In 1999 I was living in Portland, Oregon, and JB was living a couple hours south in Corvallis. We were driving up and down I-5 on a regular basis to spend time together; I got my first speeding ticket barreling past Salem in a fever of anticipation.

JB’s workplace had an office in Corvallis and one in Las Vegas (they designed slot machine bonusing systems), and when the company decided to consolidate operations to Vegas they offered JB a job, all relocation expenses paid for the both of us. Graebel Moving came to my little city apartment and packed up all my shit in one dizzying afternoon, and then JB and I drove our cars to Nevada, chatting on walkie-talkies purchased for the trip.

We lived in a rental house in the suburbs, where we planted a lemon tree and installed a kiddie pool to make the 100+ degree afternoons more bearable. Cat prowled the yard and occasionally attacked the big dopey pigeons that perched on the fence. JB got a promotion and I found a marketing job at a crazy, dysfunctional dotcom. We lurked on the Strip on the weekends, hiked in the desert, visited the Grand Canyon, and drank like fish.

About halfway through our stay — we left for Seattle a year after we arrived, after I lost my stupid dotcom job and we realized how much we missed the color green —JB saw an ad for a local LASIK center offering a 50% savings on the procedure. Both of us were spectacularly myopic, we both wore contacts that dried to a husk in the windy, arid Vegas weather. We had a little money to spend at the time. So we booked back-to-back LASIK appointments.

I remember we sat for quite a while in a waiting room that broadcast video of the preceding patients’ surgeries on a TV, which was initially horrifying but after you saw three or four in a row the effect slowly wore off. They gave everyone a Valium, which lent for a slightly boozy atmosphere in the room, we started cheering when someone we’d been sitting with came back from their procedure giving the thumbs up.

The procedure itself doesn’t hurt, although it’s not exactly pleasant. I remember sitting in something like a dentist chair, my eyelids held open with surgical tape. The suction ring on my eyeball, most uncomfortable of all. The clatter of the laser, and the tiny twist of smoke coming up from my cornea and the smell — something like burnt hair.

We took a taxi home and sat around our house wearing big goofy goggles, and I remember the moment when I glanced through blurry halo’d vision to the VCR and realized I could actually read the digital clock display. From a distance where normally without glasses or contacts I’d see nothing but smears of color. Amazing.

I can’t recall how long it took to completely recover, I know we both had troubles with night vision for a while—but not much worse than what I already experienced with contacts. For months I found myself reaching up to push back the glasses that were no longer on my face, a ghost reaction whenever I got out of the shower.

Today I have something like perfect vision, or if not perfect, then close enough. I don’t get dry, itchy eyes from contact lenses, I don’t get headaches and a sweaty nose from wearing heavy-lens’d glasses. I can just see, as though I had good vision all my life.

In terms of sheer everyday use and appreciation, I’m pretty sure LASIK has been the best thing I’ve ever purchased. It is, as my mother (a LASIK fan) once said, damn near the only miracle you can buy.

Tell me your story: what is the best thing you ever bought?

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Carrie
14 years ago

Okay, let me be sure to phrase this correctly. I did not buy a baby, but the $35,000 in adoption attorney and agency fees was the best money that I have ever spent. It bought me the most incredible, beautiful, Guatemalan blessing of my life. And I say that while she is 3 1/2 now and tried to put me in time out yesterday for sayiing “bitch” to a friend. Bossy, bossy, girl. But after Bella, it was definitely the Lasik. The relief and convenience of never having to wear contacts or glasses again still amazes me.

veralynn
14 years ago

The $60 I paid for renter’s insurance in 2001. Less than a month after moving to a new apartment out of state, the whole building burned down. I’m the poster child for renter’s insurance among all my friends and family.

willikat
14 years ago

1. $200 for our cockapoo, Molly. From the humane society.
2. $100 for what we learned later was a custom-made lightolier sputnik chandelier. we didn’t know it at the time, but now it’s probably worth 10x that. happy surprise!
3. my college education, even though i’m still paying for that.
4. citizens for humanity jeans. :)

Amy M.
Amy M.
14 years ago

I’ve been considering Lasik for a few years, but am too chicken! Especially after my last eye doctor told me I was “borderline” (my eyesight is so bad some doctors would refuse to do the procedure).

