What was your best purchase in the past year?

This week, Wise Bread writers share our favorite purchases from the past year. And in the spirit of sharing, we'd like to hear what you, our readers, are particularly fond of purchasing in the past year. If you add your great purchase story in the comments section, you'll be automatically enrolled in a random drawing for a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com!


Being frugal isn't just about saving money - it's about spending wisely. Shopping isn't a sin, and frugal shopping isn't an oxymoron. It's just a matter of assessing your needs, wants, and then doing a little research. And when you find something that really suits your needs, buying becomes a truly rewarding experience.

Here's what we spent our hard-earned dollars on:

Julie Rains

Julie Rains

My new road bike is my best purchase.

I have had others (bicycles) and my most recent one had carried me from my teens, cycling to high school rather than driving or taking the bus, and riding up and down mountains on a 2-week, 200+ mile ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Peaks of Otter, Virginia to Mount Mitchell, North Carolina clear through to a young adult with occasional leisurely jaunts from Fleetwood to Todd, also in the Blue Ridge Mountains with great views of the New River.

Though never a stand-out athlete, I used to enjoy competing in summer league swimming, AAU swimming, high school track, and community road races (10Ks). But being in the water doesn’t leave much time for socializing and road races seemed to be becoming more competitive than fun so I dropped out of racing altogether. Then, as the years passed, I piled up obligations: at home with my family, at work, and around town with volunteer activities, nearly dropping me out of the fitness arena altogether.

A hike up Mount LeConte a couple of years ago convinced me that I needed to begin a regular exercise routine, and so, finally, I decided to join the Y, which had always seemed to be expensive to me. The Y workouts led to setting goals for strength training and cardio. And, at some point, I decided to get back into bike riding.

From the time I made those rides in the mountains to this past year, the world of cycling had changed dramatically. For starters, road bikes had become very technical and expensive. Besides my car and computer, my road bike is the single highest priced item I’ve ever bought just for me. I’ve come to love riding, socializing on group rides, getting an emotional/spiritual lift from being outside, and sleeping really well at night after a great workout, whether it’s a studio cycling session at the Y or a metric century charity ride.

What I love about cycling is that you can compete against yourself; that is you can set goals and gain satisfaction from reaching them, whether it’s a faster mph or a yet a longer distance. And, notwithstanding doping allegations, generally those who excel in the sport get there not just because of birthright, geography, and/or an early start but because of training and tenacity.

Jessica Harp

Our Las Vegas Wedding. Hands down the best thing I purchased in the last year.

When it came to wedding planning, my husband and I had completely different ideas of what our dream wedding was going to be. In fact, we had the stereotypical wedding planning roles totally reversed. He wanted an extravagant wedding with an equally extravagant reception for 500 of our closest friends, and I couldn’t justify spending $20,000+ for a one day affair. I would have been happy running over to the courthouse during my lunch hour to get married by a Justice of the Peace.

So, in the spirit of compromise, we decided to get married in Vegas! We had a traditional ceremony in our hotel’s onsite wedding chapel at a fraction of the cost (and stess!) normally associated with modern weddings. I do not know if it was all the champagne they plied us with at the salon before the wedding, the fact that getting married in Vegas allowed us bypass the normal stress associated with a wedding, or the combination thereof; but we had a blast at our wedding. If you look at our wedding pictures, there is not one picture of us not smiling or having a great time. It was the best day of my life, and I would not trade it for anything.

In retrospect, our Las Vegas wedding was the best thing we purchased in the past year because it allowed us to focus on our marriage and not our wedding. Instead of spending months stressing out about a one-day event, we spent the months leading up to our wedding channeling our energy, time, and resources into preparing for our future together.

Will Chen

Will Chen

My best purchase was Wise Bread.com.

Greg and I registered this domain name for about $8. We had no idea what to do with it. Greg wanted to do a shopping blog. I wanted to turn it into a Digg for consumers. Lucky for us, Sarah was one of the first bloggers to join us. She wanted to write articles that will help young people fresh out of college. Sort of a "new adult's guide" to personal finance. We loved the idea.

Thanks to Lynn's eye for talent, Wise Bread now has a wonderful community of writers. I love discovering cool tips, thoughtful essays, and fun discussions on this little website every single day.

We launched Wise Bread just a few weeks before Christmas. It is a gift that keeps on giving.

