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Things That are Totally Worth the Money

Written by Nickel - 35 Comments

Bank Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.

With all of the talk about saving money and planning for the future, I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about things that are totally worth the money that I’ve spent on them. Of course, there are a great many things of this sort, so I’ll just throw out a quick list of five somewhat (or totally) frivolous things that have been well worth the money…

1. Owning a trailer. When we moved into our current house, we purchased a utility trailer. It’s a 5 x 8 steel trailer with high slat sides and a ramp that drops down in the back. It wasn’t cheap, but we haven’t once regretted the purchase. We use it for hauling brush out of the woods out back, hauling furniture home, hauling our donations to Goodwill at the end of the year, etc. We’re abale to do a ton of stuff that we couldn’t otherwise do without owning a much larger vehicle, and it’s easily paid for itself already.

2. Amazon Prime. Yes, it’s costs $80/year, but it sure is handy to be able to order stuff from Amazon without planning ahead to be sure I make it over the $25 minimum for Super Saver shipping. Better still, it’s two day shipping, so your stuff comes really quickly.

3. Online movie rentals. Whether it’s Blockbuster or Netflix, I love (yes, love) the convenience of online movie rentals.

4. Airport Express. We have a wireless network at our house which I’ve always enjoyed. But I didn’t know what I was missing until I added an Airport Express to the network. This thing is amazing… It offers Airtunes, which allows us to stream music wirelessly from iTunes to our stereo, and it also works as a print server so we can put our laser printer on the network without having to keep it near a computer. Very, very slick.

5. Noise cancelling headphones. If you do a decent amount of air travel, do yourself a favor and get yourself a set of noise cancelling headphones. I absolutely love my Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones. Yes, they cost an arm and a leg, but they’re fantastic.

What about you? What things do you own that are totally worth the money?

Published on January 14th, 2008 - 35 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I travel a lot too, and the smushy earplugs work as good or better (IMO), are HELLA cheaper, pass through security in your pockets, and are reusable (slightly).

    I’ll agree the covenience of a noise-free flight is worth the money, but those bose things are an extravagance.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:14 am
  2. A cleaning lady. After years of dilly-dallying and wondering if we could afford it, we finally pulled the trigger and hired a cleaning lady. We don’t have her do the whole house, just the kitchen and bathrooms (which is where we spent most of our time when cleaning). She comes once a week to clean; every other week, she does our livingroom and hallway, which are hardwood.

    My wife says that she’d give up cable before giving up the cleaning lady.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:32 am
  3. Michael: True, they are an extravagance. But you can’t listen to music on squishy earplugs. I’ve actually found equally effective headphones for substantially less (you can see them here, but they’re over-ear headphones not at all comfortable on long flights (for me — I’m sure they’d be great for others with smaller heads/ears).

    Comment by Nickel — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:35 am
  4. Pillowtop California King Mattress. As much time as you spend in bed. You can’t beat a nice mattress. I paid $1500 for my daily driver but $1800 for my Mattress.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:46 am
  5. I have to agree with your full list.

    5 out of 5 items I own as well and fully agree that they are worth the expense. Especially the netflix and amazon prime accounts.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 9:21 am
  6. Amazon Prime is fantastic. Did you know you can share it with “members of your household.” Just click on manage my Prime.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 9:25 am
  7. TIVO!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 9:34 am
  8. I second the TiVO recommendation from Amy. It makes television-watching a much more efficient process. I rarely watch “live” television now, because a 30-minute program seems to take forever with all the commercials.

    I’ve got a 6’x12′ trailer and I agree they are a lifesaver, especially for those of us who can’t afford a huge, $20k truck. We recently helped some friends buy new mattresses from Sams, and without the trailer I don’t think they could have got them home.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 9:41 am
  9. I too love Amazon Prime. One hint, to avoid having to scroll through pages of items not eligible for free shipping, use – a search engine made just for amazon prime members.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 10:27 am
  10. Cable modem and cell phone service. Hate paying for them, but they’re close to necessities now.


    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 11:29 am
  11. How about noise canceling headphones for $20?


