9 Impulse Buys That Turned Out Better Than Expected!

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We’ve all bought stuff based on commercials that turned out nothing like how it was advertised. (Shamwow guy, you listening?) Sometimes we buy stuff on a whim, only to be disappointed later. I know I have. But not all my impulse buys have been duds. Here are some purchases that turned out to be better than expected! In no particular order…

Cordless Lawnmower

Worx Lil' Mo Cordless Lawn Mower
After my last cordless bet, I’m wary of cordless anything other than phones. I bought a cordless vacuum cleaner! The thing would lose charge all of a sudden leaving you with a half finished house and a 12 hour wait while it recharged! After that I vowed I would never fall for this technology promise again!

But then, I did! We bought a house with a modest (small actually!) yard. It was summer and it was mowing time and I still hadn’t thought about a lawn mower. Gas mowers were an overkill for the yard we had. Plus the pollution, noise and the smell! I knew this wasn’t for me. Electric lawn mowers while pollution-free, didn’t look like it was convenient, might require installation of an outdoor power outlet, maybe an extension cord… after reading some reviews I decided to buy Worx Lil’ Mo cordless lawnmower on a whim! (Plus the pressure! It was *really* time to mow the lawn!)

Took me a few minutes to put this together and I have to say, this thing is light! The battery can be taken out so you can leave the mower in your toolshed and charge the battery inside. You have the option to mulch or bag which is nice and has three height adjustments.

Unlike my vac, this didn’t die on me! I could do both my front and back yard with some battery juice to spare! I haven’t run out of batteries mid-mowing yet! My faith in technology has been restored!

Eneloop Batteries

Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries
Speaking of portable power, rechargeable batteries are good. Not great, but good. Until now that is! Eneloop is a battery made by Sanyo of Japan that has revolutionized the rechargeable battery industry. Unlike normal rechargeables, Eneloop can hold power if left idle, even after a year! I don’t have numbers, but these batteries last as long as regular batteries.

In fact Eneloop batteries are so good Apple decided to buy these in bulk, rip out the Sanyo label and put an Apple logo, double the price, and laugh all the way to the bank.

I don’t think I’ll buy a regular battery again.

Omnimount Corner TV Stand

Best corner tv stand for hdtvs
I’ve written about my aversion to drilling holes, even if it meant mounting a flatscreen TV. But it was time to do something about our TV. In our previous house, it was simply above a non-functional fireplace on the mantel (hey, we were renting back then!). Our new house had a functioning fireplace without a mantel.

I never realized this, but the country seems pretty divided on whether it is a good idea to place a TV on the mantel or not! Something about center of focus in a living room! It was decision time. I’m not someone who understands or appreciates the nuances of art and interior design, but in this case I decided to support this notion! (Because then, that would mean I don’t have install a mantel and drill holes! I told ya, I really hate defacing walls!)

Which meant investing in a good corner TV stand. Boy, there are so many of them and some of them are so cheap looking and poorly made. Either that or they are super expensive. My quest for the perfect corner TV stand lead me to the Omnimount TV stand. Here’s why this stand was different from the rest.

1. You can either mount your TV on the stand or
2. You could mount the TV on your wall and use the stand for your XBoxes and Blu Rays or
3. You could simply place the TV on the stand
4. You can tilt your TV sideways for a comfortable viewing angle
5. Comes with 4 different accents to match your furniture
6. Accommodates a variety of TV brands (comings with various mounting hardware) and TV sizes. So if you were to upgrade your TV, you don’t have to replace your stand
7. Can be used as a corner unit or a center piece

I’m a very functional guy and loved the options this TV stand came with! At $200, this wasn’t very expensive either. On an impulse I bought the stand. I did have second thoughts while I was waiting for the unit to ship! What if this was a cheap looking unit? What if the TV toppled over..! It did arrive on time, took a long time to put together (this thing was heavy!).

But I was blown away! The unit looks really, really good! The pictures don’t do justice. One of my best buys and highly recommended.

