Author Topic: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?  (Read 24661 times)

bsmith

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What's your favorite cheap thing you bought that's functional (works well), not decorative. Mine are some blue plastic cups I got years ago at the dollar store. They're big enough to hold a lot of water, but they're wide at the base, so they're not likely to get knocked over when bumped.

neo von retorch

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2015, 10:56:46 AM »
One of my favorites is a Mr. Coffee mug warmer I got back in college (i.e. maybe 17-18 years ago.) I don't remember if it was a gift or I bought it for ~$10 but I still have it and I use it every day at work to keep my coffee a good temperature.

pbkmaine

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2015, 10:58:11 AM »
Our Goodwill has hundreds of cute, well-made Ts for $2.17 each. I use these for exercise class and to work around the house.


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MissStache

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2015, 11:10:40 AM »
I got an amazing chef's knife at a restaurant supply store for like $12.  It is my favorite kitchen tool and has been going strong for years now with frequent use.

humbleMouse

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 12:37:10 PM »
Probably my reynolds 531 bike frame.  Got it for $200 and have been riding it for 4 years now, probably thousands of miles on that thing.

tvan

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2015, 12:39:06 PM »
Blender.  Use it every morning. 

$20 model


ketchup

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2015, 12:47:39 PM »
Two $1 cinder blocks.  They do an amazing job at blocking off the corner of our yard where fence meets fence so the dogs can't get through.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2015, 12:51:15 PM »
We got our coffee pot for $13 (on sale- normally like $25, so still pretty cheap). Been going for like 5 years now and it still works great.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 01:01:41 PM »
Bought a utility trailer for $350. Less than one payment on the typical pickup truck. Better for my purposes in almost every respect.

Kroaler

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2015, 01:05:39 PM »
My 20$ OBD II reader.   ELM 327.  Just connect that bad boy via bluetooth to a smart phone, makes short work of vehicle troubleshooting.  Im sure I have another favorite item but that one comes to mind.

Fodder

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2015, 01:08:42 PM »
My ikea cheese graters and garlic press.  Both inexpensive, both going strong for almost 10 years.  Hands-down, the best cheese grater out there, and I HATE grating cheese.  Garlic press is starting to show signs of wear, but unlike other stupid ones that have fallen apart, this one is still going strong.

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50153180/
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/00089163/

Being a bit of a kitchen fiend, I have a number of very expensive items in my kitchen, but these are two cheap ones that just keep on trucking and are great to use.

GuitarStv

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2015, 01:10:14 PM »
20$ hair clippers . . . which three years ago replaced monthly haircuts at about 20$ a pop (after tip).  I'm hoping to avoid ever paying for a haircut for my son now . . .

Le Poisson

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2015, 01:16:39 PM »
Bought a utility trailer for $350. Less than one payment on the typical pickup truck. Better for my purposes in almost every respect.

Our trailer is high on my list as well. Funny though - I've had it 20 years and gone through countless light kits, a pile of tires, and had to replace all the wood in it at least twice. Still cheaper than owning a truck.

We have so many things that we've accumulated over the years for cheap its hard to list just one or two, but there is satisfaction in pulling an old friend out of a toolbox or drawer, dusting it off and putting it to good use.

Steve Ainslie

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2015, 01:18:26 PM »
Tire sled for dragging for exercise.  Tire was free, ropes, an eye bolt and 2 carabiners from Lowes were <$20.  I've  used this over 200 days per year for five years.  I had to replace the free tire once.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2015, 01:24:12 PM »
$20 hair clippers (8 years old) that have saved me ~$1000+ on haircuts.
$20 French Press, which has likely saved me $1000+ on coffee.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2015, 02:20:58 PM »
Remembered another one, my Mora knife.  $14 for the knife and the plastic belt sheath.  Great for processing game and livestock.  Sheath goes in the dishwasher, and the carbon steel blade takes and excellent edge.

Sailor Sam

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2015, 02:34:08 PM »
My citrus press. It was a present, but I think it cost ~$25. It makes margarita hot & sour soup prep a breeze!

secondcor521

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2015, 02:44:51 PM »
My entertainment system was $11 from the local pound.  You can see his picture on the cat thread.  (There are maintenance costs, though.)

