Most of us have no trouble remembering the best things we ever bought. The worst things are another matter.
Anyway, here’s my list. How does it compare to yours?
1. My first house
Purchase Date: 1990
Purchase Price: $114,000
Inflation Adjusted Price: $229,000
Why it’s in my bottom ten: These items are in no particular order, but this one takes the cake. I bought my first house at the top of the market. As a result, I spent the next seven years owing more than it was worth — which meant I couldn’t sell it unless I wanted to shell out about $20,000 to the make my lender whole. So I chose to ride out the downturn, which is a reasonable strategy for most people. Unfortunately, the house was in a less-than-desirable neighborhood, just 100 yards from a very busy — and extremely loud — rail line that carried freight and commuter trains 24/7.
2. Backyard irrigation system
Purchase Date: 1998
Purchase Price: $1500 (approximate)
Inflation Adjusted Price: $2435
Why it’s in my bottom ten: When evaluating multiple contractor bids, the lowest price is not necessarily the best deal — especially when the lowest price is significantly less than the other offers. Every time one of my sprinkler pipes burst I’m reminded of that, thanks to the shoddy material my contractor used to cut corners.
3. Double stack guitar amplifier
Purchase Date: 1993
Purchase Price: $995
Inflation Adjusted Price: $1808
Why it’s in my bottom ten: I had big dreams in my twenties: I was going to be a rock and roll star! Of course, that meant playing the part — so I grew my hair out and bought a double-stack guitar amplifier. Talk about overkill. I could have played Dodger Stadium with that thing. The trouble is, my band was only playing small bars. Here’s a picture of it:
4. Vacation in the Bahamas
Purchase Date: 1990
Purchase Price: $1000 (approximate)
Inflation Adjusted Price: $2008
Why it’s in my bottom ten: An ex-girlfriend decided to surprise me with a ridiculously-priced travel package “deal” to the Bahamas. For $199 we got a romantic “cruise” to our destination in Freeport, and seven days and six nights of lodging at a local “resort.” The airfare, food, and other expenses weren’t included — but we didn’t care because we got the deal of a lifetime! Or so we thought. Our cruise ship was a rickety fishing boat and the “resort” was a run-down apartment in the worst part of Freeport, miles from the beach. And it rained incessantly. Without a doubt, it was the worst vacation ever.
5. Sony 400 CD player
Purchase Date: 2001
Purchase Price: $295
Inflation Adjusted Price: $444
Why it’s in my bottom ten: Remember these? The first time I laid eyes on Sony’s CDP-CX400, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Yes, the machines were humongous and bulky; mine tipped the scales at 9 pounds. True, they also had a primitive programming interface. But this baby allowed me to store, play and shuffle 400 (!) discs, which meant I could finally dump my space-wasting CD racks in the trash. Even so, my love affair with the CDP-CX400 ended less than a year after I bought it. Why? Because Apple unleashed a brand new invention called the iPod, instantly rendering the CDP-CX400 obsolete.
6. Movie rental: The Good German
Purchase Date: 2009
Purchase Price: $1 (rental price)
Inflation Adjusted Price: $1.24
Why it’s in my bottom ten: Laugh all you want. This movie was so bad that if I had snuck into the theater to see it I’d still demand my money back.
7. Los Angeles Kings Alexei Zhitnik hockey jersey
Purchase Date: 1994
Purchase Price: $120
Inflation Adjusted Price:
Why it’s in my bottom ten: Back in 1994, I decided to buy myself a new Los Angeles Kings hockey jersey. But rather than putting Wayne Gretzky’s name and number of the back, I decided to take the contrarian route and go with Alexei Zhitnik instead. Dumb move. Less than a year later, the Kings traded Zhitnik to the Buffalo Sabres for a Zamboni machine and two used hockey pucks.
8. Brunswick air hockey table
Purchase Date: 2018
Purchase Price: $1500
Inflation Adjusted Price: $1583
Why it’s in my bottom ten: Several years ago we decided to convert our large living room into a game room. It was a brilliant move; doing so turned a room that only got used a few times a year into one that is occupied almost all the time. We added a gorgeous custom-made shuffleboard table, a dartboard, a bar, and one of those cocktail table video arcade games that plays PacMan, Centipede and other ’80s favorites. We also bought a high-quality Brunswick air hockey table. That was definitely not a good idea. I never realized how loud those things are — especially in a room with a cathedral ceiling. Whenever an air hockey game was being played, the whole world came to a complete stop; even simple conversations were impossible. So I replaced it a year later with a poker table; that’s much quieter — and it gets more use too.
9. Whirlpool tub
Purchase Date: 1997
Purchase Price: $600
Inflation Adjusted Price: $989
Why it’s in my bottom ten: When we bought our current home, the builder asked us if we wanted to “upgrade” our master bath with a whirlpool tub — so we did. Big mistake. It didn’t take us long to realize that the disadvantages of whirlpool tubs far outweigh their advantages. Ultimately, we used the tub two times. Trust me: whirlpool tubs are for suckers.
10. Dinner in Maui
Purchase Date: 2011
Purchase Price: $150.00 (tip included)
Inflation Adjusted Price: $178
Why it’s in my bottom ten: The Honeybee and I were vacationing in Maui, and happened upon a fine dining place that was showcasing photos of the owner posing with rocker Steven Tyler in the restaurant’s dining room. You’d think if Steven Tyler was willing to pose for pictures with the owner, the food must be fabulous, right? Wrong. The food was terrible and over-priced — which is why I now avoid any restaurants endorsed by Steven Tyler.
Photo Credit (truck): p. Gordon