RainX Rain Repellant

Wiper alternative - rainx rain repellent
Normally I wouldn’t give products such as these a second thought. Are we so lazy that we can’t turn on the wipers? If wipers wear out, I would get them replaced instead of buying fancy products that would most likely result in disappointment.

But a strange thing happened. Like all 6 month-olds, my son loved a good old car ride! Unlike other 6-month-olds, he wouldn’t sleep in the car, but a car ride would at least give us some quiet time! That is, until it rained! It is not the rain that bothered him, but the wipers… that terrified him! And let me tell you, it is neither safe nor fun to drive in the rain with a screaming kid behind you with wipers set to the lowest setting!

A happy family goes out, returns back with a squinting dad and a screaming child!

Out of desperation, I ordered this! I was very skeptical. It was simple enough to use it. Dab a few drops on a piece of cloth and apply to your windshield. Wait till it rains! Now I wouldn’t say you don’t need wipers, but I’ll say it works surprisingly well. The rain would sort of form droplets and roll off the windows. Much easier to drive than with just the wipers on.

Now Jr. is slightly older (and bolder) and wipers don’t bother him anymore. But we still use this whenever we go on road trips. At about 4 bucks, definitely worth the investment.

Thanks Jr. for making me buy stuff I never knew I needed! With kids like these, who needs commercials!

Ooma

Ooma voip phoneI really can’t think of any disadvantages of this purchase. I mean all domestic calls are free for life, you get a free home number, you have caller id and voicemail, international calling isn’t free, but isn’t that expensive either and has a host of other features if you ever need them. You can read about this purchase in depth, but seriously, a good money-saving buy.

Note: The new versions aren’t completely free, you have to pay applicable taxes and fees (which Ooma used to pay before), but that is ridiculously low and still a good buy.

Roomba

Roomba pet vacuum cleaner
This is yet another product I normally wouldn’t consider. A robotic vacuum cleaner? Sorry, no! But then, Jr. couldn’t stand normal vacuum cleaners due to the noise. His screams were louder than the vac! One of us had to take him out for a walk while the other cleaned the house. And that was the only way we could get this chore done! This routine got tiring after a while. We really needed a quiet vac. Either that or a filthy house.

So we decided, even if Roomba did a half-assed job, it was better than nothing. “This thing is quiet? Here, take my money and give me that thing!” That was probably that saleman’s quickest sale!

There was this excruciating charge time, but once charged, we decided to give Roomba a try. Jr. was suspicious at first, but also curious and the little whirring it made didn’t bother him. He would watch it mesmerized as it went around the house doing its job! He even tried to hitch a ride on Roomba once!

If it was about to lose charge it would automatically home in on its charger and charge itself! Quite fascinating how it does this!

So how well did it clean? Pretty well actually! It takes its own time and you stil have to clear the floors off small items like toys, but Roomba worked beautifully! It can detect stairs so it won’t fall off. It does get tangled occasionally on wires, but it knows how to alert you if that happens!

Another purchase that took us by surprise!

V Tech DECT Cordless Phone

V-Tech cordless DECT phone
With Ooma, the base station has to be hooked to the router which meant your phone too will be next to the router! And we had our router in the second floor! Every time it rang, someone had to go up to get the phone! You can add an additional handset from Ooma for 49 dollars or buy a cordless phone system which in my case, came to $39 for 3 handsets and a base station!

The phone is loud and clear and holds a charge very well!

Why was this an impulse buy? I normally buy Panasonic, but this was cheaper and had better reviews. I was torn between the two, but decided to try this brand! No regrets!

Kindle

Amazon KindleI know people rave about the Kindle, but somehow I wasn’t sold. My problem was with Amazon. Amazon never tells us how many Kindles were sold, just that they are selling well! Why the secrecy?

But after having bought a Kindle, I have to say, this is indeed a great product for those who like reading! Easy on the eyes and very convenient. Don’t compare this with a tablet and don’t try to surf the web on the Kindle. Use it for reading and you won’t be disappointed.

