To splurge or not to splurge?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Some questions to ponder:

  1. What is worth splurging on?
  2. What were splurges that were NOT worth it?
  3. What was the splurge that got away?  The one you regretted not buying?

A splurge doesn’t necessarily have to be exorbitantly expensive.  It could be a small luxury that you feel is worth the few extra bucks.

Some examples of splurges that are totally worth it might include water-view hotel rooms, a housekeeper, or premium quilted toilet paper.  Some examples of splurges that were not worth it might be expensive meals that disappointed, fancy dining room furniture that is rarely used, or a treadmill that ends up serving mainly as a clothes hanger.  The splurge that got away may be that fixer-upper home in the San Francisco Bay area that you passed on a few years ago.

Here are some of mine:
Splurges that are worth it:  Aisle seats on a plane and non-stop flights.
Splurges that were not worth it:  Upgrade to business class.
Splurges that got away:  That cute gemstone necklace I saw in a Brooklyn boutique but I thought was too expensive.  I still think about it and I’ve never seen anything I like quite as much.

This post was inspired by these CollegeConfidential threads:

Stuff worth SPLURGING for

Splurges That Weren’t Worth It

The one that got away or what I should have splurged on


187 thoughts on “To splurge or not to splurge?

  1. Fun!

    Splurges that are worth it: All Clad pans, Shun Knives, good shoes, nice food, Mighty Leaf Tea, travel (usually)

    Splurges that aren’t worth it: A lot of fancy dinners out lately (DH and I are down to 2 or 3 restaurants that we really feel are worth the $), a lot of clothing I’ve bought lately (poor construction) and nice area rugs/furniture with little kids in the house

    Still the fence about: nicer clothing for kids and our dinner at the French Laundry 9 years ago

  2. Oh and I would categorize expensive wine in the not worth it category. DH has bought a lot of that over the years and it’s awesome but I don’t think it’s that much more awesome than a $50 bottle usually.

  3. Splurge that were not worth it:

    9 days of vacation vs. 5. I thought it would be amazing and so much better and more relaxing. Meh, between the week of not working and the extra cost? It was totally not worth it.

    The one you regretted not buying? I was walking by an art gallery and saw the most amazingly hauntingly mesmerizingly beautiful painting I’ve ever seen in my life. It was $25k. It’s going to be worth $25 million some day. I’m going to read about in the NYTimes when I’m 80 and go, “F_ck!”

  4. I agree that long relaxing vacations are a waste compared to shorter ones. I am good with 4-5 days at a resort kind of place. More than that is too long. Other things not worth it – (1) expensive clothing. All of it is kind of crappy any more; (2) most kiddie classes like Music Together; and (3) custom window treatments. Why are they so expensive?

    Splurges that were worth it – (1) Precor elliptical. Still going strong 7 years later; (2) Good quality kitchen cabinets; (3) water delivery. I drink so much more water now; (4) expensive mattress; and (5) trading in the SUV for a car that is really fun to drive.

  5. Splurge not worth it – a 90 min. massage. I only have gotten as long as 60 min. I splurged, and lo and behold it was only 75 minutes long. My complaints to the salon & spa, which is well known in the area, went unanswered. I no longer go there. I also splurged on a nice dining table. It is so scratched and knicked up that I cringe with ever new mark I see.

    Splurges that are worth it – Disney cruise, heated seats and steering wheel, and scheduling my children’s doctors appointments at lunchtime. They love leaving school midday and going out to lunch with mom, even it means I miss a big chunk of my workday.

  6. OK, I’m going to the 50,000-foot view, because I actually found myself making this list last week when I was PO’d about something: I call it Why Money is Awesome, because I find the common meme that money is meaningless above $75K trite, so I went in the opposite direction. In my own order:

    1. Safety/security: think the first time you moved out of a bad neighborhood/didn’t have to fret about your car breaking down/had cash to withstand a job loss.

    2. Freedom from worry or other things that make you unhappy: think cleaning/yard services, a driverless car if you can’t stand traffic, Cooksmarts/grocery delivery, etc.

    3. Help/provide opportunities for people/causes you care about: think good schools for kids (which may involve more $$ house or private), college savings, charitable/religions donations, being able to get your kid a safe car, etc.

    4. Time — think retiring early, working part-time to spend more time with people you love/doing things you enjoy, or taking off work entirely for some time.

    5. Fun. Self-explanatory.

    So my tie-in is: if it satisfies one of these five things, without taking away from something higher on the list, then it’s a worthy splurge. Period.

    Worthy splurge: two years ago DH and I had a 1-week private jaunt to Italy (splurge! fun!). Upgrading to business class on the way over was totally worth it, because I can’t sleep in regular plane seats and jet lag F’s with me for 3 full days. This year, we are splurging on three weeks. But I am not upgrading, because (a) 3 days out of 3 weeks doesn’t blow half my trip, and (b) I will be with my mom and DS at first, not DH, so we will have slow, lazy days anyway instead of immediately gallivanting around and powering through.

  7. I am splurgy on certain personal everyday items. I carry an affordable luxury handbag, wear nice though comfortable low heeled shoes. I finally bought a nice watch and bit the bullet on a ring and I am happy with both my purchases. I use all these items everyday, so the handbags and shoes get pretty worn out and so does the jewelery.
    I don’t consider my hair color or monthly facials to be splurges because I know the cost to fix hair color mistakes or buying lots of make up without addressing skin issues would be more expensive.

  8. Hah — I am so opposite many of the earlier posters? Long vacations are SO worth it — usually I am just getting wound down when we need to wind back up. I want to get to the point where I’m a little bored and homesick and WANT to get back to normal — 3 weeks minimum, at least if it’s someplace I like. I LOVE my few pieces of “nice” furniture and see the nicks/dings as character and evidence of much love and use. And a nice dinner out at a fancy restaurant, with a nice bottle of win, is a huge treat (tonight’s plan, btw, for surviving hell week). I don’t need or want bottled water or filtration systems, as our tap is just fine.

    My biggest regrets are when I cheaped out. Not buying the silk Turkish rug when I was in Turkey in college and getting the $20 wool “carpet square” — makes a decent trivet on the sideboard, but bleh. Not buying the silver-and-fire-opal necklaces I see in Taos/Santa Fe because I would have nowhere to wear it — remedied that two years ago as a reward for a bonus, and I love it, even though I still have nowhere to wear it.

    I do agree that the expensive mattress was totally worth it, as was finally getting a “real” bed after @17 years of marriage. And the Shun knife set was probably the best XMas/Hanukkah gift DH ever got me.

  9. “What’s the value add vs. cheaper cabinets?”

    They still look and work great after 10+ years?

  10. I’m glad to hear the 4-5 day vacation is better than the longer one. DH and I have been discussing spring break this week and looking at two different resorts in FL, one place through VBRO is a 7 night minimum and DH didn’t think being at the beach that long with three kids would be that fun and he’s probably right. I think we will go with the usual place where we stay for 4 or 5 nights and then come home for a few days and get some stuff done around the house.

  11. “What’s the value add vs. cheaper cabinets?”

    More precisely: I can completely overload and abuse the roll-out trays in my pantry and they haven’t broken yet.

  12. LfB,

    I don’t know if you booked your tickets yet but Alitalia offers a very solid premium economy product.

  13. They still look and work great after 10+ years?

    And 5 years after that you’ll need to rip them out as the whole kitchen now looks hopelessly dated.

  14. But the cheap cabinets look bad on day 1.

    I honestly can’t tell the difference. Certainly not enough to spend $50k vs. $15k.

  15. Not worth it:

    expensive jewelry — if only for the hassles associated with security
    expensive vs. pretty good wine (despite hundreds of bottles in basement
    expensive area rugs — Lowes and Home Depot have surprisingly nice ones
    business class if you have to pay for it
    expensive wineglasses — they break as easily as cheaper ones
    expensive coffee
    Brand-name college for top student

    Worth it:
    smartwool socks
    beeswax candles if you can find them (I’ll never go back to paraffin )
    premium loose tea
    independent private primary/secondary school (in some cases)
    dish towels from Williams Sonoma

  16. @Rhett — ooooooohhhhhh. Do they fly to Paris or Frankfurt? Will have to check.

