Can’t Return It? Remake It!

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Toward the end of last winter, I purchased a pack of replacement furnace filters at a home improvement store. When I got them home and set to the task of removing the old ones, I realized that I’d purchased the wrong size replacements. Fortunately, I hadn’t yet opened the package, so, planning to return them for a refund – or to replace them with the correct size – I put them in the car so I wouldn’t forget next time I was at that particular store. Well, up until a month ago, those furnace filters sat in the back seat. Not once in all those months did I go back to that store.

In the interim, I purchased the correct size at another store. But last month, I did finally bring the filters back to the store where they were purchased. The very nice associate asked if I had the receipt so she could refund the amount I’d paid. I didn’t. She offered to look it up by my debit card (and my husband’s) in case I’d paid that way. She could find no record of the transaction. She told me the best she could do is to look up the item’s value on the computer and give me store credit. Under the circumstances, I told her that would be fine. She came back to me with a refund amount of – get this – $.01 – yes, a whopping one cent. Why so little? Because in the year that they’d been sitting in my back seat, the store had discontinued the item. Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of a 3-pack of furnace filters for which I have absolutely no use.

This situation made me feel financially irresponsible. I wasted $14 by not returning them sooner and I still had to incur the expense of buying the correct filters. As an avid penny-pincher, I hate that! We’ve all been there, though – being “stuck” with merchandise that we don’t need or want but are unable to return for a number of reasons, such as:

  • no receipt
  • having purchased an item that’s on clearance
  • having purchased an item that’s been discontinued

What can we do to lessen the blow of these losses? It’s all in the way you look at the situation.
The key is to redefine this oversight into an opportunity rather than an irresponsible mistake. I’d dealt with this type of situation before with these items:

  • The shirt from the clearance rack on which I discovered a stain upon getting it home
  • The bed sheets that were the wrong size but couldn’t be returned once laundered
  • The discontinued end table on which I discovered a scratch

I couldn’t return any of them so I decided to make the best of them. It was time to kick my creativity into high gear so I consulted the Internet for ideas on repurposing these purchases into something worth the money I’d paid for them. Here are some of the most useful and interesting ideas I’ve discovered:


Covering/camouflaging stains

Embellishing to cover stains–tutorial!
Hide Stains on Clothing 

Man’s shirt too smallMake dress from mens shirt


Camouflage/repair scratched wood furniture
How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents
Paint Makeovers: An Expert Tells All
Decorative Painted Furniture


Wrong size bed sheets
Creative and cool ways to reuse old bed sheets

Wrong furnace filters
Air Filter Art Projects 

Unfortunate purchase or unique opportunity? It’s all in the way you handle it.

How have you made the best of a financial faux pas?

Bonus Tip:

You can seriously cut your Internet and TV costs. Find a Verizon FiOS promotion code here and you might be able to spend less every month.

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