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Expense or Investment?

October 9th, 2011 at 09:29 pm

Question for you: Are there expenditures you make that you consider more as an "investment" than an expense?

I'm not talking traditional investments here, but things that you purchase that you believe will have the effect of saving you money in the long term.

I've made three such purchases in the past six months, and two other purchases from the past 3 years come to mind as well:

1. A new wool comforter. If I can stay warm at night, I can keep the house temperature cooler and save money on heating bills. My old down comforter actually kept me warm, but about 6 years ago, I was first diagnosed with asthma, and last year, I landed in the ER because of it, to the tune of $1500, currently the deductible on my health insurance. I had previously poo-pooed the idea that the down was making my allergies worse, but this year, the effect when I put the down comforter on my bed was striking and notable, requiring the use of my inhaler several nights in a row (normally, only exercise induces an attack). So the comforter went into storage and I researched replacements online. Wool appears warm, breathable, and dust-mite resistant, as well as natural, so I purchased a comforter made out of wool.

2. A Vita-Mix: If you haven't heard of these, these are basically blenders on steroids, and highly touted by many in the raw foods community. While I'm not raw, I do try to eat minimally processed whole foods as much as possible to cut down my grocery bills in the short term and my doctor's bills in the long term. I haven't owned this long enough to calculate the monthly grocery savings yet, but I am using it multiple times a day and eating more fruits and veggies than ever, which can only be good for my health. Today I ran out of soy milk and at first was tempted to go to the grocery store....then realized I still had a cup of raw almonds, so instead, using the Vita-Mix and a "nut-mylk bag," I made myself a quart of almond milk that will do for cereal and coffee for a few days...saving me a grocery store trip, which means saving money because I *know* I wouldn't just buy soy milk while I was there! Plus now instead of buying pre-minced garlic and prechopped onions, I'm buying them whole and chopping my own.

3. A Nu-Wave counter-top oven. Yes, I'm a kitchen-gadget queen. But I've never had good luck making meats in the traditional oven. Baked veggies and the yearly turkey, yes, but until now, I've only had good luck making chicken on the stove top in some kind of sauce, usually marsala or cacciatore...and most of the chicken I've bought has been in the form of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Now every week I'm buying a whole frying chicken (better size for one person thann a roasting bird) and making it in this baby....then using the drippings and carcass to make my own broth. This machine will also cook meat straight from frozen, and chicken breasts are done fast--15 minutes if thawed, 25 i frozen--so there goes one of my excuses for buying something out. I buy a big bag of turkey burgers from BJ's and keep those in the freezer for quick meals that save me from going to BK's!

4. Not a new purchase, but an old one that I hadn't used for a couple of years that I recently put into action again: my Food Saver. The bags are a bit pricey, but Ball Mason jars are reusable, and if you spend a few bucks extra for a jar sealer attachment, you can buy in bulk and have the food last longer--a good solution for someone who is single like me who cannot take advantage of buy-in-bulk deals without a long-lasting storage solution.

5. My rice cooker--this was the first kitchen gadget I bought with the intent of using it to cook more, and it definitely has helped. A "fuzzy logic" cooker with multiple functions can be used for much beyond basic grains! Mine has a soup and a slow cook function and will even bake bread! I love being able to dump my ingredients, press a button, go out for a walk and come home to a cooked meal! This is faster than a slow cooker but can act similarly, plus because it vents moisture, things will brown in it that won't brown in a slow cooker. Right now the teflon on the inner pan has begun to wear out, and I'm going to have to replace this....I'm considering a gadget by Fagor that has a pressure cooking function as well (unfortunately Panasonic does not seem to sell replacement liner pans).

So what purchases have you made recently with the intent of saving yourself money in the long term?

8 Responses to “Expense or Investment?”

  1. patientsaver Says:

    Hmmm. I'm not spending much of anything these days but one thing I'd like to try some day soon is a TV antenna. I already gave up my cable, but if i could get even ONE channel with decent reception, watching the local news would be nirvana. Theoretically, using it would keep me from ever going back to cable, since I'm "supplementing" with free library DVDs and Hulu, when I really need a fix.

    On the subject of kitchen gadgets, I've long wanted a bread machine. Maybe it's time to dust off the slow cooker and make something in it.

  2. Dido Says:

    It's too bad you can't get local news online--we do have a local news channel here that puts its top stories online. (They also have a piece today on 14 alternatives to Netflix, listing some new services I haven't heard of--

    Have you checked thrift stores/yard sales for bread machines? They were so popular a decade ago, I'm sure that you can find them cheap. I have one that I bought new about 15 years ago for about $115 and one of my friends has the exact same machine that she found at a yard sale for $10. (That happens to be the one small appliance that I don't use that has *not* made it into the give-away box.)

    Autumn is definitely slow cooker season!

  3. LuckyRobin Says:

    So the NuWave is working well? I used to have something similar, the Jet Stream oven. It lasted for about ten years and I loved it. I have thought about getting the NuWave since Jet Stream no longer exists. I probably won't buy one until after we move. It's good to hear it works well.

  4. Dido Says:

    Yes, I like the Nu-Wave...especially for meats, and for quick-cooking vegetables, like zucchini or asparagus or even cauliflower (and for "kale chips"). But longer cooking veggies like brussels sprouts and winter squash do better in the regular oven, as do baked goods--at least in my limited experience using it for these items.

  5. baselle Says:

    I bought a Kindle for a similar cost-saving purpose. It turns out that while my newspaper loads just fine on it, it will cost an extra $20/month to subscribe. I'm going to adjust my paper subscription to compensate. I've put two public domain books on it, and put a library book on it. I've already bought a financial planning book on it, so its hard to know whether I will save money. Big Grin I will save a lot of clutter and I might have to be satisfied with that.

    On the food front, I got a vegetable steamer about five years ago. I think of it an investment - I can always make freshly cooked vegetables year round (healthy), save a few pennies by not cranking up the oven. Not sure how the steamer compares with the microwave though.

  6. Dido Says:

    It's great that the Kindle now allows library books--and I'm lucky that my local library subscribes to the service, although there are currently only 367 books available through my library. I've downloaded several public domain books onto it, and loads of podcasts (do you know you can use it as an mp3 player? I don't have one of those, so this has become one of my primary uses). But I *do* spend more $$ on books since getting it, so that's one purchase that is saving merely space, not money, for me. And until I upgraded my cell phone, the Kindle was my only means of checking my email while away from home if I didn't have my laptop with me.

  7. Ladya70 Says:

    I also love kitchen gadgets and have been debating whether to invest in a VitaMix. Do you really like it?

  8. Dido Says:

    Yes, I do. I use it at least a couple of times each day. I have a (green) smoothie most mornings, and I'll make either (or both) homemade V8 juice and raw applesauce days that I'm at home. I also use it for making soups out of precooked vegetables (the promos talk about cooking IN the VM, but most soups are better heated on the stovetop, with the VM used to puree the base and chop veggies, but the tortilla soup they make at demos IS good made in the VM using preheated broth). Homemade hummus is as close as a can of tahini needed; just use sesame seeds. Tuna or chicken salad is easy. Chopping cabbage or carrots for a salad and onions and celery for a stirfry is a snap--faster to do and clean up than a food processor. I'm still mastering making frozen goodies, but I enjoy even the imperfect experiments, and I can easily make a cappucino or latte to rival Starbucks. And it's easy to clean...I probably use the VM 3 or 4 times a day on days that I'm home all day, and twice a day on dpays I go to work.

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