Sarah Winfrey

Sarah Winfrey

We wanted to get out of the country, and we wanted to have both private time and activities, and we didn't want to spend a ton of money. Dave was all for an all-inclusive resort, but I was skeptical because I hate all things "touristy." My mom's friend had been to Sayulita with her boyfriend and loved it.

We ended up getting a very private large studio-sized "room," with a complete kitchen, for less than half of what we would have paid for the best deal we could find at a resort. We had all the beach and related activities that we wanted, again for substantially less than we'd have paid in the resort towns. In addition, we got the color and flare of a more traditional Mexican town. It was the best of both worlds--the town had enough tourists that we didn't have the stress of communication struggles and being stared at, but it was not so overrun with Americans that we wondered why we bothered to leave the country. We got to detox from the wedding planning and stress and focus on starting our lives together.

Jessica Okon

The best thing I bought all year was Eygptian Magic Healing Cream.

I had read rave reviews about this odd-ball beauty product. The packaging is a bit kooky ala Dr.Bronner's complete with pyramid and allusions to mystical powers. Initially I thought it was a tad pricey for a mere salve, but it has been worth every penny. It works amazingly on burns, cuts & scars. I use it as a lip balm, hand, foot and body lotion, and night eye cream.

A friend of mine raves about it healing her eczema, and another has used it for post-baby stretch marks with good results. I've even used a tiny amoung to moisturize the ends of my hair. For such an all-purpose product, I am very impressed. It is always sold out at my local health food store, so if you see a jar, grab it!

Paul Michael

Paul Michael

My best purchase is a little off the beaten track. I purchased my own company. Well, by that I mean I incorporated my small freelance business.

I was a little afraid at first. I mean, it's a big step to become a business owner, or so I thought. A friend had recommended Legalzoom.com, another Incfile.com. I did Incfile because it was a lot cheaper and just as professional. It cost me about $130 to do the paperwork, but the tax advantages are so amazing that it has already paid for itself 20 times over. I can now write-off everything from new computer equipment to mileage and business lunches.

Whereas before I was afraid of earning too much in one year because of the tax hammer coming down, now it doesn't worry me. And when I did my taxes in March, I was surprised to see just how much my incorporation had saved me. Roughly $3000. Not bad. It's all completely legal, I'm not dodging taxes or anything like that, I am simply getting a better deal because the taxman treats businesses a lot better than individuals. If you have a small business, be it making hair bows, mowing lawns or selling art, I would suggest looking into incorporation. The tax advantages are enormous.

By the way, I opted for LLC. There are others, like S-Corp and C-Corp, but they all have different pros and cons. Check them out with an accountant.

Lynn Truong

Lynn Truong

I know the skepticism of those who don't own one. Won't it make you watch more TV? Does skipping commercials really save you that much time? Isn't it just a glorified VCR, which you never used anyway?

I admit, I follow a lot of TV shows. But if I log in my daily TV hours, it's between 1-2 hours. That's because I don't surf (if I feel like watching TV, I go directly to shows saved in my DVR instead of scanning mindlessly through the hundreds of channels, trying to find something of interest at that given moment), and skipping commercials saves a lot of time. If you consider that commercials take up 20 minutes each hour (I know this because unless I start watching at least 20 minutes after the show has started, I will inevitably catch up to it live, and will need to sit through at least one or two more sets of commercials), you can actually watch 3 hour-long shows in 2 hours.

A DVR guarantees that whenever you want some TV time, you've got something good to watch. If I've already caught up on all my regular shows, or it's rerun season, I can browse through Good Eats, Globe Trekker, The Simpsons, Man vs. Wild--shows that I don't keep up with, but I enjoy and always keep an episode or two saved. You can program all sorts of neat things with the DVR. For these shows, I reserve one or two episodes each. The DVR will keep recording the latest show every time it sees it on. While the shows that I religiously follow, I set it to record every week, without set numbers of episodes. So if I don't watch Heroes for 4 weeks, I'll have all 4 episodes still saved. But for a show like Good Eats, there's always just two of the most recent episodes.

I'm home all day, so I have the flexibility to schedule my TV time, but it's not worth it. TV is the last thing I need to work around. But when I'm ready for a break, I like to relax on my favorite chair and see what happened on Oprah a few hours ago, and if that's a repeat, let's see what's cooking on Good Eats.

And another big perk is when it's a great and exciting moment on 24 and the phone rings or there's a knock at the door or your roommate comes home blabbing on the cell phone, you can just pause or rewind and you didn't miss a thing.