    @Cabinets: Nope. Going to keep mine till I die. My house will be the estate sale that is firmly fixed in the era when natural cherry shaker-style cabinets were all the rage — in 2050, it’ll be like the House Hunters house that has the shag carpet and mirrored walls and vertical blinds and everyone says, my God, why didn’t she update that thing in the past 40 years? This. Is. What. I. Like.

    Of course, we also may be talking different versions of “expensive.” I paid I think @$25K, maybe $30K??, for a pretty big kitchen. I paid up for plywood construction (no melamine/particleboard), 3/4″ framing, and 75-lb rollers, but not finishes etc. My only regret is not choosing soft-close doors on ALL of the drawers (I picked certain ones for some reason I can’t recall now)

  17. Rhett, I think cabinet prices depend heavily on where you live. Here, I think the premium for custom-made hardwood is ~30% over builder grade and people don’t redo kitchens merely because they are “dated”. And I like supporting local tradespeople, even if the longevity were the same.

    The hinges have pulled out of many of our builder grade cabinets and the laminate has come off. Sometimes I’ve managed to find and reglue the broken piece and sometimes not.

  18. Worth It (in time and money)
    not-from-concentrate orange juice
    homemade strawberry freezer jam with Sure Jell
    smoked trout
    Tazo tea
    roasting good coffee beans from Coffee Beans Direct
    Huggies Overnights
    hotel across the street from Disneyland (I hope)
    LAX to DTW nonstop flight during Baby WCE’s nap time (I hope)
    premium carpet (I hope, and would like advice on what level)
    durable shoes for my boys
    full-time childcare for Baby WCE (hat tip to HM for telling me this before she arrived)

    Not Worth It
    peeling/chopping vegetables that are available frozen and will be cooked
    Disney hotel
    having to drive 50 miles to buy anything vs. hoping the online selection is good enough (mostly)
    most restaurant meals

    When Mr WCE and I were engaged, we got an antique pump organ that I liked. There was a beautiful burl dining table from a single piece of wood about 8 feet long that was ~$5k, the kind of wood that simply isn’t harvested anymore. I wish I had that table but it wouldn’t be practical.

  19. Not worth it:
    Taking small children to nice restaurants
    Long vacations with small children
    Disney under 3 (or 5 for some children)

    Worth it:
    Getting the safety alert features on the Buick (blind spot, rear beep if another car is coming)
    Tsukihoshi shoes for kids
    Induction/convection range
    Really warm mittens and gloves
    Real sheepskin boots
    Silk comforters and sheets
    Ghirardelli chocolate

    (I’m writing this from a chilly playground, and I’m tired :) )

  20. Rhett — ooooooohhhhhh. Do they fly to Paris or Frankfurt? Will have to check.

    No, but Lufthansa and Air France have similar products.

  21. My splurge that I’ll need advice on is a nice SUV when I am done with the minivan. I want a nice vehicle now but have no reason really to give up my jalopy.

  22. Rhett – Agree on the Alitalia Premium Economy seats. LfB, do yourself the favor and “splurge” on them.

    Worth it –
    – well made furniture that gets a lot of use (as in every single day). Our family room is practically all Stickley which we started buying ~25 years ago. The leather sectional from them is perfect. We’ve had it about 8 years and it’s still every bit as comfortable as the day we bought it. Our kitchen table is Amish-made.
    – Anchor Steam & Johnnie Walker Gold
    – Snow Plowing service contract…if you get the right provider. $200/year and great peace of mind
    – Extra large shower for with bench/seating and 2 shower heads. During the days of 2 of us having to get out the door at the same time in the morning when we were hard-charging about our careers, this was a big help in keeping sane in the morning. Sometimes easier to clean 3 kids at once when they’re young enough to not care about being naked with each other. Sometimes just fun for them. Bench is nice because you can just sit there and let the water beat on you. The contractor thought we were nuts when we wanted this setup in our master bathroom, but now you see them on all the design websites. An example:
    – Calphalon
    – Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffee maker with thermal carafe
    I guess you can say well-made pretty much anything. Stuff that lasts. Yes, more up front, but less over time.
    – time warner’s sports package. If I’m into them for $175/mo (cable + internet) anyway, the extra $9/month is totally worth it
    – no-iron cotton dress shirts that actually are no-iron
    – manchego cheese; Molinari salame

  23. WCE – you may want to reconsider the non-Disney hotel. We found the onsite one (Wilderness) to be absolutely worth it, especially with little kids.

  24. “no-iron cotton dress shirts that actually are no-iron”

    Which ones are those? I’ve tried several brands. Brooks Brothers are the best and Lands’ End are the worst. But even BB shirts benefit from touch up ironing of the collar and front. Actually, there is a particular striped blue Kohl’s shirt that is truly no iron, but their other colors need touch ups.

    I have good quality kitchen cabinets that look as good as new even though they are about 30 years old. The drawers close smoothly and the doors hang straight. I am so tired of them, but I have little motivation to replace. I keep saying I’ll paint them, but inertia has kept me from doing that.

  25. I didn’t go to pick up earrings that I really want because of the stock market. I am so sick of this market. I don’t have my milestone bday trip booked for the summer, and i haven’t made any of the purchases that I still need for my house.

    I took in jewelry for a repair to the local jeweler in my town in late December, and I spotted these earrings. I do not need them, but I can’t stop thinking about them. I told DH that I was going to buy, and he said fine, but then the market tanked. The earrings are not that much money, but any money for a purchase of earrings when I have a zillion other pairs isn’t necessary.

    Splurges that were worth the money:

    business/first class to places like Australia. I’ve flown in coach, business, and first. I can’t go back to coach for those really long haul flights.

    Amex Platinum – the fee was high so we avoided for years, but now we have TSA and Global Entry, upgrades in many hotels including free breakfast, vouchers for luggage and lounges etc. The card has paid for itself based on the airlines that we use

    Breville mini oven – I wish I bought a Breville many years ago because it would have saved a lot of time and hassle with cheaper models from other companies

    expensive mattress – I wish we had bought this when we first got married instead of waiting. It eliminated back pain, and we get more restful sleep

    Hunter boots for adults – I was just discussing this with someone last week. I’ve had my black Hunters for at least 8 years and they look/function the same as the day I bought the boots

    Waste of money:

    Kids music classes such as Musical maestros vs. free music classes at the public library

    Swim lessons for babies that can’t walk

    Expensive baby clothes

    Some makeup products/creams that are essentially the same as drug store products with nicer packaging

    Disney for kids under 4

  26. WCE, you will be fine with non Disney hotel in Disneyland because you can walk from so many non Disney properties right into the parks. It is a whole other story when you go to Orlando since it was planned and Disney bought all of the land.

  27. Worth it- buying a house in the pricey neighborhood of our dreams. The time saved in commuting and getting to live in an idyllic setting is something that influences our day-to-day lives tremendously.

    Not worth it- the amount of meals out we’ve eaten over the past few years. Now going out doesn’t feel as special, and I’d be a better cook if we’d had less takeout and restaurant meals.

    Re. Disney hotels- I love the Swan and Dolphin. Much cheaper than comparable Disney resorts for the price, but still have almost all the perks and convenience of them. Little kids might miss the character theming is only downside I can think of.

  28. As a tie in to the discussion from yesterday, what do you call a hole in the arm of a men’s dress shirt? My coworkers used to call it a blow out. DH was getting these a lot in Brooks Brothers non-iron shirts a few years ago. He has shirts from Lands End that never get these holes. The shirts that he purchased from Brooks in the last 12 months are better, but they still have to be occasionally touched up with an iron.

  29. ATM, keep in mind that WCE is going to Disneyland, not WDW. There aren’t a lot of Disney hotels there, and they are quite expensive. As Lauren points out, there are a lot of hotel options in a wide range of prices within walking distance.

    WCE, if you’re a Costco member, check out their travel website. We got a package from them that included a hotel within walking distance, park admission, and some extras (e.g., early admission to the park). Price was comparable to what we found elsewhere without the extras.

