Ask the Readers: What Expensive Purchases Have You Made That Saved You Money?

By Ashley Jacobs on 25 September 2012 (Updated 2 October 2012) 91 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Therese, Sharon K, and Sarah for winning this week's contest!

Expensive purchases can be intimidating to make. Spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new appliance, car, or video game system can difficult for most people. However, when these big ticket purchases can end up saving you money, sometimes it's easier to bite the bullet and make the purchase.

What expensive purchases have you made that saved you money? An energy efficient appliance that reduced your utility bill? A hybrid car that helped you save on gas? A Wii to help you cut down on going out for entertainment purposes? A treadmill to keep you from spending money on a gym membership?

Tell us what expensive purchases you've made that saved you money and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entry:

  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 1st at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 1st on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Christie

Buying a car that was only a few years old for 12K. It had less than 20,000 miles on it and in the 3+ years we've had it, no major problems or fixes. We do regular oil changes and keep it in good condition and it has served us very well. Love my Sasha-car!

Best other not-too-expensive thing we've done is stay onsite at a Disney resort when we went on vacation there a few years ago. (Free dining totally rocks, I must say.) Stayed a week and 2 meals and 2 snacks a day per person were FREE. Saved us hundreds for our family of 4!

Guest's picture
NancyH

Good question. I've made several purchases recently that I expect to save money, such as Energy Star washer, dishwasher, and refrigerator, but for most of them I don't have calculations that prove the result. In other words, they haven't yet paid for themselves through lower operating costs, but I hope they will. Only time will tell if they do. The one big purchase that is definitely saving us money is our new house. We bought a much newer house in a significantly less expensive area. We sold our old house for a profit and were able to pay cash for the new one. As a result, we are saving $26,000 a year in house payments. Our property tax is also lower. And because the new house is built to be more energy efficient (double paned windows, insulation), our gas/electricity costs less than half what we used to pay.

Guest's picture
NancyH

Oh yes, one more. We installed a water filtration system under our sink and stopped paying for monthly water delivery and buying cases of bottled water, for savings amounting to $50 a month. Not to mention the reduction in plastic bottles.

Guest's picture

We plan on building a home gym to help us exercise more and keep motivates. Sometimes when it's cold or we're lazy we don't want to leave the house. I think that will save us money in the long term by not spending on a gym membership or classes.

Another good investment is a sewing machine, if you're into sewing at all. And a few sets of stainless steel lunch boxes to better store our food in the freezer and minimize waste, and also to curb our eating out as much as possible (just get the box from the fridge and get on the road, without stopping at the first restaurant to grab a bite).

Guest's picture
KathC

Over the past couple of years we have spent a bit of money doing a few things that are ultimately saving, or going to save money in the long run. We got rid of our SUV which only got 15/18 mpg (local/highway) on a good day, and bought a smaller car that gets 26/35 mpg (local/hwy) and has fold-down back seats for when we need them. We spent a chunk of money converting unused space into a pantry, where we put a full sized refrigerator and freezer as well as shelving, so we can purchase in bulk and on sale. This area has already paid for itself. I now only shop once or twice a month, as opposed to weekly, which saves my time and gas, as well as money on sale items. We are also looking into alternative heating/cooling systems, which at this time, don't seem to be very cost efficient, but with continued research and better technology on the horizon, I'm sure we'll find something.

Guest's picture

I chipped the ECU in my Audi to increase the efficiency of my turbo. Prior to chipping the car it was getting around 20MPG and afterwards I can consistently get 28MPG with the same exact driving style.

As long as I don't go mashing around maxing out the turbo my mileage is perpetually improved. Best $600 I ever spent! FYI, I'm the guy you're yelling at, that is driving in the slow lane hyper-miling

Guest's picture

new car with better gas mileage

Guest's picture
Leah

Gutter for my home ($1500)! I purchased a home built in 1880 a couple of years ago. It appeared there may or may not have been some water damage in the basement, but the home had been completely renovated and was like-new otherwise. However, the seller claimed that, "Gutters were not in the architectural plan." Sure enough, within 1 month of owning the home, we had a bit of water in the basement. I decided to bite the bullet and spend the $1500 to install gutters, and we have hardly had any water in the basement since, saving me a lot of money over the long term.