I don’t really have a “best purchase ever”, but the best purchases I’ve made would have to be my minivan (yuppie motherdom, here I come!) and my house.

Heidi
Heidi
14 years ago

I just remembered about my LASIK procedure. I am SO glad the doctor told me that I would be blind temporarily while the laser did it’s thing. I think I would’ve freaked out at seeing something come at my eye. LOL. The hardest part was not being able to turn away or blink while having the bright light shining in my eye.
But it was all so worth it to not be nearly blind and helpless should I lose my glasses and be stuck somewhere.

Amy
Amy
14 years ago

My best purchase was our first house. We paid $149,900 in 1996 (this is DC, so that’s a bargain!), and renovated the heck out of it for ten years. We sold it last year for $520,000 – enough to leverage ourselves, and three kids, into much, much more space. In the same neighborhood.

Dana
Dana
14 years ago

The obscene amount of money we spent on our honeymoon to Anguilla 9 months ago. It was the best 15 days of our life, filled with food, drink, and tons of fun. We could have used the money to take us completely out of debt, but instead, we have memories and souvenirs from the most gorgeous and friendly place on earth.

Oh, and, in about a week, we’ll receive our last souvenir from Anguilla when I FINALLY pop this baby out.

Becky
Becky
14 years ago

Oh I so want LASIK…the best $$$ I spent….my $150 copay for giving birth.

Ann
Ann
14 years ago

A plane ticket to Australia, a vacation from which I never returned. (Okay, it was a year or so later.)

I do hope you’re writing creative nonfiction essays to submit to journals, because you’re good.

And I hope the Lasik people paid you, because they should.

Olivia
Olivia
14 years ago

Hmmm, 2 things I can think of:

1. And this may be TMI, but I’ll say it anyway. Laser hair removal. Love it. No shaving…so awesome.

2. My inordinately expensive rescue dog. Between the adoption fee of a couple hundred bucks, treating him when I found out he had heartworm, glucosamine for the arthritis he has from his rough past, routine vet bills, and tons and tons of treats, I’ve shelled out quite a bit for him, but I wouldn’t give him up, not in a million years.

Michelle
Michelle
14 years ago

I’m so glad other people are scared! scared! scared! about LASIK and I’m not just a freak of nature. Honestly, its my eyes that they are slicing open and lasering! GAH!

Money well spent has to be the purchase of our home in 2006. I still get that little girl giddy feeling that I have my own house to do whatever I want with! I would also add in the bedroom set my husband and I purchased when we bought our home. I LOVE being in our bedroom and could not pick out a better set for us! It still makes me happy after almost 2 years :)

Andrea
14 years ago

For me, it was a plane ticket. You see, I met my husband over the phone, before it became fairly common to meet people over the Internet.

I’ll wait while that sinks in.

I’ll spare you the details of what led to the phone call but it began a fledgling long distance relationship between us while he was in chef school in Kentucky and I was a freshman at Univ. of Kansas. Because of the long distance, he was starting to get cold feet, getting frustrated that he couldn’t just take me out on a date because of the distance, and he hemmed and hawed a little bit about stopping the phone calls.

In a scary and desperately stalkerish attempt to keep from being dumped, I bought a plane ticket to visit him for a weekend over the winter break. He was happy to see me, and the visit solidified what we knew had been happening over the phone for two months. We were falling for each other. Two years later, he graduated chef’s school and moved back to the St. Louis area where he grew up and I decided to transfer schools to be closer to him. That was 11 years ago and now we’re married with two kids.

I’d say that plane ticket changed my life. But really it was the phone call that started it all.