Have a set of Wahl clippers from Walmart I think.  Bought for $15 or $20 almost ten years ago - "free" haircuts ever since.

DEL

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2015, 02:52:06 PM »
Got a nice Gevalia cofee pot for $1 at an estate sale. It makes great coffee and beats the urge of getting some at a coffee shop. My wife also got some China and other plates really cheap, also at an estate sale.

Le Poisson

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2015, 03:09:26 PM »
Got a nice Gevalia cofee pot for $1 at an estate sale. It makes great coffee and beats the urge of getting some at a coffee shop. My wife also got some China and other plates really cheap, also at an estate sale.

Our fine silverware was from a yard sale.
Our kitchen dishes were from a yard sale.
Our diningroom table was off CL.
Our diningroom linens were mostly hand-me-downs from parents.
Our kitchen cutlery was wedding gifts.

Its hard to think of things in our house that we actually paid good money for. We have 4 pieces of furniture bought new and paid full price for.

Melody

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2015, 04:50:56 PM »
My electric razor. I found it in the last hire car I hired and omg... Best thing ever!!!! Saves money over buying blades and I don't fit myself when I am half asleep in the shower anymore :-)

Melody

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2015, 04:51:56 PM »
Also my $12 coffee maker, still trucking along with daily use 6 years later.

Zamboni

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2015, 04:53:57 PM »
My $6 WalMart camp chair.

Megma

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2015, 05:04:04 PM »
My ikea cheese graters and garlic press.  Both inexpensive, both going strong for almost 10 years.  Hands-down, the best cheese grater out there, and I HATE grating cheese.  Garlic press is starting to show signs of wear, but unlike other stupid ones that have fallen apart, this one is still going strong.

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50153180/
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/00089163/

Being a bit of a kitchen fiend, I have a number of very expensive items in my kitchen, but these are two cheap ones that just keep on trucking and are great to use.

+1 for the IKEA cheese grater! I was going to post that when I saw this thread. I sometimes wish we had bought two for cheese choices in the fridge at one time. And we save a fortune buying. Lock cheese over shredded.

wisermiser

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seemsright

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2015, 05:29:04 PM »
+1 on cast iron skillets.

I bought a set of 4 skillets (different sizes) and a dutch oven all cast iron when I was 19 about to get married and move out on our own. My thought was I was only going to buy one set of cooking pans. They had a huge learning curve but after about 15 years my egg pan is awesome.

teen persuasion

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2015, 06:00:35 PM »
A basket FULL of knitting needles from a garage sale, $2.  Double pointed sets, circular in a variety of lengths and sizes, long pins, a few oddities like a starting shuttle and crochet books of bone or ivory, broomstick lace pin, needle size gauge, cable needles.  Quite a treasure trove.

Learner

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2015, 06:38:35 PM »
Two favourites that jump to mind are a $4 coffee urn I found second-hand, and a 12" stainless steel frying pan for $7.  Try to keep non-grocery buying to a minimum.

Exflyboy

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2015, 06:51:12 PM »
My $200 Harbor Freight trailer. I pull it behind my $350 Dodge Neon... Great up to about 1000lbs of crap.

Of course we also have a 1989 F250 with a horse trailer.. and a horse, but that can't live forever..:)

hred17

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2015, 06:49:29 AM »
A small, cloth purse that I found at a market in Thailand.

It cost me about $2 six years ago and I can wash it, pack it up small, wear it crossbody easily and it's big enough to hold just enough for when you're walking around (phone, passport, cash, etc). It is colorful on one side and black on the other so I can wear it for both casual and more formal use if needed. Best $2 I've ever spent! I can't believe sometimes how much use I get out of it.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2015, 10:24:58 AM »
Just remembered my large stainless bowls.  Got 4 or 5 of them at the thrift store for a few bucks.  I use them all the time in the kitchen.  They don't fit in the dishwasher, but clean up super easy.

szmaine

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2015, 12:45:30 PM »
My ikea cheese graters and garlic press.  Both inexpensive, both going strong for almost 10 years.  Hands-down, the best cheese grater out there, and I HATE grating cheese.  Garlic press is starting to show signs of wear, but unlike other stupid ones that have fallen apart, this one is still going strong.