The Wire

The Wire Complete Season DVDs
Not much of a TV watcher. I’m easily satisfied with Star Trek or Sienfeld. But I did keep hearing about this HBO show called simply The Wire. Supposedly the best TV show ever if you were to listen to the fanbois! The show is about drug dealers and cops in Baltimore. Now I don’t really like cop shows. I could never sit through one. I still don’t know how I bought into the hype, but I did after watching one episode on Netflix!

Once I started watching, I actually couldn’t wait to get home so I could watch the next episode! Very few shows have managed to do that to us! I’m no fanboi, but this is the best TV series ever produced! :)

If you recently cut cable, watching Wire is a good way to overcome any withdrawal symptoms!
What are your impulse buys that turned out better than expected?

43 thoughts on “9 Impulse Buys That Turned Out Better Than Expected!

  1. You might have sold me on that Roomba :)

  2. We love the eneloop batteries too. And you probably sold us on a ooma. I’ve finally convinced my husband that we don’t need a home phone. This might be a good compromise.

  3. MC, I actually gave a bottle of RainX to my husband as part of a car kit gift. I’m thinking of using it on bathroom mirrors to see if it keeps them clear after showers.

    We gave a Roomba as a gift to my mother-in-law. It was ideal for her since she had trouble using a regular vac at her age. Also she enjoyed watching it move randomly around almost like a pet. She’d stretch out on the couch & watch it go.

    I got a Kindle as a gift & was skeptical. I find I enjoy reading books that would be heavy books in the paper version. You can get so many classics for free from Amazon too. And, no, it’s not good for surfing the web even though it’s slightly possible. My elderly mother loves hers because she can order books without going to the bookstore. Since she can’t drive anymore it’s a great way for her to get entertainment she loves.

    I’m going to look into those batteries!

    • Using RainX on bathroom mirrors is an awesome idea! But make sure it doesn’t have any harmful chemicals that might react with the steam.

  4. I love RainX. I may have to check out some of these other items. Some I have never heard about.

    • I think they have a new product where you mix this along with the windshield wiper! Haven’t bought one yet, but I thought that was very clever!

  5. If an impulse is within your budget, and serves a planned purpose in your life, then I think it’s completely justified. It’s fun to be spontaneous. The Roomba looks interesting, but I think my dog would bark at it endlessly.

  6. I love my Omnimount TV mount. It is a flush mount, and only sticks out 1″. It was a pain to run the wires though, but it is slick.

  7. My wife thoroughly enjoys her Kindle, although it was a gift. I resist impulse buying and try to plan my buying using lists.

  8. Great list of products! This is not in the same realm, but I did impulsively buy some business cards last night. Moved by everyone’s FINCON11 experience, I bought some cards. Normally I would mull it over a bit. We’ll see how it goes!

  9. I really liked the Wire. I think the writers have a new show (can’t remember the name).

  10. Fun gadgets :) Rain-X is great! :)

  11. I’m glad to hear Roomba has gotten better. I used to have one and the dumb thing couldn’t hold a charge and it was always the darndest thing to try and empty and clean out.

    Nice one on Eneloop. Hadn’t heard of those before but I totally remember getting rechargeable batteries 10-15 years ago which were total crap. I’m very intrigued now and will go check these new ones out! Your note about Apple is hilarious lol. I can totally see them doing that. -Sydney

  12. You sold me on that cordless lawn mower, I hate the dragging the cord on my electrical mower. About time I moved up to a rechargeable one!

    • Just make sure you remember to charge the battery after each use! Would suck if the weather is great, you are in a mood to mow but forgot to charge the battery!

  13. As much as I hassle my wife for impulse buys when she’s out, I totally do it at Lowe’s or the mall or whatever. See, I’m virtually never out shopping or spending money. There are new things in stores I didn’t even know existed! I sound like a caveman but I barely watch TV (especially commercials – the horror!) and I’m always working or doing stuff w the family. So, occasionally, I see that new flavored coffee, or a new tool or whatever, and it usually works out pretty nicely!