April
April
14 years ago

My LASIK was probably the best money ever spent, as well. I always felt so self-conscious with glasses on, and the contacts had starting giving me wicked awful eye infections/irritations like every couple months or so.

Plus I got veneers on my two front teeth last year, and that was pretty awesome – I got to have the dentist modify the teeth to look more natural – my two front teeth have always been bigger than the others, so to have them shaped down and match the rest a bit more was pretty awesome.

Carrie
14 years ago

Can’t say I’m a big fan of the assembly line Lasik, seeing as how they started cutting on me before I was numb then snapped at me for twitching. But the best money we ever spend is the $90 or so that we pay to AAA each year for our roadside service. Came in real handy when Husband locked his keys in the trunk of the car while out of town.

Thursday
14 years ago

The $24 or so I spent on a Flickr Pro account. Within a year, I’d moved in with a man I’d met via Flickr.

Chloe
14 years ago

I don’t know, really. Maybe my cat?

I’ve always been intrigued by LASIK, but the horror stories I’ve heard have made me chicken out. Plus my vision is god-awful, I’m afraid I’m unfixable– but maybe I’ll give it a second thought, because I would LOVE to be contact free, and be able to see in the morning, and not get headaches from my glasses (I have really bad vision) when I do wear them.

Katherine
Katherine
14 years ago

In chronological order:
1) braces (okay paid for by the parent but so worth every penny)
2) therapy….. lots of it (the braces may have been the only good thing the parents gave me)
3) my bachelor’s degree. Didn’t get it until I was 28 and I had scholarships but worth 10x the money I paid
4) my house, which I never thought I’d be able to get. It’s little, but its mine, and even in this lousy market it’s worth more than twice what I paid for it.
5) lasik!!!!! The freedom to take catnaps without removing the contacts is highly underrated. The only thing that really weirded me out about the procedure was the smell. They didn’t warn me about that.
6)Both my rescue dogs–the old guy who needed daily medication and the most recent girl who I had to have flown up from California. Rediculously expensive sometimes but wouldn’t give them up for anything (despite recent PITA doggy spring fever).

Hulda
14 years ago

Bébé Sounds Angel Care, which is this marvelous thing you put under the baby’s mattress and it alerts you if your baby stops breathing. Love it. Saves me from hovering over him whenever he sleeps. Of course I recommend people take infant cpr classes in the event the gadget beeps to let you know your baby has actually stopped breathing.

Karen
Karen
14 years ago

All the taxes I pay in Canada… sounds crazy but when I needed major surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation — when you least expect it of course! — not to mention all the drugs…. it was nice not to have to pay one red cent out of my wallet. Ever. Being sick is stressful enough… I don’t know people cope with money pressures on top of it.

In the more mundane category, the $150 I spent on a 12 foot inflatable pool for our garden. We had summer after summer of having our own resort… at one point I was home with two older kids and baby, and we would hook up the baby monitor when he napped, and play all afternoon in our pool just twenty feet away. The two older kids would have been SO cranky being stuck at home with a baby, but for the pool. Great family memories.

leigh
leigh
14 years ago

1) First, I guess, would be my law degree. I quintupled my salary the first year out.

2) My sexy italian racing bike. (Bicycle, that is). Hours of joy and bragging rights when I beat all the men up the hill.

3) My 2 dogs rescued from death row. $200 for the sweetest, best family members I could ask for.

4) My plasma tv. I’m embarrased about how much I enjoy it. Only the aforementioned bike keeps me from full blown couch potatohood.

becky
14 years ago

Oh, this one is pretty easy, so far. In 2004, I was pregnant with our first kiddo, Matthew. At the time, my husband was working as a research technician for the state, and I was a postdoc. We did not exactly have much in the way of disposable income, and we were sleeping on a mattress that I inherited from a friend of my mom’s when I was in college. So that was…8 years prior, and who knows how old it was before that. It was not in good shape, and we were waking up regularly with backaches.

