What Was The Smartest Purchase You Ever Made?

Last week, we asked you to reveal those moments when realized you’d been making a big mistake as a consumer. Today, we want to lighten it up and talk about those times that make you most proud.

Maybe you’re like me and it’s that cast iron skillet you’ve had for over 20 years, and which just gets better with use (and proper care, of course). Or perhaps it’s the car that’s seen you through two marriages, four jobs and five presidents?

And then there are those things that might have cost a pretty penny but were well worth the expense. After all, in some cases you do get what you pay for.

So share your stories with the room about those purchases that have made you most proud.

Comments

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  1. Ominous Gamer says:

    A library card.

    wait…that was free

    • AngryK9 says:

      Well, you could say you bought it if you’ve ever had to pay a late fee. :p

      • trentblase says:

        Or paid property tax. Or paid higher rent as a result of property tax. Or paid any other local tax.

      • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

        OMG I knowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww…..I’m paying off a 60 dollar late fee righ now. Damned if I didn’t know the library nixed the 10 dollar late fee fine cap. Oh well was my own fault.

    • Bibliovore says:

      We live just outside of city limits. This means our property taxes are a lot lower, but also that we’d have to pay something like $670/year for a library card. That buys a lot of books.

  2. pantheonoutcast says:

    I once got a great deal on some magic beans while on my way into town…

  3. photoguy622 says:

    I got an open-box Moen kitchen faucet at Lowes for $10 when it is normally $130. Still works and looks great after 5 years. Plus it had all the parts in the box!

    I also got a GE Profile stainless steel range hood off eBay as an open box when Lowes wanted $295. It was in perfect condition.

    • HungryHippo says:

      really? a kitchen faucet? that is one of your best purchases?

      • coren says:

        AT over 90 percent discount it might be one of mine too

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Never underestimate the feeling of satisfaction you can get from scoring a great deal on something you might otherwise never buy for yourself.

      • photoguy622 says:

        Yes! I always tell people about it when they come over my house for the first time. I’m a nerd like that!

        C’mon that was an awesome deal!

  4. veronykah says:

    Last year when I was sure my car was never going to pass smog, I bought a scooter. The BEST purchase ever.
    Spent 2k on the bike and $100/yr on insurance. I drive it all over LA, parking is mostly free, never sit in traffic, its fun and the tank holds a whole GALLON of gas that takes me 80 miles.
    Love it and find myself driving my car almost never.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      What kind of scooter did you get? Did you get a 49cc or is it closer to a motorcycle in terms of displacement & HP?

      We’re thinking about doing the same thing.

      • veronykah says:

        Got a 2007 Yamaha Vino, its a 125cc.
        I’d recommend a 125 or above if you are living anywhere that traffic can move fast, 50ccs would just be too slow in LA where you can easily be doing 50 in the city.
        Anything below 150cc isn’t allowed on the freeway but I can generally get to where I’m going as fast or faster on surface streets anyway. If its really far I take the car.
        They have under seat storage and room at your feet so they are really great for errands since you can carry stuff home and park anywhere.
        Driving home during rush hour is actually FUN vs miserable. That’s probably the best part, well that and when you have to put in gas and it costs under $3.

        • parv says:

          How is the driving during heavy rain which reduces vision of all, & wet roads make for bit unstable/slippery surface for two wheelers?

          • bill793 says:

            I ride rain or shine (and a time or two in snow, and even hail once….once), As long as you have good rain gear you don’t really get all that wet. Visibility & traction are naturally less, but it’s no different than a car, just adjust riding style to the road conditions.

      • Paladin_11 says:

        As a motorcyclist of many years and as someone who has had to respond to traffic collisions involving them, let me please urge you not to skimp on the protective equipment. Buy a quality full face helmet and wear it. Wear a heavy duty jacket and something to protect your legs, and please ride in boots. Motorcycles and scooters are great transportation. But as we say, dress for the slide, not for the ride. If you think shorts and flip-flops cut it as bike gear you are sadly mistaken. Please don’t make also make that painfully mistaken.

    • Harmodios says:

      That actually sounds like a very smart idea. In urban Europe a lot of people do this.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Our best purchase, to date, has been our car. We finally got rid of my expensive to maintain car and got a reliable Japanese car with good gas mileage, plenty of room for friends and things we need to move around, and we love it.

      • apd09 says:

        I did the same thing last week, though I was forced because a woman rear ended me and totaled my Explorer. I am now the proud owner of a 2007 Honda Accord.

    • ugly says:

      I was going to report the same win. My wife and I had 2 full size 6 cylinder, 4 door, A/C blah blah blah. The only time they were both out of the driveway was when we were both at work. I traded my Jeep Cherokee in on a scooter and saved close to $400 / month between insurance, fuel and maintenance savings.

      I started with a 49cc, but I’d suggest people follow your advice on the Vino 125. The additional power is worth the slight drop-off in mileage. I rode mine through the winters here in Canada, although in Vancouver we only have snow a couple of days a year.

      I couldn’t believe how much I started enjoying my commute, it took less time than in a car, I arrived home and at work smiling, and the impact to my lifestyle was only in the plus column. Especially as a second vehicle this is such a clear winner I hope that it really takes off.

      • Kman says:

        How come your commute took less time in a scooter? I’d think it would take more time because you can’t go as fast as you can in a car. Or did it just seem to take less time?

        • Con Seanne-BZZZZZZZZZZZZ says:

          Traffic.

        • ugly says:

          Because it’s so small I’d walk it through the barrier at the end of the cul-de-sac and onto the next road, that saved me 2 lights which made up more than enough time. In general my actual driving time speed was pretty much the same (“in traffic”) however there were times when traffic backed up and I could scoot up the bike side or take more agile short-cuts.

          It’s a good question though.

        • veronykah says:

          Lane splitting is allowed in CA, that alone makes the commute here faster during rush hour.
          Not having to waste time looking for parking also saves a lot of time in LA.
          If you have a 125 or higher bike you can easily ride as fast as traffic is flowing on city streets.

        • veronykah says:

          Oh yeah, and not being annoyed and road ragey definitely makes the commute SEEM faster anyway…being able to go around traffic and really never get stuck just SITTING makes driving much more pleasant.

      • Azzizzi says:

        Do you need a motorcycle license to ride a scooter in California?

    • Moosehawk says:

      I was hoping someone would post something mentioning a scooter. I’ve been contemplating whether I should get one or not, or at the very least a motorcycle.

      Thanks for the info

    • Stupidone0 says:

      Not to be a killjoy, but even though you get 80 miles to the gallon, you’re polluting a LOT more than a regular car because of your scooter’s lack of a catalytic converter. Food for thought.

  5. funnymonkey says:

    When we bought our house, my husband replaced the sump pump and bought a backup pump that runs on a battery. A year and a half later, when epic rainfall cut power to our neighborhood and flooded EVERYTHING, our basement was dry.

    • Shopper Bitten says:

      That’s something I need to do!!

      • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

        We have a super heavy duty regular pump, a water powered backup, a solar powered backup and an extra pump ready to be put in service when needed (usually a pump lasts us ~2 years. Now we can finally sleep at night.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      it sounds like your smartest purchase wasn’t a sump pump, but a smart husband.

  6. sirwired says:

    Collectively, it would be improvements to the house I currently live in. In our last house, we put off needed renovations until it was time to sell, meaning we paid for somebody else to enjoy a like-new looking house.

    We recovered our investment, and then some, but my wife cried when she saw how great the house looked and it was time to sell. (We had already moved…)

    • Harmodios says:

      Sir, you started your post with the word “collectively”, this makes you a communist and I have therefore not read the rest of your comment.

  7. grumpygirl says:

    it’s not so much a thing as a service: packers, for my last move. keeping me from having a nervous breakdown = priceless.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Seconded.

      • grumpygirl says:

        plus, i’d lived in my old place for 14 years, i’m a pack rat, and i was moving to a new city away from my family. in my head i had visions of me sitting on the floor crying, surrounded by dust and pennies.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          I also hired an unpacker and organizer. For half a week’s pay I probably saved my quality of life for six months.

    • veronykah says:

      Oh yea, paying someone to move your stuff is my favorite. I’m amazing at packing but not having to deal with the actual MOVING of stuff? So worth it a thousand times over.

    • laffmakr says:

      There are people that actually do this?

      OMG my life just got simplified by a factor of 10!

    • baquwards says:

      We packed ourselves but hired movers, the best money I ever spent! We will never ever move our own stuff again, so much less stressful.

    • Kingeryck says:

      I’ve moved like five times in my life and next time I am most definitely hiring movers. I don’t care if its hundreds of dollars, it must be so worth it.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I’m moving now, and it would’ve been nice. I hired movers, but I’ve had to pack myself.

    • AnthonyC says:

      As a recent college graduate, I’ve moved on average twice a year for 5 years (into school each fall, into somewhere else each summer). I’m gotten so used to packing and moving up all my stuff, I forget that these kinds of services exist.

      My next move, several years from now, will involve some real (read: wood, not particle board) furniture. At that point, I’ll need to avail myself of movers, at least, if not packers.

  8. Randell says:

    #1 This guy once sold me this bag of stuff and told me if I smoke it or put it in brownies it would change my life. Best thing I EVER bought.
    #2. Porn of course. Something you can use over and over again and get the best bang for the buck.

  9. zandar says:

    probably our used KitchenAid stand mixer. Buying used, we saved a bundle. It’s such a kitchen workhouse/multitasker, It has streamlined how we make so many different things, we probably owe days of relaxation time to it.

    #2 would have to be my Mackie 1604 audio mixer. I have a home studio and various pieces in the sound chain have broken down or become obsolete over the years. In a pinch I have more than once pulled this old beast out and manage to record what I need in no time. Simple to use, built like a tank, I expect to get another 20 years out of it if I don’t abuse it.

    • incident man stole my avatar says:

      I’ve got a Mackie 1202 and it’s great… especially for doing live radio shows with a band.. nice and portable

    • Bibliovore says:

      I’ll second the KitchenAid. Those are incredible.

  10. NarcolepticGirl says:

    -Washer & Dryer
    -Purchasing gas/flights to see family members over the last 6 years or so.
    -Electing Health Coverage from my employers over the years
    -Mr Clean Magic Erasers
    -My PC which I bought in 2001 (although, the main HD finally died over the weekend – but I backed everything up on an external HD)
    -Zippo Lighter
    -Doc Marten boots.

    That’s about it. I’m bad at saving and I’m really cheap – so I don’t really make any expensive purchases. Nor do I make a lot of purchases where I buy things that don’t fall apart within a short time. I’m working on that.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      So you DID buy a W/D. Good for you!

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Yes, finally. It’s being delivered tonight.
        I’m very excited…!

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Was it because of my suggestion previous? Or peer pressure from friends/family ; – )

        • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

          It’s great until you have to move. LOL.

          I’ve been extremely happy with the convenience of mine, but now I’m moving and I had to take the door off the fridge to get them out for the movers. Going to be the most stressful part when they come this evening.

    • wilde_hare says:

      Mr Clean Magic Erasers!~ I agree

      They even make knock offs now that are cheaper and work just as well!