Guest's picture
KF

I bought a set of free weights. Saves me money on a gym membership and improves my health (less health bills).

Guest's picture
Daniel

Thats easy...my Blendtec blender. I paid almost $400 for it but I save everyday on coffee drinks, smoothies, and drinks that I would normally pay $4-5 for. I used to burn out a blender every year but not this one, so it pays for itself very fast.

Guest's picture
Patty

We installed solar panels. Good for the environment and our wallets. Not only is it lowering our electric bill, but also adds to the value of our home here in sunny Phoenix!

Guest's picture
NancyH

Did you lease or buy the solar panels. If you purchased them, how long do you think it will take for them to pay for themselves through your energy savings?

Guest's picture
take_flight

I purchased a new front load HE washer with the extended warranty, (at a appliance store tent sale), and BOTH were worth their weight in gold. The front load washer has saved my clothes from fading and pilling, and has saved me water and electricity, I also use considerably less detergent. The $119 extended warranty got me a brand new washer 5 years later when the shocks went on that washer.

I would do it again in a heartbeat and recommend them to everyone!

Guest's picture
PoolGuy in MD

Prior to summer, I purchased a variable-speed pool pump. This pump uses only the electricity required to keep the pool well filtered, no more. It also has a built in timer so I can take advantage of lower electricity rates by running it more at night than during the day. My pool has been just as clean, and my electricity bills lower!

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

We bought a pellet stove a few years ago, when gas (and heating oil) was over $4.00 a gallon during the summer. We calculated that it would cost us over $2,000.00 in oil to heat the house for winter that year. I found a pellet stove on eBay, which turned out to be a refurbished model from the manufacturer with the same warranty as a new model and free shipping. We paid $1,000.00 for it and our heating costs have been around $500.00 per year since then (2 tons of pellets per winter season).

Guest's picture
JJ

Replacing the old furnace in our home and adding more ductwork to improve air airflow was costly, but has resulted in hugely reduced heating oil bills. Even sticking to heating oil (vs. switching to other fuel sources that can be more efficient) we've seen significant savings over the past two winters.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Sadly, we have saved for a used portable dishwasher. I would rather clean the entire bathroom with a toothbrush than do dishes by hand!

Guest's picture
Kevin

Thats Easy. My Kindle 3, while not horribly expensive, has already paid for itself many times over. I am an avid reader and with the high availability of free books I have literally saved hundreds of dollars over the last two years that I have owned it. Plus I have found several great new authors that I enjoy.

Guest's picture
susan

Bicycle!!!! Now I ride around town instead of driving!

Guest's picture
NJJ

My most expensive purchases are a newer car, energy saving curtains and energy saving power strips to use throughout the whole house!

Guest's picture
NJJ

Wise bread FB Fan C.j. Jennings

Guest's picture
Monica

I bought an expensive blender and it helps me save money on my groceries and food when going out. We never buy milkshakes anymore (and we used to pay $4 each for one!) and I can use it to save money on powdered sugar (just blend regular sugar) and tons more stuff that I make with that instead of buying.

Guest's picture
Monica

I tweeted!

Guest's picture
Monica

I like wisebread on facebook!

Guest's picture
Mel

We just purchased all new energy-efficient appliances for our kitchen. Not only did we seriously cut down our utility bills, but the city we live in gave us a stipend/refund for doing so.

Guest's picture
Amanda B

A playstation 3 so we could cut the cable bill and use the net streaming over 4 years ago. Best decision ever.

