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What have you bought that ultimately saved you $$ long-term?


kubiac
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I was just re-reading The Tightwad Gazette and she articulated the value of scrimping for a little while so you can afford a sewing machine, garden supplies and cloth diapers, all of which will allow you to save money over the course of many years.

 

What gizmos or gadgets or tools or capital investments have paid off for you over time?

Edited by kubiac
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Husband's education.  This let us buy fixer-uppers because he could do the work himself, and then we sold the houses for profits.

 

My chest freezer.  I think we paid about $188 for it in 2000 when we bought our first house.  We have moved it between houses twice.  It has been full to bursting, and it's been so lean that I could see its bottom, but aside from the two moves, it has never been fully empty in almost sixteen years.  It has earned its keep time and time again.

 

Hair cutting clipper set.  I think DH has been through three or four sets over the years, but he does his own hair and all of the boys' hair as well.  With four boys, that's saved a ton right there.

 

Carpet cleaning machine.  Buying it was only about the same as renting one for two days.

 

Cloth diapers, yes.  But even moreso than that, cloth wipes.

 

We are very big on the DIY here, so there have been lots of things that we've bought that have helped or saved us money, but those are a couple that come to mind.

 

Oh!  This doesn't count as "bought," unless you count the gas for my van to go get it, but it was an investment that paid off.  Last summer, a local mom offered a free, working dryer; her washer had died, and her dryer didn't fit the space with the new washer, so she replaced the dryer too.  Knowing that our dryer was almost nine years old, although still working just fine, I suggested to DH that we go get it.  We have a barn for storing things, so he agreed, and it sat out there under a blanket for seven or so months.  A couple of weeks ago, my dryer quit suddenly.  An hour after DH got home, he had the broken one out and the new-old one in (and it's even nicer than my old one was, actually).  So glad to have taken the opportunity when it arose!

Edited by happypamama
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Clippers for the dog.  She has poodle fur and doesn't shed - the easiest way to keep her is to clip often, which costs £28 (around USD40) a time here to have done professionally.

 

The breadmaker saves money if you expect decent bread.  It would not have paid off if we had wanted to eat cheap white bread, but the kind of wholemeal, seedy, non-sweet bread that we like is not cheap to buy, but it's still economical to make.

 

Husband's membership at a pool that makes it easy for him to swim regularly: his back goes out less often, so our physio bills are much reduced.

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Laser eye surgery.

 

A refurbished Roomba (we don't even own another vacuum because it works so well).

 

A humidifier.

 

A quesadilla maker (lunch can be made in mere minutes and it is easy for kids to use--this one is inexpensive but normally I wouldn't buy it when quesadillas can be made on the stove).

 

High quality iPad learning apps, like Endless Alphabet, Endless Numbers, Reading Raven, the Beatrix Potter interactive books...I never download junky apps, and I'm willing to pay for something truly educational.

 

Magna Tiles (the most expensive toy we own, and the one that gets played with most and can grow with them).

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Husband's education.  This let us buy fixer-uppers because he could do the work himself, and then we sold the houses for profits.

 

My chest freezer.  I think we paid about $188 for it in 2000 when we bought our first house.  We have moved it between houses twice.  It has been full to bursting, and it's been so lean that I could see its bottom, but aside from the two moves, it has never been fully empty in almost sixteen years.  It has earned its keep time and time again.

 

Hair cutting clipper set.  I think DH has been through three or four sets over the years, but he does his own hair and all of the boys' hair as well.  With four boys, that's saved a ton right there.

 

Carpet cleaning machine.  Buying it was only about the same as renting one for two days.

 

Cloth diapers, yes.  But even moreso than that, cloth wipes.

 

We are very big on the DIY here, so there have been lots of things that we've bought that have helped or saved us money, but those are a couple that come to mind.

 

Oh!  This doesn't count as "bought," unless you count the gas for my van to go get it, but it was an investment that paid off.  Last summer, a local mom offered a free, working dryer; her washer had died, and her dryer didn't fit the space with the new washer, so she replaced the dryer too.  Knowing that our dryer was almost nine years old, although still working just fine, I suggested to DH that we go get it.  We have a barn for storing things, so he agreed, and it sat out there under a blanket for seven or so months.  A couple of weeks ago, my dryer quit suddenly.  An hour after DH got home, he had the broken one out and the new-old one in (and it's even nicer than my old one was, actually).  So glad to have taken the opportunity when it arose!