  11. AndyRogers says:

    Large Big Green Egg. No question.

    After I bought that, I realized my oven was a waste.

  12. wickedpixel says:

    Lasik

    • electrogruve says:

      Totally agree with you. Got Lasik done about 6 years ago and it changed my life. Not having to put contacts in every morning is priceless. No more blood-shot eyes also a plus.

  13. apd09 says:

    A food dehydrator and a vacuum seal machine. I can make my own beef jerky, and also preserve frozen foods for a long time by vacuum sealing them prior to freezing.

    Add in some marinade to the bag before sealing and you can really make it easy when cooking dinner because the stuff is already marinaded and ready to cook once defrosted.

    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

      I’ve always wondered about getting a vacuum seal machine, and whether or not it’s cost effective vs. the trouble I go through now to wrap it in press-and-seal, and then put that into a ziploc freezer bag.

      • apd09 says:

        I use press and seal wrap for things as well then store them in freezer bags, and its fine for most stuff but the vacuum sealer works wonders on real long term items. Buy a bunch of chicken or steak while on sale, portion them out, and vacuum seal them. They will stay good in the freezer for years if need be, whereas just wrapping stuff would not hold up that long.

    • Fujikopez says:

      I bought a dehydrator for $2 and a food saver (brand name) for $10 at a garage sale. They both work perfectly, and have more than recouped their original costs. Now I can buy meat on sale and dehydrate my “you-pick” fruits in the summer-fall. WIN.

  14. jonmason1977 says:

    My first GPS, a couple of hundred bucks to save countless minutes/miles/arguments driving around in circles following a paper map/directions.

  15. Manny says:

    It was a two family house that I bought in 1999. My Dad said if you want to move out you buy a house and move into it. So I bought one, lived in it for 3 years (rented the other unit) and then got married and bought another house. The rent from the two family paid for the mortgage on the two family and most of my new house’s mortgage. I eventually paid the two family off. Now it pays for my primary home and a vacation home. Soon I will have those paid off. It will eventually pay for my kids college and my retirement.

  16. selianth says:

    It’s not necessarily the one that saved us the most money. But our smartest purchase has to be putting in central air conditioning in our house. We moved in during the fall, and had the central air installed the next spring. The bill came during a heat wave and it was one of the few large purchases that didn’t even sting a little when we wrote the check. It’s so extremely important to us to be comfortable in our own house – I think we would have been miserable if we didn’t do it. Five years later and I still think about how much I enjoy it.

  17. liamarbetman says:

    The Orange Box by Valve.

    • mh83 says:

      Seconded. I’ve put in nearly 300 hours into Team Fortress 2 alone. They keep updating it with new weapons and maps!

      • INsano says:

        I put in 84 hours the first *week* that game came out. Haven’t played in a few years because I needed to detox.

    • areaman says:

      No word rhymes with orange and there’s not many values in gaming like the Orange Box.

      But I bought the games seperately because it’s cheaper to do that now (but not when it came out).

  18. syzygy says:

    Espresso machine. Paid for itself in a couple weeks of not buying $4 specialty coffee drinks. Now it’s all gravy. Or, uh, coffee.

    • Jared The Geek says:

      Same here. Not an expensive machine but it was an expensive habit.

    • HoJu says:

      Oh, right. My Keurig… Forgot about that one.

    • PottedPlant says:

      I lucked out on my espresso machine, too. LaVazza Espresso Point, retails for $700. I found one almost brand new (still in the box) at the Salvation Army for $20.

  19. Jfielder says:

    My 98 ranger…. It’s a cheap little truck that needed a lot of work when I bought it. But I do every bit of work myself and this thing has saved me a ton of money over the last 4 years. It was originally bought as my “get out of debt” vehicle. I accomplished that and it’s now my “build a nice savings account” truck, and it’s working quite well!

    • Kevin411 says:

      I feel similarly about my 2001 Toyota Tacoma pickup. This low-frills purchase cost me 3 years of $350 payments (after a little cash and trade-in) and I’ve now gone 6 years without a car payment, and have saved more than enough since (by paying myself a $300 car payment into savings) to pay cash for a replacement, though this baby is running fine at 75,000 miles. Given what I have learned here (and earlier through the Clark Howard radio show) the next one will be gently used, another truck (they hold value well), paid for with cash, and very hopefully American-made. Imagine what I’ll save over the next, hopefully, 40+ years never financing another vehicle. (Plus avoiding the hassle of dealing with the bank and monthly payments…)

  20. kylere1 says:

    Lasik

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      This times a million (although I had PRK because of many different reasons). It was worth every penny and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

    • Underpants Gnome says:

      Agreed.

    • matt314159 says:

      ditto that. Last December I had mine done and for the first time in 23 years, was free from glasses. By the way I’m only 26…been wearing glasses since I was around 3 years old.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Oh yeah! Lasik is awesome; no more tired eyes after 14 hour work days wearing those damn things, no more overheated and sweaty faceskin during the summer wearing eye glasses, scratchy eyes, no more wearing them on 10 hour flights, no more putting them in my eyes in Europe with jet lag, no more buying new ones or forgetting to buy new ones, no more forgetting to buy the solution, no more getting soap in your eyes, no more dropping them on a public bathroom restroom, etc. I am sure that you know the list well also. lol.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Anyone have any suggestions for Lasik in NY? I’ve had it with sticking my fingers in my eyes every morning….

      • seth_lerman says:

        Where in NY? Dutchess and Westchester county area I say Dr. David Steinberg in East Fishkill, NY.

  21. keith4298 says:

    Lawn mower – paid for itself over and over again.

  22. Jeanyuhs says:

    Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 2×12, best money I have ever spent in my entire life.

  23. gnubian says:

    Seriously, best purchase ever was buying a Bunn commercial single burner coffee maker. It cost $225 new. Up to that point, we had spent stupid amounts of money on mr coffee, bunn, etc .. all failed within a year. The Bunn has never stopped working since we bought it in 1998.

    Per the original specs we received, it brews a 12 cup pot of coffee in 3 minutes and up to 8 gallons/hr.

    To put the coffee consumption into better perspective, we just bought 54lbs of beans yesterday …

    • stormbird says:

      Fifty-four pounds of coffee? How do you keep it fresh? Or is it is a few dozen bags?

    • greeneyedguru says:

      This is only worth it if you drink obscene amounts of coffee (which you obviously do). The thing uses a decent chunk of power to keep the water hot all day and night.

  24. temporaryscars says:

    An M1 Garand.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      In the same category, I would say my Remington 870 Express Super Magnum.

      Her name is Audrey.

      • tiki22cal says:

        I don’t name my arms-most women don’t-but my Garand was also relatively inexpensive at the time at $230, compared to today’s prices. If you qualify for the program, this is the place to go: http://www.thecmp.org/ (The Civilian Marksmanship Program). I’ve also bought .22 target rifles for my kids through there, and they are of good quality, much better than what I find for the same price at a sporting goods store.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      The problem with Garands is once you buy one, you’ll be pulled in and start collecting them. I bought my first through CMP for $99 many years ago and immediately fell in love.

  25. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Our smartest purchases:

    1. Roku Netflix player — This gave us enough home entertainment to justify axing cable TV.

    2. Propane grill — No more heating up the house in summer and it cuts down considerably on dishes.

    • Dutchess says:

      we’re living parallel lives….I would have answered the exact same thing.

      I’ve used the HECK out of my roku box and downgraded my cable (my condo association dues include basic cable). I hardly watch any TV now…

      My Patio Caddie by Charbroil has been the best thing ever…I cook at home far more now that I have it….

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I love my TiVo. Life before TiVo was boring – life after TiVo is exceptional. DVR has freed us to do things whenever we want. It’s fantastic.

  26. Osi says:

    Mail Order Spouse

    From Russia, With Love!

  27. b612markt says:

    My Droid. GPS, Internet tethering to my laptop, decent camera and so so so much more. I’ve never gotten so much out of a pocketable device before.

    • dreamcatcher2 says:

      Which app do you use for tethering?

    • failurate says:

      My wife and I bought Droids last month. It is a fun internet toy, but as an actual phone, it is not that great. And the bill is about $50 higher per month than what we were originally told. We were prepared for a higher bill from our standard, but I feel a little bamboozled.

      We like it just enough to suck it up for the duration of our contract, but after that, we’re going back to just having cell phones.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Why is it $50 higher per month, and have you fought them on it?

        • failurate says:

          I will hash it out with them tomorrow, but from what I have noticed so far is that they didn’t apply my company discount. But that will only amount to around a $15 savings (19% off the basic service).

          $80 basic service, $10 additional line, $30 x 2 for internets, $10 x 2 for messaging. $10 x 2 for gov. pork. Total $190.

          When the guy said $140, I should have said “How?”

          I definitely should have paid more attention to the math when I signed up.

    • Taliskan says:

      What do you use for Internet tethering, may I ask?

  28. LMacConn says:

    The smartest purchase I ever made was my car, a 2002 Ford Focus ZTS.
    I spent two years doing research, reading books and on the web, went to almost every dealership in the DC area, test driving different cars and learning how to deal with salesmen, when I finally found the right car I was sure I had made the right decision for me. Then I kept the finance guy in his office for 2 hours until he finally broke and gave me the monthly payment I wanted. She’s had a few problems (like getting hit while parked) but is still running almost as good as new.

  29. WordTipping says:

    Netflix Roku Box…probably the best piece of consumer electronics I have ever bought. Friends and Family come over, love it and go buy their own. Sure it has its limitations but it works so well. It is dead simple to set up. Combined with a $8.99/mo plan with Netflix and you have more TV than you will ever need. Fill in the gaps with Amazon VOD. It was good enough that I cut my cable saving me $50/mo.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I did exactly the same thing. We also dropped cable because of it and switched to a 3-at-a-time DVD plan. Between the Roku and all of the TV series on DVD, we have near infinite TV & movies at our disposal at about 1/3rd the price of cable.

  30. A.Mercer says:

    Some personal finance books. If I were at home I would share the titles that I particularly liked.

  31. FatLynn says:

    Ceiling fans in all of my big rooms.

  32. Segador says:

    A yearly pass to the Zoo here in San Antonio. It’s easily paid for itself ten times over, and our son loves going.

    After that, it’s a tossup between an amazing and perfect vacation to the Kona coast in Hawaii, or our ’98 Toyota 4Runner, which has 260,000 miles and shows no signs of slowing.

  33. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    My mother died and left my brothers and me in January of 2002. My youngest brother paid off his car note, which was smart since it prevented him from losing his car when he fell ill and couldn’t work. My younger brother paid off some of the principal on his mortgage, which was even smarter because he is now in a strong financial position to buy a bigger house for his growing family. I put all of my share in gold and silver and held it, and it is now worth more than four times as much in dollars.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Left us a modest inheritance, I mean. Teach me to type while I’m on a phone call…

  34. El Cainos says:

    1998 Toyota 4Runner. It’s been the only thing in my life that hasn’t caused me trouble. It’s got 125K miles, and expect to put at least that many more.

    • Segador says:

      Haha, look above. My ’98 4Runner has 260,000 and is still going strong. You’ve got plenty of great years ahead in that thing.