This is how I can follow Heroes, 24, Gilmore Girls, Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy, CSI, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Oprah, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Nip/Tuck, America's Next Top Model, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother, and Smallville on 1-2 hours/day.

Andrea Dickson

Andrea Dickson

My house doesn't have a lot of storage space, and I have a lot of stuff. My master bath is the size of a closet, and my countertop was overflowing with my various hair and skin care products. Under the counter didn't offer a convenient solution to my storage problem, as I could find no good way to arrange everything that I needed on a daily basis.

I finally decided that I needed a medicine cabinet. I had to fight for my right to get it. EVERYONE advised against it. My mom called them 'tacky'. My boyfriend tried to shame me out of it by pointing out how the stainless steel cabinet that I chose at IKEA wouldn't match the Craftsman style of my home.

But I would NOT be deterred, and I'm so glad that I stuck to my guns on this one.

For $60, I bought a HUGE cabinet that holds all of those little vials and bottles and brushes and capsules. It's mirrored inside and out, so if I've got some strange pimple that needs examining or a errant eyebrow that needs plucking, I can find a good angle for viewing and destroying, using any of the reflective surfaces on my medicine cabinet.

My countertop is finally clean and clear, which is a first for me. Ever. To sweeten the deal even more, my stuff actually looks GOOD inside of the cabinet - when I open the mirrored doors, it's like opening a vault onto a treasure trove of beauty potions.


What was your best purchase in the past year? Share your brilliant buy with us in the comments, and you're automatically entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate! Be sure to enter your email address when commenting so we can contact you if you win (we don't use email addresses for anything other than contacting the winners, we promise).


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Guest's picture

My best buy this year was my gym membership. It will improve my health and my looks.

Guest's picture

I don't know if this counts or not...I also don't know if this makes me less manly or not...but my best purchase was the engagement ring I used to propose to my now wife.

Although...I got a DVR too...and that is awesome.

Guest's picture

Earlier this year, I was living in London while working as an assistant for a businessman. London's not a cheap place, and it's horribly expensive to ride horses there ($60+ dollars at the cheapest place!).

One day, while looking at all the cheap airlines, I found a $80 round trip ticket from London to Malta on RyanAir. The year before, I had gone to university in Malta and had learned to ride horses at a polo stable there.

So, I booked the ticket, and headed to Malta for a week. I stayed with the stable owner for free, rode everyday for two hours on amazing horses, escaped the rainy London winter for the Mediterranean and visited a bunch of friends.

Definitely the best money I spent this year!

Guest's picture
Bob B.

...my second monitor. For the last couple of years, I made fun of friends who used two monitors, thoroughly convinced there was no way it could be of any use. For the longest time, I didn't even have an external monitor or keyboard for my laptop (and I burned out the screen of one from overuse). Finally, I gave in and bought a 17" LCD and an external keyboard, and fell in love. Now, when I have to use my laptop outside the office, it's torture. These days, I have three identical LCD's (two for my Windows box, one for my Ubuntu box), and I'm contemplating a fourth to give each system 2. I only wish I had enough ports to have 4 monitors on each system!

Guest's picture

You beat me to it, my best purchase was my ruby pro specialized road bike. I got it in November and I've already ridden it 4000 miles! It makes me want to ride and be a better rider. I've gone from doing a century bike ride in 9.5 hours to 7.5 hours and I'm now training for the deathride in 3 weeks time. I think you'll be impressed at wisebread that I was able to get it at a 40% discount!

Guest's picture

The best thing I've bought all year is the electric guitar I purchased for my eight-year-old son. It is so awesome to hear him practicing, see his excitement, and know that in five years he'll be playing better than most of the adults I know. And being an orange rockabilly guitar, it looks cool too.

Guest's picture

My best purchase was the Premium Bene-Fit Mat from Gaiam. I had one of their jute yoga mats before and the sweat from my feet and hands made it fall apart after about five yoga sessions (Jute is like cork. It soaks up water). But the Bene-Fit mat I bought a few months ago is AWESOME! Cheap, eco friendly and functional... got 'em all.

Guest's picture

Two months ago, I fulfilled a dream by purchasing a kayak. I had been looking for a folding kayak but at the $2500 + price tag, I couldn't justify it. I didn't have a way to carry a rigid body kayak. You can imagine my delight when I found a good looking and well engineered inflatable tandem kayak from Advanced Elements and gear for under $900. I carry it around in the back of the car all the time. I am always ready for a paddle.

