100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
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bgwilli
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100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by bgwilli » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:01 am

Hi Bogleheads,

There is a current post asking for lists of things that are "worth every penny." Lots of good responses and a wide variety of answers... I thought I would ask the opposite question: What are things are that are not worth a penny? i.e. items purchased, services, experiences, etc that you thought would be worth it, but end up being overpriced or a disappointment. I will start things off:

1) Overpriced service people for house jobs - examples: $270 for a small sprinkler system repair, $189/hr for a plumber!!!, $500 to mow 1/2 acre of brush on our vacant lot - lots of hidden fees after the job is done - hard to get firm estimates up front
2) Owning a koi pond - existing in house we bought - $700 to clean each spring, hundreds on chemicals every summer, lots of time cleaning that could be spent doing something more enjoyable
3) Most costs associated with moving - endless hidden costs with closing and title companies, "transfer" taxes, bad home inspections that lead to costly unnecessary jobs
4) Airline seat upgrades and checked bag fees - flying is a bad experience regardless of where I sit
5) Car repairs at the dealer rather than finding a good, reasonably priced auto mechanic
6) Inadequate winter coats for Minnesota winters
7) Overpriced investment fees (most everywhere other than Vanguard!)

Looking forward to some interesting replies!

BogleMelon
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by BogleMelon » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:15 am

- Things that being sold at TV (call now..!)
- Whole life insurance policy in general
- Life insurance on kids (I don't really understand this one!)
- Bank fees
- Storage rental (Unless you are a dealer and store for business)
- Newspaper/magazines subscriptions (enough data is available for free online)
- Cigarettes
- Extended warranties
- Time share
- "Precious" metals (I dont believe in gold or diamonds)
- Credit card interest fees
"One of the funny things about stock market, every time one is buying another is selling, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

camaro327
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by camaro327 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:24 am

modem rental
low deductibles on auto insurance (Full, $50, $100,etc.)
cheap law fertilizer
credit card fees

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cinghiale
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by cinghiale » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:43 am

This is an obvious manifestation of Bogle's Third Law of forum posts:

"For any list of superlatives there will be an equal and opposite list of horribles."

That said, I'll nibble at the bait:

1) Most vitamin and mineral supplements. Nutritional research has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last 15 years. With very few exceptions (turmeric and cinnamon come to mind), all this stuff ends up as pricey urine.
2) All fast food. Actually, this isn't just not worth the penny, it has negative value. (See above on research in nutrition.). Loads of sodium, crappy fat, and questionable parts of animals that really don't deserve to be called "food."
3) Most "collectibles." Collect it now, try to sell it tomorrow, and find out it's all worth pennies on the dollar.
4) Yoga classes. (This should boost my popularity!!). But, really... once you know the poses, do you really need the hand holding for $15.00 a pop?
5) Full service brokerage and "financial advisors." Yes, it has already been mentioned. But there's an entire industry out there wanting to convince you that they have the knowledge, expertise, and connections to make you prosper. They're the master mechanics who can get under the hood and make your vehicle hum along like a new Ferrari. Trouble is, that's a grand lie. They can do nothing more than be chauffeurs, and that's something we can all do for ourselves.
"We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin | | "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." George Orwell

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unclescrooge
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:47 am

Paying 3% to a listing agent on a million dollar house!

RoadHouseFan
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by RoadHouseFan » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:52 am

HOA fees
Electronic products warranties
New York Times subscription
Premium gasoline
Craft beer
Wine
Starbucks coffee
Tattoos
Upgraded shipping fees
Whole Foods

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:53 am

All the surcharges, upcharges, additional charges, regulatory charges, and "because-we-can" charges that double or triple the typical phone bill.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

homerj15
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by homerj15 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:55 am

+1 for extended warranties
Overpriced Apple products
Grass in front yard. Xeriscape it.
Monthly fees on home alarm system
Most organic food items
Paying for cable or satellite
Swimming pool
Paying for porn

pshonore
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by pshonore » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:00 am

Scott's grass seed. Looked at a 3 lb bag a few days ago. By weight, Its 50% seed and 50% of a coating to help hold water, etc. And I don't think it germinates any better.

indexingfun
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by indexingfun » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:02 am

Bloomberg TV
CNBC

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nisiprius
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by nisiprius » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:24 am

Fitbit Charge HR. No, that's not fair--in my opinion it's worth about $14.95.