Around November or so, I decided that I was NOT going to do pregnancy with a crappy mattress. So we went off and bought a $1500 Simmons Beautyrest pillowtop. And to this day, one of us will comment to the other on how awesome our mattress is–we still don’t take it for granted, 3 1/2 years later. In fact, my husband now travels for work quite a bit–and gets to stay in nice hotels. That used to be a big treat for us, and now he says that no matter how nice the room/bed is, he can’t wait to get home. (I’d like to think that was because of me, but I think it’s really the mattress!).

I will be getting a new car with this pregnancy. Again, we don’t have tons of money, but the current car honestly can not fit 2 carseats. So maybe I’ll be posting again in a couple of months about my awesome car. Ha!

Sarah
Sarah
14 years ago

Definitely our house. It was the crazy cat lady’s and had a blood stain under the tile in our future bedroom, we had to put $20k into it immediately, and it is still under renovation (and will be for a looooooooong time) but man oh man was it worth it to get the hell out of our last apartment!

Second to that the cumulative amount of money I have spent on wool/fleece/knitting/spinning. That shit just makes me so damn happy!

Lawyerish
14 years ago

I’m scared to death of LASIK. I feel like I would do anything to be able to see without the hassle of contacts…except that. It sounds horrifying to me, but I am also very squeamish and prone to fainting.

Best money I’ve ever spent — well, top 3:

(1) The (rather steep) fee for our dog. He’s purebred (I KNOW, next one will be a shelter dog), and once we saw him we would have paid pretty much anything for him, and those feelings are exponentially greater now that we’ve had him for five years. We also had to spent an assload on medical bills when he broke his leg, but I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.

(2) We paid for most of our own wedding, and that was money VERY well spent. I wish I could relive that day over and over again. It was incredible.

(3 – still pending) Whatever money we spend in adopting our daughter from Vietnam — and in spite of all the waiting and emotional turmoil — I know it will all be worth it, and we’ll want to do it over again and again for future children. Related to that, the money I’ve spent traveling to Vietnam — years before I even thought about children of my own — was well worthwhile, since I fell in love with the country and those trips led us to where we are now, waiting for our daughter.

Jessica
Jessica
14 years ago

I’d have to say that IVF is another miracle you can buy. Insurance paid for most of it, but we did have to pay some out of pocket – all worth it for our now 2 year old son. Every penny. I’d do it all again – hey, wait, I *am* doing it all again! Trying for a sibling.

My husband had LASIK done about 8 or 9 years ago. He paid about $5k (I think it’s a lot cheaper now) but he says it was worth it to have those years of good vision.

The other thing I would say that was money well spent was our two trips to Italy, the first in November 2001 and the second in October 2004 (our honeymoon). I think money spent seeing the world is well invested.

Cara
14 years ago

By far, it has to be the $35 dollars we spent buying a swingset/fort/play structure thingy off some dude on Craigs*List. His kids were too old for it and he just wanted someone else to come disassemble it and take it out of his backyard. We had to replace two pieces of wood and we went ahead and replaced all the nuts & bolts since some of the old ones were a little rusted. But both my kids absolutely love it and it prevents me from having to take them to the park every day when I just don’t have the energy to do so.

Louise in CA
Louise in CA
14 years ago

Best money ever spent: a photosafari to Africa after grad school.

About LASIK: I’ve had it twice, and both times my eyes have healed from the surgery and become nearsighted again, almost immediately. They WARN you – it is sometimes less successful for severely nearsighted people, and I’m proof of that the warning is necessary. (My correction factor was -9.0 pre surgery.)

victoria
victoria
14 years ago

The $125 I spent at Seattle Animal Shelter to adopt my beautiful, sweet, joyous, loyal, quiet, well-behaved, socially appropriate, courteous, tactful, well-trained (by previous owners, not me) pointer-labrador mix. PERFECT dogs are waiting to be adopted or euthanized at your local animal shelter right now.

Mary
Mary
14 years ago

Probably the $30/month since I was 17 that I’ve spent on birth control. Not having to worry about babies = awesome.