Guest's picture

wow! this is tough, i dont know what "best" purchase i should choose... should i pick my best in terms of finance? productivity? health? hobby ? nah... my best purchase this year, or in the past year was my puppy... sad that i paid for him but he needed to be rescued from the breeder... he has changed my life, made me more responsible, strengthend my relationship with my partner, made me kinda feel like an adult and brought joy to my life... plus i always wanted a pet and was never able or allowed to have one... and he was 1500$ off

Guest's picture

My best purchase would have to be our house. Living here has made every moment of our lives more enjoyable, despite the stress involved in the home buying process and home ownership itself.

We have had to cut out of a lot of extras to balance out spending more on our housing than we used to, but the trade off has been well worth it.

Guest's picture

(as an aside, I'm also going to post this in my blog. Yay extra posts)

My best purchase came early last semester- the January to May one, where it gets really cold. I started to lose track of stuff because I was taking 17 hours, none of which were elective courses. I needed something to help me sit down, and get everything together. I wandered through the bookstore for a long time about a week into the semester, asking every employee what they thought would be best, I phoned friends and family, I consulted GTD sites, and so forth. It wasn't until about the 26,531st time I traversed the aisle with daily planners that I saw it: a day planner from moleskine, small enough to fit in a backpack without taking up space, but big enough to write everything I wanted. It was the last (and, as it turns out, through a shipping error, only) one there. It was mine, for the price of 14.44$ I thought it was a terrible amount to spend, but in terms of time and productivity, that paid for itself by the next week, after having every detail written down. I scheduled appointments, I kept little daily notes, and thanks to this daily planner, I got my life in order.

Guest's picture

was a ramp from the side yard to the side door.

We have 3 geriatric dogs, one who has trouble with stairs, and one who can no longer climb up or down them at all. It's just a matter of time with the other. Letting the dogs otside into the fenced yard became much more than just opening the door, we had to monitor Watson's progress, and carry Barney up and down.

We were having some other work done on the house, and as a lark, I asked how much a ramp to replace 6 steps would be. $250 and a couple of days later, all of our lives were changed for the better.

Guest's picture

Hands down, it was Scanmyphotos.com. I read a story in Reader's Digest (June, page 197) about this company that scans all your old photos, and I had lots. I mailed them more than 900 pictures and paid only $50; the order was returned the next day! Their website was easy to follow and now all my snapshots are safe forever on my computer and the whole family has copies too. website is: www.scanmyphotos.com

Guest's picture

I bought Snapstream's BeyondTV DVR software ($69.99) in November 2006 after considering TiVo. Prior to BeyondTV, I was using the frustratingly subpar software that came with my Hauppauge TV capture card. I can schedule all my recordings even when I'm away from home, and stream recordings and live TV to other PC's on my home network (via BeyondTV Link $29.99). The best part is that I don't have to pay a monthly subscription fee as with TiVo!

Guest's picture

My PC. I saved almost 1000 dollars building it myself instead of buying one....

im really suprised wisebread hasnt done more articles about PC building as a way to save money (as opposed to buying on outright)

all it took was 4 hours of labor, and if i screwed up i could just take it to my pc repair shop and pay them to put it together.... but it was easy and id never done it before.... low tech skill required; just remembering to RTFM

i hope wisebread does some homebuying tips soon; im about to buy my first home @ age 23.... and i love having this site RSS'ed....

Guest's picture

My best purchase was $100 pair of Aerosoles shoes. No more blisters, no more smelly feet, they will last me for years, and they look good with just about everything. One of the best investments I ever made.

Guest's picture

This was tough. I would have to say that my best purchase was my new shower in the master bathroom. It was the last upgrade in my condo, from a long 6 year list of things to do! It was also the most expensive, and I scrimped and saved in order to pay cash for the job. I am very pleased with the work that was done, and it automatically increased the value of my home!

Guest's picture

Probably my best purchase was my digital SLR camera. It has kept me out of trouble and saved me money on entertainment! And the camera goes well with the Philadelphia Zoo membership I buy each year!

Guest's picture

Hey Nomi
How do Aerosole shoes ward off the stinky feet germs?

Guest's picture

They word off stinky feet germs because they are made of leather that breaths. No more sweaty feet, no more stinky feet. :)

Guest's picture

My Timbuk2 messenger bag is the best thing that I bought this year. Sure, it cost me $110 (I made it myself on their website, setting custom colors and options) but it holds everything I need for class, everything I need for weekends at The Boyfriend's pad, is a great airline carry-on, and looks stylish no matter what I wear.

