Best Buys

For the past two years running, I’ve made a little top 10 list of some of the best purchases that our family has made. (2008 & 2009). Here’s the latest installment of some of the best acquisitions in the past 12 months.

10. Herb Garden – $50. Gardening is an art that is completely lost on me. I have no interest in plants, flowers or even my own yard. (I actually wanted to pull out all the grass and just throw down some rocks so I don’t have to do any maintenance on it.) So when TJ proposed planting an herb garden, I naturally scoffed at the idea… that was until she reminded me that the bigger the garden, the less lawn I had to mow. (She is a very intelligent woman who knows how to speak my language.) So with the thanks of her mother and sister, we successfully planted some jalapenos, oregano, parsley, basil, mint and cilantro. The mint and oregano somehow managed to survive through the winter and are still with us, but the craziest thing was our basil plant which decided to take over the entire garden and give us several pounds worth of leaves. TJ was able to make three lifetime’s worth of pesto out of it and that alone made the garden worth it.

9. Closet Shelves – $275. Didn’t realize how much shelves can do and add to the decor of any living and storage space. My Dad came last summer and threw up several shelves in our storage closets and even one in our laundry room. Everything now is much more organized and easier to get to. Organized storage and living space = happy Poon family.

8. Electric Lawn Mower & Blower – $100. As I said earlier, I hate yard work but as the man of the house, it is my responsibility to do my share with the home maintenance. The electric mower is actually a very interesting piece of equipment. Because it runs on electricity, starting it is as easy as turning a door knob. However, it requires me to be constantly connected to an extension cord and a lot of the time it feels like I’m vacuuming the lawn. But it’s cheap to maintain and use, so that’s a win. The blower though is my favorite. I don’t know what the proper terminology is here but this thing blows thousands of units of awesome. This thing is so strong that my arms get sore just blowing leaves for 3 minutes. It is also a cheap and easy way for me to “sweep” out the garage.

7. Light Timer – $3. A favorite for various reasons. First it either freaks out our guests or at the very least confuses them to see a light turn on all by itself. But secondly, it keeps certain parts of our home lit throughout the night and I don’t have to remember to turn them off when I come down in the morning. Freaks people out, keeps thieves at bay and saves me money.

6. Second Laptop Battery – $50. I generally like to upgrade my computer every three years and I’ve had my trusted HP Pavilion dv2500t for almost that amount of time. As I’ve been looking at what’s on the market and what will be on the market in the next few months, nothing really stood out to me as a “must have”. The MacBook is sexy, but $1,300 is ridiculous. Not to mention that I refuse to give Apple a cent of my money but that’s for another entry. Every other PC that I’ve looked at hasn’t fit my criteria of weight, price and specs. So rather than dropping several hundred dollars on a less than perfect PC for myself, I opted to just buy a second laptop battery to extend my laptop’s shelf life. So now I have a “home” battery which I use around the house and a “travel” battery which gives me about 6 hours. This will buy me a few more years to wait for the right PC to replace my current one.

5. Cell Phone Cover – $1. Bought a cover for TJ’s phone and was disappointed that I didn’t make this purchase sooner. My wife has an odd habit of dropping her phone. Once she dropped her phone while walking and proceeded to punt it across the street. This cover not only keeps the phone safe from these unfortunate drop kicks but also makes the phone easier to grip. Win-Win.

4. Sof Sole Insoles – $16. These are a must have for everyone who runs or even walks. When you compare just even the thickness of the insoles of what you get when you purchase your shoes to these guys, it makes you seriously wonder how you lived without them for so long. The extra support and cushioning takes a load off the impact on your feet, knees and lower back making runs a lot more enjoyable and pain free. I understand there’s always the camp that thinks running is torturous or it’s synonymous for them with punishment… really, it’s just their way of saying, “I’m lazy.” Put on your shoes, put these insoles in and get some exercise!

3. Digital Hygrometer – $10. When TJ and I were married, she got me a beautiful cigar humidor with the Chinese character “Poon” placed on it very tastefully. It came with an analog hygrometer which is about as useful as Ryan Seacrest. I do get the occasional premium cigar as a gift from some generous family and friends, so it is in my best interest to keep them in good condition which means in a good controlled environment with the appropriate amount of humidity. $10 is keep a handful of $25 cigars is probably a worthwhile investment.

2. Sansa Clip mp3 Player – $20. Back to the whole running thing again. It is pretty boring to run by yourself with some tunes to keep you moving. Naturally, buying an iPod is completely out of the question since I only want something that is light and plays mp3s, the Sansa Clip was quite the better choice. It does exactly the same thing a Shuffle does without me needing to install extra software (iTunes) and saved my wallet from giving away another $30… which I in turn used to buy a second one for my wife, because two minutes in heaven mp3 players is better than one mp3 player.

1. Android – $0. Bit of a cheat since this wasn’t really a purchase. I bought the HTC Touch otherwise known as the Vogue over two years ago and it is currently running the very dated Windows Mobile 6.1. I actually have nothing against Windows Mobile. It does a lot of good things that I need, but the what I do love about it is that is very customizable. In fact, it is so customizable that I can even have it load a completely different OS off my SD Card! Granted this did take me three days to figure out how to do but this does give me the feel that I have a brand new phone. I was hopeful that this would keep me from doing a phone upgrade for a while, but when Sprint announced this delicious piece of machinery a week after I got Android running, I’m not sure that I can resist. Well at least for the time being it keeps me from buying a phone and upgrading to a more expensive phone plan.

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About Jason

Christian. Husband. Father. Avid soccer fan. Born to Chinese parents. Married to an American woman. Trying to navigate through how to raise a daughter to know her Asian culture and her American heritage too. View all posts by Jason

6 responses to “Best Buys

  • sharon tam

    you guys are so financially aware 🙂 i appreciate these posts.

    i got a sansa clip this past january and love it. i think the default now seems to be the ipod nano, but spending that much $$ on something just to run seemed silly. but for the low cost and weight, it was worth upgrading from my disc jogger CD player, which did the job, but was heavy, only held one CD’s worth of music, and didn’t have access to FM stations for when I want to watch/listen to TV shows at the gym.

    • TJ Poon

      Thanks, Sharon! The sansa is working out for us so far. I, too, really only use it when I go running. And I’ve recently decided not to even take it to the gym anymore. I just take my earphones, since I almost always watch TV, which I think makes the time go by faster 🙂 Plus, we don’t have cable so I take the opportunity to watch Law & Order or the Food Network!
      By the way, I like that you comment consistently! Lots of people read it, but when they don’t comment, I sometimes wonder what they’re thinking. Do they agree/disagree? Do they think we’re loony? You never know.

    • Jason

      Thanks Sharon! I suppose all this “awareness” is just part of God’s gifting in us. It’s fun most of the time, but then I go about and calculate the cost per sit for a high chair to determine if it’s a worth it or not… I have issues. =)

  • TJ Poon

    Actually, what I told Mr. Poon about the garden is, “We’re planting money! When we plant bushes in the front yard, we increase our curb appeal and our home value. When we plant herbs in the back, I’m saving money that I would be spending at the store! We’re growing money!!”
    Now that’s speaking his language!

  • steph

    love these posts! thanks jason. and haha to the running comment: while, yes, i generally agree one should only run when chased (or chasing something), i guess the insoles are good for non-softball friendly seasons…

  • Tale of Two Teams « the poons

    […] the past few years I have spent my time writing about Best Buys (2008, 2009, 2010) and what has been for me, purchases that I have found to be of good value. Not a single signing of […]

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