    • veronykah says:

      I agree with the other poster, its a Toyota, expect to get rid of it at 250,000 miles and see it driving around 3 years later.
      I have a ’91 Celica with somewhere around 210,000 (the speedo/odo broke) still driving with nothing but oil leaks wrong with it.

  35. missmelon says:

    I hate to admit it – but I don’t know how I ever lived without my iPhone.

    • Stupidone0 says:

      I totally agree. GPS everywhere, MLB At Bat, Plants vs. Zombies…

    • Elginista says:

      Completely agree. The two hours I spend on the train each day are so much more productive – and entertaining – than my pre-iPhone life. The same could probably be said about any smartphone, but I’m very happy with my purchase.

  36. AI says:

    Leatherman Charge XTi and the newer TTi. There is no better multitool.

    • nonsane says:

      While a good multitool is handy, i find murphy’s law takes effect too much. I purchase a multitool for 8$(or get it free with a pack of beer) and it lasts for 1 year, and then get a new one, if i get a nice one it’ll disappear into thin air within the month.

      • AI says:

        The Leatherman Charge is so much better than generic multitools and lesser Leatherman’s that you’ll learn not to lose it. It comes with a pocket clip, and until I got an office job, it was always clipped to the inside of my right pocket. It became part of the morning routine of things to put in my pants: belt, cell phone, keys, wallet, Leatherman.

    • IssaGoodDay says:

      I cannot speak for the Charge, but my Skeletool CX fits the same bill (best multitool ever!) Part of my morning routine – Wallet, Cell phone, keys, iPod Touch, and Leatherman clipped to inside of left pocket. I usually lose things in 1-2 months, but I’ve now had this for almost two years!

    • parv says:

      How is the grip during hard and/or long term of pliers? I currently have PST II …

      http://www.leatherman.com/product/PST_II

      … and it is hard to apply force (with pliers), or hold it tight for more than a few seconds for the side walls dig in palms.

  37. QquegChristian says:

    No guy is saying an engagement ring? You’re all up the creek tonight.

    Although it is a tough one. The wife or the Nespresso espresso maker?

    • writergrrl says:

      LOVE my Nespresso machine — gift from my awesome husband.

    • jdmba says:

      It could never be an engagement ring. If you are hinting that it should be “my wife” then so be it; but the ring, in and of itself, is not only a poor investment (=Jewelery) it isn’t even yours (=the guy).

    • adamczar says:

      Yeah, I don’t get this. The title is “smartest,” not “most important,” or something. I don’t think anybody–wives included–would argue that buying a ring vs something like, say, life insurance, is smarter.

    • RxDude says:

      nope – that would go in the other thread.

      The divorce, though…

  38. sugarplum says:

    My father helped me purchase my first car in college – he got a really great deal on a 1 year old Chevy and that thing lasted until it was in a flash flood ten years later. It was still going strong, too.

  39. cotr says:

    having an Amex. the rest follows.

  40. duxup says:

    A used 1995 Honda Accord. It has never let me down, still runs great.

  41. Dafrety says:

    When I finally gave up on Apple’s notebooks and switched to Windows laptops. Before then I had terrible luck with them constantly breaking down and had to deal with incredibly rude technical support.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      For me it was the opposite. I switched from Windows to Apple, and i don’t think I could ever switch back.

      • Dafrety says:

        I still really enjoy Mac OS X, but I’ve just had absolutely no luck with the build quality of their computers. The first one, an iBook 3G, I got just when they came out in 2001. I remember hating OS X and deleting it and going back to OS 9. I think I had the logic board replaced at least three times, the power cord replaced twice. Many hard drives, and later I find out that apparently they used IBM Deathstars (earned a cute nickname) in that model. Apple ended up replacing it with an iBook G4, which wasn’t much better.

        Similar experiences with the MacBook that replaced the iBook G4 (under warranty) and an iMac that was replaced with another iMac (which so far works perfectly fine.) If I could have more assurances about the quality of computers and service I would likely switch back.

  42. Mundo says:

    The one I’m getting the most out of? Gym membership. With the one I joined in, since I went through one year and saw it through the end (with the monthly rate for the 1 year membership discounted compared to the standard monthly rate), they have now put me on a monthly membership while still maintaining the discounted rate I have been paying.

  43. FigNinja says:

    My Kindle. I bought it for $400 when it first came out, too. I didn’t expect it to save me money but it did. It’s not just the price break on new releases and best sellers (though some publishers are using the agency model now we get that less often). The things that saved me money over my previous book buying habits are the ebooks from my library (which can be read on the Kindle by running a simple script and converting with Calibre) and the free samples.

    Now, I will admit that my book buying habits before were not the most frugal. I went to the library when I got the chance but I bought most of my books new. Because of the time it took to get books, I would tend to buy a lot at one time to make sure I wouldn’t run out of stuff to read. Well maybe I’m fickle but I’d often find that I wasn’t interested in what I bought any more or I’d start a book and not like it enough to finish. The free samples are pretty generous. They’re usually at least a chapter. That’s almost always enough to give me a good indication as to whether I’m going to want to continue. When you combine that with the instant delivery, it raises the success rate of my purchases dramatically. I figured at least 20% of the books I bought before didn’t get read.

    I never expected the Kindle to pay for itself. I bought it for the comfort, convenience, and to cut down on clutter and wasted paper. Sure, I could spend even less on books if I only went to the library and used book stores. But that wasn’t what I was doing. I was willing to splurge a bit to make sure I had something I really wanted to read when I wanted to read it. Now I get to read more books and spend less.

    • Dafrety says:

      I can’t believe I forgot about the Kindle. I just got mine (new second generation) a few days ago from Woot! for $150, and I love it. Have you heard about Project Gutenberg? They have tons of older books that have fallen out of copyright for free download legally. I have over 70 books on my Kindle and most of them were from Gutenberg so I’ve pretty much already made the money back from if I had bought physical versions of all the books. If you use it you’ll want to download the Mobi versions which are what the Kindle can read. Just plug it into your PC and copy them over.
      http://www.gutenberg.org/

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Over the past long weekend I went to manybooks.net (they get a lot of their stuff from Project Gutenberg, but the interface is better) and downloaded 1600 novels, averaging about 300 pages each (I only went for the largest ones). I can read a book a day, rarely two, but this should keep me in reading material for approximately the next four or five years.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Can’t the Kindle read .txt format files? I’m thinking of getting a Kindle but I’m hung up on the file format issues.

        • FigNinja says:

          It can read .txt files just fine. The only downside is that .mobi files often have things like metadata and linked tables of contents which enhance the reading experience.

        • Promethean Sky says:

          If you’re worried about file formats, you’ll want to look at another brand of ebook reader. You can’t even get DRM free stuff for the Kindle. Which excludes all of Project Gutenberg.

          • Promethean Sky says:

            Disclaimer: this is secondhand information.

            • mewyn dyner says:

              Go back to your source and beat them with a cane. The Kindle can read any of its formats without DRM. In fact only a small small portion of the items on mine are DRMed.

          • Dafrety says:

            Did you just pull this out of your ass right here? You most definitely can have DRM free books on the Kindle. I had said this in the comment tree you responded to. I have 50+ books from Gutenburg on my Kindle, they’re very easy to transfer via USB cable.

        • Dafrety says:

          The Kindle supports a fair amount of file types. Here’s the list from the Woot! website.

          * Kindle (AZW)
          * TXT
          * PDF
          * Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX))
          * MP3
          * Unprotected MOBI
          * PRC natively
          * HTML
          * DOC
          * JPEG
          * GIF
          * PNG
          * BMP through conversion

    • MattO says:

      i would agree – my Kindle was another one of my smartest purchases

  44. tyg says:

    I got a new-in-box bread machine at a yard sale for $10. That was 4 years ago and I make at least a loaf of bread a week in it, not to mention pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, ect.

    My other “find” was a happy accident. I needed a new purse and I didn’t want to spend a ton, so I got one that looked new at a thrift store for $3. Later that week my design-snob sister saw the purse and did a double take – turns out it was an original designer’s purse in a rare shape and color, and I sold it on ebay for $325.

  45. wwwdotcomdotnet says:

    My Omega watch! It cost a pretty penny, but when you consider that I will keep it my entire life and pass it down, it costs me only 16 cents a day!

  46. daveinva says:

    I’ve got plenty, I’ll share three.

    – My 24″ Dell LCD monitor, purchased in 2005 for the then crazy price of $2000. Lasted forever, just as good as the day I got it, changed my enjoyment of home computing. Now, of course, they’re as cheap as donuts, but I got my money’s worth out of it over the years– it’s lasted through *three* computers.

    – A window-unit AC in a house with central air. I live in a four-story house, the central air doesn’t circulate strongly enough to the bedroom floor. Bought a cheapo window unit AC for the bedroom, it cools it down to an icebox (love it cold in the summer) allowing me to turn down the central air for the rest of the house. Not only makes it more comfortable to sleep, it saves me money in the rest of the house.

    – My LG French-door / bottom freezer fridge from Sears. My last fridge blew up (literally… long story), replaced it with this one. To those of you still using / suffering the old freezer-up-top, one door below model, you don’t know what you’re missing. Far more convenient, and cheaper to run to boot.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      You’ve gone through three computers in 5 years? Guess you’ve haven’t heard the concept of upgrading. That, or who made those computers? Dell? HP? If so, should’ve known. I’ve had my Samsung 24″ monitor for a couple of years now, and works just fine – and I’ve sure didn’t spend $2,000 on it (actually was $300 on a Boxing Day special, and yeah, I know they’re a lot cheaper now.) Only on its 2nd computer though — and before you chastise, the 1st one was already 4 years old when I bought the monitor.

      • daveinva says:

        They were off-the-shelf lemons. Motherboard problems in two of them, had a power unit go bad on the other one that fried pretty much everything else. I still raided the old machines for the drives, though.

        I *used* to build my own computers from the case up, but PCs had gotten so cheap that it was a far better use of my time to just waltz into a store and buy one than wait for weeks to ship one that I paid too much for.

        As for the monitor, again, I was an early adopter. I paid $2000 on my LCD so you didn’t have to.

  47. NettyM says:

    Our used John Deere riding mower that cut mowing time by more than half!

  48. Daverson says:

    When my stove – a sixty-year-old behemoth – died, I found a two-year-old GE Profile XL, already set up for propane, at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $250.

  49. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    This isn’t necessarily a “smart” purchase, but I’d been holding off on buying an HDTV for the last few years, and finally decided to get one. After agonizing over it for literally weeks, considering whether or not I wanted to spend that kind of money, the TV I had my eye on dropped in price by $300. I’ve never been happier.

  50. jacques says:

    A high-quality rice cooker. I had purchased some cheaper ones and was unimpressed, but picked up a nice Zojirushi with a timer, which allows me to eat rice much more often (and save money on more meals), and I can set the timer so it’s ready when I get home from work.

  51. RandomHookup says:

    An electronic thermostat. It was actually free from my utility, but I had to pay for installation.

    Saves me a ton by dropping the heat when I am usually not home and when I’m in bed. I like sleeping in a cold room in the winter and this guarantees it happens without me having to think about it.