Kiplinger's magazine. (The other finance magazines aren't worth much, either, but Kiplinger's is amazingly vague and generic).

"Resealable" food packaging. They seal the zipper shut with that snot-glue stuff, and opening it the first time is so difficult that it usually destroys the zip-lock and often tears the bag down the side. When it doesn't, even if you cut precisely along the dotted line, the flaps at the top are not wide enough to grip properly, and it's very difficult to re-open it... even if you did manage to re-seal it, which is difficult, too. Nowadays I don't even try to make it work. I just cut the bag open below the zipper and drop the opened package into a real Zip-lock bag.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

tim1999
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by tim1999 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:33 am

lagflag wrote: - Life insurance on kids (I don't really understand this one!)
Agreed, since you don't depend on them for income, this is essentially buying a lottery ticket based on the extremely low chance they should pass away.
lagflag wrote: - Storage rental (Unless you are a dealer and store for business)
Agreed, having managed some storage units I can tell you that most of what people store in them is worthless junk they don't have the heart to throw away.

tim1999
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by tim1999 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:35 am

bgwilli wrote: 1) Overpriced service people for house jobs - examples: $270 for a small sprinkler system repair, $189/hr for a plumber!!!, $500 to mow 1/2 acre of brush on our vacant lot - lots of hidden fees after the job is done - hard to get firm estimates up front
Agreed. It is becoming extremely difficult in my area to get any contractor to simply show up at your house for less than $500. Many of us are relying on "cash only" handymen who fly under the radar and get jobs on a referral-only basis.

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dm200
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by dm200 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:44 am

Not necessarily in any order:
1. Bottled water (especially individual bottles)
2. Extended warranties on appliances, vehicles, etc. (UNLESS provided at NO CHARGE)
3, Service plans on auto purchase (UNLESS provided at NO CHARGE)
4. Auto purchase "processing fee" (often $300-$500)
5. GAP Insurance on vehicle purchase

tim1999
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by tim1999 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:49 am

Property tax, schools especially. It all goes to underfunded teacher pensions.

tim1999
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by tim1999 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:52 am

In Las Vegas, hotel "resort fee"
"Environmental fee" on certain services
"Carbon offset fee"
"Service fee" on hotel room service, PLUS you are still expected to tip on top of it.
"Per capita tax" Every year here in PA I get a bill for $10 just for being alive.
Pretty much any non-electronic item made in China.

gmc4h232
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by gmc4h232 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:54 am

Most of these have already been mentioned, but:

-HOAs
-Fashion and other image boosting items
-Cable
-HF tools
-Retail books
-Name brand medication

Barefootgirl
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by Barefootgirl » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:35 am

Street drugs.
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

goldendad
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by goldendad » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:47 am

Designer clothes.

Ninnie
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by Ninnie » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:04 pm

Eating lunch out on workdays, instead of bringing your own.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by Doom&Gloom » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:39 pm

A penny.

I would gladly pay a penny for most of the items listed in this thread. I would seldom pay their actual costs though.

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mrc
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by mrc » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:44 pm

A U.S. 1c coin! according to the Washington Post in 2014.
Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as best he can, the same cause. —AL

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munemaker
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by munemaker » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:05 pm

I agree with almost all of the posts. I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but I am willing to pay for the convenience of bottled water under some circumstances. While I realize they are generally of poor quality, I get some perverse pleasure in using certain HF tools.

My own list includes:
- credit cards without good perks
- bank accounts that don't pay interest or that charge fees
- financial planners and other commissioned salespeople
- cable TV (guilty due to DW)
- printed newspapers & magazines (guilty due to DW)
- land lines
- fax machines
- anything connected with the US Post Office
- Harley Davidson MCs
- German cars
- Apple products
- bank fees of any kind
- taxes, especially real estate taxes, income taxes, cell phone taxes, inheritance taxes, estate taxes. Don't mind the sates taxes as much because everyone pays them.
- paying for other people's stuff
- out of network medical & dental providers (especially when they are imposed on you without advance notice)
- deductibles and co-pays
- anything to do with labor unions, public or private
- TSA and their ever-expanding list of ways to delay and annoy us
- establishments that impede the use of credit cards by not accepting, surcharging or offering cash discounts
- university bureaucracies
- nepotism, especially in the public sector
- resort fees, fees for using hotel safes, hotel minbar fees
- anything connected with Ticketmaster
- booking fees, cleaning fees
- whole life insurance
Last edited by munemaker on Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:25 pm, edited 5 times in total.

soboggled
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by soboggled » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:14 pm

Almost anything advertised on TV.

