Here's a list of things that I love and use every time I make cards. The investment I made in these items has really paid off.
Quilt Sense 9" clear acrylic ruler, it's marked in 1/8" increments to make it perfect for trimming paper
Olfa rotary cutter and mat --I use it all the time
BIC markers--much less expensive than other brands, decent selection of colors, doesn't streak like a water based marker
Scotch ATG 714 tape gun--has literally saved me hundred and hundreds of dollars on adhesive
3M 987 tape for the ATG gun--although the product information sheet doesn't list this tape as being acid free, it contains the same adhesive and base as the acid free ones. I get mine from Framing Supply.
Color Box cat's eye shaped ink pads--Chestnut brown is the one I use the most for shading edges of paper
Cuttlebug--it took me a while to spend the money on this but using it adds so much dimension to a card that I've never regretted the investment
Marvy corner rounder--after trying 3-4 different corner rounders, this one is my favorite. It's small, easy to carry to stamp club and has stayed sharp for over 2 years. When this one bites the dust, I may get a corner chomper. My hesitation on the corner chomper is the amount of space it takes up.
Scor-Pal--this was one of the first tools I invested in. I use it every time I make cards. I keep looking at the MS version since it's marked in smaller increments but can't justify buying it since my Scor-Pal is working just fine.
Guillotine paper cutter--mine is an old fashioned one made of wood. It's about two feet square and takes up an entire shelf in my room. DH found it at a garage sale quite some time before I began doing cards.
OTT light--sits on my worktable and it's great for matching red and blue colors!
Homemade pop dots--Okieladybug came up with this idea, there's a video on her website about how she makes them. Much cheaper than store bought ones!
JetMax cubes--this was my Christmas gift to myself last year. I had all my papers stacked inside a huge cabinet. It was difficult to access and to see what color the paper was. Now, with the cubes that are divided into 1/4ths, I have my paper separated by colors in Cropper Hopper plastic storage.
Design Studio software--love it, use it all the time and don't remember how to use my E without it!
Cricut Expression--may be last on my list, but definitely not least! Originally I bought the baby bug because of the cost. It got retired within a year and now I only use my E.
Okay, now here's MY list of definite SAVE YOUR $$$$$ ITEMS. These are things that I thought I had to have and never use.
Cheap shape cutting scissors--out of the dozen pairs I've picked up there are only 1 or 2 that have stayed harp enough to cut paper
Memories Direct paper cutter--it's sort of a track mounted rotary cutting system. You slip different shaped plastic cartridges onto the clear ruler's track and pull it toward you like a table top paper cutter. The blades wobble, don't cut cleanly and are a pain in the butt to change. On the bright side, I use the mat that came with the system every day on my worktable.
Nestabilities--what a hassle! By the time I get one positioned and figure out the "sandwich" you need to use it in my Cuttlebug, I can fire up Design Studio and cut the same shapes. I'm glad I used a 40% off coupon and that they don't take up too much room!
Just Rite stamps--love the concept of having the holder and changing out the sentiments but it's almost impossibleto fit the rubber rings into the slots on the wooden holder. The round wooden holder slips in my hand and I can't use my Stamp-a-ma-jig to position these stamps. My set came with a box full of single alphabet stamps to use so you can personalize the stamped image. Yeah, right! Even using a pair of tweezers, the little letters won't go into the slots. This is a definite, save your $$$.
Blending stumps--these I got to use with my Prismacolor pencils. Every time I went to HL I'd search to see if they had them in stock. Then at the doctor's office one day I noticed their wooden Q-tips in a jar and asked the nurse about them. She gave me a package and since then I've ordered them through our local drug store. I like them much better to use with Gamsol.
Precut shapes to embellish--Paperwishes has some weekly videos which demonstrate their products. I got so excited about their precuts that I ordered a ton of them. Now they're sitting on a shelf waiting for some inspiration to use them!
Cheap ink pads--these probably came from the Dollar Tree. Ink is something that you definitely get what you pay for. Cheap ink means less pigment.
Martha Stewart glitter--thank goodness I got this on clearance at Wal Mart. Glitter is not my friend. By the time I get it onto a project, I have it all over my work table and me. The last time I used it I walked out of here looking like an 80's disco queen! It was on my clothes, hair and face. I thought I had cleaned it all off but I went out that evening and my friends made comments about how sparkly I was!
I'd been asked what I thought was the best/worst things I had purchased and so there you have it. This is just my opinion about how I've spent my money and what works for me.