It makes me happy every time I look at it - and isn't that the true indication that you've spent your money on something worthwhile?

Guest's picture

Right before the start of our summer last year we decided to invest in a swamp cooler for our home. We checked around and most everyone wanted to charge $2K for parts and labor. So, my husband and I bought it directly from Home Depot and hired a contractor to come out and install it for $75 an hour. In the end we saved $1K and it cools are whole house!!! No more sweaty, uncomfortable nights or even worse.... weekends where the temperature said it was hotter inside than out. And, the best part of all; our summer electric bill only went up a few $$. This was for sure our best purchase last year and maybe in our lives.

Guest's picture
Nan Lynn

Determined to do something special for my sixtieth birthday, I decided to take take a trip to Mexico and bring my daughter along. I had never been to the Yucatan so looked on the map for the perfect place. I wanted something far from the tourist spots and found an island called Holbox off the north tip. I had a travel agent arrange the flights as I was coming from the west and she from the east and we needed good coordination. I booked the hotel (via the internet) and arranged ground transportation through them. We flew into Cancun and from there a three or so hour drive west then north; then a forty five minute ferry ride to the island. What makes this place so special? Well, way out of the way for one. It is a small fishing village; no high rises, no cars! Residents get around on golf carts or mopeds--but generally walk--everything is within walking distance. A writer in Island Magazine called the residents about the most content people on earth. I would have to agree. The guide who took us out to another island which is a bird sanctuary said he wants for nothing--he makes enough to pay his rent and buy staples and can go out and catch a fish if he gets hungry. He did not even seem to get the concept of having "more." We stayed in a delightful hotel on the beach built in the Mayan style. For two of us for six days was around three hundred dollars. (Breakfast was included--and they offered fresh fruit, cereal, coffee, toast etc etc.) Every single meal for lunch and dinner---we tried places all over town--was delicious--and ran about six dollars. Of course we had grilled fish seasoned so many different ways --each was a delight--rice and vegetables--healthy eating (assuming there was no mercury in their fish).
For about $1600 my daughter and I had six of the most delightful days of our lives. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Guest's picture

My best buy of the last 365 days was a set of waterproof panniers from Ortleib. One is roomy enough for my computer, a few work files, a change of clothes, and my wallet/keys/phone. Add the second bag and I can pick up my share of veggies from my CSA on the way home or run some other quick errands. Before I had a good set of panniers, I used my bike for recreation, but now I am a mean, lean, commuting machine. I use less gas, I work out more regularly, and I don't have to worry that my lapop will get soaked in a surprise rainstorm.

Guest's picture

my laptop ... it's the best money spent, and $180 pair of red Italian pants for $19.99.

Guest's picture

The best item I bought in the last year would have to be my MacBook. I'm a student who commutes 1.5 hrs each way to school most days of the week. I take public transportation, so instead of sleeping (like I normally did) I can review notes, work on papers and generally get more done. I've found that I have a lot more free time during the day than I did before and that has allowed me to relax a little bit more.

Guest's picture

For homebuying tips, look through thesimpledollar.com. Trent (the blogger) has just purchased a house so there is a ton of random information on house hunting, buying, and selling in the archives of the past few months.

Guest's picture

My best purchase this year? I purchased a surgery for my cat for $2500. He'd eaten some string and it was wrapped around his intestines, bunching them up. In a matter of three days (the time it took for us to realize it wasn't just something he'd eaten and to be able to make a vet's appointment), he'd gone from healthy three year old cat to needing four hours of rehydration before he had enough of a blood pressure for them to be able to do the surgery at all. Many people told us to just put him down, it wasn't worth it. We had to borrow some money, and the vet let us make three weekly payments of $450.50 for the rest of it. We've had to be extra-frugal for the past month and a half, and I took on a second job which ultimately went full-time (so I quit my other job), but I cannot think of a better purchase we've made this year. He is so worth it. (And, I never would have forgiven myself if we put him down because he was "too expensive". Animals' lives are important, too, and you can't really place a dollar figure on that.)

Joann Hong's picture

Keeps old food in the fridge tasting good. 

Joann Hong

Guest's picture

This year I purchased a $30 sewing machine. I thought why not give this sewing thing a try. I realized that I had talent for making purses and it's like everything fell into place for me. I knew at that moment that I want to design and make purses for a living.