 

^ everything she said, plus

 

My duplex laser printer.  It's saved me over $3300 on ink in 5 years, and probably at least $100 in paper since I now print almost everything on both sides.

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Ditto hair clippers -- I have an inexpensive clipper for youngest DS's hair.  I buzz it every three weeks and save about $20 each time.  I think the clippers cost around $30, and I bought the current pair five or six years ago.

 

And a much more expensive set of clippers and other grooming equipment (scissors, thinning shears, etc.) for the dog.  I've probably spent around $500 on durable dog grooming supplies specifically for him.  I groom him every three weeks.  If I took him to a groomer it would be about $45.  He's 4.5 years old.

 

Roughly doing the math just on those two tells me over the past five years I've saved around $4,500 - $5,000 on them.

 

Microfiber cleaning rags.

 

My other guess would be our Honda vehicles, all bought new.  They've all been extremely reliable, and we tend to drive them for years and years.  Despite what was said in the other recent thread, we've not found that used cars would have been a better deal at all.  Hondas hold their value so well that used ones aren't significantly less expensive than new ones bought when the dealer is offering good incentives (like end of year).

 

ETA:  Not something we bought as in we had to pay anything for them, but -- our cash back rewards credit cards.  We usually get somewhere in the range of $1,000 - $1,200 a year in cash rewards.

Edited by Pawz4me
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Definitely the college educations.  They've given us the most.  

 

Our properties have come in second.  Investing in buying houses (vs renting) when we were young gave us really good head starts on our retirement savings. 

 

Oodles of tools so hubby can fix practically anything rather than paying for someone else to do it.

 

Vehicles - renting would cost us so much more.

 

Our tent/camping supplies.  We just got 8 days of camping directly waterfront for $350.  A motel room for one night would have cost us that much in the same area.  And of course, that's just one trip.  Multiply that by the oodles of trips we've taken in the past 10 years with the same tent/equipment.

 

Good hiking boots - they last longer than the cheap ones making them the better deal.

 

I'm sure there are more.  Those are just what's coming to mind at the moment.

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Internet big-time. I work from home, mine take online classes, and online shopping saves me in so many ways.

 

An annual subscription to the local grocery shopping service. Well worth $99/year because put in things all week that I think of from my PC or phone. Then I place the order, and anyone in my family can pick it up. It saves me time, and in the long-run money because I shop the specials, buy only what I need, and know that I'm getting what I want.

 

Same with Amazon. The prices often match or are less than what I'd pay locally, and even if it's $1-2 more, I sometimes get things there because of the time and savings in gas. Last night we bought a car part. The price beat anything locally, and it will be brought to our door. We would have had to drive an hour each way to beat the Amazon price. Not worth it.

 

Square foot gardening. Despite the initial set-up, it's the cheapest, easiest way to garden. We also start our own seedlings with a homemade set-up.

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So many things...

 

Rental properties. Cloth diapers. Cloth "everything". Lunch boxes. Water bottles. Thermoses for taking soups for lunch. High-quality windows; great insulation. Our wood-burning furnace! (Tremendous savings on oil.) Homeschooling materials. The cars we've had, but especially the Taurus we bougt from a private seller in 2000. Cash paid, used it for several years, now DD drives it. The additional building lots on our property (haven't been sold yet, but it is an asset that could be tapped if necessary).

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Our truck.  It has allowed us to haul things whenever needed and pick up big purchases instead of paying delivery fees.

 

Most of our best "investments" we didn't save to pay for.  Either we picked them up used and deeply discounted, or we've developed a skill, or we've gotten it for free.  Backyard fireplace for family gatherings - free.  Bento boxes for lunches - free.  Diapers- through a co-op buy at 60% retail.  Diaper covers - made by hand.  Homeschool stuff- cheap, free, or made by hand.  Most of our "new" things have come from clearance sales or discount sites like Woot, most of our house is second-hand stuff.  Heck, even the kids' Christmas and B-day presents are often clearanced or second-hand items.  LOL  I guess the return on our investment is always ten-fold that way. :P

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Camping and hiking gear. It means inexpensive vacations and free exercise.