  30. Worth it:

    The warm down jacket, ski pants, gloves, turtleneck and pant liner things. I only wear them for like two days once every two years, but it means that for those two days I can be out in the snow all day without feeling miserable.

    Annual tickets to a certain charity ball — it’s our big night every year, and it’s one that really does everything right so that you dress up, spend the evening dining well and drinking and dancing without getting your wallet out, and feel fancy and pampered.

    And related to the above, the $200 CZ “sapphire” necklace set I got a couple of years ago and trot out every couple years for the occasion. It’s the sort of thing you see on beauty pageant contestants and in costume dramas, and while the CZ wouldn’t fool someone with a loupe and doesn’t need to be kept in a safe it looks a lot better than the Claire’s level stuff.

    Experiences — not just travel, but springing for the horseback ride or the theater tickets or the guided walk that will really take advantage of the place you’re visiting. And in that vein, I went back and forth for a long time about whether it was really worth the money to have done the Lodging & Learning package at Yellowstone (the Yellowstone for Families one), but after we got back when I was putting together photobooks I realized how much deeper an understanding we’d gotten of the place there versus other parks, and that tipped the balance for me. And it was also a BIG advantage that neither adult had to drive through all the bear and bison jams so we could both be relaxing and looking out the window the whole time.

    Long vacations are worth it for me, but our vacations aren’t the sit-on-a-beach-and-relax type so much as the GO GO GO type. So we may get worn out, but we’re not so likely to get bored.

    Fresh flowers are worth it.

    Not worth it:

    Too much eating out. This one is unavoidable when traveling, though. And as others have said, expensive meals with small children.

    Food for which people are lining up for half an hour or more.

    Our wine cut-off is more like $15 to $20, with the $10 mark preferred, because we’re mostly drinking it with dinner on a weeknight and inevitably the kids are doing something to prevent us from being able to focus on the subtleties of the wine.

    Fresh flowers that are out of season / traveling very far so that you have to pay through the nose are not worth it, unless there is some special reason for getting those then.

  31. Thanks for the Disney advice. We’re only going to be in the park for one day and all the packages/deals are for longer stays. The boys are excited about Legoland and one told me he’d rather spend two days at Legoland and skip Disneyland. We’ll see- this is the first non-camping vacation we’ve tried.

  32. Neat topic. I think the top contenders on my list are:
    – getting a separate hotel room for kids any time we travel (now we tend to rent houses/flats but same concept – splurging on extra space and privacy is always worth it to me)
    – outsourcing home services (cleaner, garden, snow)
    – generously appointed home gym in the city and up north
    – memberships at good gyms, personal trainers/private Pilates sessions and the like
    – vacation to any destination and for any length of time: always worth it to me
    – performances and the like: plays, concerts, Final Four tix, Natty tix, tix for ppl like David Sedaris, Sundance tix (not a trip – we are a Sundance site and take the kids every year)

    Not on the list:
    – really expensive wine (I don’t have enough appreciation for it. $30 is fancy for me and $15 is about the norm) (LfB is never going to email me again)

  33. Worth the splurge:
    –Bose noise canceling headphones. I gave these as a gift to DH, and he says he doesn’t know how he lived without them before. He loves them so much I now have them on my wish list for next gift-giving occasion.

    Not worth the splurge:
    –Yeti cooler. Yes, it’s cool that it does in fact keep the ice for 3 full days. But do we really need that? No. (On the other hand, this was also a gift, and DH was really delighted for the precise reason that he’d never go out and get one, so it was worth it for the great-gift factor.)

  34. Agree with Bose or other good quality noise canceling headphones. These headphones can be a lifesaver during certain airline trips, or even commuter rail trips.

  35. The splurge that is worth it is the extra storage on my iphone.

    Not worth it: back up camera’s in the car. I still have to look back on the sides.

  36. ITA re: Bose n-c headphones. For travel, I’d add a good carry on w/ spinner wheels – so easy and doubles as a cane. Also re: Hunters and any other good shoes/boots.

  37. Icelandair has a great premium economy as well, especially if your final destination would require a plane change anyway via Paris/London/Zurich/Frankfurt.

    I guess I don’t quite understand what is meant by a splurge. I always thought of it as something desirable for which the incremental expense is extraordinary in the context of one’s life, but not going to result in the poorhouse or busted credit. Sort of like the girl in the ad who buys a fancy purse with her State Farm insurance savings. Buying higher quality built to last versus easily replaced or choosing cleaning lady over take out dinners or new shoes doesn’t seem to me to be a splurge but an everyday tradeoff. But I tend to be a pedant about language.

    Successful splurges

    High end semiauto espresso machine
    Washlet toilet (really the entire master bath – overpriced and overimproved)
    Stormproof mink lined coat (remade after ten years)
    Opera/Theater trips to Manhattan and the underlying donations to the Met
    Bridge lessons with a National champion

    Mixed bags

    Travel – some absolutely fabulous, some a complete waste of money
    Watch collection – great pleasure, but a large sunk cost and how do I dispose of it effectively when that day comes

    Probably not worth the upcharge in hindsight

    Dyson appliances
    Retirement watch bought for self
    Bally shoes, Saks suits, and Newbury street haircuts when I had to dress for work
    Most fancy dinners out

    We can’t discern or don’t value the difference, so we don’t spend


  38. Oh I know another one: cable for the beach. We swore we wouldn’t, because what a frickin’ waste of money. But after the 1st year it quickly became clear we weren’t going on long winter weekends because we couldn’t watch sports up there. So we bit the bullet and did it and we really are happier. This weekend is a perfect example – it is a 3 day weekend for us, but with UNC and Panthers playing this weekend, we would not have gone if we couldn’t watch the games.

    Instead, we are out the door now. :)

  39. I forgot fresh flowers every week on the sideboard till HM mentioned them. That qualifies as a splurge, even though the dollars are small.

    And what do people call that piece of furniture – in the dining room, with drawers and shelves but no top piece – sideboard, credenza, buffet? and what about the tall one – breakfront/hutch/china cabinet? hearkening back to yesterday’s topic

  40. I plan on “splurging” on a better violin for our son when he gets to high school, assuming he still plays. I would do the same for the cello, also.

  41. Meme – for me, a splurge in this context is something of significant enough cost over the alternative that it required some amount of internal debate/rationalization/justification before I could pull the trigger. That would include higher quality things in some cases (a lighter, better mountain bike at twice the price of a decent one = debate required), though not in others (excellent rain gear in AK = no debate required).

  42. I never heard the term breakfront used until I moved to the Northeast. We called it a china cabinet. Similar to the term pocketbook, which I never used because I called it a purse.

    “having to drive 50 miles to buy anything vs. hoping the online selection is good enough (mostly)”

    For me it’s more like “5” miles. I’m lazy that way.

    A worthy splurge is clothes and shoes for me, even if not on sale. I recently bought a white cotton blouse that was exactly what I wanted, and cost much more than any white blouse I’ve ever purchased.

  43. worth it:

    nice coat, purse, shoes (besides for single use special event), dresses
    babysitter for date nights
    the good Scotch for my DH

    not worth it:

    expensive cars
    expensive kid clothes

    one that got away- I wish I would have taken the time and money to study abroad during college or take some time off right after graduation to travel

  44. Worth it:

    Almost every vacation activity, e.g horseback riding, chocolate factory tour, ziplining,
    Renting the cabin at the lake ourselves and then inviting others as guests, no worries about splitting the bill
    paying the asking price for a piece of property we wanted rather than trying to bargain for a lower price and maybe losing the property
    The long vacation, a week is nice, ten days is better

    Wish I had:
    the matching end tables to the coffee table I bought 11-12 years ago. I had been looking for a coffee table I liked for years, found one, it had matching furniture, but couldn’t bring myself to by the whole set. I still really like the coffee table and regret not getting the rest of it.

    Not worth it:
    expensive wine
    expensive cars

  45. I drink the wine we made ourselves….

    MIL makes home made wine, from grapes and raisins. She has also made beet wine. So, I can claim to have drunk a “Chez Louise” 2015 vintage.

