid black.”

“Went to a few places, ended up at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I found exactly one bag that was solid black, and it was perfect, but it didn’t have a tag. Went to the register and the guy spent 10 minutes with two managers trying to figure out which bag it was so they would ring it up. They finally asked me, “How much is it worth to you?” I replied that I needed it to deploy in the morning, so I’d pay whatever they wanted. They charged me 10$.”

“It’s a Kryptonics backpack that is no longer made. I’ve taken it on four deployments, three TDYs, all over the country, and it made it through my BS and MS degrees. I’m now using it as I pursue my PhD. It’s a little ragged, but I love this d*** bag.”

13. Earbuds From Amazon

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Someone wrote, “5$ pack of 2 pairs of earbuds from Amazon!! They were the best I’ve ever used. One lasted me the whole school year; the other I gave to a friend.”

Would you buy cheap random headphones or rather invest in a name brand for good audio quality?

14. Damaged Property

Dad and son fishing outdoors in front of a lake house.
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One user wrote, “I am late to the party, but in 2006-ish I purchased a home that was never gutted after Hurricane Katrina. Had lots of water in it for way too long and about 2 feet of muck. But the house only cost me 16k.”

“ I put 50k in parts into it, and did 90% of the work myself. After 12 months I rented it for $1800 a month. After a few years, sold it for a bit over 0,000. Was a lot of fun for a 22 year old me.”

Flipping a house sounds like a fun experience; have you ever tried it?

15. Battery Powered Hairbrush

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Someone said, “Saw an Instagram ad for a battery-powered hairbrush that, when powered on, emits negative ions into your hair to balance the negative/positive ions and instantly de-frizz your hair.”

“I was skeptical at first because if something so useful and miraculous had been invented, why was I only just now learning about it via an Instagram ad?! The ads and the website didn’t look super professional either. I also couldn’t find too many external reviews for it which felt weird.”

“But I decided on a whim to order it anyway, not expecting it to work very well, but after using it once, I decided there was no going back to regular hair brushes. It’s such a game changer! People even notice that my hair is smoother and silkier! It f*** WORKS and I thought I was just throwing my money away at a gimmicky piece of plastic that wouldn’t do anything. But it really does make a huge difference!”

16. Used Gaming Console

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Someone commented, “About a year ago, a used game store near me was selling surprise boxes of old consoles for $20, they were not guaranteed to work or have all their parts, cords, or controllers.”

“And you were not allowed to pick up the box till you bought it (all sales final). Took my chances and got a fully working Halo edition Xbox with all cords and controllers and had a few games with it, if I remember right it had halo 1 and 2 as well as fusion frenzy and forza.”

“I wanted the halo version when it came out but didn’t have the money at the time so I was very excited that I finally got it and was able to add it to my collection.”

17. DIY Lash Curling Kits

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A Redditor wrote, “My sister bought this sus eyelash curler kit. You put some chemicals on it like they do in the salons and it keeps your lashes curled for like 4-6 weeks. She got it for $10 on Amazon and the s*** worked! If you go to a salon, they charge AT LEAST $50.”

18. Guitar From a Pawn Shop

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Someone shared, “I bought an acoustic guitar at a pawn shop in 2007 for $85.”

“12 years later I’ve played that guitar probably 30 minutes a day on average. I’ve played it on four continents, in funerals and weddings, and in more random coffee shop shows than I can count. Turns out it’s a custom guitar built by a small guitar maker out of Fort Worth.”

“It’s an absolute beast. Best $85 I’ll ever spend.”

19. Rice Cooker

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A User wrote, “$8 rice cooker from Walmart. Best purchase ever! I always over or undercooked rice until we got this and at first we kinda underestimated it but having a spot on the stove free AND not actually having to monitor it AND cooking perfect rice every time? GOLD.”

Hard to argue with that logic.

20. Uninvited Wedding Photographer

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A Redditor shared the following interesting story from his wedding: “My wife and I got married in Jamaica and the resort where we got married had a photographer to take photos during our wedding.”

“There was also a local on the beach who was snapping photos. After the ceremony, he walks up to me and offers a roll of 35mm film for $50. (Before SD cards and digital photography). The resort warned us of people trying to scam tourists, but we rolled dice and bought them anyway.”

“We got them developed when we got home about 2 weeks later and they turned out to be some of the best photos we had of our wedding.”

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