Bicycles. DH commutes to work by bike; no gas expense, and no need to pay for exercise.

Good shoes. Because they last much longer than cheap ones and are a better fit, they are more economical in the long term.

Quality outdoor rain gear. My Northface goretex jacket had to be replaced after 23 years.

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I agree with many of the things said here. College education, hair clipper, dehydrator, laser printer. 

 

But, I'm not going to agree with the sewing machine. Yes, it could save you money. But, material is quite expensive anymore. $10-$12/yard. So, 2 or 3 yards to make a dress = $20-$36 + thread and zipper. You can go to the thrift or consignment store and get one for $8-$16.

 

And, unfortunately, I have this tendency to purchase material to make something... and forget it. So a closet stash of material isn't saving any money.

 

But, yes, we still sew some. It's fun and a useful skill. My oldest can easily alter clothes that she purchases used to make them fit better. 

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I was just re-reading The Tightwad Gazette and she articulated the value of scrimping for a little while so you can afford a sewing machine, garden supplies and cloth diapers, all of which will allow you to save money over the course of many years.

 

What gizmos or gadgets or tools or capital investments have paid off for you over time?

The sewing machine is a lie.... Unless you recycle fabric (and you most certainly can - changing DH's old button down into a super cute dress for a toddler, etc.) it will cost you far more in fabric than you can buy secondhand.  And, yes, I sew.  I've spent a lot on making my kids dress up clothes, making diapers, making clothing.  But I'd be lying if I ever said it saved me money. ;)

 

 

 Buy seeds that will reproduce themselves - heirlooms.  We use SeedSavers.

 

I buy almost everything secondhand.  I think that is what saves me  the most - delaying what I want and waiting for it to come up or seeking it on for sale areas.

Don't buy pets.... Those are expensive.  Not buying animals would have saved me a fortune.

Dental insurance - that's worth every penny every single year.

Clothing - rather than trendy buy basic pieces so you don't replace an entire wardrobe when you want something different.  Basic shoes, basic skirt/pants, etc.

Minimal purchasing in the first place - only bringing something IN to your home that you really want/need - being intentional.  The idea of a sewing machine is fantastic - WILL you use it and where will you get your resources? -Thinking purchases all the way through.

 

ETA.  Yes on Amazon.  I just repaid my subscription and it is something I always re-evaluate.  Costco too.  Costco saves our family a small fortune  - but I suspect that is unique to big families and the way we personally eat.

 

I used cloth diapers for several kids.  They CAN save you money IF you don't get sucked into the CD world.  Prefolds, ME airflows - that's it.  I've had prefolds survive 3 babies.

 

DH bought an old truck.  It has almost 300k miles on it and it is still going.  We have used it to haul more stuff than you can imagine.

 

At the end of the day the one  thing that has saved us the most has been the willingness to learn - learn to seed save, learn to fix what we can on vehicles, learn to do our own remodeling, learn to repair clothing, and so on and so forth.  Tossing our hands up in the air and calling the plumber or whomever is saved for the direst of circumstances.  And right up there is learning to cut hair - with this many kids, heaven help me if I'm taking them in for even cheap (on sale) $10 haircuts every six months.  YouTube is amazing and there is a little trial and error, but within a week or two you can't see any errors and until that week or so passes, you do their hair with a curling iron, lol.  That and a clipper for the boys.

Edited by BlsdMama
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Once upon a time a good sewing machine could save a lot. Now yes it can save if you have great skill and are comparing your product to what you'd spend for very high end.

 

An older, refurbished good machine will serve you well for basic alterations, window coverings, halloween costumes and more. Especially windows--drapes and curtains are expensive IMO.

 

Just having basic sewing skill without a machine can save a lot of money too. Everyone should know how to hem, fix a ripped seam or replace a button. My brother had to see all his scout patches himself (he didn't have the best looking uniform in his troop). As adult he's been able to fix a button that came out on a business trip.

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This is going to sound weird, but a Miele vacuum. It was crazy expensive, but we have 3 people in our house who are allergic to cats and 2 are allergic to dust mites. We have saved so much money on doctor visits and antibiotics (due to secondary infections from uncontrolled allergies), not to mention over-the-counter allergy medications. Plus, my husband finally has a lot of sick time built up, so whenever I get sick, he can use a sick day to take care of the kids and house for me -that is priceless.

