Over the years, I’ve become progressively more and more anti-consumerist in my thinking. This means that increasingly I try to buy less stuff, focus on better-quality and long-lasting things and buy only things that can feasibly be thought of as a good investment – not in terms of monetary returns, but in terms of value gained from the purchase vs sending the thing to the dump a year later with little or no use.
So I gave some thought on what have been my best purchases over the years. Some fall into the physical products category, while some are subscriptions or memberships and some more go under software products. So just in case anyone cares, these are what I consider have been my best purchases ever:
The first thing that comes to my mind is my trusty camera, Canon EOS 5D along with the lenses. Now five years old, it still works like a charm and keeps producing excellent-quality photos. That alone is a minor miracle from a piece of modern electronics, most of which suffers from planned obsolescence in the 12-24 months time frame. It was an expensive investment at the time, but has totally been worth it and an essential cornerstone of my photography hobby – and when it eventually does break down, I will get the same model at whatever its latest iteration will be at the time.
The next thing is also related to my hobbies, namely cooking – and the best purchase in that category have been the few Zwilling knives that I own. They make chopping and cutting a joy. Other great kitchen purchases have been the Krups blenders that I’ve written about earlier as well. Again, I have to admire a modern kitchen appliance that can handle 10+ years of active use.
There have been several books that I consider very good investments, many of which I’ve briefly touched on in this blog as well. From cooking ideas to self-education on a number of topics, I still in the age of Internet find books to be an invaluable resource. While I increasingly now buy Kindle books rather than physical ones, I can’t imagine I will ever stop buying physical books altogether – some books still work far better as the physical kind.
On the magazine front, I consider my digital subscription to The Economist money well spent; this allows me to keep in touch with what the more sane portion of mainstream media is thinking of, as well as many macro-level global economic/geopolitical/other trends.
There are at least two memberships that have been great. First, membership at the Friends of the Zoo in Victoria has been well worth the money. All three zoos in the Melbourne area are great and our kids love them.
There’s also another membership that, while a very recent addition, has already proven its value: the Alternative Technology Association (ATA). Their magazines Sanctuary – Modern Green Homes and ReNew – technology for a sustainable future are absolutely wonderful, packed with invaluable information and data and, most importantly, geared towards real-life, local & resilient solutions and for people with real-life incomes. I’ve seen too many “sustainable” homes elsewhere that are really only suitable for people with $1M+ budgets, which makes me wonder just how sustainable they really are.. In any case, the ATA is a very down to earth and fact-based outfit, and the magazines are among the best I’ve ever read.
On the software side, there is one piece of commercial software that clearly stands out – I love Adobe Photoshop. It’s expensive, but I still love it. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a number of apps that I consider well worth the money – most recently 53′s Paper for the iPad, which has actually made doodling on it not only usable but fun.