I’m all for saving money. I get as much pleasure watching my bank account grow as I do from buying things or taking trips. But, people often take frugality too far. I don’t care if you’re poor, and if you’re reading this you’re not actually poor, there are things where you should always spend a little extra money. Being frugal, on the wrong things, makes you a loser. If you’re always buying cheap, generic crap, not only are you making your life miserable, you’re sending yourself a terrible message: “I’m not worth it.” Get used to quality. Get used to being worth it. You’ll be more successful if you do.
Buy a nice mattress. I’m not suggesting you spend $20,000, but don’t cheap out and buy the $180 piece of crap with no box spring off the back of a truck. You’re going to spend a third of your life in bed. A good one makes a massive difference in how you sleep and how you feel. Buy some great sheets too. You can get amazing sheets for under $40 these days.
By comfortable shoes. The 16 hours you’re not sleeping? Chances are you’ve got shoes on. Find the most comfortable shoes you can. So what if they’re $100. Unless you’re some sort of foot messenger, you only need to buy one pair a year.
Whatever else you spend a lot of time doing, spend the extra money to make yourself comfortable. I can’t understand people who sit in front of a computer all day and still have a $39 office chair and a 15″ monitor. Seriously? If you mountain bike every weekend, spend an extra $30 to get the super comfortable helmet.
Tools, of all kinds: get the nice version. Don’t buy that shitty plastic screwdriver for 75 cents. Spend $5 for one that feels good in your hand, that’s comfortable to use, and that will last forever. Don’t buy that shitty knife with the loose plastic handle and the blade that bends when you put pressure on it and won’t hold edge after two weeks. Spend $30 for a knife that works, doesn’t aggravate you, and isn’t dangerous.
Get two of the small stuff that’s easily misplaced. Buy two nail clippers. Not the tiny ones for $1.29. Spend $3.85 for the shaped one that traps all the clippings, and buy an extra one you can keep downstairs, or in your car, or your gym bag, or wherever you always need one. Do this for all the little stuff that you can never find when you need them.
Little things like these make such a quality of life difference, for almost no money.
Want to feel like your bathroom is a spa? Buy scented candle or some potpourri and a stack of washcloths for your bathroom counter. It smells awesome and you feel great when you grab a fresh towel to wash your face every day. Total cost? Well under $10. Total benefit? A hell of a lot more than $10.
A good rule of thumb from Keeping It Straight by Patrick Rhone:
… anywhere I can make a buying choice that I, with proper care and maintenance, will never have to make again for the rest of my life, I do. In those cases, I’m willing to pay far more for an item if I know it will last a lifetime and, even more importantly to me, if I will never have to spend the mental energy making a choice again. Especially because making final choices often requires far more time and research then making regular ones. In fact, I would argue that the more final the choice, the longer it should take to make it. Also, what you spend on the front end usually repays exponentially, and in many different ways, on the back end.
The mental aspect of this is huge. Even more than the benefit of buying something once and never having to think about it again, using shitty quality stuff is draining. It’s grating. It’s aggravating. It’s a huge waste of time. It shifts your focus away from your goal and focuses it on what a piece of shit this tool is, or how a monkey could have done a better job designing it. It also reinforces the mindset that you’re cheap. “Stuff is cheap, so I don’t need a lot of money.” “I’m happy with mediocrity.”
Using well designed stuff reinforces the mindset of earning and creating. “Man, the world needs more well designed and well made stuff like this.” “Man, I’m going to earn more so I can have more well designed and well made stuff like this.”