    I do this already for my yard work. I can listen to books on my MP3 player while I mow the lawn without blowing out my ear drums. IN my opinion, a lawn mower is much louder than an airplane (though I’ve never flown on a turboprop).

    I like my set-up but I might seek out a less conspicuous looking pair of headphones for travel (like the ones in the video clip). I don’t need to look like the ground crew outside on the tarmac. 🙂

    Yes, I know it’s not fancy “active” noise-canceling, but if you’ve never put on a pair of these for working with loud power tools (saws, sanders, mowers, etc.) you don’t know just how much they silence things, even though they are “passive”. And for only $20 or so, they are much cheaper and probably perform as well, if not better, than the fancy ones.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 11:54 am
  12. I also agree with Amazon prime – and I second Randy’s thought of having a good bed… 1/3rd of your life in it – it has to be good!!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 1:20 pm
  13. 1. My Dyson Vacuum. We have a German Shepherd who sheds what appears to be his body weight each month in fur. We literally burned out a vacuum every 6 months and in addition to the cost of countless hundreds of vacuum bags we also had to run over every area 2-3 times to get all the hair up. When we pulled the trigger and bought the Dyson, we never looked back. It’s coming up on 4 years ago and it still works just as well as the first day. If mine stopped working today I would get in the car and drive as fast I could to buy another one. Best $500 I ever spent.

    2. Harmony Remote. This thing is the gadget of all gadgets. It’s programable to control nearly everything. We went from having a dozen remotes to just this one and it is easy enough even my in-laws can watch TV at our house. It currently controls not only the TV, Stereo, DVD, DVR, XBox, and our iMac w/ Front Row, it also changes all the inputs on the receiver for each activity. Worth every penny.

    Those two items I would buy again in a heartbeat.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 1:21 pm
  14. I like your list. I had amazon prime for 3 months for a promo and miss it. I debate with myself whether to sign up for it or not. To split cost, I might ask a family member to sign up with me as you can sign up 3 family members (I think). I also am hooked on Netflix.

    My things worth the money:

    1. iPod–it’s the only thing that gets me through my gym workout.

    2. Second on Dyson. I have 2 dogs and the Dyson has been terrific.

    3. A good pair of tweezers. It’s an investment.

    4. DSL or Broadband–I know people still using dial-up. Yikes.

    5. Organic milk. I think regular milk tastes horrible. Some organic milk tastes horrible too (safeway and costco–yuck), but I like Trader Joe’s and Strauss’s Organic milk. Organic Valley is okay too. Horizon is hit and miss so I don’t drink it anymore.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 2:47 pm
  15. Okay, this is just too funny since it is so close to what I would have put on such a list.

    1) Owning a trailer. That actually makes perfect sense. Thanks!!
    2) Amazon is pretty much my one destination for shopping too, but I don’t think I buy enough books to justify the $80 fixed cost in shipping.
    3) Check.
    4) Check.
    5) Seriously considering getting some. OTOH I don’t fly that often anymore.

    If I may add…
    6) A good casual goretex jacket
    7) A pressure cooker

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 3:51 pm
  16. 1) Good tea. It is about $20 for 4 ounces or 1 cup full of tea leaves, but it is what wakes me up pleasantly in the mornings
    2) Good sheets and down comforters. I probably enjoy lollygagging about in bed more than I should, but at least I am maximizing the enjoyment.
    3) DSL
    4) Amazon Prime. Yes I find this so super useful and I am far too impatient. If I had to go to the local bookstore to get my books on the weekends (before super saver would reach me), I’d get so many more. I use the 2-day gauge as a way to check if the library would be faster.
    5) Comfortable and stylish shoes. Having a good shoe can totally make a woman’s outfit and if they’re comfortable, I’ll actually wear them.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 3:54 pm
  17. I try to plan my Amazon purchases so that I hit the minimum for the Super Saver, that is free, shipping. What I find really remarkable is that in the past 3-4 months, I have ordered stuff from Amazon, several times, using Super Saver shipping and it has invariably arrived in two days. Once I ordered something on a Tuesday at about 2 pm, and it was delivered on Wednesday at 1PM. Maybe this happens because I live in New York City, but with this level of service, I’m never going to spring for Amazon Prime.
    Some things I do find are worth the extra money.
    1. DSL-I can’t imagine going back to dial-up.
    2. A good quality mattress–we finally replaced an old saggy one, and the difference is amazing.
    3. Good quality bread from a real bakery–fresh rye or sourdough can’t be beat.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 4:39 pm
  18. cell phone – with over 6 sets of schedules to track due to being a blended family, the web access (gMail, gCal, check checkbook) + u/l texting are godsends for keeping all running smoothly.