  14. I bought a Roomba and it is still sitting in my basement. I really do need to pull it out. Thing is, my kids do the vacuuming and my other vacuum probably does a better job than the Roomba. However, I could just set it free in the basement. The directions seemed pretty complicated so I gave up.

    I wish we could use an electric mower. We are on almost 1/2 an acre though, and I don’t think the juice would last, unfortunately.

  15. I am surprised those batteries can hold a charge after such a prolonged idle period. They may indeed have a lot of value.

  16. Rain-X is the best if you do a lot of driving!

  17. You’re not helping here. :) I would consider a kindle, but I would much rather get a tablet to search the internet with the same device. But, i may just stick to the traditional laptop.

  18. Interesting to know that the Roomba worked so well.

    I actually bought one for my parents a few years back, as Christmas gift. My Dad opened the gift, saw what this was, and immediately asked me to return it. He thought it wouldn’t work well, and wanted me to save my money anyway. Maybe this testimonial could have helped back then. Where were you, Money Cone?

  19. I have been eyeing the roomba for too long now and you are totally not helping :)

    I am waiting for the next ipad to come out to check and get a new tablet. I might just go for Kindle fire at the end, but I want to check out all the option before deciding. It is not like i need one right now (or may be I do).

  20. Nice list! The electric mower looks really nice and those batteries sounds like a great buy. I’ll have to try them next time. I also have Ooma and it’s awesome, free calls are great! No roomba for now.

  21. OK, this is silly, but I am in love with my Magic Bullet! I never buy as-seen-on-tv stuff, but I coveted this mini blender for years. Finally, my husband bought it for me for my birthday (because I couldn’t ever justify spending $50 on a blender — really, I already had a nice blender). Anyway, I love the thing for smoothies and malts!

  22. Mine would be my iPhone 3G. I drove an hour away to the closest Apple store that was selling it at the time and I paid full retail ($300) at the time. I signed up for an AT&T 2-year plan. I have since canceled the phone plan, but still use the iPhone as my own little iPod touch, mostly for the web access at work.

    This purchase has actually worked out great. My current employer blocks internet usage at work, but through a router (free wifi) I’m able to access the internet on the iPhone and I can log into my brokerage account during the day. If it wasn’t for my little iPhone I wouldn’t be able to access the market!

    The phone still works great and I haven’t had one problem with it. All things considered, it was a great buy.

  23. Eclectic and interesting list of buys, MC. Our gearhead older son would love it if we got a Roomba, but I’m not entirely sold on it. It’s only a latent prejudice, because as you say they’ve gotten better. Our sister-in-law used to have a much earlier model, and it took as much energy to “prep” the room as it did to vacuum it.

  24. Ah, Rain-X. Back in the olden days when I was in my teens I worked for a company that bottled this product right here in Arizona. It works pretty great but the thing is it doesn’t rain much here! We buy the cheapest windshield wipers available because by the next time it rains they’ll be in tatters. I have used a cordless lawnmower before, but back in the olden days they called those gas mowers. :-)

  25. RainX is the bomb! I swear that sometimes I don’t even need to turn my wipers on because the water just beads up and runs right off. My wife hates it when I try to see how long I can go before turning them on!

  26. You shared a lot of good information on this post. Regarding your issue with cordless vac, I think the problem is that you need to spend big when it comes to cordless vac. For example, I tried spending $50 on Oreck cordless vac but it broke after one year and battery life really wasn’t that great nor the power output. But when I spent $150 on a cordless vac, the performance was much better and lasted so far more than 1 year. I think I made a great decision to spend little more to get a decent product. That’s why people need to learn to be the ultimate smart spender when it comes to money or else you end up spending more for less.

  27. That Romba looks pretty epic. As long as it really saves time [and perhaps that a little bit of stress :) ] it looks like a pretty good deal. It may be a little pricey but I’m sure that it could pay for itself when one looks at all of the time that one could save by using it.

  28. I was just thinking about this post the other day. I remembered you mentioning a type of rechargeable battery that you liked and I’ve been running out of AAA’s for my headphones. I’ll have to check out the Eneloop’s!

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