Shawna
Shawna
14 years ago

Hm, I’m not sure I would have thought of it if you hadn’t put it out there, but laser eye surgery (PRK in my case) has to be right up there for me too. PRK is more painful and has a longer recovery time but I’d do it again in a heartbeat even so.

Shawna
Shawna
14 years ago

Hm, I’m not sure I would have thought of it if you hadn’t put it out there, but laser eye surgery (PRK in my case) has to be right up there for me too. PRK is more painful and has a longer recovery time but I’d do it again in a heartbeat even so.

Sleepynita
14 years ago

Wow I have been fortunate enough to have many fantastic purchases. In order:

1) Breast Reduction Surgery: it was very nice to finally have people talk to my face, not my tits. Oh! And button up shirts are nice too. I hadn’t worn one since I was 12.

2) My Education

3) My Home: purchase for $229,000 in the best neighborhood ever 4 years ago. Now worth closer to $750,000. Can we say economic boom?

4) My defective Westie.She was expensive yet worth every penny.

5) A trip to San Fransisco 29.5 months ago that ended with a day of tequila drinking and sex and 9 months later my son.

tulipmom
14 years ago

Definitely the money we spent on the IUIs that resulted in my currently being 35 weeks pregnant. None of it was covered by insurance, and it was worth every penny.

Paine
Paine
14 years ago

I’m almost ashamed to admit it because I know this sounds shallow, but I really love the implants I bought myself with my first job out of college signing bonus. I didn’t have a low self-body image but I had a nice ass and nothing up top (AA cup) to balance it, so I gave myself some small C’s to curve things out.

I love them and given a chance to relive my life, I would definitely get them again.

misti
14 years ago

Reading other comments, I feel kind of lame, but oh well.

My first iPod in February 2006. It was white, 30 GB, video. I had always carried around a ton of CD’s in my car. After my iPod (which I named Daisy because I’m a winner), I was able to put my CD collection up.

I got an iPod touch for Christmas (love being spoiled!) and again, it’s quite possibly my most favorite thing ever.

Question: I’ve read several mixed reviews about the iPhone. I just recently (in November) switched to a mac notebook (LOOOOOVE!!!) and clearly love the iPods… so, is the iPhone totally worth it? Please let me know! :)

ladyloo
14 years ago

Off the top of my hat, probably all the money we’ve paid to have me be in the country. Not that where I came from was bad, but paying thousands of dollars and putting my life in limbo over and over has meant that I got to be where my husband was. All of it a huge, fucking pain in the ass – and totally worth every second.

Heather C
Heather C
14 years ago

I would love to get Lazik or equivalent, but I’m very nearsighted, plus I have bad astigmatism in both eyes, AND they haven’t stopped changing, so I don’t know if I’m a good candidate. But this summer I finally got new lenses for my glasses. I spent $520 for fancy-pants ultra-thin transition lenses, and I love them. I also love never having to lose another pair of clip-on sunglasses again.

Michelle
Michelle
14 years ago

A canoe. Weeks before I graduated from college and got married my fella and I bought a Mad River Canoe. It cost him a lot of money.. (only him because I had $76 to my name). It has brought us so much joy, freedom and closeness. We love river tripping and it has taken us many places that you feet just cannot take you.

Super Sarah
14 years ago

Wow, what uncanny timing, I had an app for a consultation for Lasik in January and just this week we sat down to work out what we need to spend money on this year. I am still on the fence with regard to getting it done only because I really don’t have any problems with my contacts, I have been wearing them for nearly 21 years now. I might just get the husband to read this post anyway as it might help us make up our minds!

Philos
14 years ago

Well, objectively speaking, the best thing is probably the still-ongoing dental work to replace two extracted teeth with false implants. It’s ongoing because I was born with a cleft palate, and it turned out that getting the implants required some additional repair work, including a bone graft, which apparently will save me from losing more teeth. Insurance covered most of the actual bone graft surgery, but I had to pay for the braces (second time having them) preceding the surgery, and I’ll have to pay for the actual implant work and false teeth. Maintaining good healthy teeth, and finally having permanent replacements and not having to wear a retainer all the time, will definitely qualify as best thing ever purchased.

