As prices for, well, everything, continue to rise, it’s important to focus on features and functions of the things you want and then think about how you can get those features and functions for less.  I’ll give some examples.

When I bought my house, I wanted a wood burning fireplace.  My house did have a fireplace and the inspector did test it with a rolled up burning newspaper.  It seemed fine.  But when I tried to actually burn wood, my house filled with smoke.  I called in some fireplace people and as they got out of the truck, they said the chimney isn’t tall enough relative to everything around it.  I got three quotes and lowest one (10 years ago) was $12,000 because as soon as you make a change, you must bring it up to current code.  So… that wasn’t happening.  This forced me to think about what it was I wanted from a fireplace.  I wanted to watch flames and feel cozy.  So, I bought a nine-candle candelabra to put in the fireplace that held three-inch candles and a firepit for the backyard.  The candelabra let me watch the flames and feel a surprising amount of heat during the winter and the firepit let me watch flames and have a gathering place for friends and neighbors during the spring and fall.  Total cost about $200 including a good supply of candles.

Ever since I started watching “The Great British Baking Show”, I have longed for a proofing drawer.  This is a heated, draft free, drawer that lets you proof bread dough.  As I thought about how to remodel my kitchen, I realized that I would have to give up storage space to get one as well as spend a lot of money.  Then, I realized that I already have one and have been using it for a while.  My microwave is an over the stove style.  It has a light in it and has the range light underneath it.  When either light is on, the microwave is warm and draft free inside.  When I make bread, I usually let it rise in the microwave to keep it safe from the cat.  But it functions as a proofing drawer.  Total cost – zero.

Lastly, I have always wanted two ovens, preferably wall ovens.  But no matter how I thought about remodeling and reconfiguring the kitchen, I couldn’t come up with a way to have them without losing far more storage space than I was willing to give it up.  It would also cost thousands to change the kitchen’s configuration in that way.  So, I though harder and eventually bought a large toaster oven.  It is large enough to hold a 13x9x2 pan.  It is also a convection oven; another feature I wanted it.  I use it all the time because it really is another oven.  Total cost – $70.

What are some examples where you have decided something was too expensive, but found a way to get the features and function for less?