  46. Meme – buffet for the short one and hutch or china cabinet for the tall one.

    Worth it:
    -my jewelry. I wear it whenever I can, and I love it, so it makes me happy.
    -The hardwoods on the main level of my house
    -the damn automatic bouncer for DS
    -the LLBean thermos for hot liquids; that thing keeps tea steamy for ~10 hours!
    -Thomas Tew rum
    -the trips we’ve taken when we shouldn’t have (due to finances mostly)

    Not worth it:
    -some of the clothes/toys for DS
    -possibly the elliptical

    Splurges left behind
    -some jewelry I really couldn’t afford

    Rhett – my high quality cabinets (I did not pay for them) survived the flood. If they had been lesser quality, they would have fallen off the wall. Or they wouldn’t have dried correctly and would have been warped. While I do want a new kitchen (as mine is approaching 20 years old), Getting a new kitchen with that flood would have kept us out of the house ~3-4 weeks longer, and probably would have cost us more money we didn’t have.

  47. Sideboard or buffet

    China cabinet or hutch, depending on how fancy it is. Mine is casual and used to reside in my kitchen, so it is a hutch.

  48. Worth it might be DW’s engagement ring, our honeymoon, buying our house in the neighborhood we did to get a multi acre lot and accompanying privacy. Porch/deck/basement/playroom/office renovations or additions.

    Not worth it, I might throw my Acura in here (a Civic or Accord would have been fine), and perhaps doing the porch and deck in ipe.

    So the moral is to buy or do what I really want, but don’t get sucked into the expensive fancy version.

    Other things might be worth it once, just for the experience, but no more. Inn at Little Washington heads this list.

    So then I’m still wrestling over, where does a boat fit in? I’m leaning toward yes still.

    I love Atlanta ‘s comment that expensive wine is simply not worth the money, as it’s no better than a $50 bottle. Sometimes I really don’t think I belong here.

  49. Worth It:
    Heated car seats
    Comfortable shoes, no matter how much they cost
    Breyer’s or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
    Amazon Prime

    Not Worth It:
    All the Comcast, Netflix, Amazon video, Hulu, SiriusXM, etc. subscriptions I currently have. I need to cut back on some of this to save money!
    Expensive skin care products

  50. I agree already with a lot of the choices above
    Worthwhile splurges
    Paying more for nonstop flights, expedited boarding and aisle seats.
    All Clad pans- mine date from the mid 90’s and are just like new
    Good knives – I like Global, and I buy Vitorinox knives for the kids
    Good beer. Bad beer isn’t worth drinking
    Good cheese, preferably gooey and stinky.
    Good shoes. I realized when I moved to Manhattan for my first job that cheap shoes don;t cut it when you walk a lot. I splurged 2 years ago on a pair of Frye engineer style boots and am still totally in love with them.
    Good camera. I have a Canon “prosumer” level SLR (not the Rebel but one of the higher end models) and a slew of lenses, and I am really happy to have them. I like the weight of the camera, and futzing with the lenses, and being able to shoot in RAW so I can postprocess anything.
    My Wolf range. It was the bit splurge when we did our kitche redo, and I am so, so glad for it. It is a wide range, which gives me room to work. The burner output is enough to actually do real stir fry in my big wok, and the oven browns things in a way I had never known was possible.
    Long vacations. I would rather skimp on hotels, or even camp, and have a longer vacation. Short vacations make me feel frazzled.

    Not worth it
    Business class – just too expensive
    Fancy hotels. I don’t like rock bottom hotels, but a Summerhills Suite or Residence Inn is just fine for me. I feel really uncomfortable in those expense account business hotels and I have really hated the trendy boutique hotels I have stayed in
    Fancy furniture. With kids, IKEA shelving and sofas are just fine.
    Pedicures. I can paint my own toenails, thank you. My mother taught me, and I have fun doing nails with my daughter too.
    Organic food. There, I said it.
    Expensive jewelry. I don’t find Tiffany style jewelry all that attractive.
    Expensive cars.

  51. Experiences are worth it. I am reluctant to give parenting advice, but for those of you with young kids, our parenting grand slams have all been for trips ranging from the local to the international, excursions while on trips, special meals while on trips, etc. Kids were 5, 8, 10 when we went to Yellowstone…they still talk about seeing the animals and the boiling mud. Similar for the many trips, big and small, because of the shared experiences. No one talks about toys they got or other “things” we nixed so they never got. No one has ever complained about missing out. Like in Animal Farm, some experiences are better than others but even the fails, or when things fail but then there’s a recovery (delayed luggage that eventually shows up…the trip back to the airport then the maze DS2 and I had to go thru to actually find the luggage is a story he and I now crack up about) make for memories.

    It may be difficult at the moment but they’ll forget about never getting a Tickle Me Elmo way before they forget about things done with their family.

  52. “I love Atlanta ‘s comment that expensive wine is simply not worth the money, as it’s no better than a $50 bottle. Sometimes I really don’t think I belong here.”

    Milo – dude… come join me… I lost my Totebag cred YEARS ago (if I ever imagine I had it in the first place). I just take up space. I’ve never even *had* a $50 bottle of wine. Sh!t, the stuff I buy is $10. The most expensive alcohol in my cabinet is a $30 bottle of rum.

  53. I agree – travel experiences with our kids have been very high value to us. The kids are far more likely to talk about our trips to China and the Netherlands than the toys they had at the same time. They especially love the photos of them in the snow and ice on a mountain in China, or in the rain on bikes, or ascending a steep mountain side, because it reminds them that they DID these things. My oldest still brags about eating the fish eyeballs on our first trip to China.

  54. “Expensive jewelry. I don’t find Tiffany style jewelry all that attractive.”

    Agreed. Though, my expensive jewelry comes from antique shops that specialize in estate jewelry. I have very few pieces from chain stores. The pieces I get the most compliments on are the ones that are not found in any chain store.

  55. The various opinions about furniture are interesting. We bought hardwood dressers from the local furniture company for the boys last year and, so far, I think they’re totally worth it, even though they cost 6x what a cheap dresser would cost. I hope/expect my kids will take their dressers with them when they move out. I’m beginning to realize I have a weakness for beautiful wood, compared to the rest of you.

    Rhode, Mr WCE drinks two buck chuck. The Huggies Overnites are worth it.

  56. Mooshi – your organic food comment notwithstanding (teasing), we should meet up just to eat cheese together. LOVE IT! Especially stinky gooey cheese. A splurge for us is going to Artisanal and getting a large selection of cheeses.

  57. Ugh. I feel we are in the thick of deciding on what splurges are worth it in the remodel. The budget is not limitless, but it is fungible – we can skip fancy light fixtures and get under tile heat in the kitchen instead. Also, there’s a lot we can do now for cheaper than we can in the future (under tile heat, for example). We also still have some unknown parts of the budget, though the nasty surprises are coming to an end. I would love a $1500 front door, though the current one keeps most of the water out, and only one pane has been replaced with plexiglass. I think we are going with the Home Depot $600 special instead.

    Agree with many of the things written above, especially about restaurants. We seem to have gotten into the $100-meh restaurant meal. Things should be cheaper or more special.

    Worth it:
    Joybird Sofa – an upgrade from our standard IKEA piece in a really loud color. Makes me smile when I walk in the room
    Au Pair – we could get by with less child care than we pay for, but the flexibility and wiggle room are worth the extra money.
    Bob double stroller – we can still cram all three in there.

    Not worth it:
    Business class/first on long flights – I love it, but only if I am not paying for it. Maybe because my legs are really short, but I will take 6 hours of discomfort for several hundred/thousand dollars. DH took a business trip to Kuwait when we were relatively broke – company paid for an 8k business class ticket. I asked him to see if he could change it to an economy ticket and we could keep the difference (especially as he spent the first 3-4 days being babysat and eating at Applebee’s). He rolled his eyes.)

  58. We have expensive furniture. I’m all for buying classic pieces once. Or inheriting pieces. I have a dining room set from my great grandparents. It’s probably 70-80 years old. One table, 2 leaves, 6 chairs, one buffet, one linen buffet, 2 corner glass front cabinets. I love my dining room. It’s one of my favorite rooms. As we get more money, we upgrade our older purchases. Right now, DS is using 2 heirloom dressers – a short one which doubles as a changing table, and a tall one that my grandfather, mother, and I used.

