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8 People On The Purchase That’s Given Them The Most Mileage

I think I’ve mentioned more than once on TFD that I love flowers, but don’t feel like they’re a good thing for me, financially, because they cost a lot and basically die within three days. They’re beautiful, yes, but something that only lasts a few days and literally has no function aside from sitting and temporarily looking pretty isn’t really something I’m on board with spending money on right now. And it kind of sucks, because I’m one of those girly girl types who thinks flowers are genuinely the most magical thing they’ve ever seen. They are beautiful. I want them. But shit, I can’t have them.

However, I recently bought a bunch of dried lavender at the grocery store, and upon arranging it delicately in mason jars and vases around my apartment, realized that they were a cheap replacement for the fresh flowers I covet — even better than fake flowers, because dried lavender is real which makes it feel even more luxurious and special.

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this purchase. One bunch of it was only $9, and it gave me enough to spread amongst a few different decorative jars throughout my home. It looks like I walked outside this morning and picked a bunch of pretty lavender, but it is really old, dried up stuff that is just going to stay looking (and smelling) pretty indefinitely. (I’ve had it for over a month now, and it still smells and looks amazing as a centerpiece in the middle of my dining table.)

Some purchases, however small or insignificant they may seem, just get a shit ton of mileage.

I decided to ask people what purchases they’ve spent on that gave them the most bang for their buck, and see if I could get any inspiration to make sure I make more purchases that last me forever and really kill it on cost-per-use.

I asked eight people to tell me about the purchases they’ve gotten the most mileage out of — this is what they had to say.

1. “As far as purchases that I consider to be actual investments, my Chanel bag. I love designer handbags, and while I know it is totally frivolous and unnecessary, I also felt somewhat justified buying a classic Chanel flap bag because the price increases on it basically every year. I’m most likely not going to lose money on this purchase — I might even profit if I ever sold it one day.” — Christine

2. “It is probably really lame to say my car, but I bought a used car for about $10,000 about five years ago and it is in perfect condition in spite of the fact that I commute over an hour every day. I put so many miles on this thing and it is still perfect, and I use it so much.” — Rebecca

3. “I don’t think I realized how many things I’d use a Magic Bullet for until I bought one, but it was only like less than $50 and I use it multiple times per day to make smoothies, sauces for food, chopping vegetables, etc. It saved me buying a lot of other more expensive appliances probably.” — Taylor

4. “I bought my phone outright for $1,100 and saved a ton of money. It was honestly the best bang for my buck — it was a lot of money at once, but think about how often you use your damn phone — a lot.” — Andrew

5. “My house — I bought at age 25 which was never something I thought I would accomplish, but I moved from New England to South Carolina and things are just so much cheaper there. It is kind of crazy how much bang for your buck you can get real-estate wise by moving out of expensive areas in the northeast.” — Liza

6. “I went through a bad-skin phase where I bought every skin product on the market and ended up falling in love with a night cream that was $300. Which is TOTALLY goddamn insane, except for the fact that it changed my skin so dramatically that it was totally worth it. $300 once a year is a small price to pay for feeling confident in my skin, and not feeling like I need to constantly be test driving new products, which I’m sure added up to more than $300 per year.” — Amie

7. “I bought a really nice set of pots and pans. I mean really nice. I’m gonna gulp and tell you that it cost me nearly $1,000. It sounds like a lot because it totally is a lot, but I had the money and I really wanted high-quality cookware. I can say with confidence that it makes a huge difference to just have stuff that cooks better and cleans easier and is just of really excellent quality. Food is food — in its raw form, it is basically all the same. What really matters is how you prepare and cook it. I think oftentimes the difference between an okay meal and an amazing meal of the same exact food is cooking it in pans that just heat and cook perfectly. I don’t really know if I’m full of it, but the pans make me want to cook every day, and they really seem to make everything I cook come out way better. And I obviously use them every single day of my life.” — Kim

8. “I moved into an apartment with a washer/dryer hookup but no unit, so I ended up just biting the bullet and buying a stacked washer/dryer, and it is hands down the best thing I’ve ever done. It was a big upfront cost for sure, and I’m not even positive financially it works out to be less expensive than washing my clothes at the laundromat, but just in sanity and hours of productivity alone, it has been worth it to not have to run out every time I want to wash something.” — Jason

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at!

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  • Caroline H.

