Best and Worst Consumer Investment

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to appreciate more expensive versions of things are sometimes because they really are worth it. But then, sometimes, I’m surprised to discover the markup is purely for appearances and it’s better to bargain hunt.

I’m always curious to learn what things people invest in, and what they get cheap.

So what’s the thing you personally own that’s a great investment (and it can’t be anything in your stock portfolio or real estate, I’m talking consumer purchases, though it can be a medical purchase). And what’s something you spent $$$ on and found it wasn’t worth it?

I’ll go first:
My best investment has been in my nice bicycle, which is fully custom but no longer gives me any pain riding long distances, which was an issue riding an ill-fitted bicycle before (because I’m so petite and because I have RA so I have to ride upright).

Probably the thing I’m most surprised isn’t worth the high price is quality rain gear for biking. It’s all still plastic, and most of it still sucks after 20 miles in the rain. The unbreathable $5 rain cape from China keeps me drier and lasts about as long the fancy $200 breathable rain jacket from a local company. Plus the former comes in polka dots.

Things I no longer buy at the cheapest place possible: skincare, shoes.
Things that aren’t worth high markups to me: tights, bags, earrings (because I lose them), thermoses/water bottles (because I lose them), the very newest smartphone.


Hmmm. Consumer purchases where the money spent feels well spent to me:

  1. My one nice thermos (something like $20-30 bucks, but it keeps liquids warm for hours and hours and has delighted me so many times with that).
  2. Very nice, well-fitting bras (last forever, are much more comfortable, actually support my ridiculous boobs).
  3. Good shoes (especially running/walking shoes) with a bit of support and cush.
  4. Really good loose-leaf teas (not actually that much more per cup, but so much tastier).
  5. Nice ingredients for home cooking (makes me much more likely to cook, plus I’m just happier when I eat, and again not that much more than lower-quality stuff most of the time).

Things that haven’t been worth the $$$:

  1. A low-end “nice” road bike – it just didn’t quite fit right and ended up hurting my back and shoulders. I too need more upright bikes for happiness, it turns out. I loved its lightness and speed but needed something more comfortable for long rides.
  2. A few “work” dresses that just never felt right, so I’ve never worn them, but which were certainly more than $20.
  3. Probably a few smaller kitchen gadgets? Like I have a pair of silicon molds I got for candy making, but it turns out I don’t really like making molded candies as much as freeform ones; same with frosting tips (I just always make the same mascarpone whipped cream, which is best just slathered on).
  4. Some stationery that’s cute but that I just haven’t used enough. Gulp.

I now invest in pens. Or rather, invested in A pen. Because unless I lose it, I only need one.

I looove writing by hand. I’ll often journal just to write by hand. I take notes on books I’m reading just to write by hand.

I decided to buy a fountain pen, because

  • It tends to flow better and what I write with it looks better.
  • I’m less likely to lose it, because it’s more distinct and feels more special so I’m more likely to have “a spot” for it and check for it before I leave a meeting.
  • And no, you can’t borrow it, it’s expensive, and you can’t just heavy-handedly press it against the page and expect it to work, you monster. Good excuse to have people not touch my stuff.
  • I don’t have the guilt of waste from throwing out a cylinder of plastic every week or so.

Worth it and $$

  • Shoes. Shoes that fit. Shoes with arch support. Shoes that don’t give me plantar fasciitis again plz.
  • Certain art supplies (Wacom tablet, YES; high quality paper if doing watercolors, YES, etc.)
  • Violin
  • Cat (she started out cheap…)
  • Nice sparkly jewelry that doesn’t turn my skin weird colors/irritate my skin AKA FANCY SHIT. It makes me happy, especially when acquired through the pawn shop at a steal.

$$ and not worth it:

  • Kitchen things. The cheap versions seem to work just fine for almost everything, and/or can be thrifted
  • Certain art supplies! I chew through brushes. I will never buy a $30 brush. \O_o/;; I also (scandalous I know) do fine with student quality paint. With the exception of watercolor, where it is much more obvious.
  • Household stuff. Turns out I don’t care about the quality of my TP
  • Water bottles. I lose them immediately.

Worth its have been shoes that fit and last and don’t hurt(200-400). But I don’t have any right now… Maybe my hiking boots or winter boots but they weren’t expensive (40-60).
my blender I didn’t pay for(600), but it and my microwave(60?) are both super worth it. So are 9/10 uber rides I take(50/month) and a lot of takeout(dont ask you’d faint) . You know why? Because I’m disabled as fuck and even though these aren’t on my taxes as medical expenses, they are part of what I spend to function semi normally.
lingerie. Pretty lingerie is always worth it for sheer hedonistic delight. I woke up this morning to find out that I’d bought a garter belt and fake eyelashes while my brain was missing yesterday. No regrets.
cbd oil. In combination with benzos it helps with seizure recovery.

Not worth it
My bedframe(150?)/any bedframe. I don’t see the point. (actually I can see the recreational point of some, but not mine).
my headboard(250?) - so pretty and custom made. But you know what an upholstered headboard collects? Dust.
My printer/any printer - they have feelings and they break and whine and want maintenance.