  59. and side note (not so fun) I am having another wrist surgery next month, I am trying to cut back on foods that cause inflammation like sugar and wheat, gluten free foods are pricier than the norm

  60. I can’t tell the difference between a $15 bottle of wine and a really expensive one. And not to brag, but one of my superpowers is being able to decipher different flavors in dishes. I can easily pick out spices, herbs, etc, so my ability to taste things is well-developed. I kind of think expensive wine is very the emperor has no clothes-like.

  61. I kind of think expensive wine is very the emperor has no clothes-like.

    I agree

    and not everyone may know this, but you might be buying the very same wine from 2 different wineries at 2 different price points. some wineries sell bonded wine to others. it is a way to increase sales.

    so a $15 bottle from NZ might be the very same wine as a $10 US bottle, read the label carefully

  62. Following up on Ada’s comment about remodel decisions, I regret not spending the extra money to enlarge our garage from 1 ½ to 2-car when we did our major remodel. When we were faced with that decision, we had already been nickled and dimed over unexpected expenses and were already considerably over budget. (The “while we’re at it we might as well do xxx” costs can add up quickly.) Anyway, I would pay twice that amount today if I could have a 2-car garage.

    And we drink mainly $15/bottle wine. One of the expenses of eating out is that $15 bottle costs $50 at the restaurant. (We don’t have many BYOB places here.)

  63. I hope/expect my kids will take their dressers with them when they move out.

    Just don’t get too upset when your daughter-in-law rolls her eyes when you keep asking when they are going to pick it up.

  64. Wanted to let you guys know that RioBaby arrived over the holidays. We’re both healthy and doing great. Somehow all the high-risk appointments and extra ultrasounds missed that she was IUGR so she came out unexpectedly tiny, and even her newborn stuff is too big. But she’s adorable, alert, and happy, and DH and I are loving new parenthood. Minus the sleep deprivation.

  65. I really, really, really don’t understand how there are people occupying a federal building and there is no police/military/federal presence. If I sat crosslegged on the floor of my local post office with a fiesty placard, I would be out in minutes. I understand that they are trying to avoid a armed showdown, but it really appears that no one is doing anything. I haven’t heard much from D.C., though the press secretary said in the beginning that “this is a local matter”.

    Any predictions as to how and when this will end? Any insight as to why there is no formal response?

  66. @Risley – Did you go for the more expensive bike? I probably would, because I’ll get more use of it.

    When it comes to sporting equipment and outdoor gear we don’t consider it a splurge. It is a fact of life. Others would think it is a splurge. When the weekend high is below zero you better believe we have very expensive gear. We spent $200 on a bike for our shorter than average kid. The cheap Huffy bikes would be too big and two heavy for her to enjoy and eventually learn to ride without training wheels.

  67. Congrats Rio!

    Good to know that $15 is a good price point for wine.

    We splurge on private school. Our elementary school is one of the best in the district and people move to be within its boundaries.

    Splurge on furniture – Hans Wegner daybed. Felt guilty about how much it was but it is perfect for our house and we love having a vintage piece.

    Splurge on buying new – we got so many hand-me-downs when the kids were babies that our house was overflowing with stuff. I rather pay more to have less. Having too much stuff and clutter stresses me out. I guess having more minimalist tendencies is a splurge too. I rather get rid of something and end up buying a replacement than keeping stuff around just in case. I’m still going through stuff I got when my mom died 10 years ago.

    Splurge – buying vs shopping. DH does not comparison shop ever. If something is reasonably priced, he doesn’t spend any time trying to find a bargain.

    Used to splurge on eating out – has started to lose its appeal and now we want to focus our money on travel. Cooksmarts is helping with making more meals at home.

  68. Rio, congratulations! I’ve been thinking about you often and am so glad the baby arrived and is doing well. Speaking of splurges/preferences, Carter’s has gone to mostly polyester pajamas since my other kids arrived and I prefer cotton. When I was in a city, I checked at Macy’s, JC Penney, etc. and found no cotton Carter’s sleepers in stock. You can order cotton from Carter’s or Kohl’s website but most of the cotton ones were sold out on the Carter’s website fairly early in the season, so I’m clearly not the only parent with a preference for cotton. (Cotton breathes well and is more comfortable if Baby is sick/sweaty, doesn’t pill like the polyester/microfleece does.)

  69. I rather get rid of something and end up buying a replacement than keeping stuff around just in case.

    You’re a wise woman.

  70. Congratulations, Rio!

    Ada, I share your frustration, although I can also understand the Feds’ reluctance to have another Ruby Ridge or Waco. A fun stop on our trip last summer was Arapaho Wildlife Refuge, aka the Ancient City of the Ground Squirrels, and even though the location and season are different I kind of picture it and being unable to enjoy that public land for its intended purpose because the Manifest Destiny scouts are trying to take it over for ranching.

  71. Ada – we have underfloor heating in our bathroom. Eh, its OK. It’s limited to a certain strip, so does not cover the whole floor. Once in a while I notice it and its nice (cold winter mornings) but I’d be happy with a rug. Came with the place, we didn’t particularly choose it.

    Rio – congrats!

  72. Congrats, Rio.

    In the gun control debates, a common retort from the gun control crowd is “well, even if you do keep an arsenal of AR-15s, it will still never have a chance against the U.S. Government, should you decide that they have become tyrants.”

    Which seems logical, until you consider that Cliven Bundy and his guns did just that, and now his son is doing the same thing. Not to mention situations like Fallujah or pick-your-Taliban-stronghold in Afghanistan.

    Point is, it takes both firepower and balls, and if the government isn’t willing to put as much on the line as you are (rightly so, perhaps) you can prevail with small guns.

  73. Cliven Bundy and his guns did just that,

    Because we’re not a tyranny. If we were, he’d be dead, his family would be dead, his pets would be dead (after months of torture of course) and everyone would know enough to keep quite about it.

  74. Congrats Rio!

    Off topic: The Amazon Echo can now read your Kindle books out loud! Now I just need it to sense when I fall asleep and turn itself off.

  75. Rio, congrats!

    DD was SGA/IUGR and I realized that getting the preemie sized clothes so she didn’t look like she was swallowed up by her outfits really made me feel better about the situation.

    (Also, I purposefully gained 60 lbs each with the next two to try to make them larger, they wound up a pound heavier at the same gestational age. YMMV, but it helped for me.)

  76. “Off topic: The Amazon Echo can now read your Kindle books out loud!”

    Actually on topic since it’s been looking as if the Echo I bought before Christmas may be a bust. Neither of the kids has expressed an interest except possibly as a speaker, but now with this feature I’m more interested!

  77. Milo,

    Look at the Japanese during WWII. They had guns. But, those guns were seized, the Japanese were rounded up and sent off to camps in the desert all the same. Bringing armed certainly didn’t do them any good.

  78. Congrats Rio!

    My babies were all pretty small and o found that Gerber baby clothes run small. So does Petit Bateau.

  79. anothertwinmom – seriously, I would love to meet up sometime, and eating good cheese is an excellent excuse!

  80. Rhett- I’m certainly not saying we’re a tyranny. I’m only saying that it would appear that having a mini arsenal of firearms helped Cliven Bundy and his cows effect an outcome more to his liking than if he had been unarmed.

  81. Milo – don’t feel bad, you probably have a much higher net worth.:) We have bought way too much wine over the years. DH is actually cutting back, he was on a bunch of those expensive California cabernet lists but he’s dropped off of them. We drink $10 bottles too.

  82. “I hope/expect my kids will take their dressers with them when they move out.”

    Remembering how I lived when I first set up my own place when I was out of grad school, I would think this might not happen. No room, no money to ship expensive furniture, and a feeling that I wanted to do things my own way. I actually eventually did take some of my mother’s furniture, but years later after she had passed away. That is the only reason I have a nice dining room table, though the fancy chairs badly need reupholstering.

  83. CoC said “One of the expenses of eating out is that $15 bottle costs $50 at the restaurant.”
    That’s why I drink beer when I go out!!

