Okay! So! At the end of last year, we talked about giving money away. Today, I’m going to talk about spending money. Despite this recent trend, I promise this is not going to turn into a money blog.

Specifically, I’m talking about NOT spending money. See, I am about to embark on pseudo’s third annual “don’t spend money on non-necessities for two months after the holidays” thing. Wahoo! Take THAT, spring collection from J.Crew! I am immune to your wily charms!

There are key exceptions. Those exceptions are:

  1. gift cards received for holidays
  2. money received for the holidays
  3. fabric for sewing
  4. dinner out once a month, plus Valentine’s day
  5. the haircut that I needed in December but didn’t have time to get (I would call that a necessity, as my column here indicates, and thus exempt from the hiatus, but reasonable people may disagree.) 
  6. Things I wanted and strongly considered buying BEFORE the start of the shopping hiatus that have now been discounted to > 50% off. (Does not apply to things I didn’t know I wanted until I saw their deeply discounted price.)

Okay, those are the self-imposed and pretty much arbitrary rules. I received a few gift cards for the holidays- one to Banana Republic that I think I’m going to save until the spring stuff comes out,  one to Starbucks that should help me through any latte emergencies that might crop up, and one to Borders that I will probably use to buy yet another cookbook.

I also, through the combined generosity of several relatives, have about $250 in gift money that is available for spending.  (In fact, three relatives SPECIFICALLY SAID that I should “spend it right away on something fun” instead of saving it.  Apparently I have a reputation for being a miser with gift money.  Who knew?)

I could use it for incidentals during the shopping hiatus- book here, latte there, etc- but I’d rather not, as that sort of undermines the whole point, which is to break the habit of spending which is so easy to form during the holidays.

Instead, I’d like to get a nice, useful thing for our house.   Here is what I am considering:

  • Tassimo: Some people got one of these for the holidays and have made other people (me) insanely jealous.  This could save us some serious money on buying coffee, and would be nice for convenience in the morning (can brew a cup at a time).

  • Nespresso: As far as I can tell, the key difference between the Nespresso and the Tassimo is the brewing method: Tassimo uses water and Nespresso uses steam and pressure to brew “real” espresso.  It seems Nespresso makes better espresso, but is more expensive and less versatile than the Tassimo. We like espresso but are hardly connoisseurs, and I also like the versatility of the Tassimo so I can have the occasional chai tea latte in addition to my regular coffee. Anyone with personal views on the difference between these two please chime in, as some sort of coffee device is a front runner for this expenditure.

  • Roomba:  Though we do not have a pet, we do have a 24 year old, and he makes a lot of crumbs, which I find myself constantly, constantly sweeping. However, the main space I would use it for is mostly hardwood, but with a large rug, and I’m concerned about roomba’s ability to climb up onto the rug (it’s a thick rug). Any roomba users out there want to weigh in on this one?

  • Roku:  This is so cool. It lets you stream anything that’s available instantly on Netflix directly to your tv.  The “watch instantly” stuff is included with our Netflix membership already so we’d just have to buy the device.  My main concerns with this are picture quality and speed- our wifi hub is in a different room than our tv, and I’ve heard the picture quality is not always super duper. Again, anyone with personal experience? I’d love to hear about it.

  • Ipod speakers for my office:     I love Pandora, but I have my own music and playlists, and it would be really cool if I could just dock my ipod when I got to work and listen to it during the day. (With the amount of money I have, I could potentially get both the roku AND the ipod speakers, but that might be a little much? Maybe I should be fiscally responsible in these uncertain times and save more?)

What seems like the best use of my dollars? Or should I just keep with my miserly ways and stick it in our ING savings account?