The quality of a product is inversely proportional to the amount of money spent to market it.

miles monroe
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by miles monroe » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:16 pm

camaro327 wrote:modem rental
low deductibles on auto insurance (Full, $50, $100,etc.)
cheap law fertilizer
credit card fees
ok i'll bite -- whats wrong with cheap lawn fertilizer? isn't a chemical a chemical?

soboggled
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by soboggled » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:17 pm

munemaker wrote:I agree with almost all of the posts. I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but I am willing to pay for the convenience of bottled water under some circumstances. While I realize they are generally of poor quality, I get some perverse pleasure in using certain HF tools.

My own list includes:
- credit cards without good perks
- bank accounts that don't pay interest or charge fees
- financial planners
- cable TV (guilty due to DW)
- printed newspapers & magazines (guilty due to DW)
- land lines
- fax machines
- anything connected with the US Post Office
- Harley Davidson MCs
- German cars
- Apple products
- bank fees of any kind
- taxes, especially real estate taxes, income taxes, cell phone taxes, inheritance taxes, estate taxes. Don't mind the sates taxes as much because everyone pays them.
- paying for other people's stuff
- out of network medical & dental providers (especially when they are imposed on you without advance notice)
- deductibles and co-pays
- anything to do with labor unions, public or private
- TSA and their ever-expanding list of ways to delay and annoy us
- establishments that impede the use of credit cards by not accepting, surcharging or offering cash discounts
- university bureaucracies
- nepotism, especially in the public sector
- resort fees, fees for using hotel safes
- anything connected with Ticketmaster
Absolutely dead wrong on everything but Apple, bank fees and TSA. USPS is one of the world's great bargains, especially media mail. But I guess if your thing is automatically hating anything to do with the gummit...

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KlingKlang
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by KlingKlang » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:22 pm

tim1999 wrote:Property tax, schools especially. It all goes to underfunded teacher pensions.
My daughter's second grade public school teacher got paid for the entire year even though she didn't bother to show up after the first week of school. She was too distraught to work after her 16 year old son killed himself and three friends running his new Camaro into a tree at 110 mph.

Generic canned vegetables (anything from Aldi) full of wood chips.

Any appliance that my parents purchase - buy the cheapest one and then get an extended warranty.

Viking River Cruises.

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munemaker
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by munemaker » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:36 pm

soboggled wrote:
munemaker wrote:USPS is one of the world's great bargains, especially media mail.
I am so tempted to cut a slot in the bottom of my mail box and have the mail fall directly into a green recycle basket. I often get my neighbors' (junk) mail in my box, so it wouldn't be fair to them.

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VictoriaF
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:52 pm

cinghiale wrote:This is an obvious manifestation of Bogle's Third Law of forum posts:

"For any list of superlatives there will be an equal and opposite list of horribles."
The difference is that your thread builds the community whereas this one promotes negativity. Reporting things that are "worth every penny" helps us to know each other better. Reporting things that are "not worth a penny" is criticism of those who value these things.

Victoria
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mouses
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by mouses » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:56 pm

soboggled wrote:
USPS is one of the world's great bargains, especially media mail. But I guess if your thing is automatically hating anything to do with the gummit...
+1 on the USPS. Our letter carriers know the neighborhood and the people, and check on the elderly if their mailbox has not been emptied recently. They leave boxes on my deck, unlike FedEx and UPS, which seem to delight in often placing them against the outward opening storm door. USPS is also courteous. Yesterday the letter carrier left a box and also my mail on the deck. A short time before that, the FedEx guy lobbed a package of canned cat food onto the deck; I could hear the thump from a room away. I haven't gotten to opening it yet, but I wonder how many cans will be dented.

Worthless things: television.

Teague
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by Teague » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:25 pm

An elephant. (Unless you need an elephant.)
Semper Augustus

foreverihope
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by foreverihope » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:31 pm

A pool. my bad already listed.

A blu ray player.

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LadyGeek
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Re: 100 Things Not Worth a Penny

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:36 pm

This thread has run its course and is locked (divisive). See: Personal Consumer Issues
...Note that this subforum has a much lower threshold for locking or removing posts than the financial and investing subforums. In general, controversial, offensive, pointless, divisive or mean-spirited posts or topics may be locked, edited or deleted (with or without notice) at the discretion of the moderating staff even if they do not otherwise violate forum policies.
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