Guest's picture

My best purchase this year is an acrylic 3-gallon aquarium.

We live full-time in our motorhome and I thought I would never be able to keep fish in a moving vehicle. But I really missed having an aquarium and decided that a small one made of plastic would be pretty low-risk.

The aquarium lives on my bedside table, on non-skid rubber and inside a brownie pan to catch occasional slopping while driving. My three fish are happy and healthy. One has been with us now for over 5,000 miles of travel!

Every night as I fall asleep, I watch the beautiful creatures swim. It is a peaceful end to each day and I love it.

Guest's picture

My new computer has provided a reliable, quick connection to my online courses so that I can work towards my degree. It also offers lots of memory for my digital pictures, and a DVD drive for watching movies. I am truly grateful.

Guest's picture

I got my first pair of glasses when I was 7, and my eyes got progressively worse for the next 15 years. By the time I was 23, my contact prescription was -7.5 (vision worse than 20/1000 for those of you who don't speak diopters). My contacts gave me trouble every day for several years and I had had enough.

In January I got PRK surgery (wasn't a candidate for LASIK) and after a bit of a tricky recovery, I am now seeing 20/15 (20/20 in one eye, 20/15 in the other). In the end it cost me $2600, and I'm paying for it with a medical reimbursement account through my employer-- this amounts to an interest-free loan as well as a tax deduction.

Those of you with good vision will never understand why, but this is easily the best money I've ever spent. It was worth twice what I paid for it, at least.

Guest's picture

It's not just the fact that it's a guitar. It's the fact that it's a guitar that I bought with the money that I made from my first job. It's the fact that I spent hours at the store before finally noticing it and knowing, without a doubt, that it was meant to be mine. It's the fact that the clerk gave me a huge discount so I could get everything else I needed to actually play ($1200 down to $930).

It's the fact that it has provided me an entryway into the interesting and supportive community of musicians. It's the fact that it's not about money at all, or even the fact that it's the best purchase I've ever made. It's only about the sweet, beautiful music.

Guest's picture

It was on sale for under twenty dollars. We'd recently moved, and although this kitchen is much bigger, it has quite a bit less storage space. More floor area doesn't mean more walls, after all.

I also have fibromyalgia, and really can't creep about on the floor to reach the things in the back of the bottom cupboards. And being only 5'3" I can't reach the higher shelves. And having a toddler who learned to climb before she learned to crawl, a stepstool is a hazard.

But now I have this pot rack! It's a shelf that we put onto the wall beside the stove. The shelf itself is a broad wire mesh, and S shaped hooks connect to the mesh and dangle where you want them to be.

I have pots, and a frying pan, and our collander, and a bag to hold the bags to recycle, and a bag to hold the produce bags that are so good for other things, and our fruit hangs there so I don't lose track of it on the counter, and our bread hangs there too so it doesn't get squished, and our tea towel hooks on any of the convenient little ends already being used for something else. On the shelf itself is a basket of those odd baking things that don't see much use, the extra wooden spoons etc. that either will make their way into the countertop set or will be freecycled away, and my plastic measuring cups.

Maybe I could get all those items onto one of our two countertop spaces, but probably not. And they're pretty much in my range of accessibility, without being in my toddler's reach!

Guest's picture
J Jacob

Best purchase of the year was definitely a meat thermometer. For an inexperienced cook like me who never could get my meats just right--either hte chicken was too dry, or the beef too rare. This little $30 investment has resulted in less eating out, more eating in, and more experimentation with cooking!

Great great purchase.

Guest's picture

My best purchase was my New 2006 Ford F-150 Pickup Truck. I had wanted a new truck but was prepared to put off getting rid of my 12 year old F-150 because of the cost. Ford came through with a $5,000.00 rebate, the dealer discounted the truck $4,000.00 and I got $4,500.00 for my 12 year old truck. Final Price $29,936.00 - $9,000.00 Rebate and Discount-Total $20,936 without trade.

Guest's picture

Just like Julie: I splurged on a really nice racing bike. I've taken a lot of trips on it, did a very frugal bicycle vacation (740 km in 7 days along the coast of Norway), canceled my Gym membership, and last weekend, participated in a race for the first time ever (190 km in pouring rain).

The money I spent could probably have paid for two really great vacations. But the bike is better than that, it's more eco-friendly and much healthier than drinking Caipirinhas at a hotel bar to boot.