  52. agraham999 says:

    Proper metal cookware (All Clad – expensive but will outlive me)
    Steam cleaner for rugs/carpets
    Pro quality steamer for clothing – farewell irons
    Sonos music system – 5+ years and going strong
    Any Harmony remote
    Kloss Model 1 radio (7 years going)
    European made pressure cooker for canning
    Replacing plastic ware and plastic baggies with glass containers
    Roomba’s and Scooba’s

    to name a few…

  53. kunfushuss says:

    My college education. Cost to me was about $30K after scholarships and financial aid, but I easily earn triple what I would have made without one. Technically speaking, I haven’t finished paying for it yet though, I’ve only been out two years

  54. SugarMag says:

    $5k cash spent on a used car….10 years to the day still running well but I received a newer (as in less old, but still old) handmedown car…so I dontated it. Over the 10 years – $300 a year spent for repair/routine maintainence and that’s it. Cheapest most reliable car I’ve ever owned.

    The “free” car has been costing me a fortune however :/

  55. 3rdUserName says:

    My house..

    My wife and I bought it for WAY, WAY below current market per SQFT value for the same floor plan in our neighborhood, the interest rate is under 4.5% and we got 8K from the government to make the purchase.. Well, it isn’t all peachy.. All of the 8K when into buying stocks and that’s lost about 18% as of today, but I’m going long on them anyway..

    My last big purchase of my car didn’t turn out as great as I would have liked, but I’m glad I made out like a bandit with this house..

  56. Temescal says:

    It would be a tie between my GPS and my Kindle.

    My GPS, because it saved my butt many times. I can’t picture myself living without it anymore.

    My Kindle, because, while it probably has cost me more money that it has saved me, it has made me an avid reader again.

  57. MustWarnOthers says:

    I decided to move over to an electric toothbrush, and got the Sonic Complete, S-200. It was like a fraction of the cost of the higher model, which has a useless massage function. 45 bucks on Amazon.

    It’s German made (Braun), it’s charging station is awesomely engineered (it’s a plastic nub that the toothbrush fits on, with no metal connections of any kind), it has an awesome solid feel in your hand (again, it’s German) and it cleans like son of a bitch.

    http://www.amazon.com/Oral-S-200-Sonic-Complete-Rechargeable/dp/B0002M5JNY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1278961512&sr=8-2

    It’s one of those handful of purchases you make where you say “This is worth every penny of my money”.

    • 3rdUserName says:

      That reminds me, My Braun razor has been going strong for over 6 years now.. I don’t know how the battery still holds a great charge, but I’ll be buying another Braun IF this thing ever dies.. My current razor has so many shaves on it the paint is peeling off, but it’s still shaves great.. I don’t know when the last time I’ve been this impressed with an electronic was..

      I’m impressed with my Sonicare too, but the heads are just way too overpriced for me to rave about it..

    • 3rdUserName says:

      EDIT-

      I didnt realize that MustWarnOthers was talking about an Oral-B brush.. I’ll have to check them out when my battery dies in my current Sonicare..

  58. Starfury says:

    I like thrift stores and garage sales; I collect old board games. I’ve made a few $$ over the years reselling items.

    Talisman 2nd ed: Paid $1, sold for $90
    Avalon Hill Titan: Paid $2: sold for $120
    Conquest of the Empire: 3 copies over the years, sold for an average of $90 each
    Box of random miniatures: $6. Sold for $250 and I still have the plastic tub they came in.

    Other things: my parent’s old Accord. 96 with 35k miles on it for $5000. Now at 113k miles and going strong.

  59. Rachacha says:

    My Neat Receipts Scanner. It has cut the time to complete my travel reimbursment paperwork from over 1 hour to just 10 minutes.

    I am hoping that my house will also be up there, but I will be selling it next year so time will tell if it truly was a wise decision.

  60. jdmba says:

    The happiest purchases I have made were:

    1) LCD TV in the bathroom on a swing arm
    2) TiVo
    3) Surround sound in the bedroom
    4) $15 quesadilla maker from Amazon

  61. Speak says:

    1. The 1960′s snowblower I “bought” from my Dad when he got a newer one, it was originally my Grandfathers. My dad bought a second since then and all I did on mine was replace some shear pins and oil. This winter I found out that you could buy a roto-tiller attachment in place of the snowblower, same engine part, so I am looking for that now.

    2. Old Kitchenaid mixer that I bought at an auction of one of my relatives when they moved into a home.

    3. My own house, with off-street parking and a back yard. I just had a party in the back yard this past weekend and we were able to enjoy ourselves and had plenty of room to do it.

  62. Scuba Steve says:

    Bought a 2 fold down coach/futon set for $130 per couch, or $260 for both. They retailed for $600 each, we got them at auction and they look great.

  63. Taliskan says:

    General purpose tool kit. Comes with an assortment of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, measuring tape, level, and a few other tools. Nothing fancy, no big name brand, but probably the best thing I have ever bought ever, because you always need a tool for something.

  64. BryDawg says:

    When I was in my early 20s I bought a luxury car that I could not afford. My monthly payments were more than my rent and I had a very small income. 11 and a half years later the car has been paid off for the last 6 years and has over 180,000 miles on it. Little things are starting to go on it: key fob sensor doesn’t work, radio light goes in & out, some rips in the leather and the A/C is on the frtiz now. I’ve definitely gotten more out of than I would have thought and my goal now is to drive it to 200K before getting something else. I’ll be said when that day comes, though, as I truly love this car (Infiniti G20T). But, I can’t survive another Georgia summer with unreliable A/C (I could get it fixed, but the car is worth very little at this point and there are lots of ‘little’ things wrong with it). But, it has been the greatest purchase I’ve ever made and lasted well beyond what I thought it would.

  65. 50ae says:

    My 2002 VW Jetta TDI, every time I pass a pump I am so happy I bought a vehicle that gets 50mpg. I am also glad I spent the money on a Macbook Pro. I was going to buy an iMac but my wife talked me out of it and the laptop has been the perfect thing for me. I don’t miss a desktop at all.

  66. Hil-fish says:

    The Furminator, for our cats. Best cat-brush EVER!

    Second is probably new windows for our house.

  67. LexLuber says:

    My Ugg boots. Try shoveling snow every day for a month without them, and THEN you can make fun of me.

    • Cantras says:

      Dude, wear them in snow all you want. I have some boots that I’d say are 80% as ugly, and I wear them in snow.
      I’m laughing at the people who wear them with miniskirts.

  68. SuperNinjaâ„¢ says:

    -Hoover WidePath plus vacuum (After reading the CR Reviews of course) $60
    - Bosch Dishwasher (ditto) – $550
    - Scion xB – $16k

    and the worst money I ever spent?

    $1,000 in stock in a Puerto Rican Mortgage Lending Institution. (Allllll gone.)

  69. LD says:

    My Evo.

    • NumberSix says:

      A high performance car? Don’t get me wrong that’s a great car, but I highly doubt it falls under the “smartest” purchase catagory.

  70. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Four 25 percent off coupons for a trusted local tire shop/auto repair shop. I paid $10 each at a school auction for the coupons ($40 total), and have saved almost $1,000 on car repairs.

  71. mrregan says:

    1. A lifetime of buying 2 year old cars; I have probably saved $100,000 in the last 40 years.
    2. A new house with concrete siding, plastic trim and decks and fiberglass columns. No more painting or staining in my lifetime.
    3. “Always on” hot water heater. We can take 1 or 100 showers a day and never run out
    of hot water.
    4. A freezer to store 1/2 a beef. The meat is delicious and so much cheaper than buying
    it from the store.

  72. senior chick says:

    Probably a used Rainbow vacuum that I purchased on EBAY for $300. We own a dog that sheds a lot, and it really does the job as for picking up pet hair.

    Our dog will also let me use the brush attachment on him to get additional hair.

    I’ve had this for two or three years and it beats any of the other vacuums we owned.

  73. DigitalShawn says:

    The purchase I make every single year since 1999, tickets to the greatest show on earth; The Gathering of the Juggalos!

  74. jimstoic says:

    My Kitchenaid stand mixer. I’d wanted one for years, but thought it was too expensive. Now I wish I’d gotten in a decade sooner.

    I have the least-expensive model–the “Classic”–which I got in 2006 from Amazon for $142.71, thanks to some discounts. The frequency with which I use it and the sturdiness of the item make it my favorite purchase.

  75. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I would have to say my laptop, a 17″ widescreen Toshiba Satellite. It’s the first laptop I’ve ever owned and I love it. It was expensive but worth it, because I do everything on it. I really really enjoy being able to use it on the couch with wireless also, instead of killing my back/butt sitting at my desk with my old Pentium IV desktop.

    I plan to replace the desktop at some point with something cheap for a backup, but I’ll have to put Windows XP on it because I have this really cool Titanic game that won’t play on anything else. I’d also like to get a netbook for traveling because the laptop is heavy.

  76. megan9039 says:

    Lasik eye surgery, a GPS device and my wonderful golden retriever.

  77. INsano says:

    1. Never bought a car
    2. Never had to buy insurance for the car I didn’t buy
    3. Never had to buy gas for the car I didn’t buy
    4. $5 rice cooker from goodwill, the thing is a champ
    5. Gateway m680 laptop purchased in 2005, never had a single problem with it
    6. Having never invested a cent before, dumping my life savings (money that I wouldn’t have had if I had bought a car) into the stock market in Feb/March of 2009.
    7. 6 months of studying in Spain in college.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      We talked about whether we would be willing to move deep into the city and give up a car, and whether the savings from that would be worth the extra cost in rent – we’re not sure, and there’s a lot of risk involved, but I think it’s possible that in the future, we’d take the plunge and do it, if we could sell the car for a reasonable amount.

  78. ragesoadrules says:

    I got my laptop for a little over $300 after tax at walmart when they first opened by me. Dual core, 250 gig H.D., light, and battery lasts about 6 hours.

    My car was $100. It’s a 1991 Honda Accord, 5 speed, which I had to put a condenser and radiator in, ($200 total, grandpa owns a repair shop but I try to do most myself). She has 270,000 miles and still runs like a charm. Drove from Jersey to Georgia on $80 in gas, can’t beat that. I love that car :)

  79. Harrkev says:

    There are a few purchases that I made that I look back upon as just being a great idea. My short list:

    My first mapping GPS (a Magellan Meridian, many years ago)

    My Leatherman (Still carry it after almost 10 years)

    I have a feeling that my Nook is going to be on this list.

  80. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Our first house. In an age when the increase of the pricing of homes far outpaced the increase in one’s salary and hence savings account, getting a toe-hold was crucial. Many lucky breaks coincided and finally allowed us to buy. A few years later, we were able to buy a single family home and then sell the first place knocking $300K off our mortgage from the profit. The new home was closer to my work, saving me one to two hours of commute time (hours of my life) traversing the most treacherous highway in the country.