But you know, when you ask that question I don’t think of all that dental work. No, when asked “what’s the best thing you ever bought,” I immediately think of my first-generation 5-GB iPod. I bought it within a month of them being released, first used it on a bus ride from Boston down to NYC for Thanksgiving at my sister’s, and have loved it ever since. It got me across the country when I moved to Seattle, it got me through many commutes, some long nights at work, plane flights back home for Christmas… in terms of money spent to immediate gratification as well as longevity of use and sheer enjoyment, it’s definitely the best thing ever. Or at least it was, until I got my first-generation iPhone… (Note to Misti: yes, the iPhone is totally worth it. Go get one now.)

I’ve thought about getting laser eye surgery, which would also be great I’m sure, and my only hesitation has been concern about whether it’ll be effective for me or maybe make my night vision worse. Well, also I haven’t had the money to spare – maybe after the dental work is finally done…

Jennifer
Jennifer
14 years ago

Neat post today and great testimonials from you and your commenters!

My “best purchases” are things that resulted in life changes for the better. First one is my education – BS/MS/MBA (spread out over 20 years). Second one is my very nice Bianchi road bike, which motivated me to get out and actually ride it, which led me to discover how much I enjoyed riding and led to a whole new fit lifestyle.

KLA
KLA
14 years ago

1) My law degree-I will be paying back my loans until 2037 (seriously!) but I doubled my previous salary.
2)Our Sleep Number bed purchased right after we got married. It was probably three times the cost of a regular bed but it is SO WORTH IT.

Tessie
14 years ago

I am SO PUMPED to read all of these positive things about LASIK! WHEE! I’ve been considering it but my husband is being a Fussy pain in the ass about it.

I think the best money I ever spent was on my masters degree.

lee
lee
14 years ago

i spent $75 10 years ago for a 1962 schwinn hollywood bicycle. it is still rolling, and it’s older than me! i love the looks i get when people realize that i am riding a bicycle you would normally see hanging from the ceiling of a tacky chain restaurant.

Meg
Meg
14 years ago

I have a few:

1) My study abroad trip to Australia. Five weeks, and experiences that were just so wonderful.

2) My custom orthotics, which have saved my feet.

3) My MoonCup, which is just amazing. I spent $30 about eight years ago, and that’s the last time I ever spent money on my period. That’s just one of many benefits, and I freaking love the thing!

Josh
14 years ago

Hmmmm … well my first bag of pot was a life changer. God only knows what sort of dysfunctional, stressed out bastard I would have grown into had I not had weed to chill me out during my volatile teen years.

I got a five dollar pocket pussy that was similar to your surgery in that it was damn near a miracle of science. But now I have to shave my palms, and I’m blind.

I would say my shotgun. I quasi-legally purchased a twelve gauge shotgun from … this guy I know, and I have to say there is no feeling in the world quite like blowing the living shit out stuff with a near deafening explosion that bruises your shoulder. It’s probably a guy thing, so if you don’t get it, don’t worry. I don’t get to shoot it very often, seeing as how it’s pretty much illegal for me to have one at all, let alone a quasi-legal one out in the woods, but when I do, it’s fucking awesome. Imagine having butt sex with a T-rex, while flying on speed, in free fall. That’s kind of what shooting guns feels like, but better.

Sarah
Sarah
14 years ago

The $1400 plane ticket I bought to spend 8 months studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria. All the loans will kill me soon enough, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Bullion
13 years ago

Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me.

Quick Facts
11 years ago

Maybe you should edit the page name Money well spent : All & Sundry to more better for your webpage you write. I liked the the writing yet.

Sharonda Amstrong
11 years ago

Sure do disagree with your post, just don’t believe all the “truths” are researched correctly. I did have fun reading it, I will check back!

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7 years ago

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