Guest's picture

I spent $262.45 on a digital picture frame for my grandmother. My grandfather, who passed away ten years ago, was an amazing amateur photographer. When he passed he left behind thousands of photographic slides. Due to the cost of processing film, he rarely developed the pictures he took. I painstakingly began to scan and catalog the images. With so many to scan I have only made a dent in the piles. Many of the images brought me to tears. Moments captured of my mom and dad at their first Christmas, images of my brother coming home from the hospital, and pictures of my mother and I that exude the love we hold for one another.

Realizing that my grandmother doesn’t have access or knowledge of a computer, I decided to buy her a digital picture frame to view the pictures. When I look at the pictures my grandfather took, I can only imagine the range of emotions he felt behind that lens. Within each picture I try to imagine the pride, joy, compassion, elation, and frustration he felt. My grandmother says it's the nicest gift anyone has ever given her.

Guest's picture

A mattress =) I was camping out on a pile of blankets for nearly 3 months before I realized I was being insanely cheap and sacrifing my health for it.

Guest's picture

When I bought my laptop a year ago, I didn't have the extra couple of hundred for the 1GB laptop, so I bought the 512, thinking it wouldn't be that big of a difference. Well, as a graphic designer who in the last 6 months has decided to strike out on my own, it really hampered my productivity. Using the Adobe programs takes up a ridiculous amount of memory. Ever try waiting over 4 minutes for a program to open? I couldn't even have two programs open at the same time without one of them unexpectedly quitting on me! And don't get me started on trying to color correct a large Photoshop image. Grrrr.

I finally made the investment for 1GB extra RAM, (freelancer? Yeah, I have no money except for required bills) had the Mac guys install it for me, and presto! All of a sudden, I'm doing my work in half the time and as a result, getting more business overall accomplished.

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My 160GB external hard drive. I purchased it on a whim and because it was on sale. I thought I might put shows and music on there just for fun. Instead, I backed up my laptops and all of my work.

Best investment and purchase I have ever made.

My laptop died the next day, and I had to send it in to get repaired and re-imaged, and I lost *EVERYTHING*... but not quite. I had all of of my documents and my life went on without a hitch by using my other spare laptop, and my trusty external drive.

I didn't miss a beat in any meetings or things I had to get done, even without my laptop.

Guest's picture

I finally made the jump from a 5x80mm (5 wheeled) inline speed skate frame to a 3x100mm+84mm (4 wheeled) frame. Translation: bigger wheels on my roadskates, i.e., faster rolling on downhills & easier to keep up with the faster guys! Bigger wheels also mean more shock-absorption on 'Gatorback' (bumpy) road surfaces. Joy! Cheaper than a gym membership and 100% more fun. $30!

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I bought 4 airline tickets at Alaska Air from Seattle to Hawaii, for $236 each! Can't wait to go in October! Will be a much needed, highly anticipated vacay!

Guest's picture

The best investment I ever made was actually a barter.

Through Craigslist, I met a web designer who wanted to get more involved with networking but wasn't sure how to translate his skill set. I needed a website for my business, but didn't have much cash.

So we made a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup connection and both got what we wanted. I got a great website http://www.igotthejob.us (that has held up well for the past 2 1/2 years) and he has been working at Microsoft ever since with the assistance of a new resume, cover letter and interview coaching.

I still get compliments on the website and it brings in lots of business.

Jill Walser
I got the job! Resume writing, interview coaching and job search strategy.

Guest's picture

The house I bought this year has been such a blessing, totally worth every penny.

The best thing I didn't buy has been TV. Since moving to the 14th/15th largest market, I now get HD TV signals for free. 7 PBS channels is totally enough.

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This year, tired of buy affordable shoes that wore out too quickly, I splurged. Or at least I thought I splurged. I paid what is a hefty sum (in my budget anyway) for a pair of Ariat boots. After reading reviews online that they were the most supportive and comfortable shoes many had bought, I picked out an adorable pair of red cowboy-styled boots and bit the bullet. Now, almost six months later of wearing them almost everyday. (I'm in love with them, I can't stop, I neglect all my other shoes) - they are still kicking. I have arch problems and back problems and I live in NYC and walk walk walk. They are still just as supportive as the day they came out of the box. and my feet don't hurt at the end of the day. Its amazing what quality can do and I've learned my lesson about the "price" of cheap shoes.


