View Full Version : It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

10-17-11, 5:27am
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." (C. Dickens)

I've read studies that say people are very bad are predicting what will make them happy. We tend to over predict things (new car!) will make us happy and under predict others which will bring happiness.

Do you have a purchase you thought would bring great happiness only to be disappointed by it? Purchases that unexpectedly brought pleasure, or turned out to be a particularly good value? What have been your best acquisitions and your worst?

10-17-11, 5:35am
I'm trying to think of answers to my own questions.

Worst purchases -
I'd say any item of designer clothing I bought in the past was a bad value and didn't bring any happiness. I was just foolish enough to buy into the hype at the time. Probably also a few big vacations that ended up being very costly. Though they brought happiness, it was temporary and not worth the outlay of money.

Best purchases -
My dog has brought an immeasurable amount of happiness to our lives. Much more than I predicted so I consider him a great value. My cast iron pots have turned out to be a great value too. Inexpensive, durable and a pleasure to cook with. In fact, all the previous types of pots and pans that I owned should go under my worst purchases list. They all were purchased, used and then passed on, or thrown away. Bad value.

10-17-11, 7:22am
Worst? Oh boy, I'm not sure I want to publicly embarass myself by listing them all!! Cosmetic surgery sure ranks right up there at the top. I never even considered myself vain, either. But looking back....what was I thinking!?

Best: By far, the property we live on now. It was really trashy and run down, but it was all we could afford. DH hated it but I could see potential. We couldn't even afford to have a house built, so we're doing it ourselves. Lots of work, we're still living in a construction zone but we've never been happier. I love living in the country! DH was surprised that he does, too!

10-17-11, 7:58am
Lol Marianne, I thought of a few embarrassing expenditures, but couldn't bring myself to list them.

Sad Eyed Lady
10-17-11, 4:49pm
I am not generally swayed by others when it comes to purchasing an item, being mostly a skeptic, but once I was swayed and have regretted it ever since. I was at a women's health fair with a friend a few years ago. I was happy visiting the booths, picking up freebies, etc. and passed by a lady demonstrating a clothes steamer but just passed on by. Later, back with my friend, she wanted to go back to the demonstration, and she was very interested, and decided to buy one. So, for reasons unknown to me to this day, I followed suit - and very soon regretted it! Why did I do it? I wasn't pressured, had no interest in it a few minutes before, but for some strange reason I was suckered in! That is the one that really stands out, but there have probably been others.

10-17-11, 5:07pm
Bad purchases: Anything I bought due to social pressure at those "parties" where women get their friends together just to buy stuff.
WORST purchase: A house, which we were talked into buying when we were young, impressionable, and had really good credit. That story ended in bankruptcy seven years later.

10-17-11, 5:32pm
Acorn, We are currently putting great time into this subject, so it was nice I read your post. Husband and I are people who since 1980 have moved here there and everywhere 26 times. Trailer, Apartments, Condo, 20 acres, city, really rural you name it. We are at a point now where we have no reason (job location) to be where we are located. We have talked till we run out of talk about what and where would make us happy.
Every time we have purchased/moved it was to make us happy, yet within a short period of time, Well we must not have been as happy as we thought we would be or we would not move again.??? Now we are questioning WHERE if ANY place will actually make us happier then we assume we are now. Maybe we are thinking it was the event of the purchase that was suppose to make us happy not the actual place to live.

10-17-11, 5:55pm
Man, I have a LOT of spending regrets. Here's a couple:

Our conversion van. Boy, was that DUMB. Our fantasy was: "This will be a great car to transport our four kids in. Lots of room! We'll keep them quiet with the TV [that never worked] or the CB [likewise], and we'll travel to all kinds of cool places [like NYC??]" Reality: Broke down incessantly. Couldn't park in any deck over 9' high. HUGE gas guzzler.
Our "Direct Buy" membership. That was SO dumb. Why not just take $1600 and rip it to shreds? Our fantasy: OK, this will motivate us to get our house in shape, and we'll save money in the process. The reality: We never even purchased one item. House never was done the way we wanted during our active 2-year membership. We actually have been chipping away at our house ourselves, on the cheap, for far less than the "bargains" they offered us.

Best acquisitions:

Our second hand stuff: Our $50 refrigerator, Our $75 lawn mower: both served us for many, many years.
My flea-market find cabinet/hutch which fit PERFECTLY between our two windows and when I asked how much they were asking for it, the owner apologetically said, well, because it's good storage for the basement, $35. We painted it and it looks better than any new shelving unit could have.
I also love my sideboard & mirror yard-sale find: $50 for the sideboard/$30 for the matching mirror. Beautiful oak, solid and functional.

I guess the theme is, when you see a fantasy dancing around in your head, RUN!

10-17-11, 5:56pm
Worst - all the times I caved in when dd asked for candy, or donuts, or ice cream. It took me a while, but I finally learned that it's my job to say no. (Most of the time.)

Best - yes to dogs, they have helped create some of my most precious memories! And to my fruit trees - I knew little about gardening when I started, but my fruit trees (cherries, oranges, limes, plums, apricots, feijoa, pears) have given back so much! They shade the house in the summer, give us delicous fruit, hold water, give oxygen, provide habitat for wildlife, enrich the soil, provide beauty and fragrance - and they need practically nothing, just sunshine and water and air.