Guest's picture
Sebrina

I have always been one of those people who doesn't spend a lot of money on shoes or clothing but my husband really like cowboy boots. Several years ago he spent a couple hundred dollars on a pair he loves. And he wears them all the time (at least 5 days a week) and only has had to resole them every 2 years or so. In the long run they have been totally worth the cost and saved us money in replacing shoes every season or year since they are timeless, will last forever, and inexpensive to upkeep :)

Guest's picture
purplelarkspur

We bought a Prius 4 years ago, and calculate that we have saved thousands of dollars on gas!

Guest's picture
Sharon

I would not say it is expensive, but I bought a Sushezi sushi maker on Amazon for less than $20, and it has saved me that much many times over. Sushi is very expensive, no matter where you go, and when you're vegetarian, it's really silly to spend that much money on what is basically rice, seaweed and avocado. And I really LOVE my avocado sushi. I now bring sushi to family gatherings (much to the amazement and awe of my mother).

Guest's picture
Kristen Wakeham

I bought a decent stainless steel pot/pan set as a final replacement for my non-stick pans that I had to keep re-buying as the non-stick coating would inevitably start peeling off. These new pots/pans should last me forever (barring any unforeseen scorching catastrophes)!

Guest's picture
Kate

how expensive something seems, is relative to income. buying a $20 blender (the best one i could afford) might not seem expensive to other people. however it was a very large purchase for me (so large that i took weeks picking out the right one). it saved me money within 2 days because coconut butter is soooooooo much cheaper to make at home and i needed to make coconut treats for a party. the coconut butter i would have had to buy would have been easily $30, but instead i only had to spend $24 total including the blender by making it at home ($4 worth of coconut flakes and $20 for the blender).

Guest's picture
Brenda Faulkner

High efficiency washer and refrigerator!

Guest's picture

I purchased a treadmill so that I can work out at home instead of paying a monthly gym membership! Saves me time and money!

Guest's picture
Edward

I bought a new $800 WWII-style fleece-lined B3 bomber jacket. December through March it easily reaches -30C/F where I live in Canada. It's the warmest thing I've ever owned and I'll never need another winter coat again. Errr... Unless I get really fat and can't fit in it anymore. After years and years of shivering (and having to buy a new/used coat every 5 years or so) I guess I'd finally had enough and decided to fix the problem permanently.

Guest's picture
Selene M.

We bought an old car (2004) to two behind our motor home, but it already had the towing apparatus plate installed and we got a deal on the towing hookup as well, so we saved a few thousand dollars.

Guest's picture
Christie

Liked and commented on Facebook too!

Guest's picture
Betty D.

Not crazy expensive, but I bought thermal curtains. It helps in both hot and cold weather to keep the utility bill low.

Guest's picture
Betty D.

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

Guest's picture
Therese

We have a White-Rodgers programmable thermostat that saves us a lot of money and makes our waking-up and home-coming so much more comfortable!

Guest's picture
Kathy Sue

When my fiancee and I purchased our new home we installed a tankless water heater. We have a 1400 sq ft 3/2 home and live in Florida (so the water doesn't have to heat very much at all) - our energy bills are rarely over $100/month in the summer when we have the AC running all day, and are usually $30-50 in the "winter" when we don't heat or cool the house. The few thousand dollars for the water heater and plumbing/electrical installation has already paid for itself and we will NEVER run out of hot water, no matter how much laundry we wash, dishes we do or showers we take!

Guest's picture
Sarah

An energy efficient window air conditioner from craigslist.

Discount gift cards to rather mundane retailers like petsmart, CVS, etc.

Guest's picture
Kate

Hm, I can think of a lot of purchases that have saved me money over the years. Two big ones that stand out are:

(1) My bicycle-great for getting around town (to save on T-fares!), entertainment, and fitness
(2) My kindle-I don't really ever spend money on kindle books, but I do use my kindle to take out library books all the time. It saves me time (no need to get to the library to pick up and return) and money.

