What are the best purchases you’ve ever made?

Because I am bored (/procrastinating) and it’s on my mind, I figured I’d ask–what are some items (or services, I suppose) that you’ve shelled out for in the past that turned out to be way more worth the cash than you might have initially expected?

What inspired this for me was a compliment I got last night on this pair of earrings:

rainbowearrings

I’ve gotten more compliments on these babies than any other accessory or clothing item I have ever owned, and yet every time it surprises me a little. It’s not because I don’t like them–I do, very much.  They are very “me”: playful, a bit whimsical, and out-of-the-ordinary but not in a particularly showy way. I also tend to wear rather basic clothing–jeans and solid tees make up a large percentage of my wardrobe–and these add a bit of interest and fun. I’ve never been particularly good at expressing myself through fashion, and I don’t even wear a ton of jewelry, but I really enjoy having a few pieces that really suit me, and these are one of them.

The compliments surprise me because I bought these things roughly four years ago from a bookstore in West Lafayette, IN (where I went to college) for less than $10. And they’re incredibly simple… just a bunch of brightly-colored jump rings.

At the time that I bought them, I felt a little silly about it. Yes, they were cheap, but they were also not in any way NEEDED, and guys… I was so broke for most of college, particularly towards the end, when I was preparing to move across the country with no savings to live in an expensive city on a grad student stipend. My [awful] boyfriend was also quite fond of critiquing how I spent my money, and I expected that he’d make a comment about these (and he did. He also wasn’t terribly fond of the rainbow-motif, though I never figured out if it was the playful/childish aspect or the gayness that bugged him.). But they made me smile, and so I did it anyways.

And damn was it worth it. I’ve worn these things on every first date I’ve had since I left that awful boyfriend. I’ve lost them a few times but somehow always manage to find them again. I’m sure I’ll retire them someday, but I’ve already gotten way more than my money’s worth. To the random Von’s Bookstore employee who made them: thank you.

There are a number of other purchases that spring to mind as falling in the “SO WORTH IT” category. Sticking with the theme of “things I wear that make me feel pretty”, we have this coat:

 

trenchcoat

 

This is another item I bought (again somewhat guiltily) on a whim. I was visiting the midwest to see some family and friends not long after leaving that same awful boyfriend. I didn’t really have the money to spare on the trip, but I desperately needed to shake things up to get out of the funk I was in after that relationship imploded. I didn’t want to spend the money on the coat either, but my hand was kind of forced–I had totally forgotten how cold it is in Chicago in the spring as compared to LA, and the hoodies and thin sweaters I had packed were just not cutting it. I had planned on just buying the cheapest thing I could to get me through the weekend, but I saw this on sale and fell in love.

It was actually a good deal, though the ~$70 still really hurt at the time. But again, I so got my money’s worth. The picture above is me as I got ready for my first date I had post-breakup, not long after getting back from my midwest visit. The coat made me feel sexy and grownup and ready for my fresh start. The amazing man I met that night is still one of my best friends in the world, and the coat still makes me feel sexy and confident–not an easy feat, given that I normally feel pretty “meh” about my body and appearance.

I share these first two stories because in addition to being excellent investments, these items obviously hold a lot of meaning and memories for me. But there are also some pretty mundane items I’ve bought that have been way more worth it than I expected.

For instance, when my little brother came to visit me during my first year in graduate school, he was very not happy about my lack of a coffee maker. To be honest, I kind of wanted one too, but again, I was pinching pennies, especially since I was slow building my kitchen supplies back up after losing a good chunk of what I had in college to my ex. My brother rolled his eyes at me and noted that a decent french press was not THAT expensive, and he’d buy one for me if he had to. Being a little too proud to let my little brother buy me a coffee maker, yet also wanting to be able to offer coffee to visitors in the future, I hopped on amazon and looked for the cheapest decent solution. I came up with this:

aeropressIn a way, this is what my brother told me to get… it’s very similar to a french press. But being of a non-standard design and made out of plastic, it was one of the cheapest options on offer… yet it had amazing reviews! SOLD.

Still, at about $20 (it’s $25 now), I didn’t expect it to really last… I was just looking to have some way to make coffee for guests. This far surpassed my expectations. It produces way better coffee than any cheap drip machine would make, and though it requires filters, it comes with so many that I still haven’t run out almost three years later.

There are a handful of other kitchen items that I feel similarly about. My ceramic knives, bought on sale at TJ Maxx’s in several different states over many years. Silicone spatulas? Also worth every penny. So are reusable drinking straws, at least if you’re as addicted to smoothies as I am.