    For me it would have to be my printer/scanner combo! It was $100 dollars but I use it all the time and has saved so much time and effort when I have to scan important documents or print something really quick. In college I always used the printer at the library so I originally didn’t want to buy a printer, but after college it was the BEST investment I made!

  • Tara

    Okay, there’s a weird disconnect here between Mary’s intro story about spending $9 on dried flowers and everyone else in the post spending minimum $1k on various items. There’s nothing wrong with either approach but fusing the two together is strange. Like obviously you’re going to get a lot of mileage out of a car you spent $10k on or a bag you spend $2k on or whatever. I guess it could use a better headline, like, “8 People on Things They Bought That They Like.”

    • Dana Ernest

      Agreed. The $1100 phone seems outrageous and I doubt he’ll get much more mileage than any other smart phone out there. I’m curious how long he’s had it. Cell phones are pretty much made to break these days so you’re forced to buy another one in less than 3 years. Over $1k seems absurd for something that will be outdated that soon.

      • Anni

        I think the bonus here is that he paid upfront for it rather than the ticket. I’ve done the maths on my far less expensive phone and if I were to finance it, rather than buying it upfront I usually pay +$200 more overall.

  • The best money I’ve spent recently was $70 for a Thai cooking class. It seriously upgraded my summer. I was getting bored with my cooking but now I have a few new dishes that I can make that are just as good as takeout.

  • Maddog

    What purchase has given you the most mileage?

    Back in 1991, I spent $1,100 for a 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser wagon immediately after the owner rolled the vehicle driving on the beach. The body was beaten up, but it was in excellent condition mechanically. Wife and I used it for years to tow an Inboard water ski boat (that we could afford because the truck cost so little), take us on vacations, drive off-road, and otherwise have a blast. I sold it for $1,500, six or seven years later for a profit of $400. It was a low-cost vehicle to maintain.

    In 1995, I nearly repeated that deal when I spent $8,500 a 1982 Mercedes Benz 300 SD, which I drove for a decade and put 150,000 miles on before selling for over $7,000. It had low maintenance costs and got good mileage for a full-size car.

    But I think the best purchases have been my cast iron pans/skillets (15″, 13.5″, 12″, 10″) and Dutch Ovens. I bought most used, at a garage or an estate sale, although two were from my father who got them from his mother, who got them from her mother . . . Did I say cast iron cookware lasts forever? If bought used, they tend to cost about $15 – $25 each and you will need to scrub them down with a good cleaner like SOS scouring pads, then rinse, dry, and thoroughly season the pans inside and outside 3 – 5 times. Start with a 12″, then buy a 13.5, then a medium Dutch Oven. By then you should know what you need. Match these with a 12″ high sided stainless steel pan for acidic/tomato sauces, and a large stainless steel pasta/stock pot and you will be able to accomplish 90% of all cooking chores outside of large dinner parties.

    Appropriately seasoned cast iron is as non-stick as the crappy non-stick pans but will last forever, and if the seasoning is damaged by washing with detergent, or by cooking acidic foods, it is easy to re-season.

    Maintenance is also simple, wash with hot water and a scrub brush, no soap, no detergent, then dry thoroughly, and apply a thin coat of spray olive oil. If necessary, scrape out any stuck on bits before using the brush and hot water.

    Will them to your kids. Once you use them, once they use them, it is all they will want to use for most frying and low acidic foods. You are better preparing tomato sauces and other high acid foods in stainless steel.

    YouTube has many good tutorials on how to prepare used pans, clean, and season.

    Tonight’s meal at Stately Maddog Manor is Spatchcocked Jerk Chicken with rice and black beans (I couldn’t find any pigeon peas!), broccoli, and whole grain bread. I might do a salad, wife’s favorite, instead of broccoli. The chicken marinates in the Jerk spice all day; then I blacken it in the 13.5″ cast iron pan for 10 minutes on each side. I then remove the chicken place 2-cups of rice, a can of black beans, a can of coconut milk, in the bottom of the pan with the Jerk spice bits. I put a wire rack over the top and put the chicken on the rack. The chicken, rice, and beans finish cooking for about 45 minutes at 350˚ on the Traeger. Serve with Rose. Dessert is fresh fruit, and Gorgonzola Dolce, with a light dessert wine. Or Port, I love Port! On second thought, I might just have Port after with a bit of 80% dark chocolate! That’s it, that’s the ticket.

    Mark Sherman

    PS if you want the Jerk recipe follow the link and ask