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/50153180/
http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/00089163/

Being a bit of a kitchen fiend, I have a number of very expensive items in my kitchen, but these are two cheap ones that just keep on trucking and are great to use.

I actually logged on to add my 2 cent re: that cheese grater! Have had mine for 13yrs. It is the greatest grater IMHO.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2015, 12:47:01 PM by szmaine »

BriarRose111

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2015, 02:56:33 PM »
Cheap universal pan lid.  I didn't actually buy it, but received it as a gift from my Dad when in my pre-Mustacian days I asked for a lid for my Revere Ware large fry pan (thinking he would get the Revere Ware lid).   It probably cost less than $10 and I use it for every pan we've got, just about every time I cook.  Love it!

CupcakeGuru

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #33 on: September 10, 2015, 03:10:37 PM »
My waffle iron from a garage sale. $0.50 about 4 years ago. We use it about 2 to 3 times a week.

bsmith

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #34 on: September 10, 2015, 03:18:10 PM »
What's the universal pan lid look like? I'm intrigued.

I bought a waffle iron at a garage sale for $2, but it just made a huge mess, so we gave up on it. I do love waffles, though.

Rural

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #35 on: September 10, 2015, 07:28:06 PM »
Hell, I don't know. The only things in the house we paid full retail for are the computers and the dogs, and one of the computers we bought used. Oh, wait. Also pay retail for food and ammunition.


I do think I have the exact same dollar store blue plastic tumblers as the OP. They were three for a dollar and aren't sold anymore, which is unfortunate because they crack if you drop them on a concrete floor while they're full of water.

Le Poisson

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2015, 07:57:32 PM »
I have a piece of steel pipe in my garage painted yellow. Right now my winter tires are hanging from it.



It has been used as an extension on a ratchet for belligerent bolts, as a prybar to lift a 6000 lbs boat, as a spreader bar in hoisting operations, as a bat in demolition, and as a pull bar to remove a chimney from the side of a house. This same bar has been with me since at least 1998. I have no idea where it came from or when I got it. I am guessing it was free.

Definitely high on the list.

BriarRose111

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2015, 08:40:24 PM »
What's the universal pan lid look like? I'm intrigued.

I bought a waffle iron at a garage sale for $2, but it just made a huge mess, so we gave up on it. I do love waffles, though.

It's a rather cheap looking large pan lid, large diameter (12") , fairly flat.  I think it's made out of aluminum.  It has a sort of bevel on the bottom with a few shallow concentric rings to form a 9 1/2 inch diameter also.  I'll try to find a picture or post one.

Nice find on the waffle iron!

Faraday

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2015, 09:12:38 PM »
+1 to the OBD II reader. I have one that's over 10 years old, still works great with my over-10-year-old cars. I've saved myself a TON of money using it to diagnose and fix problems with cars.

Cwadda

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2015, 09:22:23 PM »
Bought a utility trailer for $350. Less than one payment on the typical pickup truck. Better for my purposes in almost every respect.

+1
Has paid for itself many times over.

LifestyleDeflation

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2015, 09:47:09 PM »
Really cheap things? Pilot G2 pens, metal water bottles from lost and found at my gym (they put them up for grabs just before donating them), the carabiner I use as a keyring (got it for free at a county fair years ago), Google voice/Google hangouts, which allow me to make and receive calls for free anywhere in the world I have Wi-Fi, and have saved me around a thousand dollars so far.

Less cheap but also ridiculously useful: My Honda fit, which has carried everything I've ever tried to get inside it, my custom sliding car bed for the fit with sleeping pad and various sleeping bags appropriate for the weather, which has saved me thousands in rent, my galaxy s3 which is also my e-reader (going to get a kindle when they refresh their line though, 10+ books on a cellphone screen in a year is a bit silly), my 1 pair of quick dry pants and 1 quick dry shirt, which I wear probably 150 days a year each.

Honestly, I feel like I live a pretty damn mustachian lifestyle as far as my possessions go- there's not much I own that I don't get a lot of use out of.