 

A good tea kettle has saved us money. We had been using coffeepots to brew hot water for tea, but they kept breaking and we kept replacing. The tea kettle has no electronics and very little plastic, so it lasts much, much longer.

 

Putting in a small pond in our backyard will definitely save us money. Pest control companies in our area want $80/month to spray for mosquitos. By putting in a pond with fish, frogs, and mosquitos dunks, we're controlling the mosquito population for about $25/year, plus no nasty chemicals. I anticipate breaking even in the first year alone.

 

Ruth

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I forgot one of our biggies!  Going with Health Share rather than insurance over a decade ago.  The amount we've saved by that choice easily is in the 5 figures, possibly 6 if I add it all up (annual savings + not having a deductible or OOP bits with the health issues we've had since).  Then there's the mental savings by not having to worry about networks or permission or similar.  We were very unsure about going "off typical" at the time.  I'm incredibly glad that we made the jump!

 

This definitely ranks in our Top 3 along with college and our properties for great financial investments that have really paid off.

 

The tent and camping gear, etc, would be 4th with as much as we travel and have used it, but well below the other three - just ahead of basic sales and things (which we also use).

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Clippers, good camping equipment to make cheap vacations, a really good thermos to take hot drinks to work instead of buy Starbucks, a sewing machine does save money on window treatments, clothing repair, and small upholstery fixes, but it wouldn't save money on clothes.

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Oh gosh, so many things.

I read the Tightwad Gazette years ago.  I was always trying to be frugal, but I liked a lot that it said.  The kids were little then, but I started taking them to thrift stores and yard sales to buy most of their toys.  They got so much for so little and loved it.  When we would hit a real store and see the prices, they "GOT" it.  

 

Clothing is 2nd hand, hand me downs, or clearance rack for the most part for all of us.

I cut all of my boys' hair

We don't spend a lot on our dogs:  shots are drive through clinic shots, only go if absolutely necessary, etc....we do buy them quality food

Freezer

Frugal sports and activities, Boy Scouts was the best bang for our buck by far, two have Eagle so far.

College definitely for DH and for me

hybrid car

 

And right now, my nemesis: buying THIS house.  This house has turned out to be a frugal find overall and part of me is glad because it is a great house and part of me hates it because it isn't the location I would like.  But long story short, this house is not part of the city the rest of the neighborhood is in because the previous owners didn't sign the papers.  So, that is a huge tax savings for us ($200/month!).  We are on a well, so that saves us a water bill ($100/mo roughly), this house is very well insulated with 2x6 walls instead of 2x4, and energy efficient windows, which saves us ($100/mo roughly, some moths more).   

 

So, after talking to others about what they pay monthly for the above and comparing, we are just going to stay put.  $400/mo more is going to really help with college  costs by just staying here.

Edited by DawnM
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My sewing machine.   Sewing ordinary clothes doesn't save money.  The big savings for me have been in curtains and my wedding dress.   My wedding dress was made with extremely posh fabric for the cost of what my friends spent on alterations.   Curtains are really not that hard.   The secret to good looking curtains seems to be maximizing the amount of fabric used .  I will be soon making slip covers for our many upholstered parson's chairs that were hand-me-downs and garage sale finds.  Also, outdoor chairs.   We have many that are frames with fabric slung for seats and backs.  The fabric eventually falls apart.   I found a site online that sells outdoor fabric remnants so I thought each chair will be a different fabric.  

 

Cloth diapers were a huge money savings.  I found them so easy I really don't understand why anyone would use anything else unless travelling.  

 

Menstrual cup and mama pads.   

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The sewing machine is a lie.... Unless you recycle fabric (and you most certainly can - changing DH's old button down into a super cute dress for a toddler, etc.) it will cost you far more in fabric than you can buy secondhand.  And, yes, I sew.  I've spent a lot on making my kids dress up clothes, making diapers, making clothing.  But I'd be lying if I ever said it saved me money. ;)

 

I agree. When I first got out of college it was cheaper to make your own clothes. My mother sent me out into the real world with a good used sewing machine and I made a lot of my professional work clothes. I got out of sewing for many years, and when I decided to start again I found out it was no longer cheaper to make your own. You can of course use a sewing machine for repairs and alterations, but make your own only because you can't find it ready made or you actually enjoy sewing (I do). You won't save money making clothes from scratch.