    tivo – what little we watch is on our time, not the networks so we miss nothing.

    netfllix – same idea.

    computer – entertainment, education, communication – does it all

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 4:44 pm
  19. I could not do without my Ipod and cable internet. Everything else, I could let go with no problem.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 6:55 pm
  20. 1. My dogs
    2. My iPod
    3. My bicycle
    4. My Sitram French pots (forget All-Clad, overpriced and lousy pouring bling bling for show-offs who usually can’t cook very well) keep this ex-Sous Chef happy.
    5. My Ecco hiking boots (the Denmark ones they don’t make anymore)
    6. Good Italian Parmesan cheese
    7. Quality Japanese Sencha tea
    8. My PSB Alpha B bookshelf speakers (cheap and superb sounding)
    9. My Lindberg eyeglasses (I’ve had oodles of makes over the years and Lindberg smokes ’em all)
    10. Acme Juicerator
    11. Swingaway can opener
    12. Ekco stainless peeler
    13. Oster classic “beehive” toggle switch blender
    14. Cuisinart 10 cup food processor
    15. Felco Swiss pruners/cable cutters/shears
    16. High quality, small producer olive oils
    17. French glazed earthenware casseroles (Emily Henry as one example)
    ..I could go on for another hour, but you’re on your own for now.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 7:10 pm
  21. What about cheaper noise-cancelling headphones? A friend of mine swears by audio technica for $124 and it happened to have good review on amazon. She tried even cheaper ones, but told they had a humming noise instead of silence.

    1. don’t need it, maybe if I had a family 2. I always plan amazon purchases 3. may consider 4. don’t need considering buying a cheaper model.

    My list – cleaning lady (didn’t get around yet, though, can easily afford but need to find someone I can trust), good opera/broadway tickets, Europe/Caribbean vacation, health club. DSL goes without saying as it enables me to work from home when I need to/want, cell for emergencies (cheapest service). My new HDTV.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 7:41 pm
  22. I’d add my glue gun and my portable GPS unit to this list.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:06 pm
  23. OMG, i salivate over Airport Express. But…does it work with a fairly ancient stereo system? Actually, what i have are two fairly ancient stereo systems, one that works fine and one a friend gave me that has an intermittently nonfunctional receiver. Is it “talking” direct to the speakers or does it run through the receiver somehow?

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:33 pm
  24. kitty: See comment #4.

    vh: I don’t know. We have ours hooked up with an optical cable, which obviously wouldn’t work with an older receiver (and yes, it runs through the receiver). But I’m not sure if you can make it work with standard audio hookups.

    Comment by Nickel — Jan 14th 2008 @ 8:45 pm
  25. I’m going to sound like Lazyman but I think the Roomba is worth the money (at least so far!). Now I don’t have to vacuum nearly as often and my floors are still clean. Also worth the money: a higher end crib, because the side on our more expensive convertible was MUCH easier to lower than the non-convertible and relatively inexpensive crib that we got for baby #2 (unfortunately, baby #1 was/is still using his convertible crib). The difference was about $300 but since I can’t even lower the cheaper crib in one motion, I hate it. Also, it’s much louder when I raise it than the convertible was, which of course makes it more likely to wake the sleeping baby. We should have spent the extra $300!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 12:35 am
  26. I have been advocating the purchase of utility trailers over pickup trucks for years… $600 to purchase, $40/yr to register and insure, and it does all the hauling any pickup can do while I still get the fuel economy of my 50mpg diesel car for the rest of the year.