Fun thread idea! :slight_smile:

Worth the $:

Ortho shoes
Comfortable/adaptive furniture (I have a sleep number bed and button-touch recliners)
High quality bedding
Electric blankets/heating pads
High quality outerwear
Electric can opener
Stand Mixer
Silk base layer and wool socks
Cast Iron
Oils and vinegars
Gaming mouse

Not worth the $:
Expensive serving plates/trays
Temperpedic stuff (did nothing for me but YMMV)
Fancy glassware and plates
Blendtec blender
Fancy glasses frames


I grew up with the belief that generics were practically as good as branded items. It’s not necessarily true— branded items put a lot of work into being the best that they can be! For example, Robitussin cough syrup is really effective when I get my yearly bronchitis, but Wal-u-ttin (sp?) Walgreens generic cough syrup was just awful. It had the same cough-suppressing active ingredient but the formulation wasn’t soothing and it tasted bad, too! But I’ll totally buy generics for pills.

I buy nice shoes, coats, and bras. All my other clothes are pretty cheap. In general, I try to get quality things but for a good deal (new or used) :slight_smile: For fancy skin care, I’ve found that eBay can have really good prices!

I never get the newest tech stuff. Older is cheaper and almost as good, or I can be patient and wait a year or two for prices to drop on what I want.


Omg bras!!! I totally forgot about that. I’m not much of a bra splurger, but when I finally went the “nordstrom rack” route instead of the “freepile at the clothing swap” route, I was like this is magic.

I have a super average size rack, so I always felt like nice bras were only necessary for people carrying around a lot up front. It turns out even if your melons are only 5 pounds strapped to the front of you, it’s still nice to not have an underwire digging into you all day…


I’ll +1 the shoes and wool socks.


May I ask where you got your bras? I’m about fed up with how uncomfortable mine are.

The answer has always been “a very nice bra shop.” We had one in my town for a long time, and I had serious luck there. I’ve never had very good luck in department stores, alas; I’m a 32DDD, which is not exactly a size they carry.

The bras I have right now that I love are all Natori bras. They’re also going on four years old and finally need a replacement…


I’ve been wondering about shampoo/conditioner lately. I have always used whatever is cheapest in the largest quantity at the discount grocery store, but last time I got my hair cut they commented I had a lot of product build-up on my scalp, and I’ve been noticing my hair has been getting greasy much faster.

Of course Aveda tried to upsell me on nice hair care with the line “It really is worlds better”, but I’ve been curious if nicer shampoo/conditioner is really worth it.

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I spend for the good coffee, socks, shoes, bras*, fruit, laptop, winter tires, pens, mattress, blankets, fancy clothes, dogs, art, blender,

I cheap out on phones, tablets, tv’s, cars, carbs, sweatpants and other cozy clothes, plates and most other kitchen stuff, entertainment, and snacks.

I go the cheap-but-awesome route on cleaning supplies, meals (high quality home cooked is cheaper but better) hygiene supplies, and basically anything else where the DIY version is superior to the expensive version.

*shut up elle.


Vinegar takes care of this. Apple cider vinegar if you’re fancy.


I used to use just whatever and switched to Jason, which is slightly more expensive. I don’t think it makes my hair better, but it definitely makes me have less of a ridiculous amount of dandruff? It’s not even anti-dandruff shampoo. I may just be allergic to parabins.

I think it might be person-dependent. I have curly/wavy thick hair and have tried Bumble & Bumble, Divacurl, etc. (I am susceptible to hairstylist upselling). I never noticed any difference between that and grocery store stuff.

It definitely is for me but I have naturally curly hair, which I think is more finicky in general than straight hair. I love Shea Moisture products and Mixed Chicks.

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I have straight very fine and thin hair that gets greasy really fast, so I have to wash every day (yes, my hair is even too oily for dry shampoo to be effective :/). Pantene is my ride or die. Any various more expensive shampoos I’ve tried in the past didn’t do anything (Wella, Matrix, Fekkai, Maui Moisture, Dove). But I also can’t just use Suave or Aussie, or my hair will look terrible. Pantene is the best if your hair is really dirty and you like it squeaky clean. Any time I’ve gotten bored and picked up something different than Pantene, I always regret it because it is never as good. I always use a volumizing gel product in my hair before I blow dry, and using Pantene daily will remove that buildup no problem. This is all so dependent on hair type though.


I looooove Kevin Murphy shampoo/conditioner. My salon uses them and I got sucked in but I feel it was worth it. They just switched to using only recycled ocean plastic for their packaging and they are free of endocrine disrupters. I love the way my hair and scalp feel after using them and I can support their environmental efforts as well as my small salon by buying them.


Things that have been worth it:

Klean kanteen everything - steel water bottle, dual wall travel mug, dual wall pint glasses + travel lid. I love the hell out of these and I only replaced mine after 10 years because I lost it. Saves me from buying crap coffee or tea out because I’ve always got this with me.

Zagg invisible shield phone screen protector - they’re more expensive but they replace it if you crack them for $5 shipping, and I might have accidentally dropped several 100 yd rolls of fabric on my phone. Phone escaped unscathed. I keep my phone until it falls apart so this helps that mean it lasts a long time.

Blissoma deodorant - it’s like $16 a stick but it’s free of endocrine disrupters and has completely changed my underarm skin to be so much softer and healthier. I seem to sweat less now that I use it and I just in general love it. In general I’ll pay more for skincare that suits my needs.

Not worth it:

My stupid Pyrex dishes. They were a wedding gift 4 years ago and nearly all the lids have cracked/warped and are unusable. Now I’ll just buy whichever glass dishes with lids are reasonably priced since we need them for lunch transport