Guest's picture
farmershark

Interesting skimming through the comments - in the past couple of years we have installed gutters (HUGE difference in moisture level in the basement, which means dehumidifier runs less); purchased Energy Star-rated front-loading HE washer (saving on electricity, water, and detergent, not to mention being gentler to our clothes). Most significant BIG purchases, though, have to be having our 100 year old house insulated (followed up by paying someone with an infrared video camera to come in and show us the places the insulation missed) and replacing ALL of our old drafty windows with new, double-paned vinyl ones. Check around - we got a significant discount on purchase price and installation by having them all done at once.

Guest's picture
Mireille

I just sold my car.... and bought a bike!

(not sure if this extreme of a change will last, we'll see)

Guest's picture
Lisa

When my old refrigerator and my freezer bit the dust, I replaced both with smaller but more energy efficient models.

Guest's picture
Angie

My BYO lunch bag is a quality item that I spent more on. It helps me take my lunches (and sometimes dinners, too!) to work. I just throw in a couple freezer packs, and I'm good to go for the day. I feel like I am saving more money on "brown bagging in style" than ordering out every day.

Guest's picture
Coleen

We bought a FoodSaver. At this house, we call it The Super-Duper-Super-Sucker! We shop the sales and can divide items out like a pork loin into individual packages that will stay fresh in the freezer. Also, we make sauces and soups up and freeze those in bags. Also, it has attachments for the mason jars so I can dehydrate my own herbs, etc and they keep so much longer than if they were just in a jar. It works great on rice, lentils and beans. And to boot, you can purchase the FoodSaver wine stoppers! We've tried a lot of different systems and this is the best that I've found for keeping an open bottle of wine drinkable for a few days....DEFINITELY a great money saver!

There are a lot of great ideas listed....I really like the Kindle suggestion: it makes perfect sense for an avid reader.

Guest's picture
CD

About six years ago, my husband bought a Gaggia Symphony, a fully automatic espresso maker, grinds the beans, has a frothing spigot. Although I questioned his wisdom at the time, we're over 3000 caffeine doses (you can select among three water volumes). So $675 then, and outside coffee only when traveling, or for a treat. Including maintenance and supplies, I estimate our gourmet coffee is costing around 22 cents a cup

Guest's picture
emily

I finally bought my first car, since it was used I've had to replace and fix quite a few things on it, but I've tried to purchase really quality parts instead of the cheapest ones so that they will last a lot longer. I'm lucky to have a lot of handy friends who are sometimes able to do the repairs for me. Also I found a really good mechanic which has saved me a lot of money. I make sure to make them homemade baked goods to keep them happy :)

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

Twice in the last year I've placed big purchases with Omaha Steaks. I've used multiple coupon codes and offers at the same time, so I'm getting this "luxury" food at a pretty great price. But I'm also saving money because having a freezer full of steaks makes it easier to get excited about eating at home, instead of going out for fancy meals!

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

LIKED ON FACEBOOK!

Guest's picture
LisaJoy

After purchasing our first home in 2008, you could say that our little nest egg had taken a big hit. Buying new appliances was a long term goal. The silver lining is that after purchasing a new energy efficient washer and dryer last winter we were more than pleased to realize that they have nearly paid for themselves in 14 mo. of use, and we got a $100.00 rebate from the state and a rebate on our federal return! This year we are saving for a new hot water heater!

Guest's picture
Michael

a set of iron cast cookware for $150....they actually get better as you use them....they last a lifetime and they are extremely cheap relative to the high-end stainless-steel pans...i'm able to cook more meals at home and ultimately avoid dining out

Guest's picture
Donna

One of the most expensive purchases that saved us money was investing in a baby jogger. I didn't have to hire a sitter while I jogged, I could just bring my child with me. It was a great way to get exercise so it saved me from having to join a gym to lose baby weight. It was portable and it folded so we brought it on vacations. We didn't have to borrow or pay to rent a stroller. It had storage underneath so toting snacks and needed stuff was easy while out and about. No need to stop and buy a snack that probably wouldn't be healthy!

Guest's picture
Guest

My smart phone! We don't have internet access because I just use my phone 95 percent of the time and tether my laptop to the phone if I really need computer access.

