Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research determine where and how companies may appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

By Elisabeth C. Browning
December 9, 2015
Gary Musgrave

In the weeks before his eighth birthday, my son would sit at the kitchen table compiling his wish list. “Oooh,” he said, pointing to a $100 3D-printer pen that made figurines by extruding molten plastic. “Wouldn’t that be awesome?” He was drawn to the fancy Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue, and to items with commas in their prices. I shook my head. As his 11-year-old brother once put it, correctly, “You always look at the price. Dad concentrates on the awesomeness.”

Or maybe the kids and I just have different ideas. When my sons were toddlers, everyone told me they’d prefer the holiday wrapping paper to the toys inside. I didn’t learn that lesson until I had bought a succession of European-made trucks, puzzles, and nontoxic tea sets. No matter how many gold seals from parenting groups or “hours of fun” the boxes promised, I could never tell what the boys would use more than once.

So I had low expectations for the tree swing. My younger son had played on a friend’s, and now he wanted one. The friend’s swing was homemade and adorable, but there was one online—made, less adorably, of blue plastic, but also less than $20. Okay, I thought, we have a tree. I ordered it.

When it arrived, I contemplated tossing it aside, where it would end up on one of our dreaded to-do lists. (“Update wills, hang swing.”) But the boys were already pretending to throttle each other with the rope, so I grabbed the stepladder and went outside. They watched me attempt to throw the rope over a branch, only to have it finally land ominously close to the tree trunk. Later, I said, we’d move it farther out and maybe add mulch underneath. Of course, we never did.

It didn’t matter. The kids loved it. That night they tried to go out in their pajamas for one last whirl.

That was two years ago, and they still love it. They swing in the drizzle, under the canopy of leaves. They swing in winter in coats and mittens. Sometimes one of them twirls slowly for an hour with a comic book. We have never gotten more use out of a product, ever.

Not always, not even all that often, the simple things win out. Awesomeness and value are inter-twined, for me, in the gift of watching my sons on our swing, tracing three-dimensional shapes in the air.

Elisabeth C. Browning is a writer in Philadelphia.

Do you have a purchase you consider Money Well Spent? Email us about it and what it means to you at wellspent@moneymail.com.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

EDIT POST