 

 

Don't buy pets.... Those are expensive.  Not buying animals would have saved me a fortune.

 

We find some things worth spending money on, and pets are among those things. We only ever bought one pet - the dog in my avatar who we just had euthanized in February. The joy that dog gave us and watching my son bond and grow up with him was worth any price. For the most part all of our pets have been adopted for a small fee or free, but we still don't mind the cost of care and keeping a pet. They are worth it to us.

 

ETA.  Yes on Amazon.  I just repaid my subscription and it is something I always re-evaluate.  Costco too.  Costco saves our family a small fortune  - but I suspect that is unique to big families and the way we personally eat.

 

Our Prime renewal comes up this month and we will renew. I hear a lot of people complain about Prime but it really has saved us money. I imagine it depends on what and how much you buy using Prime.

 

My chest freezer.  I think we paid about $188 for it in 2000 when we bought our first house.  We have moved it between houses twice.  It has been full to bursting, and it's been so lean that I could see its bottom, but aside from the two moves, it has never been fully empty in almost sixteen years.  It has earned its keep time and time again.

 

Our chest freezer is over 20 years old and still doing well. It moved with us once.  It allows me to stock up during sales, and gives me freedom to make many freezer meals.

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*Education for my husband and I.

 

*Good shoes for me.

 

*I have 2 girls who are tough on clothes. I buy more expensive clothing for them in styles that last 2 years, buy less of it, take good care of it (no dryer, etc.), and pass it down. I have some older clothes from Persnickety, Matilda Jane, JK Heirloom, and so on that have lasted 4 consecutive years and been worn 100-150 times total. The price tags ($50-$100 for a full outfit even on sale) made me cringe, but they still look nice being passed down to other children after being worn over a hundred times by kids who roll in the mud. On the other hand, I have had $5 leggings for them that have torn before they even left the house

 

This all reminds me of the time is money thing though. Sometimes saving money feels like a full time job.

Edited by tm919
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Deep freezer

Hair clippers

Carpet cleaning machine

Big water bottles and insulated covers

Cloth napkins

Lunch bags

Reusable containers that fit in our lunch bags

Tiller -- bought used, now can break up our garden without paying someone to do it

 

My grandmother gave me her sewing machine.  Old one but good quality one.  I don't really know how to sew but I do repairs, have made curtains (from sheets) and draft stoppers and a few other small things. 

 

My stepdad gave me an older upright freezer.  I know it uses more energy than a new one but this one works and has allowed me to really stock up.  Like when I was given a bunch of fresh garden veggies and the deep freezer was full.  When both freezers get low I move everything to the deep freezer and unplug the upright.  If it is very low I put water bottles in the freezer.

 

 

 

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Animals' shots from Southern States, and gave them to our pets ourselves.  Also clippers to clip their nails.

 

Yes.  I've given our animals their shots for years.  The only one I can't do (legally in our state) is Rabies.  Even if I got the vaccine out of state and gave it to our critters it would be meaningless to the state if something were to come up in our area.

 

For those who aren't squeamish about giving shots, I feel certain there are YouTube videos explaining how.  I learned way back as a teen from a "Farm Kids" educational course.

 

Clipping nails is really easy for dogs.  We've always done that too.  The past 5 or more years hubby has even taking on being the farrier for our ponies.  That saves $30 per pony + tip at the end.  He picked it up just by watching our farrier enough times.

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Two services that we have changed have saved us a ton of money over the years. The first was to drop the contracts we had for Cell Phone service. Every year, they increased our monthly fee and increased the amount of minutes we could use, which we never used. We switched to "Prepaid" phones. Now, we buy "Unlocked" phones and save probably USD$100 per month.

 

The other service was Directv Colombia. We live in a large rural subdivision and they were the only provider.  Great service, but their Telephone Sales/Customer Service people apparently are required to lie to the customers.  One day I was in the local office of the phone company, asking about our ADSL or something, and more or less jokingly, but serious, I said that I hope someday they would offer TV service. To my astonishment, she told me they had TV service. We switched and that probably saves us another USD $75 per month.