10-18-11, 8:31am
One of the things about having little money is the lack of regret about expenditures as I think about it.
However, I do regret impulse buying a dinette set which is not well made. It fit an image I had of our dining area. But a few weeks later, a second hand much older table and chairs which were so well built came available at a thrift store which would have been so much better.

I walk away from impulse buys and take time to really think most of the time.

10-18-11, 9:07am
I had a hard time thinking of a best purchase! Most of my good purchases turned out to be not as great as I thought they would be, or else I could have gotten them much cheaper if I had waited. For instance, books I had to have that ended up sitting in my bookcase.
My best purchases came in the form of washers and dryers. We bought an avacado green dryer for $50 that served us well for 10 years. I don't even think it died. We had moved into a small apartment and couldn't take it with us. Then, when we moved into our current house, our next door neighbor was having a garage sale. We bought both a washer and dryer for $75 total. With a small $35 repair, the washer lasted another two years, which was great, considering it was from 1959! The dryer is still going strong.

10-18-11, 11:30am
Uh oh, reading through the answers I suddenly have a sinking feeling the majority of my spending comes under the worst purchases list. I have the set of knives from a hosted party that I somehow was convinced I needed, the condo purchased and then sold for less than the purchase price, also purchased too much junk food for my kids, overpriced dinette set that I eventually gave away, various items of furniture... Really, probably most of my purchases weren't very good and certainly didn't bring happiness.
On the other hand the many 2nd hand cars and items I've purchased were almost all good. Maybe there is a lesson here - less costly, better value.

10-18-11, 11:33am
Re the conversion van, we almost fell prey to the same idea. I remember test driving one and not being able to drive it because it was so cumbersome, but we gave it serious thought. On the other hand I was stupid enough to buy a Land Rover SUV which was completely unnecessary for all kinds of reasons and looking back I cringe at the vision of myself driving that stupid car. I almost caved and purchased one of those demo vacuums once - the kind the salesperson comes to your home and demonstrates it and it seems practically miraculous the way it works. So I guess I should consider myself lucky I am unscathed by those purchases at least. :)

10-18-11, 11:46am
Ctg492, 26 times?! That is a LOT of moving around. Maybe you just enjoy variety and like a change of scenery. I have pondered and pondered where we eventually want to retire and where the "best" place for us to live would be. I don't think there is a such a place. Maybe this is worthy of its own thread.

10-18-11, 1:36pm
We have talked about why we do not vacation to places far and yonder, well we seem to just move instead of vacation :)
But really a thread on retirement places to live and why the location/style is chosen would be interesting. Was it or is it just a dream? Or did it really full fill the dreams/

10-18-11, 7:27pm
Best? 15 years or longer ago I bought a used but high quality mountain bike. I've used it for commuting to work, running errands, touring, and just riding the local nature trails. It has many thousands of miles on it and virtually all of the components have been replaced at least once. Last time I needed a few repairs the guys in the bike shop gave it some ooos and ahhhs since it's now slightly vintage. I'd probably also list a Flexsteel leather sofa that I got at a steep discount as a floor model. Many years of wear on it and many to go, plus I can spill coffee on it and not worry about stains.

Worse? I had a Jeep Cherokee several years ago that was a lemon. After many expensive repairs I decided to sell. While taking a prospective buyer for a test drive, the clutch broke and it locked into second gear, which cost a few hundred more. I literally kissed the ground when it drove off for good.

10-18-11, 9:18pm
I've never been a huge "purchaser" of anything so I don't have anything to report that's nearly as dramatic as 26 different pieces of real estate!

Recently I think the worst purchase I made was quicken 2011. I stopped using the old quicken because I hated it. Wanted to track expenses again and gains/losses on my investments since I hadn't been doing it since we moved to CA 3 years ago and wanted to get a more accurate idea of how things have changed, so I upgraded to the new quicken thinking I'd like it better. After one long sunday afternoon setting up all the accounts, syncing them, etc, I've never used it since, for exactly the same reason as before.

The best purchase we've made was definitely our cats. They've provided untold hours of love and fun and were only $75 apiece. Although a few weeks ago it was clear that one of them has depreciated a lot. Not sure how he managed it but he walked into the room with a $9.99 price sticker on his head. Maybe I could've saved money if I'd waited until he was on sale!

10-18-11, 11:06pm
Oh yes, cats were my best buy. Although two of them just wandered in, more or less, I did pay money for two of them--a grand total of $60. (Love your depreciation story!)

A newish dependable car was another win, along with my electronic pressure cooker and high-speed internet.

This house was a big fail--I will never, never talk myself into another house. Either I love it at a gut level, or someone else can have it. On the plus side, it has appreciated, I love the general area, and I'm sure it is in some way just part of my redoubtable karma. And exercise equipment. What was I thinking.

10-19-11, 9:44pm
My best purchase was a used Ford Focus about ten years ago for $5500 that's still going strong with few repairs, though the A/C went out.

My worst purchase was a used Toyota Previa van that was nothing but trouble, and with it's mid-engine, hard-to-access motor, a car none of the local mechanics were interested in working on.