    I agree on the Harmony Remote, Tivo, and Roomba also.

    What I don’t agree on are the Bose headphones. Bose makes lousy quality stuff and charges a premium for it because they have brainwashed the public at large into believing that their equipment is first rate and better than competitors. Every double-blind test I have seen between Bose products and any other products has shown that Bose makes an inferior product for 2-3 times the price. Have fun with that. Consider this: Bose has made it “normal” for people to pay $350+ for a clock radio. Give me a break.

    Lastly: hearing protection — I am never without my Earlove earplugs that offer flat response attenuation (so it sounds like someone turned down the volume rather than getting all “thuddy”). Earlove also makes what is essentially an earplug that doubles as a headphone. This means that rather than having all that technology to cancel out the noise, it just blocks it in the first place.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 9:25 am
  27. Ria,
    you’re the only other person who I’ve seen praise the swingaway can opener. We finally bought one a year ago (after having grown up with one) I can’t understand why I waited so long — they aren’t very expensive.

    I’ll also add — our annual passes to disneyland. For about the price of two days at Disney we got to go as much as we wanted during the year. The kids had a blast, and we didn’t have to feel rushed to try to do everything. Next time I’d add the prepaid parking onto one pass.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 1:08 pm
  28. Organic food
    Gym membership & workout classes
    Decent running shoes

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 9:32 pm
  29. VH,

    Airport Express can connect to a stereo via optical or a 3.5mm audio minijack. If your stereo has the red and white colored inputs, you should be able to use this cable.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 9:49 pm
  30. 1. Good sheets
    2. Pricier dress shoes. I used to have a lot of shoes, all of which were cheap and crappy. Now I invested in a pair of black and a pair of brown very nice ones. They’ve lasted longer than any other shoes I’ve owned and they aremore comfortable.
    3. A high quality kitchen knife. I received a Santuko which sells for over $100 in specialty kitchen stores. I love it and want to buy a few others in other sizes.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 15th 2008 @ 9:52 pm
  31. My two:
    1. Lasik
    2. Tivo

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 16th 2008 @ 2:43 pm
  32. I second Lasik! Best thing I’ve ever done!

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 16th 2008 @ 4:36 pm
  33. My husband & I each get $50.00 a wk allowance. It’s the best decision we’ve made financially speaking. We never buy gifts for each other since we have our own $$ for treats.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 17th 2008 @ 7:24 am
  34. I felt this was extravagant at the time, but gave in and it was definitely worth the cost in the long run – a rototiller

    The rental costs are high, pick-up and return are a pain (and risky to one’s back) and with the roto-tiller around, you can do it often enough (beginning of season several times, end of season to turn in some mulch (leaves and grass you saved)) to make the garden an incredible growing space. It even allowed us to extend the bed, and to create new flower beds (when we put up a fence later around the rest of the “main” yard and essentially blocked the spring daffodils in the woods).

    I have to also agree with the Cuisinart, and would add:
    a Kitchen-aid Mixer (decent size, which I think is middle size now – tho perhaps even industrial/restaurant size would be worth it for a larger family – perfect for kneading dough).

    I would also second, third, and fourth the good (very costly) kitchen knives – have two I cannot live without.

    ….and then there is the “Onion chopper” from Pampered Chef. It does other things, but everyone who’s gotten one agrees that just for the ability to chop onions quickly and without the stinging tears, it’s worth it (was about $25 at the time).

    I am glad to hear about the vacuum – I will look into that as I also am burning up a vacuum now (within 2 years) and have an Old English Sheepdog.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 18th 2008 @ 8:50 am
  35. Forget about all the things that we DO need.. let’s concentrate on the things that we don’t need. Here are a few: kid’s (let’s not overpopulate the world), dogs (they leave their crap for you to clean up), SUV’s (they burn too much gas and perpetuate our addiction to oil), Computers (with all the handheld cellphone computers, who needs desktops and laptops anymore).

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 20th 2008 @ 8:58 pm

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