We bought Gup shortly after the recession started, so the breeder discounted the price of the puppies in her litter. She was a steal for a pure bred puppy, and less than the cost of some of the shoes in my closet! You can’t put a price on the memories and love she’s given my husband and me over the years.
For more than 15 years now, my husband and I have been going fairly regularly to Bermuda and staying in very small hotels or cottage colonies, like The Reefs (pictured). They’re not cheap—one night can start at about $700 for two people (including breakfast, dinner and, if you care, afternoon tea)—and we’ll probably scale back now that my husband is retired. But I don’t regret a penny of it. Just thinking about those quiet beaches, crystal waters and amazing snorkeling, makes me instantly relax!
It wasn’t technically a financial investment, but it ended up being a emotional one. I sprang for a DVF leopard-print wrap dress (on an assistant editor’s salary, this was serious splurge) to wear on a second date with a boy I quite liked. Thirteen years later, he’s my husband and I still have what he’s deemed “that dress.” It (and apparently me) were unforgettable after that night.
I was six months pregnant when I spotted this hat at an outdoor market in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. It fit my head like a vise but I bought it anyway and then promptly abandoned it in the back of my closet. Little did I know that my daughter would find it one day and wear it proudly. She has gotten more compliments than I can count: Old ladies cross the street to tell her how much they love it; parents ask me where they can get one for their daughters; teachers fawn over it as she waits in the carline.
The Purchase: 2010 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5 road bike
Price: $1,500 (retailed for $2,200)
This bike was an investment in every sense of the word: It got me healthy—mentally and physically—after a very difficult year, took me to new places, helped me meet amazing people who are now some of my closest friends and was with me when I completed my first Half Ironman and won my first bike race. I’m now selling it and using the money to build up a new bike that better fits the next phase of my racing career, which I wouldn’t have been able to afford or achieve without making this initial investment.
Price: $1,000/per person, per month (shared with cousin/roommate)
I rent a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of an old mansion built in 1888. It was formerly home to the family who invented Chiclets chewing gum. It has an interesting history, is just blocks from Prospect Park and even makes a cameo in the movie The Squid and the Whale!
This amazing three-day personal development course changed my life. I learned how get power over the things that were stopping me from thriving and, after being fat for so long, I lost 53 lbs.! I accomplished what it takes others years and years of false starts, failed resolutions, self-help books and therapy to achieve.
The Purchase: A ski trip to the Dolomites (the Italian Alps)
Price: Approx. $3,000
Aside from the stellar skiing, this magical region of Northern Italy is packed with history and culture. The Dolomites are trilingual (residents speak German, Italian and Ladin), so town and trail signs are often printed in three languages. There are German pubs; makeshift, open air WWII museums; and Prada-clad ski instructors.
Susan Toepfer, Contributing Entertainment/Features Editor
The Purchase: The Rombauers’ Joy of Cooking
I bought this cookbook in 1975 and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s the go-to guide for holiday meals (their Yorkshire Pudding is the best) and all things apple pie. In 1997, I bought the “All New,” updated edition, which is awful and filled with stuff like tofu, for which you’d never turn to Joy. I got so scared I ordered a second copy of the 1975 book just in case my original becomes too tattered for use.
I bought these boots at a sample sale about five years ago. I’ve had them resoled and polished, but are by far the most comfortable boots I own. I love that they are classic and timeless so they never go out of style.
We had been renting during the summer for decades and we wanted a place of our own. We bought a shoebox with a killer ocean view for more money than it would be worth elsewhere on the planet. Now it’s worth approximately five times what we paid for it, and we rent it out weekly during high season, so it pays for itself (more or less, usually less, but still...).
A few years ago I had a wedding to attend and no dress. I went to Loehmann's on a whim and found this gem: a Vera Wang frock originally priced somewhere around $600. Since then, I've worn it to three weddings and one magazine awards ceremony. I get compliments every time I wear it. It might be the best $70 I've ever spent.
I bought a set of eight hand-painted ceramic dinner plates in Sienna, Italy, many years ago. I paid about $8 each, and if you can find them these days, they cost much more than that. I wouldn’t say they are the best things I ever bought, but they are certainly my favorite. Friends have added to my collection over the years. I used to save them for special occasions, but now I eat out of them, and use bowls and mugs in the same pattern every day. And, yes, I wash them by hand.
It may not seem like a big investment, but when you’re still living off your parents in college, it was a splurge. I used it every weekend traveling home on the bus and back and forth on many airplane trips. It fits a full weekend’s worth of winter clothes including Uggs and my can’t-travel-without hair dryer and diffuser.
In 2001, when the dollar was strong against the euro, I bought a charming pair of gold earrings in Florence. They're the perfect size, and they look very delicate on me, yet they're the sturdiest earrings I've ever had. Even the clasp stays tight, which must be why I still haven't lost them. I must have worn them a thousand times! Bonus: They remind me of a lovely trip.