So what do I currently own that I have been willing to spend my hard-earned dollars on?
Granted, this isn't exactly what one would call a "budget" item. But it has been worth every penny. When my prior phone contract ended, I was spending close to $50 a month for a phone that had no data plan, and whose only bells and whistles were a pretty nice calendar and contacts list. So yeah, I'm willing to spend $30 more a month for a phone that has become nigh indispensable to my daily life. Watch for a post soon on my favorite iPhone apps.
I found a refurbished Flip Ultra for $70. Consider the following. The video camera we owned prior to the Flip (and which my husband still prefers, frankly) gets dragged out on rare occasion - the recitals, school programs, etc. Once I got the Flip, however, it's so portable that I use it to tape pretty much all the time. The kids riding bikes out in the alley? Check. Opening presents Christmas morning? Check. I love that you can send video postcards through the Flip website; it added an easy and fun way to send out Christmas thank-you notes.
Our Nintendo Wii has gotten so much play over the two years that we've had it, that I figure it's pretty much paid for itself. Especially since I use it as a home gym using a lot of its exercise software. Trust me - a $30 Wii software exercise program is far more inexpensive than a gym membership. Plus, you don't have to worry about if your exercise clothes have holes, or if you're sweating like a pig. Your Wii will never talk back to you (although the Wii Fit will tell you if you're overweight). Look for a posting soon on the best Wii exercise programs.
I'm sure I'll think of more things to come. In the meantime, 'fess up - What are your favorite gadgets?