  81. MoonstarGem says:

    for me, it was a pair of glasses. They’re a specialty kind, with super scratch resistant/chem resistant lenses, and the flexy type frames. One week into having them while I was at work, I got whacked upside the head by a double-end cart that knocked my glasses off. They went spinning lens side down on a rough concrete floor, not broken, no scratches, nothing. I’ve also gotten grill cleaner splashed on them before,and not a mark on them. My brothers kitten even chewed on them once and not a scratch. $300, but worth every penny. Wish I had had those things when I still worked with kids! Babies/toddlers like to try and take my glasses. :P

  82. Science is for girls! says:

    My tempur-pedic bed! Originally $1600, it had been returned and had a small wine stain on it. Apparently the first owners tried the motion-transferal test from the commercials and found that it was not quite realistic. I snagged the mattress, a box spring, and new bed-frame for just over $400. Now I sleep uninterrupted for hours at a time and no longer wake up with numb limbs or backaches. Best. Purchase. Ever!

    • nobomojo says:

      I have a knock off tempur pedic bed from Ikea. it’s awesome!! I get much better sleep with less back pain.

  83. Jonesey says:

    I think the purchase I’ve been the happiest with was my first digital SLR, a nikon d40. I’ve taken so many awesome photos with it and begun a lifelong hobby in photography. Was a little pricey to buy the body and some lenses…but totally worth it.

  84. TDogg says:

    Buying a 3 year old used small SUV for $10k throught a private deal saving $4k over buying from a dealer. Thats was a good deal in itself. 6 months later we had a massive hail storm and did some substantial damage to the roof and hood. Insurance cut us check for almost $6k after deductible. I could live with the dings on the roof and the dings on the side of the car were livable with. Replaced the hood for $1k and kept the rest.

    4 years later needed to upgrade and I sold the vehicle for $5k. Effectively costing me nothing to own that car minus gas, insurance, and regular mentainance. I really didn’t want to sell it but wife said we didnt need a third vehicle and we had planned to using the funds to pay for the new car.

    • stuny says:

      While I good story and clearly a worthwhile investment, I don’t think you can dismiss all the costs of ownership from your cost of ownership…

  85. Rena says:

    A working NES console, several controllers, power cords and TV connectors, and Game Genie. Two bucks. Games 50 cents each. Man I love garage sales.

  86. startertan says:

    My 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee I bought from a dealer auction 4 years ago. I paid, after cost, commission, and new brakes $5600. It’s been 4 years and I’ve put almost 90k miles on it. Not THAT great when you consider, gas, insurance, new tires, and some minor repair work BUT that’s 90k miles I didn’t put on my G35. 2003 G35 and only 92k on her!

  87. matt314159 says:

    Aside from my LASIK Surgery last December, my most recent smart purchase was the Sony Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-300) off craigslist for $70. Saved about half price compared to a new one, and this thing has become my best friend, it goes everywhere with me. While it won’t save you money on books unless you’re into piracy or public domain material, there’s still a lot to be said for the ability to carry your library around in your jacket pocket.

  88. jrwn says:

    95 geo metro. I got 45 MPG before it died. Now when I see the “eco” cars getting 30+ MPG, I have to just shake my head.

    • CommanderLogjam says:

      Why has MPG gone down? Can anyone explain that?

      • IssaGoodDay says:

        People demand safety. Safety means added struts, supports, etc. and either significantly heavier materials (higher grade steel, etc.) or significantly more expensive materials (titanium alloys, carbon fiber). More weight means less fuel efficiency. Plus, people want bigger engines. Over in Europe where people don’t demand 200hp, they’re getting 50-60mpg and laughing their asses off at Americans, even though they’re paying $5.50-$6.00/gallon, they go the same distance for the same price :-)

  89. diasdiem says:

    Roku player and a Netflix subscription two years ago. Saved me a couple thousand in Cable bills. Also, a 4-drawer lateral file cabinet at a garage sale for $10. New ones cost ~$600

  90. HelloClairice says:

    Two things come to mind:
    1. Ooma VoIP – we’ve saved a ridiculous amount on home phone service, and ridiculous amount on cheaper cell phone plans because we can make unlimited free calls at home. Worth every penny.
    2. My TomTom GPS – I would have lost hours upon hours of my life getting lost without that thing.

  91. Pastry Minion says:

    Two that stand out for me: $65 adoption fee for my cat from the local shelter. She’s great company, cheap entertainment (we could watch her chase a laser pointer for hours) and I’d rather support our local shelter than go to a pet store.

    More practically: http://www.asseenontv.com/prod-pages/wonder_washer.html and a metal drying rack from Target.

    It seems goofy, but it’s way easier to use it to hand wash my delicate clothing, which saves me on dry cleaning. I got it for $50 and if it dies, I’ll buy another one ASAP. It doesn’t hold much, but I can wash out a work outfit at a time, and it easily holds a week worth of stockings and delicate lingerie. No more scrubbing out things in the sink.

    • Kino Escalate says:

      iPhone. I had an iPod so I started running, then had apps to track my exercise and diet, then used an App for OkCupid and found the love of my life. Also using it to balance my checkbook for the first time ever and with access to podcasts my sense of comedy has been redefined and I started to finally write. That’s not even counting how Pandora and This American Life and traffic maps have changed my commute.

      The iPhone has improved my quality of life in ways I never imagined when I purchased it as a cool toy.

  92. ss60 says:

    for pure return on investment….a dozen rolls of 3m micropore tape, some safety pins and rubber bands……. why? for foreskin restoration, It’s hard to place a money value on having a fully working genitalia (the foreskin, even a restored one is critical to having the gliding sensation) but I would place the value quite high

  93. econobiker says:

    Got an un-assembled metal frame desk/bunk bed from a thrift store for $23 since no one else could figure out how to put it together and it lacked hardware. I knew what it was and could figure out what hardware to use- which cost about $5. Ended up pulling the desk part out of the bottom and putting a standard frame bed in there.Five years later it still serves my two sons for when they visit. And these go for about $300 new.

  94. JackSchitt says:

    About a year ago, Staples decided that they didn’t want to carry Autocad anymore. Normally, when a software title is dropped from a store, it is available online and the stores return all of the product to the website distribution warehouse.

    In this case, though, the website would not be carrying it anymore either. What to do? Clearance rack, of course. It’s original price was $799. It got dropped to $499. Then to $299. Then to $59. Then to $29. And finally $4.99. And There it sat until, during a back room renovation, we found two of them on the floor behind the software shelf.

    As per company policy, it went on the clearance rack at $4.99 for a week before I was allowed to buy it.

    Because it was still a current version (it was 2008, 2009 was just released), bidding went up to about $500 apiece on ebay (pretty good as I had only asked for $100 apiece). I made enough money that I had to declare income on it on my taxes the following year.

    Before you ask why Staples didn’t ebay it instead, some retailers do do that with high-end stuff rather than put it on a clearance rack and sell it at a loss. Staples is not one of those retailers.

    I even suggested selling it via ebay, ringing it up in the store at the clearance price, and pocketing the difference (or putting the close to $1000 profit to use in a company party) and was told that it was unethical. So I bought them. Managers didn’t care in the slightest even after telling them it was for resale.

  95. nobomojo says:

    Best purchases:
    –Oreck vacuum. Best vacuum I’ve ever owned. it’s no frills but it could vacuum my foot up if it had the chance.
    –Aerogarden. I’ve had years of fresh basil and it’s made me so happy.
    –Birkenstock shoes. I have wide, flat feet and they are the most comfy shoes I can buy. I can make them last 10+ years too by resealing the cork, cleaning them, and waterproofing the leather.
    –a good set of kitchen knives (Henkles for example)
    –a good set of cookware (Cuisinart multiclad for example)
    –my cat. I got him for $120 at the pound. he’s cost us a lot in medical bills but he’s priceless.
    –dishwasher. cannot live without. period.
    –washer and dryer. see above.
    –my used honda civic. it’s a 2006 and has almost 90,000 miles on it and runs like a top. I plan on driving it until it explodes or something.
    –a good pair of jeans. For me, David Kahn jeans which are expensive but worth it. When the denim started wearing away I even took them to a tailor and had them fix it.
    –my house b/c I’ve wanted to be a homeowner since I was little
    –Dell computers– I’ve had 3 of them in the last 10 years. 2 of them still work.

    worst purchases ever:
    VW Jetta (year 2000), which always had something wrong with it and for the 2 years I owned it I spent $4000+ in repairs. I feel terrible that my mom bought it from me, but it was her decision. I will NEVER EVER own or recommend a VW.

  96. mattopia says:

    1) A used washer and dryer, $200 for the pair 5 years ago. Paid for themselves in the first year or better. The washer started leaking this year so I took advantage of the Ohio rebate program on the washer and sold the dryer on craigslist, making more than I paid for them! Unfortunately I don’t think my fancy new front loaders will have quite the same ROI over their lifetime.

    2) TomTom GPS. It’s saved so much frustration and arguing on road trips with my fiancee.

    3) TiVo (living room) and Roku (bedroom) – Nearly $80/mo savings in cable bills

  97. friendlynerd says:

    My house. Bought it in 2005 with a 103% mortgage in a somewhat-dicey neighborhood that was walkable to downtown. 5 years later the neighborhood is no longer dicey (in fact it’s kind of the hotness right now) and property values are way up.

    I am very grateful I ended up bucking the real estate trend.

  98. Sparkstalker says:

    My vacations. A week or two away from the grind every year works wonders on your mind…best so far was last year’s Alaskan cruise…

  99. SphinxRB says:

    2 PC programs. Roboform for all those stupid passwords, and Malwarebytes for spyware/malware. I purchased the Malwarebytes because it is always running along with my virus program. Roboform has a free version, but only holds 10 passwords. Makes browsing, login’s so much easier; I just love Roboform the most, add’s an easy to use toolbar to IE or Firefox, plus snycs it online in case your computer crashes.

  100. NumberSix says:

    Solar panels for the house. I’ve run a credit every year, and now I actually get payed for my excess generation!

  101. Outrun1986 says:

    Good computers, I get 6 years out of each one, sure beats buying a cheapo machine every 2 years like most people do (and complaining that the computer runs “slow” constantly).

    Good video games, 100 hours or more of play for $5-10, sign me up, you can’t beat that for entertainment purposes.

    Microwave, got it from a family member in 1984 and its still going, must be a real tank.

    One more for the worst purchases list:

    Carnival rides, its $4-5 here PER RIDE. Which is just insane price wise. I really love carnival rides but I simply refuse to pay $4-5 for a 2 minute experience.

  102. Winteridge2 says:

    I once bought a hunting knife in a garage sale for 50 cents. Used it for about 20 years, then discovered it was a collectible and sold it for $900.00.

  103. HoJu says:

    Bissell Carpet Steamer…. Two kids and a dog…. It gets a lot of use.

  104. EBE says:

    A new with tags Navy Issue pea coat in my exact size for $18.50 off of that popular auction site.

  105. Moosenogger says:

    I’m getting a degree in teaching, and have been trying to collect various books and trinkets to use in the classroom. I was shopping around my local thrift store one day and found a working miniature claw machine marked at $2.50. I immediately bought it, brought it home, cleaned it up, and filled it with candy and small toys. It works wonderfully (hiccups from time-to-time, but who knows how old it is?), and I hope to use it in the classroom as my treasure box.

