When Being Frugal Failed: Words From Mr Hack

I like being frugal. No, I love being frugal.

I love the idea that I can learn something new and apply it to save me a few bucks.

I love that I can look at something, and put some thought into making that thing something entirely different with only my creative thought process.

And I love that I can renew  an item using some mechanical knowledge and/or experience so that item can continue to be useful. But sometimes it doesn’t go according my plan. And my frugal ways are probably the reason why it failed. 

The Bicycle

Nineteen years ago, I bought a brand new bicycle.

It wasn’t the best bike in the world but it wasn’t the cheapest either.

I think at the time I paid about $600 for it, and for a short while at least it was my main mode of transport. But overall, for the last 19 years I have enjoyed using my bicycle at the very least on a weekly basis, and more often in the last few years as I tried reducing my car use and increasing my activity level


A couple of years ago I was able to purchase another bike of the same brand but a few years newer.

It was an alloy frame (my other one is a steel frame) with front shocks and bigger wheels; I was sold on the idea that it was ‘better’ than my current bike and I bought it very cheap.

But it didn’t take long to realise why it was cheap. All the mechanics of the newer bike were knackered and to replace them with new parts (even trying to shop online) meant I would spend almost as much on a new bicycle and my frugality refused. 

So for at least a short while, I returned to my old, heavy but mechanically sound bike.

Then I Had An Idea

What if I swapped the parts from one to the other?

It was something I hadn’t done before so I would learn a bit about bicycle stuff. At my next available time slot (yep, I run on slots of time) I was going to transfer the bits from one bike to the ‘better’ one. 

Months and months later, that time slot made itself available.

I put no thought into this not working. Just that I would figure it out as I went, and by the end, I would have a light, mechanically sound bicycle that I could use for the next however long. 

It’ll be fine.

But it wasn’t.


First of all, I didn’t have the right tools.

However being a savvy fella, I utilised what I did have and disassembly started.

Slowly but surely.

Yet making do only got me so far.

Pulling the heavy bike apart without the right tools meant there was some damage. No problem I thought, as I won’t be using this bike any more anyway. The focus was the lighter bike so if I couldn’t use the heavy bike again, it didn’t matter.

Frugality was starting to consume me.  

Further along and still making do with the wrong tools, causing more mayhem, making irreversible decisions and it gets to a point where suddenly I realise it’s not going to work.

The crank assembly that I was going to transfer wasn’t going to fit the new frame. But it has to! I cut it out of the heavy frame. I can’t go back at this point! Hmmm.  

When I say that I cut the crank assembly out of the old frame was no exaggeration.

I literally did cut it out.

Even when doing it I was thinking this isn’t what I would normally do.

I am making this old steel frame no longer someone else’s ‘better’ bike find. And I knew while I was cutting that I can’t go back if this swap doesn’t work.

My focus was that I can do this swap, upgrade my bike for no extra financial cost, and being frugal will come out on top. And I admit that I was wrong. Wrong to the point that I found myself amongst a pile of bike parts, but no bike. 

No Bike, No Car

What was funnier about this situation was at the time I also had no car.

It had broken down and hadn’t been repaired yet.

Now I have no car and no bicycle.

I think it had been about 25 years since I’d had no mode of transport excepting two feet and a heartbeat.

And I now have to explain myself and my situation to the Cash Hippy, who luckily for me was an understanding soul.  

Lessons Learnt

When I say that being frugal failed, I’m sounding more dramatic than I need to be.

In reality, being frugal in this instance still taught me something.

I learned that sometimes not having the correct tools means you become inventive, but knowing when you really do need the correct tools means you shouldn’t proceed without further consideration.

And that being frugal doesn’t always mean you know what’s best, but you’re sure willing to listen to those that do know … even if it’s Google.

And that all crank assembly fittings are not made equal. 

So I’ll continue to try my hand at most things.

I still love the creativity frugality affords me. I love that something I might once have thought seemed beyond my abilities really wasn’t, once I’d had a go. And I don’t mind saving dollar in the budget if I can.

And my bicycle situation?

Well, we priced a new bike, halved that cost as the budget, and sourced a great replacement on a Facebook Buy, Swap and Sell site, where the money went to a local, frugal, handy man with a side hustle in bicycles.  

That’s my tale for today.

Just remember to have crack. What’s the worst that could happen? 

Mr Hack

Please scroll on down to the comments box and share your frugal fail story.

3 thoughts on “When Being Frugal Failed: Words From Mr Hack

  • 5 November 2020 at 12:41 pm

    This guy needs to show more patience. 😉

    • 5 January 2021 at 5:29 pm

      It can’t always go to plan, but I can still try and learn regardless. Thanks for the comment! Mr Hack


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