Guest's picture

Best Purchase... My Motorola Q Sprint cell phone. I don't have to bring around my laptop anymore, and what's even better? I got Sprint to sell it to me for $99 and I still was able to use a $200 rebate.

I made $100 off this purchase! Can't beat that, really.

Guest's picture

My best purchase? An old school large, blank wall calendar for planning. It lays it all out and I can see all upcoming appointments/tasks/events/etc. For some reason I'm much more tenacious in following the schedule with a paper calendar than any virtual one..

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My HDTV. I got it on ebay for $300- half the price. It's easy to transport back and forth to college and man do things like great on it.

Though I notice "gym membership" was on there- I did get one of those too.

Guest's picture

i finally got my car during the year, and even though it wasn't the model i wanted, i got it brand new (still in plastic wrap when i purchased it) and paid without tax and under retail. the car came with ipod hookup, navigation, and bluetooth...more than what i was looking for~

Guest's picture

That's easy! I bought a crockpot last May and have been experimenting ever since. Prior to my purchase, I equated crockpots with soups, stews and the 1970s (mostly because everyone and their mother got one for a wedding gift back then).

Thinking back to my childhood, I rarely saw my parents' crockpot used for anything. It mostly just sat on the shelf behind the refrigerator, collecting dust. The half dozen times the crock was pulled down, my father would invariably use it to cook up an all-day chili.

Being short on kitchen space (NYC apartment), I never really considered getting a crockpot. Who needs an appliance that just takes up room? Now I see it as a lifesaver. We only have air conditioning in the bedroom and office, which means the living room/dining room area and kitchen are practically unusable in the summertime. Fans help, of course, but not nearly enough to make turning on the oven or standing over several pots and pans worth the effort. With the crockpot, I no longer have to.

Other than the lack of heat the crockpot emits (and thus costs us in gas bills), I also love the process of cooking with it. Nothing makes me feel more witchy than standing over a cauldron and brewing up some spells. This is the culinary equivalent of that. I choose my ingredients with care, layer them in an exacting fashion and cook over low heat, stirring rarely or not at all. Six to eight hours later, magic happens.

To date, I've made chili, BBQ ribs, scalloped potatoes, arroz con pollo, spaghetti, angry sauce, maple honey BBQ ribs, chicken tacos, broasted new potatoes and a blueberry betty. Each of these meals were delicious, hearty and affordable.

Guest's picture

Working for a web design company as a marketing manager, there came the day I needed to get a Macintosh in order to run programs in sync with our design team. I didn't want to break away from my PC ways, nor spend $1500 on a new computer when I had recently bought 2 new PCs that worked just fine, thank you very much.

I love my iMac, it's been almost one year and I can't remember the PC days, they're long behind me. The graphics, the photo/video applications, the space saving, the esthetics of the iMac, the built in camera...the whole thing was worth it, I love it. The best part? NO MORE BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH! I can run 10 programs simultaneously and if I really have to, I can run Windows programs using Parallels.


Guest's picture

I have been researching diamonds, checking out prices and figuring out what I could afford, for the better part of the year. While I was looking online, I found a diamond (IF, H-G, Ideal, .5C, GIA certified) for $1200. Great buy compared to the rest of the websites that I was looking at, and not to mention it was a fairly rare stone.

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I'd wanted to try one of these for years but never had the opportunity. My mom finally bought me a large, stainless-steel looking one for $40 and I'm hooked. Heats in five minutes, and cooks fast, without drying out food. And I can grill any time, no matter what the weather is. My beloved Weber grill hasn't been used once since I got the George Foreman. And think of all the money I'm saving on charcoal! I like cooking and the GF grill is indispensable, along with some good pans, tongs, and kitchen timers (and a few dozen other things).

Guest's picture

Thanks for using my picture. It would've been nice to be notified! Common curtesy. Thanks.

webmaster's picture

You are right that we should have contacted you. I've taken down the picture for now. It is a beautiful picture. I will contact you via Flickr mail for permission to use your picture in future articles. Thanks!

edited to add: I just exchanged Flickr mail with imageining. He has graciously given us his blessing to use his picture for this article. Thanks!

Guest's picture

As the year comes to a close, this one is a sure fire winner. I sent more than 8,500 pictures to Scanmyphotos.com. They digitally archived all onto two dvds and had it back in the mail the same day; onely thing more pleasing than the service, was the same day turnaround. They actually had the whole order back the same day. Found them on the Kodak website.

Here's the link:


They charged just $50 for each 1000 pictures.