  106. Groanan says:

    2nd Gen iPod (charged / connected via Firewire) just prior to invading Iraq in 2003.
    Sand killed CD players / Tapes melted in the sun (turning everything into the Chipmunks), my iPod brick kept steady over the year I was there and for years after (eventually the hard drive died).

    My friend did the exact same thing and there was a power blowout while his iPod was connected. It died. Every day he would plug it in again to see if he could get it to work. After a week it came back to life.

  107. NPHighview says:

    Two purchases:
    Our 1992 Toyota Camry (bought used in 1995, paid cash, all gravy since)
    A carved amber necklace bought at a Junior League rummage sale; the salesperson insisted it was plastic and we insisted that it was real amber. They insisted the price was $15; we bought it!

  108. shanecrow99 says:

    Maybe not the best purchase I have ever made but definitely the best deal I ever got.

    Fry’s had a pair of Polk floor speakers on sale for $80. Circuit City had the same speakers for like $200 EACH. Circuit City had a 110% price match guaranty. I took the Fry’s ad to Circuit City and pricematched the set of speakers. The math played out like this:

    $400 for pair of Polk speakers
    - $80 for pricematch = $320 difference. 10% of that is $32.

    $80 speakers – $32 = $48 dollars final price after the 110% pricematch.

    The salesperson that rang me up couldn’t believe it. I gave him the Fry’s ad and he picked up on a set for himself!

    I never saw a model of Polk speakers at Fry’s that Circuit City carried as well after that.

  109. Keter says:

    1993 Acura Integra, purchased in 2000 for $5000…still have it, still gets 36 MPG, still runs great and doesn’t leak a drop of anything, and is cheap to keep running. I planned on keeping it for at least 300K miles, at this point (235K), I’m upping that to 400K or until I can afford a used UFO. I’m very careful with maintenance, so this car might last that long. ;o)

    Acer Aspire Netbook – bought a year and a half ago and it has saved my bacon more than once. It’s so solid, I expect that it will outlive my newer and much more expensive HP desktop system.

    Dirt Devil ultra-lightweight vacuum…bought one for my office for $30 on clearance at Target, and liked it so much I bought another one for my house…I have dogs, a very rough-surfaced exposed aggregate concrete floor, and sisal rugs that are almost impossible to clean…and this is the first vacuum I’ve seen that handles the rough surface without damaging itself, and still has enough suction to clean the dog hair out of the sisal. Saved me the $400 I was otherwise going to have to spend on a Dyson, and is light enough that I can easily use it on the spiral stairs, too.

    Kenmore washer and dryer bought for $400 total from Aaron’s rental return. Ten years later, only the dryer has needed any attention…a belt…which was a $15 DIY job. When I’m ready to replace these, I will definitely go the rental-return route again.

    Somebody mentioned a long-lived coffee pot…I have a WestBend coffeemaker that I bought for $50 at K-Mart back in 1996 that is still looking and working like new. Just use only filtered water in it and run white vinegar solution through it once a year.

  110. MarvinMar says:

    WDTV and a couple 1TB hard drives

  111. Anne Boleyn says:

    My Paragard IUD that has:

    - kept me from not getting pregnant for 4 years and counting! It’s good for up to 12 years.
    - made it so I don’t need to spend $10 a month ($120/year) on birth control pills,
    - did I mention worry-free sex without babies?

    It was free without insurance (I’m a grad student so I don’t pay for my insurance), but even if I did have to pay the $500 for the IUD, insertion, and aftercare I’d still be out on top after its full course.

    Seriously, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

  112. Darren W. says:

    I bought a 1994 V6 Ford Mustang for $2900. That was 150,000 miles, and eight years ago. I still drive it. It runs well, has enough power, and is not a bad looking car at all. I’ve had to do regular maintenance, but I haven’t had any major repair issues. Sure, I only get about 20 mpg in the city, but not having to make car payments, or waste money on expensive insurance more than makes up for the cost of gas.

    I’ll be upgrading to a newer car soon, but honestly it’s mostly because of the status symbol aspect. Of course, after the way my ’94 has been treating me, I’ll be looking for another mustang. Only this time it will be a much newer GT Convertible.

  113. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I have two:

    1. Our Natuzzi leather sofa that we paid around $1000 for 13 years ago. It has put up with lots of abuse from us, the kid, and three pets. It still looks new.

    2. Our 1999 Honda CRV that we bought new. I still drive it and have only spent about $450 in repairs not counting new tires, regular oil changes, and a new battery or two. Now it’s become a game for me to see how long it will last.

  114. rlee says:

    Multi-focal contacts. I’ve worn glasses, then plain contacts, for distance vision for decades. When I started having problems reading as well, I gave ‘em a try. Been a happy user for several years now. Too much of a coward to try Lasik.

    Combo convection / microwave oven. above a cooktop. Does everything I need, and frees up all kinds of storage space. Looks classy, too.

  115. JohnnyD says:

    A dust-buster and a water-dispenser for my dorm room. I drink a lot of water and there was no sink in there.

  116. Kino Escalate says:

    iPhone.

    I was able to use its Apps to log exercise and diet, workout to music, keep my checkbook balanced, have a to do list, and most importantly, use OkCupid to find my lovely girlfriend.

    It changed my life.

  117. madtube says:

    My wife and I would have to say our MacBook Pro laptops. Before I hear all the haters give me an earful about Apple and expensive disposable technology, let me just say that we have owned many computers and none have been as reliable and useful as our MBP.

  118. AngryK9 says:

    I bought a 4 pack of these batteries: http://www.energizer.com/products/hightech-batteries/lithium/pages/lithium-batteries.aspx for my digital camera. I am still on the first pair of the 4 pack after nearly 6 months of moderate use.

    I can spend an hour roaming my 3 acres, snapping photos and shooting videos and never have a problem with low battery warnings or the camera shutting off.

    Standard AA batteries die within an hour.

  119. AngryK9 says:

    I just asked a friend of mine this same question. Her response: “A divorce lawyer”.

  120. Eilonwynn says:

    a) paying cash for my tuition. It’s been really hard, but really worth it.
    b) National Geographic photography expedition tour of Santa Fe. Gave me much more confidence, both in my photography and elsewhere. Expensive as hell, but worth every penny.

  121. stuny says:

    My subscription to Consumerist. Worth every penny.

  122. jj030306 says:

    My pillow-top queen sized mattress, on sale for $800 and my $40 Victoria Secret Demi-Classic bras are some of the best money I’ve ever spent!

    The bras were a splurge for me cause normally i hate even spending $20 on a “good bra” but I went for it.. and now I’m so glad I did!

  123. ShreeThunderbird says:

    My smartest purchase was to buy Apple stock when it was $19.00. My stupidest was to sell my Apple stock when it reached $66.00 a share. However, that was still a pretty good return on my investment and one should always remember that stock isn’t worth anything to you unless you sell it.

  124. littlemoose says:

    One of the most useful things I own is a small travel steamer. It’s a simple hand-held that plugs in. It packs easily and is good for steaming clothes out of a suitcase, especially dresses. And, of course, it’s useful at home. I bought it several years ago, and I don’t think it cost more than $10 or $15.

    My parents also gave me a basic GPS a couple of years ago, and it’s saved my direction-less self dozens of times. Oh, and the Blackberry I got a few months ago has also made a lot of things much easier.

  125. scoopjones says:

    A $12 air compressor for my car’s tires that I keep in my trunk. It’s gotten me out of numerous jams with flat tires in the middle of nowhere. Also saves on towing fees.

  126. TechnoDestructo says:

    1920×1080 monitor.

    I can have two documents open side by side with room to spare. All of a sudden my online classes got a LOT easier. My textbooks were less of a help than that.

  127. JulesNoctambule says:

    A five-week-old tabby kitten from the local animal shelter, who cost about fifty dollars. Other than the thirteen years of constant love and affection she’s provided, about six months after I adopted her she woke me up and got me out of bed about thirty seconds before the built-in shelves above my bed collapsed and crashed down where I’d been sleeping, saving me from serious head trauma at the very least.

  128. Not Given says:

    Laser retinopexy X 2, kept me from going blind.

  129. NoFriggingWay says:

    1.Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker $75 new in store, Paid $7 new in thrift store.
    2.Matched Micro Fiber Living Room set, $2400 in Nebraska Furniture,Paid $575 from a Staging company.
    3.New Kitchen Counter. Home Depot $199.99 Paid $54.99 because it had a small chip in a spot we were cutting off anyways.
    4. Brand new wireless security camera system Retails for $499.00 paid $14.97 brand new in a consignment shop.Resold for $200.00 :)
    5. 2000 Mercury Villager retail $4500 paid $1100 plus $79.00 for a distributor and $24 for a O2 sensor. Drives perfect 2 years in.
    6. Ge side by side fridge New $2096.00 Paid $300 for one that was 3 months old off craigslist.
    7. New knobs for my Kitchen remodel. Home depot $4.50 each!!! Paid $0.37 plus $5.00 shipping. Bought 45 Pulls and Knobs total. 202.50 at home depot or 21.65 on ebay? Hmmm Ebay Baby!

  130. Kino Escalate says:

    iPhone. I had an iPod so I started running, then had apps to track my exercise and diet, then used an App for OkCupid and found the love of my life. Also using it to balance my checkbook for the first time ever and with access to podcasts my sense of comedy has been redefined and I started to finally write. That’s not even counting how Pandora and This American Life and traffic maps have changed my commute.

    The iPhone has improved my quality of life in ways I never imagined when I purchased it as a cool toy.

  131. Kibit says:

    My Le Creuset cookware, it was actually a birthday gift from my husband. (I told him how much I would love them for my birthday)
    I use my cookware every day and I still love my cookware. We have had various pots and pans over the years, none of them were cheap either and none of them held up as well as my Le Creuset.

    My sports bras, I have always had a large chest and it is difficult working out because my boobs would hurt. I tried on some sports bras at Title9 and then bought them for $19 each at their warehouse sale instead of paying $60 each. They aren’t pretty and have 11 hooks in the front, but they are the best sports bras I have ever worn and I have tried many brands.
    Title 9 calls it their “Last Resort Bra”

    Our Australian Cattle Dog mix is our favorite purchase. We found her at the Humane Society and she is the best! She is so very smart and quiet stubborn. (just like her Momma) :) She has more toys and blankets then most families. We love her so much!

  132. LittlePete83 says:

    14L Frye Campus Boots in “banana leather” back in ’04 (?). Seriously the best $275 I’ve ever spent. These boots get better with age. Definitely an investment piece for a Colorado girl!

  133. Sonicjosh says:

    Team Fortress 2 for $2.50, I have more than 100 hours in the game, love it so much,

    Later on I sold my copy of The Orange Box on the PS3 (didn’t have a gaming PC at the time) for ~$22, turned around and bought it on Steam for $15.

  134. nygenxer says:

    TI-85 scientific calculator. Bought it in 1992 and I’ve used it to earn every single penny of income since college.

    Gotta give props to my 1981 and 1983 Mazda Rx-7s.

  135. Nick says:

    Apple stock…ten years ago.