  84. Mooshi – Let’s do it! I’ll e-mail you – I think I still have it.

    Any other NYers who love cheese and want to join – I have a few places in mind, more casual to fancy. CoC has my e-mail.

    Mooshi – have you heard of Beecher’s? Yum!

  85. On wine – I do like good wine, though I have so rarely in my life had wine that cost more than about $80 that I really can’t say if it is better. When I was a grad student, Rhone wines were not yet trendy, and you could get really good Hermitage for like $10 a bottle. At some point in the 90’s, it got trendy and now is too expensive to drink very often. Sad, I miss that stuff.

    I spent a summer in France on a research project, in the Champagne region. We drank a lot of Champagne. There was a lady in the nearby village who sold local Champagne. You went to her house and rang the bell and picked up some bottles. That Champagne was the official beverage of our research group. When it was time to go home, I bought some really good Champagne from a top producer, and some bottles of that local stuff. Back home, I opened two bottles side by side for my mother and a friend of hers who was a champagne conniousseur. They both agreed, the local stuff was better.

  86. ATM – I went to the one in Seattle but have never been to the one in NYC!

    We buy our best cheese from a local store in Bronxville. My DS2 loves to chat about cheese with the owner, who is Irish

  87. Interesting comments on the dressers. I moved out with no furniture, even though my company would have moved everything for free, because my mom wanted to keep everything with no plans to use herself. I slept in a sleeping bag and ate on the floor until I bought a mattress and card table.

    I never thought about shipping furniture, more that we’d stick it in the back of the pick-up when we drove the boys to school. And there aren’t enough dressers for all of them, so there’s certainly no obligation to take a dresser. I expect people will move out long before there are daughters-in-law in the picture but maybe I’ll be like Scarlett and get lucky.

  88. It is interesting to see the variety of splurges!

    Worth it (to me):

    Staying at the Grand Californian (the Candy Cane, DH’s family motel of choice when he was growing up, was fine until they built California Adventure in the DL parking lot, making it much harder to walk to the entrance)

    First or business class (we don’t fly very often)

    Scharffen Berger chocolate

    A cashmere sweater from Isle of Sky Cashmere – much more like the old sweaters I have that still haven’t pilled or gotten icky after 10+ years.

    Paying for DS to stay at a bed and breakfast for 2 weeks when he was interning in DC instead of the youth hostel (it was too soon for him to stay on a college campus).

    I have to mull over the “not worth it” ideas

  89. Rhett – absolutely, yes he did, last I heard. BLM more or less decided that it wasn’t worth a shootout at the OK Corral, and Bundy is free to continue grazing his cows on federal land.

  90. “a splurge in this context is something of significant enough cost over the alternative that it required some amount of internal debate/rationalization/justification before I could pull the trigger.”

    I agree with this logic.

    The biggest splurge regret I have ever had is going to a very expensive and famous restaurant here locally. DH & I still complain about what a mistake it was. The food and service was very good, but the value of the experience vs. the expense was WAY out of whack for us & we were surrounded by really unpleasant people. It was also so rich & so much food that we felt sick for a couple days. Never again.

    I think paying to see my favorite teams in the playoffs are some of the best splurges in a cost-benefit type of analysis. Also – I agree with spending on a mattress and other things that give you comfort like good clothing for the local weather. But I’m not sure that I would consider my level of spending on cold weather gear to be a true “splurge” especially with Risley’s logic. for example, I will pay for REI/Columbia/North Face/Patagonia-level winter gear, but I think Canada Goose $800 beaver-trimmed parkas are absolutely ridiculous.

  91. Congratulations, Rio! On the baby and the house also–I had missed that news. Glad to hear RioBaby is doing well. I agree with others that Gerber clothes are good bets for running small.

    On the wine conversation–the $50 comment took me aback a little because that would definitely be well into splurge range for us! We have had a handful of bottles in that range and above and for the most part I would say they have been better than our typical $10-15 bottles– but I do think so long as you make smart choices that once you hit the $50 range (or even the $30 range) there are significantly diminishing returns on taste for price.

  92. CoC — make sure you have your preferred news sources set up and have it linked to Pandora if you don’t have much of an Amazon music library, and then stick it in your kitchen where it can be a jumped-up kitchen radio, giving you news, weather, music on demand and also setting timers.

    BTW, if you have Audible books it’s always been able to read those.

    SWVA — as a second-best alternative, you can now set a sleep timer. But you want to make sure that it answers “Set a sleep timer for 45 minutes” with “I will stop playing in 45 minutes” and not “timer set for 45 minutes.” Sometimes it mishears that.

  93. Rio – Congratulations!

    Lemon – I did. Having a really light one is the only way I have any hope of keeping up w/ DH.

    I blame this topic for the fact that I’m now looking at replacing my spinning bike w/ one of those ones that has a screen + Google maps, w/ pre-programmed Tour of France rides. There’s a sale though, so I can’t afford *not* to buy it …

  94. Congratulations Rio on the baby and the house.

    I love my house but as far as furniture and the inside is concerned, I want to get rid of all the old furniture and start afresh with a more minimalist style. We still have the furniture pieces from our apartment and first house and though they are in good condition they are old.
    I sound very like Rhett.

  95. Both kids are enjoying their Echos. We have dueling Echos. Since their rooms are right next to each other we have to tell them to tone it down. It was a good gift.

  96. Rio, congrats and welcome to baby Rio.

    I’ve had really expensive wines on business trips. I don’t usually find that they’re anything special, but since in a while…. It was amazing. The sweet spot for wines in our house is the 10 to 15 dollar range.

  97. Well, forget it. For $15, I can get some new spinning workouts on YouTube and squeeze lots more use out of my current bike (which I got on a big sale, years ago). Celebrating with a glass of $15 wine, which DH found on sale for $8. :)

  98. Congrats Rio!

    Totally agree on the Bose n-c headphones – especially in the cube farm. They really help drown our your neighbors.

    Not worth it: the expensive reel lawnmower we bought for our first house (back when we were excited to have a nice lawn, as opposed to now when we care very little). Agree with all of those who said eating out. I can do mediocre at home much more cheaply.

  99. “Bose noise canceling headphones.”

    I just splurged on a pair. It’s unusual for these to be discounted, and Costco had some for $240, with a $25 instant rebate, and I couldn’t resist. I haven’t taken them on a flight yet, but the cheapie NC headphones I had definitely enhanced the travel experience for me, leaving me less tired after a long flight.

  100. In general, I’ve found that it’s worth paying extra for quality.

    Splurges that are worth it:

    Good seats at concerts and sporting events.
    Renting condos when we travel instead of staying in hotels.
    Longer vacations (7-10 days). Five days isn’t enough time to unplug and decompress.
    A really good mattress. You spend a third of your life in bed.

    Splurges that weren’t worth it:

    Expensive restaurants.
    3D/RPX movies.
    Expensive socks. I’ve found cheap socks from Target are much more comfortable than expensive ones even if they wear out in 6 months.

  101. Congrats, Rio! So glad to hear that Baby Rio and you are doing well. I’m also glad to hear that your DH and you found a house that you both like — IIRC, housing preferences were a point of debate in the Rio household for a while.

  102. “I plan on “splurging” on a better violin for our son when he gets to high school, assuming he still plays. ”

    I’m curious of what constitutes such a splurge in this context.

    We thought we splurged when DS grew into a full-sized violin, and for the first (and, we thought, or perhaps hoped last) time, we spent more than the $300 to $400 or so we’d been spending on the smaller violins he’d been playing up until then.

    Fast forward to a couple months ago, when his teacher suggested we look for an upgrade. She then had him try a bow appraised at $3800, which is more than his violin cost. Such a bow is typically paired with a violin in the 5-figure range.

    One of his friends is a serious cellist. For a performance this past summer, his teacher let him use his bow, which is worth about $50k.

  103. Congrats, Rio!

    “So then I’m still wrestling over, where does a boat fit in?”

    An affordable splurge?

  104. “My oldest still brags about eating the fish eyeballs on our first trip to China.”

    Did he actually swallow the hard, marble-like center of the eyeballs?

    My dad loved fish eyes, but the part he actually ate was the gelatinous part around the hard center.

