10 best ways we spent in 2011

About this time last year I posted the nine best things we bought in 2010.  The filing of our income taxes inspired me to write it.  Lo and behold, here we are at that time of year again and–you guessed it–I’m stealing last year’s idea.

I’ve mentioned a time or two that we are not a “stuff” driven household, but rather, one that treasures experiences.  I think the list below illustrates that pretty efficiently.  But don’t take my word for it.  Have a lookie-loo.  Here is my list of the ten best ways we spent our hard-earned income last year (in no particular order):

1. iPod speaker – It’s true what they say: that the little things make all the difference.  Such is the case with this little lifesaver.  Jeff and I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen.  We used to rely on an under-cabinet radio to provide musical entertainment while we cooked.  This is ions better.  We don’t have to suffer through commercials or listening to the same song played three times within an hour.  We just put on a playlist and voila!  Instant listening pleasure.  It was an inexpensive black friday find, and worth every single cent.

2. Torri’s car – I recently mentioned that we didn’t actually pay for the whole car.  But the money we did spend on this cute little car was worth the opportunity cost.  Yes, having Torri on the road on her own has been a big adjustment (read: stressfest) for me, but at least it comes with a bonus.  That is, not having to share one of our vehicles.  Oh, and plus also?  She can run light errands for me now.  Score!

3. Soaring over Colorado – During our Durango mini-vacation we paid big bucks for the opportunity to soar through a Colorado canopy via zipline.  It was one of the best days ever.  Money so very well spent.

4. Vacation – We value experiences, remember?  So it should come as no surprise that we consider the thousands of dollars spent on our annual vacation to be a non-negotiable investment into our family.  Especially when we get the chance to travel with four generations.  There is absolutely nothing as precious to me as the memories we make when we’re all together.  I’d drag mom and my grandparents along every year if I could.

5. Purse – In preparation for the big vacation each year, I put together a budget that will allow us to live it up a little, while preserving the ability to pay the bills once we get home.  Apparently I over-budgeted a bit for last year’s trip.  The result?  On the last night of the cruise I was able to buy a souvenir that has kept on giving: a Fossil purse.  Duty-free, at that.  I’ve never spent more than $30 for a purse before, so this was quite a splurge.  That said, I’ve used it every single day since we returned home.  I love it.  Love the leather.  Love the style.  Love the hands-free’ness of it.  I’m thinking I might have to “accidentally” over budget again for this year’s cruise.

6. El Charro gift cards – For the past several years, our second favorite Tucson Mexican restaurant has offered a promotion called Christmas in July.  When you buy a $50 gift card, you get one $50 gift card free.  Crazy, right?  Last July, we gladly parted with $250, and in turn, we received $500 in gift cards.  We’ve slowly but surely been using them throughout the year, especially on nights when I just don’t feel like cooking.  It’s been awesome to be able to go out to eat, and not spend a dime out of our pockets.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll offer the same promotion this year.

7. Sink/faucet – When we built this house, we upgraded just about everything but the kitchen sink.  Literally.  And oh, how I hated that ugly, stainless steel cheapie that the builder put in.  We tried–on multiple occasions–to change it out, but they had over-cut the granite and every model of sink we tried didn’t fit.  Until.  Until we found the most perfect, beautiful black granite sink.  It’s deep enough to fit a whole bunch of dishes, and it compliments the kitchen decor rather than stick out like a sore {ugly} thumb.  It’s one of those little things that makes all the difference.

8. Pantry – Remember the pantry makeover?  It is one of my favorite takeaways from 2011.  It’s still as organized as it was on the day I shot this photo.  And, though it was a costly undertaking, it was worth every cent.



9. Glass food storage/organic food – You all know that I’m kind of a food nazi.  Yes, we spend a good deal of money at the grocery store each week.  More than we would if we bought conventionally grown produce.  But I truly believe that doing so is an investment in our health.  And by skipping plastic food storage containers in favor of glass ones, we’re keeping harmful chemicals out of our leftovers.  I’m so glad we made this change.

10. Swimming lessons – We’ve spent a small fortune on swimming lessons over the years, and 2011 was no exception.  But, after The Incident, it’s another of those expenses that falls under the non-negotiable category.  Enough said.

So…now that you’ve read my list, what is the best money you spent last year?

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7 Replies to “10 best ways we spent in 2011”

  1. Travis and I went to SoCal for a few days, without kids. Definitely worth every penny. And I’m trying to talk him into it this year too.

    We bought a new grill/smoker right around Thanksgiving. Travis loves it and volunteers to cook a couple of times a week, at least. It has made us both happier at dinner time.

  2. Money well spent on all accounts! We, too, are of the mindset of spending money on experiences together (hence, Hawaii/vow renewal).

    Oh, and we have the exact same kitchen faucet…ours is in brushed nickel, though! Looks great!

    2011 brought lots of medical expenses, but obviously this year our budget is focused on our Hawaiian trip to paradise AND a new fence for our backyard (fallen down twice since we moved in due to high TX winds)!

  3. oh. El Charro. i sighed (just a little) when i saw those cards… next time i’m in town we must go.

    and also, ever since i ate a turkey sandwhich at your table several years ago, and you served me a drink with a straw, ive longed for a straw holder like the one in your pantry. last year my friend gave one to me, and i think of you every time I see it. xox

  4. Great post. I would have to say my new car was a great purchase. My old car was 16 years old and costing so much money in repairs.

    And our trip to London and Paris as a family was money well spent. We had a ball and created such great memories.

  5. Such an interesting post. we, too, value experiences over things.

    An exception is big items that make every-day life better (your sink is a great example).

    Also – LOVE that purse. Great color and super stylish.

    Do you buy your music from iTunes?

    So…you still love El Charro even after our crazy-terrible customer service experience? We haven’t been back, but you might be able to convince us to give it a second try. ;)

    1. I totally thought of that crazy-bad customer service experience when I posted that. But yes, even in spite of that we’re still big fans. We had never had that bad of an experience before and have not since. I do find that the El Charro Ventana location has more consistent service/quality. Blanco is definitely our local favorite for Mexican, but El Charro is: 1. closer 2. less expensive 3. quite tasty.

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