  136. Darkneuro says:

    Best “purchase” I ever made was asking my parents to fund my move to TN. Best $700 I ever spent, and I paid back every penny plus interest. Early :)

  137. SugarCubesAndHandcuffs says:

    A subscription to eharmony.com… It’s where I met my wonderful husband. Though I did pay for a 1 year subscription and then met him in like a month. =P

    A HealthMate blender… It blends 1 glass at a time and unlike the magic bullet, it doesn’t completely suck! It’s sold through a diet website and it blends like a son of a gun.

    Expensive running shoes… Better ventilation, more comfortable, lasts longer.

    My parents have a good one too. They bought a 1990 Toyota tacoma in great mechanical condition for $500. A year later they got a decent price on a new Toyota tundra and got $1000 off of that with an owner loyalty discount because they owned the ’90 tacoma. They still drive both trucks and the old one is going strong.

  138. retailriter says:

    Every piece of good, solid wood furniture I’ve purchased, mostly at second hand stores. You can’t buy furniture made solid and out of real wood anymore. Everything today is cheap pressed-board, assembled junk.

  139. Wirehead says:

    My bike.

    Has saved me an incredible amount of money, made me healthier, smarter, in better shape, and sexier than ever before.

  140. mommiest says:

    A $25 hand truck that converts to a flat-bed dolly. I still have it after 20 years. Oh, and a decent set of not-too-pricey tools.

    Best child-rearing investments ever.

  141. akbibliophile says:

    A used Zojirushi Rice Cooker for $15 (it would’ve cost about $170 new.) Years later it still works wonderfully.

  142. Amy Alkon says:

    Smartest purchase I’ve ever made was the $30 I spent to put a security freeze on my credit. ($10 per credit bureau).

    On SEVEN separate occasions (as I document in my book, I SEE RUDE PEOPLE), Bank of America’s tellers let women with only a fake driver’s license — no bankcard, no PIN, no signature check — take a total of $12,000 out of my checking account. But, when those women went to various retailers and tried to get instant credit in my name, thanks to the credit freeze, they were stopped.

    Find out how to freeze yours here:

    http://www.consumersunion.org/campaigns/learn_more/003484indiv.html

    Free to victims of identity theft!

  143. jsn says:

    I bought a used 1973 Fender Precision Bass in 1983 for about $450. I still own and play it 27 years later, it has never required any substantial maintenance, and is now worth far more than I paid for it, even adjusted for inflation.
    Better yet, it has brought me thousands of hours of pleasure and continues to do so almost every day.

  144. jsn says:

    I bought a used 1973 Fender Precision Bass in 1983 for about $450. I still own and play it 27 years later, it has never required any substantial maintenance, and is now worth far more than I paid for it, even adjusted for inflation.
    Better yet, it has brought me thousands of hours of pleasure and continues to do so almost every day.

  145. Holey says:

    My little ceramic space heater. Now I’m not constantly chilly, and I don’t have to heat the whole house just to stay comfortable.

  146. Raj says:

    First, my old Salomon boots; bought them in 1996, and they carried me across three continents and two mountain ranges. Finally (sadly) had to retire them….fourteen years later!

    Secondly, I bought an old camera on Kijiji, the Craigslist of Canada. Paid 150, and it came with two mint condition lenses that would be worth well over 150 each (I had no idea at the time), along with a boatload of top quality accessories. The funny thing is, it happened only a few days ago!

    On a side note, my friend picked up an old Toyota 4×4 from a farmer for a couple hundred bucks; the truck was rusted almost in half and had no dashboard (fun drive home). We spent 4 weekends taking it apart and fixing it up using practically free salvaged spare parts, and found to our surprise that, although the frame was bad, the rest was pretty much pure, low mileage gold. It’s still driving great and turning heads 4 years and 100,000 km later!

  147. KeithIrwin says:

    1) My Forschner Victorinox 8-inch chef’s knives. Professional quality, highly durable chef’s knife. $30. That’s like a tenth of the price of most similarly rated knives. So worthwhile that we even bought a second one just so that we could each use one if we were working in parallel.

    2) 2 Used Reg E. Gaines spoken word poetry CDs for $2 each. Really excellent poetry. I bought them just because they were so very cheap, but they soon became some of my favorites.

    3) Cheap mp3s from Amie Street. If you know how to find good underground music, there’s so much stuff that’s very very cheap. Plus Amie Street sometimes sells credit at 50% off, so not counting the interest I’m losing by paying a few months early, I’ve paid less than one dollar of real money for some really good albums.

    4) 1.5 carat Amethyst engagement ring. It only cost $75 because amethysts are not expensive at all, but they’re very pretty. My wife gets compliments when she wears it. Diamonds are way over-rated and not really worth the cost. Fortunately, my wife agrees.

    5) Our wedding. We spent about $2000 on the whole thing. It helped that we had it in our church and didn’t have to pay hardly anything for the hall. About $1000 of that was food for 100 people. Rather than hiring a caterer, we just placed some large take-out orders from places which also did catering and then used plates, silverware, and chafing dishes from the church and did a serve-yourself buffet. Because we chose our restaurants carefully, we had several people tell us that it was the best food that they’d ever had at a wedding. It’s really nice to have people come up to you a few weeks later and say “We really had fun at your wedding, and the food was so good”. I wrote a long comment with more details about it some time ago in response to post about doing weddings cheaply. If anyone reads this and wants more details, look through my older comments.

  148. MattO says:

    harmony remote

  149. unojack says:

    a short sale on a house built in 2008. original market asking price of $285K; i got it for $160K

  150. Draygonia says:

    Definitely my Logitech G7 Wireless Laser Mouse… That thing has lasted me 3… almost 4 years and still going! Just now the batteries are getting a short lifespan and it looks like I may have to replace it! Perhaps I can take advantage of the excellent logitech customer service? I hope so!

  151. kenbennedy says:

    used/refurbished electronics/gear/gadgets

    I have never had anything break within or be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, so I decided to stop paying for it.

  152. energynotsaved says:

    The divorce. I didn’t want it, but he did. I cried and cried. Now, I get up each day and thank God that I’m free. I hadn’t realized that he was a verbally abusive bully. Bless you bimbo for stealing his heart. I’m free!

  153. bishophicks says:

    I’ve always hated cutting the grass. I hated it when I was 12 and we had a 1/2 acre, I hated it when I was 17 and we had 2 acres and a riding mower, and I hated it when I became a homeowner myself. After our second child was born and free time before 8pm disappeared, I finally hired a lawn care service. Now I’m happy every Wednesday when I come home to a freshly mown lawn. Most satisfaction for the money spent.

    We paid cash for a new Corolla 11 years ago. It hums along at 40mpg and has never given us any problems. Best value for the money.

    Bought a fixer-upper in 1998, paid cash for renovations or did the work ourselves (created a 5 year plan with the major projects we wanted to do and how we would pay for them). Refinanced in 2004 to a 20 year mortgage with a low rate, never took principal out, always focused on paying down the mortgage. Now, in spite of the collapse of real estate, we still have 70% equity in the house. Best set of related financial decisions, in hindsight.

  154. Kenmist says:

    A channel master 3010 antenna with amplifier. I save $80 a month cutting the cable bill. It been a year and I use the money for home insurance. Better picture than Comcast HD

  155. erratapage says:

    TIVO. I have saved so much time and energy, it’s unbelievable.

  156. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    My Sony DSCH1 digital camera. At the time I owned 11 film cameras and had just graduated college with a minor in photography. I was resistant to the idea of digital photography as I didn’t know how the prints would turn out, so I did an extensive amount of research before deciding on the Sony. It was an amazing camera. Not only did it have all the features I could desire, but I could produce prints up to 8×10 without any degradation.

    I loved that camera so much, that when I decided to upgrade, I went with a Sony DSC-50 instead of a Nikon SLR (I was raised a Nikon girl) because of size and ease of use (the infrared feature and swivel screen didn’t hurt either).

  157. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    My Sony DSCH1 digital camera. At the time I owned 11 film cameras and had just graduated college with a minor in photography. I was resistant to the idea of digital photography as I didn’t know how the prints would turn out, so I did an extensive amount of research before deciding on the Sony. It was an amazing camera. Not only did it have all the features I could desire, but I could produce prints up to 8×10 without any degradation. It even survived being dropped several times and completely submerged in a river.

    I loved that camera so much, that when I decided to upgrade, I went with a Sony DSC-50 instead of a Nikon SLR (I was raised a Nikon girl) because of size and ease of use (the infrared feature and swivel screen didn’t hurt either).

  158. b1503inf says:

    Hair clippers. I always kept my hair short (I was in the military). But 7 years ago, after paying $10 at a barber and seeing how little hair was on the floor afterward, I walked in the Target next door and bought my hair clippers. I figured I saved myself over $2000 and all that lost time waiting at the barbers. All for a $20 investment.

  159. Chubbybudha says:

    I used to spend $20 every other week for a haircut. My last barber/stylist, just as she was about to start, said “So are we going to keep working on this comb-over effect or shall we try something different?”

    After the mildly embarrassing haircut I went to the beauty supply store adjacent to the barber. I bought a $60 pair of clippers. It has been 10 years, and it is time to replace the clippers.

    Saving me $2600 over ten years with an investments of $60 is the best deal I have ever gotten.

    Although sometimes I miss a spot…

  160. angelgirl011202 says:

    The Thomasville bedroom furniture I bought at a consignment store. I got a solid wood armoire and two solid wood bedside tables for $400.00. The wood was grown in America and the furniture was constructed in America. I’ll never have to buy bedroom furniture again.

    I don’t know if this would be considered a purchase, but Lasik was a great buy as well. We spent $3000.00 for my hubby to have it done. He went from having horrid vision (my eyes would cross if I put his glasses on) to seeing 20/12 in both eyes. It was well worth the cost.

  161. jsfetzik says:

    One of my best long term purchases was a LaserJet 4L back in 1994. The thing still prints fine to this day. Although a bit slowly compared to more modern laser printers. It was finally relegated to being my second printer downstairs about a year ago when I got a new laser printer during an exceptional sale.

    Another purchase I have been really happy with was a pair of 18″ Dell UltraSharp LCDs about 6 years ago. I replaced them earlier this year with 22″ widescreen UltraSharp LCDs that again got an exceptional price on. The 18″ LCDs are still working fine and are used on other PCs.

  162. brinks says:

    My one-year-old husky cost me $150. He came from a rescue, who got him up-to-date on all of his shots and other medical care.

    Picture the price of a pure-bred dog from a breeder plus a year’s medical care.

    Best damn purchase I ever made. He’s worth a hell of a lot more than that to me.

  163. brinks says:

    I have another one. Anyone remember the clothing store Merry-Go-Round? I bought a retro-ish black dress there in 1994 while I was on a college trip. I still wear it. I’ve worn it with heels, flats, boots, tights, and leggings over the years as styles have changed. Somehow, this $25 dress is still in great shape after 16 years. Thankfully, I still fit into it.

  164. palfas says:

    My house was the smartest purchase and biggest mistake all in one just because of timing. I bought at the bottom of the market (in my area) and it’s already gone up witch allowed for a nice refi to an all time low interest rate. I also bought 2 months two early and only got the $7500 loan instead of the $8000 credit.