Sloeginfizz

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #41 on: September 10, 2015, 09:59:53 PM »
22 years ago, when I was in college, I bought a Melitta single cup coffee cone. Don't remember what I paid for it, but considering its equivalent to the one currently selling for $3.99, I'd say it can't be much more than that. I have made countless cups of coffee with it, used it nearly everyday since then except for summer which is iced coffee time. I have a fancy Japanese kettle designed for pour over coffee now but I've used it with nothing more than a saucepan before. It's hard to make coffee for company, but 99.9% of the time, it's just me wanting coffee and it's perfect for that.

I sometimes think about replacing it with a glass or ceramic one, but I worry about breaking it, so I stick with my old plastic one. Best coffee maker ever.

FLA

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2015, 12:39:04 AM »
My entertainment system was $11 from the local pound.  You can see his picture on the cat thread.  (There are maintenance costs, though.)

my first thought was my dogs, too. Cheap, one was free.  The one from the shelter is the best dog I have ever had or ever will have. Stopping, or I will be listing the 1001 reasons she is so great

meg_shannon

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2015, 01:47:19 AM »
A learning tower, basically a step stool on steroids that's adjustable in height. They're for kids and meant to get them up to counter height. I picked it up for 35$ off CL (200$ new) when my daughter was 18 months. We've used at least 5 days/week since.

Now, at the age of five, she actually helps me cook. She's fairly proficient with a paring knife, spreading, mixing, measuring, etc. When she was little I mostly let her dump ingredients in the bowl, stir, and play with water at the counter to keep her entertained while I or my husband made dinner.

Give a little kid a small pitcher full of water, even smaller glasses, and a sponge on a large cookie sheet: entertainment for at least 20-30 minutes and very little mess. Give them a towel after and they'll probably clean it up too.

BlueHouse

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2015, 05:40:08 AM »
Probably doesn't count as cheap, but since I'm re-purposing it, maybe i get a pass for original cost.
I use an old crutch to push the top of double hung windows up so I can lock the windows. I can't reach them from the ground and for the windows over the sink, I can't reach even with a steps tool without climbing into the sink, so I love the crutch method. I also use it to open and close vents on the ceiling without having to get a ladder out.  It's my most useful tool around the house.

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2015, 07:59:53 AM »
Definitely our $8 bread maker from Goodwill! Make fresh bread once or twice a week and soooo delicious! Maybe not the healthiest, but hey I'm training for a marathon so it's all good!

Will also add in our Wahl clippers which eliminated our haircuts starting about a year ago.

Could I also say Visa Gift Cards? Starting to work on credit card churn so spending 1% for fees on gift cards is expected to yield enormous travel savings.

FLA

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2015, 01:02:50 PM »
Tervis 24 oz tumblers with lid, they're like 20 bucks, I wait for clearance.  Keeps drinks cold or hot for hours, way longer than any one I've tried in the past, they don't sweat. Lifetime guarantee, I have one that cracked, I have to call them. 

StetsTerhune

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2015, 01:30:35 PM »
When I was 19, I bought a toaster at walmart for, I believe, $6.87. A dozen years later that toaster still toasts bread exactly as well as every other toaster that's ever existed.

Faraday

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2015, 05:27:01 PM »
Tervis 24 oz tumblers with lid, they're like 20 bucks, I wait for clearance.  Keeps drinks cold or hot for hours, way longer than any one I've tried in the past, they don't sweat. Lifetime guarantee, I have one that cracked, I have to call them.

You have to go on their website to take advantage of their lifetime warranty. They give you instructions, you get an RMA and you pack the broken tumbler up and send it to them, you pay for shipping. It's a huge pain in the ass and I'm not sure it's worth the cost of shipping, but they DO honor their lifetime warranty....

Retire-Canada

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Re: What's your favorite really cheap thing you bought that is functional?
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2015, 06:04:11 PM »
I bought a couple dozen beer coolers at an army surplus store 10-15yrs ago for $0.10 each. Keep my drinks cold which I love and they were so cheap I don't worry about getting them all back at a party.

Just got a couple more super nice ones at a trade show for free. I am very stoked. Drinking a beer out of one right now. :)