Guest's picture
steph

cloth diapers for sure!

Guest's picture
steph

i like on facebook!

Guest's picture
Diane

My house! It was an expensive purchase when I was first married, but now it's value has increased and I couldn't rent something comparable for I pay on the monthly mortgage, even when taxes & insurance are included. It's a long-term investment.

Guest's picture
Lynda

energy saving appliances

Guest's picture
Lynda

i like wisebread on facebook

Guest's picture
Carson M.

My fiancee' developed a case of recurring gastritis that landed her in the emergency room in a great deal of stomach pain. The hospital charged us close to $1000 in the end, since insurance didn't cover everything, plus we had to spend $100s on the meds that claim to resolve the issues.

So we bought a masticating Omega juicer for about $250 and became vegan together. The cost of fresh organic fruit/veggies is higher than our typical grocery costs prior to juicing, but staying away from the hospital: priceless. If we keep this up, we won't have to go to the doctor or ER when we know we can go to the farm-acy (what we call our local farm market lol) to find a healthier, natural alternative. Also, her gastritis has subsided...and apparently a lot of health issues I didn't even know I had have totally disappeared. I'm confident saying that the investment will save us tons of cash for the rest of our lives :)

Guest's picture
nicole

I cancelled my cable after using Hulu. It saves me $100 a month!

Guest's picture
Dave

I didn't have much choice, but an entire new heatpump system for my townhouse. Old one was dying fast (25 years old) and winter was coming on quickly, so I had to do something.

My father works for an HVAC company so I got the equipment and labor at a little bit less than I'd expected, at least, but in the ensuing year when power rates in my area went UP, my own bill went DOWN because of the sheer number of kWH I save now!

Plus, the HVAC got me a tax deduction because of its energy rating.

Guest's picture

My car was one of my most expensive purchases, and I know for sure I wouldn't have gotten some jobs if I'd been car-free.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

About a year ago, DH and I bought an old house that we still love. We were immediately shocked by the electric bills so we invested in upgrades to the HVAC system that included adding an electric heat pump that is now coupled to our natural gas furnace (since the EHP is inefficient and expensive below about 30 degrees F, and in SD that is the higher than the high temp for most of January and February). The HVAC service company that did the work was running a special on high quality Lennox units so we spent a little more money on the better brand and got a much more efficient unit. We've also been careful to replace all of the (very) old appliances in the house with energy star appliances.

Guest's picture
Andy

I bought myself an expensive Nesspresso coffee machine (~ $500). It saves me $6 p/day on coffee (starbucks coffee less price of ground coffee for machine), makes much better coffee and when entertaining friends it is always a great way to finish a meal. I would also like to think it has improved my writing, since good coffee = better buzz = more alert! Though hard to quantify this.

Guest's picture
Sean C

Big purchase I made that saved me money was my house. I bought it last May when the price was pretty low. Bought it for $260K and when I checked the estimated price recently on Zillow, it went up to $270K. Paying bit more than renting, but I have luxury of more space and less noise from neighbors. Good investment.

Guest's picture

I bought an iPod Touch two years ago and it has become my "all in one" entertainment device. I read books on it (bought on sale for 2.99). Free or 99 cent App Store games have replaced 50-60 dollar console video games. I also use Facetime and Skype to keep in touch with out of town relatives. No more long distance calls. Yes, it was an expensive outlay to start, but I think I've more than made my money back in savings so far.

Guest's picture
Sharon K

Three years ago I bought an amplified indoor antenna for $40 thru amazon for my HDTV. It was paid for within the first 2 months (I used to get dish). One of the best money saving purchases I made!

Guest's picture
Elena

We bought a coffee maker and it saves a lot of money because now we drink coffee at home, not at Starbucks

Guest's picture
Alissa A

My laptop has always helped me find deals and coupons across the web. I have always considered it a good investment!