  105. “we can skip fancy light fixtures and get under tile heat in the kitchen instead.”

    One thing I learned during our remodel was that about the least expensive type of light fixture you can get is a recessed can. Those run in the $15 to $30 range, but many people find them acceptable in locations where the only aesthetically acceptable non-recessed fixtures would cost many times that. There is also an increasing array of high efficiency LED options for them.

    Another thing I learned is that as you get older, your eyes want more light, so I suggest being very generous with the amount of lighting you install, as during the remodel is the easiest and least expensive time to do it, especially if you are using recessed lights.

  106. A few really big splurges that were worth the cost:

    -Our house. We spent way more than we needed to to meet not just our needs at the time, but also of the kids we were yet to have, but we’ve really enjoyed the luxury of a big house.

    -Private school for the kids. I’ve mentioned before how I’ve not had any regrets about this, and how much the kids have enjoyed their time there.

    -Our kitchen remodel. While we’ve enjoyed our house since moving in, it just works so much better after the remodel, which has enhanced our day to day living experience.

    Some smaller splurges that were worth it:

    -Travel in general. The trips we’ve taken have formed a lot of shared family experiences and memories that will stay with us and bond us as a family. Since we often travel with others, it’s also allowed us to get quite close to the friends with whom we’ve traveled.

    -The hotel upgrade we got during our last couple of ski trips. These were the only times I’ve stayed at ski-in/ski-out lodging, and we really enjoyed that level of pampering.

  107. Quite a few comments on disappointment with expensive restaurants. What names are we talking of ? And why ?

  108. Louise, it’s just been my general experience, no specific restaurants. Even when the food is prepared really well, my palate isn’t sensitive enough to appreciate it. Some years back we had a big family dinner at Peter Luger’s in NYC, and I just kept thinking “this steak isn’t a whole lot better than one I could grill at home for a fraction of the price.” In reality, it was probably much, much better but it was wasted on me.

    Whenever I watch those cooking competition shows and the judges talk about the individual flavors coming out and such, I don’t get it. I’m unable to experience food that way.

  109. I have eaten in so few really high end restaurants that it is hard for me to say. I know that I tend to feel uncomfortable in fancier restaurants, especially the kind with tinkling music and chandeliers. Also, a lot of the fancier restaurants that I have been to tend to serve food that seems overly gussified to me – lots of towers of myriad ingredients, so complex that I don’t feel like I can taste the ingredients. For example, I have been to a couple of high end seafood places that did this. Now, I really like seafood, but I like to taste the seafood, and at the high end places, it seemed like I was tasting more of the other ingredients. On the other hand, the one time in my life that I went to a really high end sushi place, out in California before the recent trend of “crazy rolls”, I was in heaven. That restaurant was truly about the fish. Of course, I have had a similar sublime experience at a lobster pound in Maine, lol.

    So I guess I tend to avoid really expensive restaurants because I feel uncomfortable in them, and because the few I have been to have not really done my sort of cooking.

  110. Aw, man – I always miss the fun consumerist topics! :( We are having the floors done and so spending the weekend out of town in a snowy location – the kids are in heaven and we haven’t even gone sledding yet!

    Splurges that are worth it – my STOVE and HOOD, which cost 10K together (this was 1/3 of the total kitchen remodel cost!). Paying more for our great nanny. Good seats at the ballet/concert/Red Sox when we take the kids. Two hotel rooms so everyone gets their own bed – critical with wiggly sleepers! The fancy beef I bought for Xmas dinner. My wedding gown, Theory suits, and current hairstylist.

    Not worth it – any bottle of wine more than $20. Real jewelry (other than my engagement/wedding rings). That one occasional babysitter we had who charged $23/hr. “Nice” dinner at any place other than our local fancy sushi and bistro (especially if Italian – I hate spending money on Italian food). BTW, when I think of “nice” dinner I think of $100 or more. We usually get 1 drink each at dinner – 2 at the max – and we tend to drink nice cocktails (esp at the local bistro) instead of spending the same $12 on a glass of wine. If we move to the country I will have to become a mixologist and also make our own sushi.

  111. Louise, we eat pretty well at home, so dining out needs to offer something more. Which it can do, especially places that offer something I wouldn’t be likely to cook either because it’s fussy/high end or because it’s a cuisine that’s not part of my usual repertoire. But as a routine thing, eating out more would just take more time in the evenings and be way more expensive for no particular gain in food quality.

  112. I generally think local dives and high end restaurants are worth it. The former are usually cheap and good food. The latter are usually a fun or nice experience with excellent food and good alcohol. I have a bigger problem with the mid-range restaurants. I often do not think it is worth the $50-$70 for our family to eat out.

  113. Thanks all for your restaurant opinions. For me, at this stage I like to go out to eat if it is all adults. If it is a decent enough restaurant it is good enough. If there are kids, I feel the meal is interrupted in various ways. I will feel differently once my kids are adults ;-).
    We cook at home and like to try different cuisines. However, I think a lot of the “wow” factor of restaurants has disappeared because the ingredients used by the chefs are now widely available.

  114. I’ve been to many very expensive restaurants in major cities due to business meals. I used to play a game with DH when we completed our Zagat surveys each year. We would see who had more of the top 30 places checked off. It has been many years since paper Zagat surveys, but we both still have an opportunity to eat in some really expensive restaurants. Some of the experiences are amazing, but I just can’t imagine paying for most of these meals because a bowl of pasta with veggies just doesn’t seem worth $30+. There are some places where I had a memorable steak, or piece of fish (le Bernadin). I’ve ben back to a few of my favorites with DH, and it isn’t always as great. It can sometimes feel flat, or rushed when it is just the two of us instead of a larger group.

  115. It can sometimes feel flat, or rushed when it is just the two of us instead of a larger group.

    That’s a lot of it for me as well – the service never seems to be that good. I’ve always thought at least part of it is that DW and I don’t drink, so they figure they are getting a lower tip since the check will be less. The last expensive dinner we went out for (only because DW’s aunt gave us a gift card for Christmas), the service was very poor. I ordered a chocolate souffle up front, and the waiter forgot to put the order in. He did comp us two desserts because we didn’t want to wait a half hour for the souffle, but then he apparently forgot to put one of those orders in, because the server only brought one out, and we had to ask about the other. He also took our regular knoves and didn’t bring the steak knives. The server who brought the meals noticed we didn’t have them and got them. Even with no alcohol and comped desserts, the check was still $95 pre-tip. I expect much better service for that kind of money.

  116. Congrats Rio! I’m so happy about your baby and the house.

    DS was IUGR, too. I got ~7 preemie outfits and made it work. I also let him swim in clothes. I agree Gerber clothes fit smaller babies better. A year later he’s still small (barely on the growth curve) but doing everything. Small and mighty!

  117. “I’m unable to experience food that way.”

    That’s a feature, not a bug. If you don’t enjoy $100 meals, then you’re not tempted to spend your money on those.

    It also means you can enjoy the $20 dinners that those with a more refined palate could not enjoy.

  118. Not worth it: flowers for DW. She loves them when she first gets them, but then they wilt and die, and after a while she forgets that I ever got them for her.

    Now with jewelry or stuffed animals, every time she sees them she is reminded that I bought them for her. Much better value.

  119. @Finn – DH doesn’t believe in flowers but the few times he has gotten them for me (very nice bouquets), I have taken a picture to keep as a memory. When I get flowers or plants as a gift, I will change the water, trim the stems, pick off dead leaves and try to make the gift last. I used to buy fresh flowers almost every week for my house but that habit along with buying fluff magazines died out after I had kids. Those were little splurges. I hope to get back to buying fresh flowers.

  120. As for restaurants, we eat out once a week to give the private chef (moi) a break and as part of our regular routine. Usually that meal is at the tail end of the lunch hour at a nice business lunch restaurant, such as Legal (not worth it in my estimation, but definitely DH’s favorite), so it is less expensive, smaller portions and the fact we don’t order liquor doesn’t piss off the waitstaff. For our local mid range (small regional chains – in kitchen prep) restaurants we buy gift cards at holiday season so we get the 25% bonus cards as well. We also have a top flight sushi place 200 yards from our front door, with a bartender with a heavy pour, so we mix that in, and some nice ethnic restaurants. But these meals run 75 for the two of us including tip. I would never eat anything out in my home area other than breakfast or special dive food for 15 a person. Expensive in my book is more than 100-150 per person. We only spend that kind of money in Manhattan.

