When I moved to the Twin Cities in May 2010, I had some apprehension about enduring my first Minnemasota winter, and of course I went a-shopping for "heavy duty" winter clothes. I spent in the neighborhood of $200 for a Columbia parka (with that Omni-Heat lining and all) and also purchased some long polypropylene skivvies (pantaloons and undershirt) from an onlin Army-Navy store which billed these particular skivvies as the official extreme cold weather gear of the U.S. military.
That $26 polypropylene undershirt has been my absolute salvation. I just now wore the aforementioned parka for the first time - yes the first time ever; only recently took it out of the plastic wrap. I made it through the past two winters with a polar fleece, thanks to the unbelievable warmkeeping provided by the polypropylene. (However, I have done some hardcore house-cleaning these past coupla months and ended up donating the polar fleeces; that's what brought the parka out of the plastic.)
Tomorrow night, they say, it's going to hit 15°F below, and you better believe I will be enparkatated, but I know (from previous experience of 14°F below) that I would be OK even in a fleece jacket and scarf, thanks to my official, extreme-cold-weather, $26 polypropylene undershirt.
I know some people who say "having central air put in in my house was the best decision I ever made," or going to college (no argument), and I also know of a skeezy dude on a late night TV commercial who tells us that calling Aladdin bail bonds was the best decision he ever made (um, yes, I want to take decision-making advice from him).
But I ain't talking about no big-ticket spends like home repair or tuition, I'm talking about smallish, workaday-type expenditures, under $50 or so.
What do you feel is the best/smartest spendage you've made in that ballpark?