    • Skrpune says:

      I hear ya, me too – I’m still hoping we get a reprieve on the “loan” before it’s due for payback… :(

  165. moore850 says:

    A Java book about 12 years ago, from that I was able to build a whole career doing Java stuff. In terms of ROI, that’s easily the best money ever spent.

  166. buggurl says:

    My Polaris 65 pool cleaner–best $156 investment I’ve ever made. No more fussing with stupid hoses and trying to get the vacuum cap to seal…wait, maybe BP should get one of these things.

  167. LuckyLady says:

    Lasers have changed my life…

    Lasik for vision correction has been awesome.

    And laser hair removal has been incredible. It worked great. I barely ever have to shave my legs any more. And when I do, they don’t end up all icky from razor bumps.

    Best money I ever spent. Seriously.

  168. areaman says:

    Practical and fun – computer. Helped me find my current job, connect with people, watch tv, listen to music, save money, learn, etc.

    Fun – vacation to England and Ireland. Saw the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon Marbles, and a lot of other sweet stuff for 5 GBP (at the British Museum). Saw Magna Carta, Guttenberg Bible and the hand written works of Joseph Conrad and Shakespeare (what’s thought to be) for 5 GBP (at the British Library).

  169. Skrpune says:

    my smartest purchase was a TechNet subscription…not very long after I got it, I had a massive failure on my home desktop and had to reinstall from scratch. It’s beyond awesome – I have access to (and have used) multiple licenses for OS’s and Office products, and they’ve come in terribly handy for personal/daily use and for practicing for various Microsoft exams.

  170. erratapage says:

    Okay… three types of purchases are reflected here: 1) Purchases that provide great use satisfaction; 2) Purchases that provide little use satisfaction, but require very little maintenance/upkeep; and 3) Purchases that actually provided a return on investment.

    My TIVO purchase provided great use satisfaction. The purchase of that great car in 1995 that never needed a repair is an example of a purchase that was a good value because it has retained its utility without major investment. The home purchase is an example of an investment.

    The rare purchase is the one that satisfies all three categories (and probably involves a good deal on real estate that one has lived in).

  171. daveSH says:

    A Prius in 2007 when we realized that we were going to average 35,000 miles/year (at 102K right now).

  172. jimstoic says:

    The Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse album, featuring David Lynch, Julian Casablancas, Suzanne Vega, and more costs only $4 for MP3 download on Amazon RIGHT NOW. (Album with one less song on iTunes: $12.) This is a great album and the price is incredible. Best deal I’ve gotten in a long time.

  173. Tori says:

    This will apply to only a fraction of the population, but the best money I have ever spent, nearly $40000, was on facial feminization surgery. I am a transgendered woman, and it has allowed me to blend in and live my life without constant fear of violence and social/professional discrimination.

  174. RogerX says:

    Some finalists:

    A used 48-port RJ-45 patch panel for $1 plus $7 shipping on eBay. My home network came out beautifully because of it.

    A $400 Supermicro rackmount server case with 8 hot-swap SATA hard drive bays and a 650-watt power supply. I had never paid more than $60 for a case before, but this has survived 3 generations of motherboards and drives, and is rock solid.

    Mirroring the guy with the Moen faucet story: I redid my 1.5 bathrooms a couple of years ago, and still remember the deals I got that summer when Lowe’s was purging scratch-and-dent merchandise:

    Shower surround for bathtub – small 1-inch crack in mounting area behind corner, 90% off $239

    Medicine cabinet – missing pegs to hang shelf, 75% off $150

    Countertop with molded-in sink, chipped corner – 90% off $400

    Master bath medicine cabinet, 4.5 feet x 2 feet, cracked corner and cracked mirror, 90% off $500

    Master bath vanity, shatter side panel (was going along the wall anyway, I rebuilt with a scrap of plywood) – marked down from $399 to $20.

  175. RogerX says:

    I think my best one so far though has probably been a 2004 Hyundai Elantra. I paid $12K for a car with features comparable to a $17K Toyota or Honda, get 32+ MPG, and the thing has never had to be in the shop for anything other than two new sets of tires, brake pads/rotors, and oil changes. No recalls, no failures.

  176. pirate_eggie says:

    Best value for money – my $30 DVD player I bought at Ralph’s four years ago. Still going strong although it freezes sometimes and doesn’t do well with some DVDs. I thought it would last all of a week.

  177. NickelMD says:

    2003 Honda Civic Hybrid (bought in 2002 right after I finished residency, when everyone laughed at us ‘cuz gas was soooo cheap.) It is a f*cking tank. Its got 237k miles, has broken exactly twice (once Honda covered a new battery at 300miles before the end of the warranty, the other we laid out $3000 for a tranny.) We also now live in CA and until the end of this year we still get HOV access. As I type this we’re in the HOV lane passing other traffic at a crawl approaching the Bay Bridge.

    Our next vehicle (first since the Civic) will hopefully be a used fleet natural gas vehicle (cheaper fuel, great if there is a gas crunch, and still will get us HOV status.)

  178. dwasifar says:

    1. Lasik. Hands down the best $2260 I ever spent. (I had it done by a real eye surgeon, not one of those cheap-ass Lasik mills.)

    2) My 2005 Acura TL. Fun, quick, nimble, reliable. I can’t say enough good things about this car. I’ve already driven it twice as many miles as I usually go between trade-ins, and I will probably take it to 200k, I like it that much. Best all-around car I’ve ever had, and that includes cars at significantly higher prices.

  179. deltaalfadelta says:

    A friend gave me a 3 year old computer that was broke and “not worth fixing”. After $50 spent on a new hard drive, then installing Ubuntu 9.04, it’s been one of the best computers that I have ever had.
    The other things that are worth their weight in gold – Netflix, our Roku player, and Vonage phone service.

  180. legolex says:

    We moved into a new house not realizing that plaster walls totally block out cell signals making our cellphones useless in our own home so my boyfriend, fed up with dropped calls went out and purchased the Ooma Phone system. $200 up front but no phone bills and it works perfectly. We’ve been able to drop our cellphone minute plans to almost nothing, saving us even more money.

  181. nodaybuttoday says:

    Foreman grill. I can cook any meat on it and it’s great for quesdillas. I use it every day.

  182. almightytora says:

    Not the smartest, but a great deal: Yesterday I went to Disneyland’s “World of Disney” store. They were discontinuing a roll away luggage and a duffel bag set that was apparently not a great deal originally. The cast member said that it was a “spend $30, get this luggage set for $30″ deal. Not many took advantage of it, and they were selling the luggage set for $10.

    On top of that, I had a 20% off coupon, so it made the luggage set only $8. My friend and I got one set, and were actually considering to get more, but they probably sold out already.

  183. sweaterhogans says:

    Zojirushi induction rice cooker. It’s insanely expensive, but the amount of money I’ve saved by eating rice more often is even better. AND the rice cooks better than ANY other method I’ve tried, period.

  184. Ginsu_Samurai says:

    Optoma HD65 projector and a home made screen. Projector was $625, screen was $75 of materials (compared to $2000+ for store bought). Completely changed how I watch movies, play group video games and entertain guests. Despite the rigid screen, doesn’t get in the way when we aren’t using it. I have no use for 3d, would rather have a home movie theater then a large headache box.

    Yeah, it will burn out, but after 4 months of constant use I’ve only racked up 225 hours. Should get around 2000hrs if taken care of.

  185. JamieSueAustin says:

    A domain name. My blog made three grand last year. The domain cost me $10. The hosting was free.

  186. SilentAgenger says:

    Buying seasonal clothes out-of-season. Got a nice $120 jacket for $35. I thought the store might have intentionally inflated the original price to make it look like a better deal, but it still appeared to be a good buy. Several months later I saw a duplicate of that jacket at an outlet mall for $80, so I knew then I got a great deal. Love that jacket…it’s comfy, it’s warm, and every time I slip it on I think “best 35 bucks I ever spent.”

  187. chocolate1234 says:

    At the moment, I’m thinking the extra tuition I’ve paid this past year to go back to school to earn my teaching degree. I finally get to quit my banking job (this week!!!) and start doing something I actually WANT to do with my life.

  188. webweazel says:

    A double-drawer dishwasher. In the “scratch & dent” section at Sears. $1200 DW bought for less than $600. Every few days, one of us says, “I love this dishwasher.” Especially because I bake – often – and the quick wash cycle guarantees every bowl, beater, and spatula I shove in it is finished, dried & put away before the goods are even out of the oven, while the dinner dishes in the other one are running the full cycle, or not run at all if it’s not full.
    Best. Purchase. Ever.

  189. Frank The Tank says:

    -My house. I’ve been much happier since I have a place of my own and I’m not renting.

    -Getting rid of a certain EX. She had gotten pregnant a couple weeks before I kicked her out and (later found out) she planned on saying I was the dad.

    -My dog. Rescued him from a shelter. He’s a 35lb “mini rottweiler”. I don’t know what he is mixed with but I call him a mini rot because he isn’t getting much bigger! I love him to death!

    -My tempurpedic mattress and boxspring. Top of the line, paid around $3,500. ZERO percent financing for FOUR years! It costs a grand total of $73/mo for the best sleep EVER! I no longer wake up with back pain and neck pain. Until you own one or have slept on one for an extended period of time you cannot possibly understand!

    -1998 jeep cherokee sport. $1,000 used. Flushed the radiator about 10 times and changed the oil. Haven’t done ANYTHING ELSE in FOUR years besides oil changes. Has over 200k miles on it. Leaks oil HORRIBLY (it’s a jeep!) and just had two o2 sensors go (grand total $100). I keep wanting to kill it to justify buying a new car – but no matter how badly I beat the thing it WILL. NOT. DIE! While my 04′ Liberty’s transmission is starting the slip, the cherokee is still as strong as ever!

    -Boiler setback control, new aquastat, cleaning boiler. Went from a tank of oil every month to a tank every other month (after cleaning boiler) to a tank lasting 3+ months. The aquastat allows for greater “drift” in the heat, allows it to instantly turn on when a zone requests heat/hot water, and the setback control actually measures the temperature in the pipes to control when the boiler fires. All said, cost was under $300 and it’s saved me thousands.

    -Central AC. Just spent $5,200 but I couldn’t be happier!

  190. Ryan L says:

    I have a few, not necessarily amazing deals, but things that greatly improved my quality of life…

    1) Portable air conditioner. Originally purchased to help keep our little puppy cool in the hot summer months, and it’s been one of the best purchases of my life… well worth the money to avoid living in a sweltering apartment for 2-4 months of the year.

    2) Renting an apartment with underground parking, dishwasher, 2 bathrooms and in-suite laundry. For just a small premium on rent over what a place without these amenities would cost us monthly, we save ourselves many hours of handwashing dishes, scraping ice and snow off the car in the winter, the comfort of not having to worry about our laundry being stolen or messed with, and the marital bliss that comes with having seperate bathrooms.

    3) A portable GPS. For just a few hundred bucks, I can now have my directions read to me dynamically and have any adjustments made on the fly. Beats to hell the risk of getting in an accident while trying to look at my printed copy of Google maps for the 50th time as I try to figure out where the hell I took a wrong turn.