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Believe it or not a 30 oz. Porcelain Teapot. I brew loose leaf tea leaves and can get more than one brew out of them. The tea pot cost $90.00 several years ago and used several times each day.

Guest's picture
Bethany

I purchased a carpet shampooer. Compared to paying out to have a company come every time we had a potty training accident, I'd say I saved a bundle.

Guest's picture
Jessica

A collection of cloth diapers for diapering my children. A large one time expense will get me through 3 kids and then I'll resell them or pass them along.

Guest's picture
Erin M

The best expensive purchase I've made so far was a bread maker machine! Not only do I know what I'm feeding my family (no preservatives) but I am able to freeze up the bread for anytime we'd like to have it. The whole house smells divine when it's baking!

Guest's picture
Sara N

Our condo, which is less than rent!

Guest's picture
Guest

Easy: For the past 25 years I've always purchased Honda Accords. I've driven them all over the country and have yet to experience any problem whatsoever. Toyotas are excellent and usually top-rated, but in my estimation you just can't beat Honda automobiles for quality, efficiency and reliability. Just be sure to make oil and filter changes about every 7,500 miles (not the money-wasting 3,000-miles that are no longer needed) and you'll save plenty of money on maintenance. If Honda quit making cars, I'd buy Toyotas.

Guest's picture
Don Thorpe

I bought a LG ductless mini split AC for a fixer upper my wife and I purchased. It is 21.7 SEER, almost twice as efficient as the standard 13SEER most houses have. It also doesn't have any duct losses. As a bonus it has a super filtration system. My suffers from occasional sinus infections and since we got the new AC she hasn't had on. With a roughly 10% savings per year it was a great investment, but just avoiding one allergy induced sinus infection for my wife would have made it worth any price.

Guest's picture
Jasmine

I think my 'expensive purchase' was the biggest purchase I have made and that would be when I bought my house. I had been living in an apartment since I left home and pinched my pennies for a while and bought my house when I was 22. I looked around for a while and finally found my home sweet home. Now, a few years later I pay less for my 4/2 house than what I was paying for my 1/1 apartment. It was definitely worth the big down payment I put on the house!

Guest's picture
Debra K

We spent a fair amount of money getting repairs done in our attic and then having it insulated. That should help our heating costs this winter. Looking forward to that!

Guest's picture
Guest

We just purchased a "new" home that lowered our mortgage by more than $43,000--a savings of $270 per month!

Guest's picture
rebecca ryan

My husband was a 2 pack a day smoker. At $300+ monthly for his habit, he was breaking my frugal budget. I bought an electric cigarette ($75.) & 2 months of nicotine flavorings ($25 each) for his birthday 3 months ago. These give the smoker the level of nicotine they desire, no stale smoke odors, and have a pleasent scent. Now he is able to "smoke" as much as he wants, and I have a great smelling home! Having saved our budget, we now have our holiday savings completed. (No debt going into 2013)We spend 10% each month of what we did before. NOW THATS SAVING!!!

Guest's picture
Debra

We purchased a Cuisinart Food Processor 6 years ago-it's still going strong and I use it almost every day--make bread dough in it, hummus, chop veggies, make salad dressings, etc. etc. Saved us so much money because we eat out much less because our homemade food tastes gourmet and takes so little time to make!!

Guest's picture
Carmen

The two I can think of are our vacuum sealer and our dishwasher. We're a small household but I love to buy meat in family packs at a large discount. We bring it home, repackage in smaller portions and freeze. Our dishwasher is a drawer version - it uses less water saving money.

Guest's picture
Margaret Davis

Several years ago when both DH and I were making more money (and not spending it intelligently - sigh) we bought a HE washer adn dryer and a commercial freezer. Although it wasn't planned - those appliances have saved us quite a bit of money when things got tight. Begin able to launder our clothers frequently without destroying them at a laundromat, etc. since we can't afford to replace them. We've learned to stock the freezer with sale/coupon finds as well as pre-made meals so there's no need to eat out when we don't feel like cooking.