Man beard shopping bags surprise and shocked facial expression
Luis Molinero /

I’ve been decluttering for years, since long before Marie Kondo, the maven of tidy homes, was a household name. One approach I use is to try buying only things I’ll use regularly.

I tested that strategy in 2014. My husband and I were debating whether to buy a folding table for hosting large groups. It was only $40. But would we use it enough to make it worthwhile? We decided we would, and we tested that assumption: Each time we used the table, I got out a Sharpie marker and recorded the event and date on the table’s underside.

We used the table recently for an Easter egg-dying party. When I tipped it on its side to add the new date I counted the uses: 14 — a whopping $2.85 per use. This was indeed a worthwhile purchase.

But not every purchase makes such solid economic sense — or is as easy to test. Following is a look at things that we commonly buy but that few of us really use much. Think twice before making money mistakes like these.

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