—–

I know this post might seem rather silly, but honestly… I’ve bought so much CRAP over the years, despite being frequently short-on-money (yes, those two things are somewhat, though not entirely, related). And yes, part of that can be blamed on my own impulsivity/poor choices, but a lot of that is simply because our culture encourages it. We’re pretty conditioned to buying mediocre shit that will have to be replaced after stunningly short lifetimes, or even just things that we won’t like anymore after a few wears/uses.

So personally, I find it rather refreshing when something you chose to spend your money on really, really delivers, and doubly so when it does so in a way that you could have never predicted. It also makes for a nice illustration of what you value, and what simple things bring you joy.

So tell me, what have been some of your greatest amazingly-worth-it purchases?

 

4 thoughts on “What are the best purchases you’ve ever made?

  1. I will spend extra money on random grocery store items without thinking about it, but I always drag my heels when it comes to spending money on clothing. I’m tall for a girl and rarely find clothes that fit me in stores. When I do find something, whether it is in a physical store or on the internet, I usually have to pay a lot more than more average-sized girls would for a similar item. This means I wait a lot before making purchases. Or I find something on sale that kind of fits but not really, and I make do with it. I keep wearing that one pair of pants that fit soooo well until the pants have holes in both knees, semi-shredded bits near the ankles, and a developing hole in the thigh / butt region (don’t ask me how that happens, but it can, when you wear the same item for long enough). Shoes are the same way. Those I have that fit, I wear until they are completely destroyed and awful-looking.

    So when I buy an item of clothing that fits — that really, truly, FITS, it feels amazing. I look in the mirror then, realize what it’s like to look and feel “put together,” and wonder if this is how other girls feel most of the time.

    1. Man, do I know that feeling. I’m fairly certain that when most people look at me, they see someone pretty “average”, but in reality I’m not easy to buy clothes for. I have pretty big hips/thighs/breasts, but a small ribcage and waist. That means I can’t buy a properly sized bra at most stores, well-fitting-pants (that aren’t leggings or yoga pants) are hard to find, and I haven’t owned a properly-fitted blouse since like, middle school.

      When I do find a brand that reliably fits me, or even just one nice item, I get pretty excited. Other clothes items that could have easily made this list include two specific styles of Levi’s jeans, one particular sports bra that I own several of, and a few choice items from Athleta. I tend to wear all of them into the ground.

      Before I found some Levi’s styles that worked for me, I used to buy Gap “curvy” jeans, despite the fact that they were stupidly expensive. When I realized they had changed the cut so that it didn’t fit me anymore, I think I might have actually cried. I wore my last pair of those until they had several holes in them.

  2. This post is AWESOME!!! Love it 🙂 and those earrings are pretty fantastic. I have a few items that were worth every penny.

    1. Pokeball earrings– I didn’t actually buy these. They were a birthday gift I received this February (I was going to by them, but my parents told me they’d already ordered them for me). I have worn them almost every day since getting them, and I’ve never received so many compliments on any other piece of jewelry

    2. Silver pegasus ring- When I was twelve, I went on an optional school trip to Florida. I saved babysitting money the whole summer prior to afford part of the trip, and so I didn’t have much money at all to spend on souvenirs. We were at the Universal Islands of Adventure when I spotted this pegasus ring and knew I had to have it. I splurged the $12. At the time, it only fit on my middle finger, but now it fits on my ring finger. It’s the only piece of jewelry I wear EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I’ve been wearing it every day for about 10 years. WORTH IT.

    3. Purple Pea Coat – This is another one of those random purchases that has panned out excellently. I wanted a purple pea coat after watching the film Penelope, and my sister found one for me at Delia’s. I’ve been wearing mine for about 4 years now, and I always get compliments on it. It manages to be both colorful and grown up enough to look professional.

    🙂

  3. I like the immediacy and sincerity of your posts, KA.
    I’m a cheapskate, er, committed to sustainability and not creating landfill. My favourite purchases have been old, beatup neglected houses I loved into beauty again, which fed me and my daughter. I am also thrilled with comfortable footwear. Made in Mexico aubergine and cognac, fluted Ariat cowboy boots bought in Austin for $168, a pair of Ecco stone colored ballet flats, outrageous at $200 in Sydney, Stuart Weitzmann tortoise shell patent flat sandals – $300 price tag/$39 at Marshalls. All are classy and comfortable from day to night even walking for miles, and while not cheap, are great value. Also, EasyTone (Reebok) compression tights, I use for exercise and when sitting long hours at desk. When I find something wonderful and functional I search high and low to get another as i have with all these (except boots) on ebay or Amazon so I never have to suffer lesser quality.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *