Photo (cc) by John.Karakatsanis
Have you ever bought something that gave you a feeling of happiness that lasted much longer than a day, a week or even a month?
What brought this to mind is that I finally broke down and bought outdoor furniture — a wrought-iron table and four chairs. They look gorgeous in my forest-like backyard, and they’ve improved my lifestyle — much more time spent outside reading, eating, or admiring my garden and apple trees. On sale for $199! Definitely one of my better purchases.
That made me wonder: Do other people have purchases that make them happy long after the newness has worn off? I posed the question to our team of writers at Money Talks News with these ground rules: It’s something you bought for yourself — not a gift you received, and not a pet or experience. Explain why it made you so happy or brought so much value to your life.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson picked his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, purchased in 1999 for $17,000.
It stands out as a physical possession because I can clearly remember sitting in high school, daydreaming of what it would be like to have my own Harley. I was nearly 45 when I finally got it. It’s the only vehicle I’ve ever bought new, and the only thing I own that can still make me literally laugh out loud with enjoyment.
A like-new couch (with a pleasant smell)
Angela Colley wrote:
After moving I was desperate for furniture when a friend offered me his old couch — dark brown with tiny black polka dots and other people’s trash in the crevices. It had a faint smell and you couldn’t sit straight on it, but I told myself I’d buy a new one soon. I didn’t. Through three years and three moves, something always came up or I couldn’t find a great deal. Meanwhile, a dog chewed half the cushion, I spilled coffee on the other half, and the smell grew from faint to overwhelming.
Finally, I saw a great-condition couch on Craigslist for $100, but I had to buy it that day. I rented a U-Haul in the pouring-down rain and drove across three towns to get there, but it made a huge difference in my life. I don’t hate my living room now. I don’t spend all my free time in my bedroom. And my house doesn’t smell like a cross between spilled coffee, old furniture stuffing and a dumpster.
An iPhone 4
Brandon Ballenger offered this:
This question made me realize how young, lucky and frugal I am.
I still rent, so I’ve never purchased a home or major appliance. (Closest thing: a microwave.) Both cars, most of my furniture and most of the electronics I’ve owned have been gifts. And since experiences are excluded, I can’t say my college education, my wedding or a trip to New Zealand, which have been my most expensive and among my most valuable purchases.
The next-best thing I’m left with is my iPhone 4, the first and only smartphone I’ve had. At least for casual use, it has replaced a camera, a video recorder, an audio recorder, a GPS, a laptop, portable video game systems, and an MP3 player.
When things come up in conversation or passing thought I’m curious about, I can look them up without waiting until I get home (by which point I will usually have forgotten them). I can compare prices on the go, take notes without a pen or keyboard, and listen to the radio when not in the car. These benefits are all probably obvious to most folks by now, but still amazing to think about.
A Fitbit fitness tracker
Angela Brandt wrote:
When I made the best use of $99.95 ever, I was a crime reporter in Montana known to drive the three blocks to the courthouse. The tiny pedometer both shamed (in a friendly way) and inspired me to hoof it up the hill but also to use the four flights of stairs once I got there. The Fitbit I purchased not only measures steps but stairs climbed too. With the assistance of the Fitbit, I walked up to 5 miles a day or about 10,000 steps. My dog was appreciative as well. Like all gamers, I am a sucker for trophies, and Fitbit made a game out of obtaining milestones for distances throughout the day and week.
In addition to tracking your steps and your sleep, the Fitbit also can be used to oversee your diet with a cool online dashboard feature. It’ll let you set goals and measure your nutrient and calorie consumption. Knowing that I had to log that Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack would make me question if I really needed to indulge in a scrumptious ice cream with fudge-covered potato chips. This, combined with all the strolling, helped me to get much healthier and drop some weight.
An executive chair
Craig Donofrio wrote:
There isn’t any way to measure how much time I’ve sat in front of my computer thus far (and if I could know, I wouldn’t want to). But my body definitely feels it.
When I packed up and moved, I couldn’t take most of my creature comforts with me. So I sat in a free chair I’d found. It was one of those armless chairs you find in any high school computer room. It spun way too much whenever I jerked left or right. One of the wheels was stuck, which means I couldn’t roll across the room while I brainstormed. After six months of sitting in that thing, my back was killing me. My trapezius muscles were sore, and my lower back felt like a twisted Slinky.
I finally went to Office Depot and found an executive-style chair on sale for $150. Since then, my back and shoulder pain has significantly lessened, and I can fly across my living room floor all day long. Definitely worth it.
A mountain bike
Karla Bowsher wrote:
Exercise is important to me, but I’ve never been much of a runner, jogger or walker. I’ve always had trouble sticking to such a routine. But there’s something about bike riding I’ve always enjoyed, perhaps because it allows you to explore more territory in less time, perhaps because tire pedals are less work than bipedal locomotion.
A memory foam mattress
Dori Zinn wrote:
A few years ago, I got a deal on a memory foam mattress on some now-defunct daily deal website. Up until then, my beds consisted of mattresses and box springs. They were cheaper, and I thought that was enough.
But when a deal on a memory foam mattress showed up, the price was what I would’ve paid for an uncomfortable mattress and box spring replacement. I had never understood a good night’s rest until after my first night on my new bed. Years later, I appreciate what a good bed can do for my entire day. If there is one purchase that changed my life, it was getting a great bed.
What’s something you’ve purchased for yourself that’s made you feel happy, long after the initial enjoyment of having something new wore off? Share on our Facebook page. On Friday, we’ll send the person who collects the most “likes” the infamous Money Talks News “Broke, Stupid and Lonely” T-shirt!