  121. Finn, yes it is. I’m perfectly happy going to our local Red Robin or Village Inn for $10 a person.

  122. Expensive in my book is more than 100-150 per person.

    I can’t even fathom paying that kind of money for a meal.

  123. So I think I’ve figured out which questions pegged me as from Western NY. Are the words “cot” and “caught” pronounced the same or different?

    Interestingly, my husband and one son come in as from California, my other from Virginia – none of them have lived anywhere near these places.

    As you can tell, I find this fascinating!

  124. I pronounce caught and cot with different vowel sounds.

    The $100 or $150 meals that I’ve had are in cities such as Vegas, NYC, San Fran, LA, Miami. Even steakhouses in Chicago can reach that level if you order seafood app, steak, sides, dessert and a drink. It’s almost impossible to eat all of it, but that’s usually how people order when I’m out for business.

    Some of these restaurants charge $15 for a salad, and entrees are $30 to $40.
    The prices might be a reflection of their rents, or high staff costs. It might not even be related to memorable food, so you can’t always judge by the price in some of these cities.

    I had some of my most expensive meals ever on an island in the Great Barrier Reef. I think a small side order of rice was $18. The food at this resort wasn’t memorable, but it was the only restaurant on a very remote island.

  125. How are caught and cot different? I pronounce them both like ought or the first syllable in otter. I also don’t understand how Mary, marry and merry are different.

    My favorite expensive meals are always tasting menus, especially where they just bring you stuff without any input.

  126. I pronounce caught “caw-t” and cot almost like “cah-t” but not very Bostonian.

    Mary, merry, and marry confuses friends. DH and I pronounce all 3 differently. Most of our friends don’t. Mare-y will marry and be meh-rry. I can’t figure out how to type marry. It’s not mah-rry. A little harder but not much.

  127. Well, I have eaten enough of those pricey meals, mostly on someone else’s dime, to form the opinion that they are not worth it.

    However, today I had the opportunity to be grateful for having a few extra hundred on hand to use wisely or foolishly (as opposed to my financial situation during 25 years responsible for children). Something is wrong with the HVAC. Seems to be the fan, so no heat in the house. We have enough heaters to survive and keep the outside wall pipes from freezing. Tomorrow is a holiday so there is a substantial surcharge for a service call or otherwise I have to wait till wednesday. Not sure that is a splurge, but I am glad that I only had to think about it for 15 sec.

  128. Louise, thanks for the idea. The next time I buy flowers for DW, I should take copious photos, and make sure to put some of those photos into her computer, and think of other ways to make those photos pop up from time to time such that she will see them.

  129. I pronounce them both like ought or the first syllable in otter.

    Those are different. Caught and ought are pronounced with an “awe” sound. Cot and otter are pronounced with an “ah” sound.

    Of course trying to explain how we pronounce words differently by comparing them to other words that we pronounce differently doesn’t work very well.

  130. Cot and cat are different. They rhyme with hot and hat, respectively. You pronounce cat with an ah sound?

  131. No. Not like cat. like otter. Caught has the aw sound. Cot does not. It’s ott. But I can’t type that any other way.

    Cat rhymes with at.

    Not that this helps at all.

  132. Taking pictures of things…this Christmas, as soon as DS unwrapped his presents, he had sent pictures of his presents to his close friends. They in turn sent pics back. The kids also exchange mundane pics of their haircuts, devilish pets…very interesting phenomenon.

  133. Maybe we should all use IPA so we know what vowel everyone is talking about. ;) I pronounce cot and caught the same, perhaps with a slight brightening of the “o” vowel in cot. Mary has a longer “a” than merry (but not by much) and marry rhymes with Barry or apple.

  134. L, I want some wide-calf black boots, ones that come close to the knee or at least higher than ankle. Will you please go look at the selection on Zappos and tell me which ones to buy?

  135. Well, guys, I splurged and bought my boat. A few months ago, I noticed a dealer seven hours away who had a few 2015 dealer demo models that he had nicely discounted, selling exactly the model and style I wanted. I was looking again last week, and one remained, reduced further. We negotiated a little more on the phone, and I figured that I was not going to easily find a better deal. So 14 hours in the car yesterday, interrupted by a brief, fast test ride in driving sleet, and we were done. The kids were troopers, getting only a freezing boat ride and visits to Panera and Cracker Barrel in exchange for being in the car for so long without complaint.

    There’s a tiny dent on one of the side panels. He offered to replace the panel, or take off another $800. So we’re keeping the dent.

    I say this without any joking or irony, but I’m trying hard to let go of my spender’s guilt. It’s not as bad as when I bought my Acura 13 years ago, but it’s still there. My Dad’s comment, which was helpful, was just figure you’re doing it for your family.

    We’ll get it delivered in April.

  136. Milo, that’s exciting! I agree with your dad. I had friends in high school whose families had ski boats and sail boats. I have really fond memories of some of my time with them on the boat, and I’m not even part of the family. You seem like you guys really enjoy spending time as a family. I think you’ll more than get your money’s worth out of it.

  137. Congrats!!! The spender’s guilt is normal, but it sounds like you got a good deal.
    The mastercard commercial is right when they say the memories are priceless.

  138. Congrats Milo! I suspect a line of Totebaggers who will help you not feel guilty by making you take them out to enjoy the day. I’ll start the line if need be! Enjoy everything the spring and summer will bring with the boat!

  139. Eating out in the NYC area is more expensive than most other places in the country, and it’s hard to eat out at even a relatively casual restaurant for less than about $40-50 a person, including wine or beer. I rarely go to ultra-expensive restaurants, where per person can run $100 or more. However, I do try to take advantage of Restaurant Week, which happens to start today. Three-course meals are priced at $25 for lunch and $38 for dinner, almost half the regular prices. Really, I consider almost all restaurant meals to be splurges, usually worth it.

  140. Congrats Milo!

    Although I’ve heard the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. :)

  141. Apple (and cat for that matter) doesn’t have an “ah” sound. Otter has an “ah” sound.

  142. We splurged to celebrate Baby WCE’s dedication yesterday. The best restaurant in town has multiple slides and TWO ball pits.

  143. We splurged today to have the entire HVAC system replaced. The unit that was 20 years old is incompatible (change in coolant standards) with the required replacement for the 30 year old unit that failed. Over the past few years I kept saying I would have it looked at for replacement “next spring”. Of course, had I done it more prudently, we would have traded off the expense and postponed one of the trips that DH can no longer manage. Just not the best month (market drop) for liquidity flexibility.

  144. The good thing about replacing HVAC is that you should start to be “re paid” with lower bills. We saw a dramatic drop in our bills in the winter and summer because the new units are more efficient.

  145. Thanks, everyone. We’re excited.

    Meme – what brand did you go with? I’m guessing it burns natural gas for heat?

  146. Mémé, just wondering, is this a good time of the year to be replacing your AC unit? I.e., I’m guessing it is off-season for AC repair.

  147. Congrats, Milo. I suppose we’ll be hearing this summer whether it’s a worthwhile splurge.

    BTW, did you already go to Monarch? Just wondering about how that went, and whether altitude was a problem.

  148. RMS –
    Look at Rose Petals Adina wide shaft boots on zappos. I bought 4 different pairs to try and kept these. They are comfortable and look nice, imho. (I did warn my DH about the $1k charge until I returned 3 of them!!)

  149. Finn – It’s a heat pump. All in one. The interior blower unit gave up the ghost. The exterior unit still functioned okay, but it is incompatible with the newer interior unit. The contractor found a unit with a similar footprint – we won’t have to tear out any walls.

  150. Finn, we had our AC installed in September (about 15 years ago) on a great end of the season deal.

  151. Congrats on the boat Milo! WIshing you many happy days on the water. I bet you’ll look back on this in 20 years and feel like it was one of the best things you’ve ever done for your family with all the fun times you’ll have.

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