Author Topic: High ROI purchases that reduce your basic monthly living costs (insulation etc)  (Read 6022 times)


  • Stubble
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The last 3 months I've been using a rented modem/router combo. Today, I finally got around to buying one and switching it out. I'll re-coup the cost in around 12 months.

Other types of purchases that reduce basic monthly living costs include: insulation, lightbulbs, bikes, basic tools for DIY, a no contract phone.

Aside from the above, what are your other examples?  I'm particularly interested in examples where people recoup the initial investment within 12 months. Another recent example of mine was buying a printer. Printing coupons for my regular purchases will recoup the cost in under a year (aside from the cost savings of printing at home vs at Staples when I need to print).


  • Pencil Stache
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Hair clippers.
Basic commuter bike.


  • Stubble
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Another one for hair-cutting shears.

A good quality reasonably priced sewing machine for $250. Cost included a class on how to use it. Now I hem pants for both my husband and myself and do most alterations on my own clothes. We are both short/petite people and paying a tailor adds up. We also have more options for getting thrift store/hand-me-down clothes and doing basic alterations instead of paying extra for special sizes.


  • Stubble
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Drying rack for drying clothes without the drier
prius is saving me 35 per week compared to my pre-prius SUV
Joined CSA and reduced my produce cost by about 20% and improved my eating habits almost immediately.
We are considering replacing our fridge, which could bring big savings on electric bill


  • Stubble
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When I ditched cable and got an antenna it paid for itself within 2 months (I bought a nice one).

I eat a lot of rice and beans.  I don't like to cook rice so my rice cooker will pay for itself pretty quickly.  Granted, I could cook them without a cooker, but I was buying the pouches you put in the microwave prior to the rice cooker.  The beans I soak and cook in the crock pot; I already had the crock pot but I suppose it saves me money vs buying canned beans.

Any set of basic tools (screwdriver, drill, wrenches, etc) will pay for themselves usually.  The timeline depends on how often you need them I suppose.  If you rent an apt and walk everywhere you may never need tools.  I've bought tools that paid for themselves immediately because they helped me do something myself (like changing car brakes or fixing a leaking faucet).

A programmable thermostat is a high ROI, unless you remember to change the temperature every day or don't really use HVAC.  Mine cost $10-20 if I remember correctly.

Most of these examples are pretty small.  Most of my cost savings have been from having a different attitude (buying a cheaper car, living in a smaller home, not washing clothes after the first use, letting the house temperature fluctuate more).  I imagine that riding a bicycle can be a significant savings if it prevents you from needing a car.  Buying an RV probably would too if it saves you high rent/mortgage costs.


  • Magnum Stache
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Planting zucchinis, cherry tomatoes and herbs. Payback is a few weeks, although I haven't done the maths on how much the water costs.

Hair clippers for hubby - payback period was a few months.

Really good quality feather doona (quilt) - means I've never had to run the heater at night, no matter how cold it gets. I even didn't need to run the heater overnight in my un-insulated crappy rental place which got down to 6C (43F) overnight and never got warmer than 12C (54F) even with a heater on. I'm not sure what the payback period was. One or two winters?

Aeropress for hubby. Quicker than a coffee plunger and much much cheaper than going out for an espresso. I can't remember the payback period, but it was definitely less than 6 months (might have been 3?).


  • Senior Mustachian
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Canvas external blinds - reduced the temperature inside the house to bearable!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Simple cheap timer switch. Effectively a switchable power strip with some basic automation.

Used in various places to automatically turn off background stuff in unused hours.

Used e.g. for the furnace pump (water-based heating system, equiv. to fan/blower on air-based systems), hot water circulation pump, cable modem and router at night.

ROI can be anything between 1 to 6 months, depending on the thing being switched (cost for a mechanical timer switch is about 5 bucks).

Downsides: uses itself a tiny amount of energy (<0,5W), using the stuff being switched in unusual hours requires flipping the "manual/on" switch on the timer. Some appliances might not like it to be power-cycled daily.


  • Magnum Stache
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97 cent flannel pillow case from Goodwill to make handkerchiefs.  Cost equal to one small box of tissues so will get 100% ROI after one cold/flue season.


  • Pencil Stache
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Buying your own cell phone! And then switching to Ting. We've been using the evo 4g lte which is a technological miracle, only costs $100 upfront, sould be able to sell it for half the price in about a year but got me off the terribly expensive 2 year contracts. What a scam those are, I'll never ever sign up for that again. We were paying $140/mo, now less than $60 without trying to reduce our usage.

Cooking with bbq also, I love it. Reducing eating out is a huge benefit, so cooking classes are good too. The resistance to cooking at home usually comes down to time and taste, both which are solved for me using BBQ. Also I think it's healthier, don't need to add butter and a lot of fat drops off, I usually do chk breast, veggies in olive oil.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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... a bread maker.  ...

Highly recommended! They can be found cheaply used (hardly anyone who buys them keeps using them). I've been making our own bread for just shy of two years now and have saved about $400 so far (w.r.t. bought bread; costs for ingredients, electricity, even tap water already subtracted), plus we like it more than bread from our baker (and we know what goes into it - only flour, water and salt).


  • Pencil Stache
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Joined CSA and reduced my produce cost by about 20% and improved my eating habits almost immediately.

The CSA was the exact opposite for us. WAYY too much of crap we didn't want/like and it was crazy expensive. YMMV.

Bob W

  • Magnum Stache
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Consider a home energy audit.  Many utilities subsidize them.  They will totally go through your house and then provide you a nice computer generated sheet showing you various improvements and the ROI of those.

If you're not into that then one of the cheapest and easiest is to go to Lowe's and purchase some of the plug and socket insulators.   You take off the covers and then put the cover around your socket.  Reinstall cover.     

The cost like 15 cents and probably pay back in 6 months. 

To save money on water heater turn the unit down to low and throw some old blankets around it.  Cost zero, payback instantly.   


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!