At least my mistakenly bought un-cordless Piranha has managed to sort of justify its presence so far. I went to turn a light on by pulling one of those string things and the entire light fitting came away from the ceiling, sending the bulb crashing into a squillion pieces on the floor. Thank goodness nobody was sitting below it at the time! Quick as a flash I grabbed the Piranha (cord and all) and whizzed through the mess in a fraction of the time. So there you go, already I have managed to find some reason to use it.
After that, I started thinking about all the purchases I made during 2005 and which ones I would consider my best and worst buys. On the whole, I don't think I did too bad really, I still bought a few things that I wanted to kick myself for almost immediately after buying them, but compared to my pre-Simple Savings spending habits the year before, it is a huge turnaround. I now present (in no particular order):
Penny's Worst Buys of 2005!
- Salt rock crystal lamp $53.95. Very groovy, supposed to absorb negative ions and energies around the home apparently. Bought a few days before Christmas and was intended as a gift for a friend, but once I got it home I thought it was so neat that I wanted to keep it. Once Mum reminded me that I had already bought a gift for that particular person, I decided I definitely would keep it, which was a really rubbish decision because I can't find a decent spot in the house for it. Hence I keep forgetting to turn it on so it hasn't been absorbing much in the negative ion department as yet.
- Two pieces of artwork $170-ish. I bought these in my favourite little seaside town of Whangamata in NZ, which is a place I now try to stay away from because every time I go there I get all inspired by the local arts and crafts and spend heaps. I bought these two beautiful pictures back in March, paid to have them framed and as yet have found nowhere suitable to hang them. One is stashed away behind a box in the spare room and I have recently hung the other in the laundry room out of sheer desperation. Not only is the laundry room a rather strange place to hang such a tastefully expensive piece of art, but one can only actually appreciate it if one happens to be sitting on the toilet with the door open.
- Extremely large candle. I love candles, I have several in every room already, which means that I definitely did not need to spend $39.95 on this particular one just because I liked the shape of it.
- Small coffee table $210 (I know, I'm so ashamed!) It does look really good in the spot I found for it, but we just didn't need it and to tell the truth it's only really big enough to put the aforementioned large candle on. Both these items were bought as a result of helping my friend out in her gift shop for the day when she was sick and I kept finding all these 'had to have' things. Mercifully she sold the gift shop several months ago so I no longer have to go in there.
- Very nice, and very large Kelly Lane picture frame - one of those multi types that holds a dozen photos. I bought it once again in my friend's shop, hugely reduced down to $48 and even Noel really liked it, but it was so darn big that I just couldn't find enough space to hang it anywhere! I kept it under the stairs for months and ended up giving it away to friends.
OK, so I admit they are shocking purchases, but I am quite delighted to find there are only five of them, thank goodness my oil burner phase was the year before! Now for the good news:
Penny's Best Buys of 2005!
- Dyson vacuum cleaner $480. My beloved Dyson put an end to our horrendous pet hair problem in one fell swoop. With six cats and two dogs living inside, we had one hairy abode! It had become a huge problem, so much so that we were seriously considering having to banish all the animals to live outside, which we really didn't want to do. The Simple Savings newsletter came out several months ago featuring a member help request about which vacuum cleaners were the best value for money. I did some major Vault research as well and found that the Dyson had a huge amount of good feedback, especially regarding pet hair. So I started shopping around and managed to find the latest model which normally sold for $699 on eBay for $480. It was only two days old! The woman had wanted one of her own for ages and finally went and treated herself to one, only to arrive home and find that her husband had done exactly the same thing! I had full warranty, proof of purchase and all the whistles and bells for $219 less than retail. It does a fantastic job, we no longer have pet hair issues and the animals have all got a reprieve.
- Pie maker $29.95. I had wanted one of these for ages, so waited until K-Mart had one in the sales. It's great! So many of our leftovers now get made into these little pies and are frozen until we want a tasty snack or a quick meal. Leftover meat dishes get made into Beef and Red Wine pies, Chicken and Vegetable pies - even the vegetables from Christmas dinner got made into pies! They take only a few minutes to make and means nothing is wasted anymore (or given to Ella, so far better for her diet too!)
- Two large buckets with lids, $9.95 each. Don't laugh, my buckets are invaluable! One is for filling with bulk laundry powder so I can take advantage of discount prices and the other is for laundry soaking. I never used to do this before - not since the boys were babies anyway and they are so hard on their clothes now they are bigger. I noticed that Maxine's and Rochelle's childrens' clothes always looked in perfect condition - not like my two stain covered ragamuffins and I discovered that they both took much better care with their washing than I do! So now when I see garments that are heavily soiled or stained, I pop them into a bucket of cold water with a small amount of laundry powder added and let them soak overnight before I wash them. I find just doing this alone brings the clothes up perfectly - I haven't even had to use stain remover yet! As a result, it has extended the life of many clothing items, which I would previously have ended up throwing away and we are all far more presentable!
- Baking trays and muffin tins! These have saved me a fortune on school lunches, as I can bake muffins and biscuits in large amounts. No more resorting to muesli bars, Tiny Teddy's and suchlike!
- Three Destitute Gourmet books, $19.95 each. I'm sure you've heard me mention these before, so I won't go on too much! These books have changed the way our family eats and shops and saved us a fortune every month. What could be better?
So there we have it. I can't believe the difference between the good buys and the bad ones. All except one of the bad buys were things supposedly bought to make the house look nice, but I didn't need any of them, so by and large they go unnoticed. The ones I consider to be the best buys are the ones which get the most use! I'm glad the Piranha has redeemed itself but it's a bit of a shame that I managed to begin 2006 with a shopping mistake so soon (the abysmal CD from the other day - it was the best of The Smiths, which is as dreary to listen to now as it was when I first owned the tape version in 1988, but at least it was fashionably dreary back then). However I shall remain positive and aim that this time next year I won't even be able to make a list of bad shopping decisions. Do you know what I have noticed most of all about my good ones though? Every one of them was purchased as a result of something I learned from Simple Savings!