 

We purchased 3 Refurbished Dell laptops from Blair Technology Group and that saved us a lot of money and I won 2 Used Dell laptops from an eBay Seller in auctions and the 5 laptops have saved us a lot of money.

 

There are probably other things, but I can't remember them as I write this. 

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A really great coffeemaker (MochaMaster by Technivorm).  I think that thing paid for itself in 90 days of no Starbucks.  

A power-washer.  Paid for itself in one spring season; of course, that's three days I'll never get back. 

 

Some of the things people have mentioned above.

 

One that surprised me a little is this one:  a very good car.  

First, a car with *excellent* seats.  I started having back trouble and the only place I could really sit comfortably was in my car.  The reason I say it paid for itself is that we were able to drive to several events, take road trips and so on, where I would have had to either stay home (No.) or pay for a whole lot of chiropracty or get surgery (possibly).  So I can't say for sure, but I do think that is a possibility.  As a result of having these great seats, I have become our parish's Colonoscopy Driver or the Driver to Get Me Home from Surgery.  :0)  It might be a stretch to think of it as a "paid for itself", but not for me.  

Second, I can most certainly count the safety features as having saved more than I spent (the uptick from a mediocre car).  Just yesterday, I was able to swerve at 40mph to avoid a _________ who had slammed on his brakes because a duck flew in front of him.  A less responsive or well-designed car, I don't think I could have done that.  The brakes have saved me a number of times on the highway.  And the safety features ... well, I got rear-ended last year on my way to a wedding.  A big old Ram Hemi pickup.  The car did what it was supposed to do:  absorbed the impact.  Not only did we make it to the wedding on time, but no one was hurt, and the car was driveable, all the way back home (1000 miles).  So I count the additional money I spent to get a good car as Worth Every Penny.  

 

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Already many good ideas, but I would add crockpot for making chicken stock and making cheap roast cuts super yummy.

Definitely the crock-pot.

I believe there is a board rule about having to post recipes when one makes claims about delicious food. ;-) As I've never managed to master the roast, share your method (and choice of meat cut) please!

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Our crappy house! :-)

 

We bought it as a total fixer upper and then spent the next 8 years slowly fixing it up with cash and our labor (with a few exceptions). We lived in it while we fixed it. 

Now we have a renovated house with a mortgage of less than half of what we'd pay if we were renting a 2 bedroom apartment. We still call it the Crap Shack though!

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laser printer - only had it a few months, but it has saved me so many headaches and I have not even changed the toner that came with the printer and I've printed a huge amount. 

 

My mom has got more than her money's worth out of her home warranty with A.B. May. They've had it for several years and it has saved them so much in repair cost and replacement of appliances. 

 

expensive Rubbermaid storage containers - we paid a lot for them many many years ago. I still have the one sandwich container that ds used for pre-school and kindergarten (notice his age in my signature). They still look brand new. 

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I remember calculating that my sewing machine earned its keep in the first year.   I reupholstered a glider that I got off Freecycle for just the cost of fabric -- under $40, and new cushions or cushion covers would have cost $100.  And I custom sewed training pants for my 18mo (hard to find size!)  that would have cost me $150.  Can't remember what the fabric cost, I think $50 or less.  Then I hemmed a couple pairs of maternity blue jeans, saved paying someone to hem them (and I wasn't finding shorter inseams with waists that would fit me at that stage).  I've also saved money sewing curtains.

 

But the sewing machine has also been a place for me to waste money on projects that didn't pan out.  I am not a skilled enough sewer to make clothing to fit my weird post-baby shape, but I sure have tried.  I also bought some fabric online for pillow covers, but when I saw it in person, I realized it wouldn't work for that project.  (Didn't match existing fabrics like I expected.)

 

We definitely saved money buying the hair cutting clipper set.

 

An inexpensive chainsaw (plus safety gear) netted us a few hundred by allowing us to cut up the dead trees the tree guy took down for us.

 

Cloth diapers, wipes, training pants certainly saved us money.

 

I think our e-ink Kindle paid for itself through all the free public domain books available for it, and all the bookshelves we don't have to buy.  Then we got a second, so I don't know if we still come out ahead.

 

 

 

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