'What’s Your $64 Tomato?': Redditors Weigh In on Their Greatest Sunken Costs

Using lawn mower


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Using lawn mower

The $64 Tomato

There is nothing like the rush we feel when we embark on a personal project, but as anybody who has gone deep in the DIY laboratory knows, it’s not always cheap.

In a recent Subreddit devoted to frugality, users discussed the costs of projects that were supposed to save money, referring to these projects as their “$64 tomatoes.” This is in reference to the book “The $64 Tomato,” where author William Alexander chronicles his near loss of sanity while trying to create a perfect garden (he estimates that each tomato he grew cost him about $64). 

What kinds of projects did these Redditors sink their time and money into? What different forms does the $64 tomato take in this world? Here are some of our favorite responses.

Child and mother gardening in vegetable garden in backyard
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2. Lawn Care

If paying a professional team per hour to mow your lawn sounds expensive, don’t forget to factor in what it would take to do it yourself. “I have absolutely no idea how much money I’ve spent on plants in the last year in order to establish a pollinator paradise with native plants,” says one user, “but it’s definitely more than what I would have spent on lawn mowing.”

Grandmother sewing.
Vintage Handmade Quilt

4. Quilting

“Quilting is an EXPENSIVE hobby,” writes one user. Put simply, fabrics and supplies can really run up a bill, especially if you want a quilt that’s bigger than your head.

"I made my parents a pair of $80 throw quilts for Xmas last year," another person added. "I vastly underestimated how quickly the cost of fabric adds up."

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Brown Eggs

5. Chickens and Eggs

Numerous Redditors lamented the cost of chickens and their eggs. One writes: “The $2000 egg,” before going on to explain,”DIY chicken coop at the height of the construction lumber mania + food + fencing + materials to make brooder.” 

Another user mentions that they spent $1,000 on startup coop costs and spend around $20 a month on food and bedding. For more insight, read our guide on whether raising chickens is cheaper than buying eggs.

Related: DIY Disasters: 20 Repairs to Leave to the Pros

Electric Drill Storage Rack

6. Drills

“I live in an apartment and all I really need is a screwdriver,” says one Redditor of their $200 drill. This is probably true if you’re not making major home repairs all the time. Don’t invest in the nicest drill on the market when a simple screwdriver will do in most situations.

Related: DIY in the USA: Tools That Are Still Made in America

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Three Labrador Retriever dogs on the grass

8. Dogs

“There was the $10 dog,” says one Redditor of their dog. Dark take. Much like a child, you’re supposed to know what you’re getting yourself into financially when you bring companionship into your life. You can expect your $10 dog to multiply into the high thousands throughout its life. Calling a dog a "bad investment" feels like something an alien would say.

beekeeping by Matthew T Rader (CC BY-SA)

9. Beekeeping

“Beekeeping has cost me thousands,” says one user, and you just feel the way they’re hanging their head. “I could never sell enough honey to break even,” they add, which is the bummer icing on the bummer cake.