When it comes to everyday living, small things can make a big difference in the quality and enjoyment of our lives. Growing up as one of three kids to a mostly single welfare mom, I saw how as little as $20 a month could cause great family stress and tightened belts. We went without a lot and even went homeless for a spell. As a result, I learned the value of money and how to save it everywhere. But taken to an extreme, penny-pinching can lead to a diminished quality and enjoyment of life.
While money can’t buy happiness, it can make life more comfortable. You don’t have to be a Rockefeller to buy comfort. Here are five ways small money can ease the hassles and annoyances of everyday life. Wise and frugal people know not to skimp on these.
#1 – Warm Bathrooms
I’ve lived in dives to McMansions. Guess what? They can all have cold bathrooms and you know as well as me that cold bathrooms suck. They suck while you’re undressing, they suck when you’re in the shower scalding half your body to stay warm while the other half is nothing but goose bumps, their cold floors make your feet ache and the temperature turns a night run to the loo into a gauntlet of misery thanks to the icy press of the toilet seat to your behind.
You don’t have to do a bathroom makeover to fix most of this. A few dollars will alleviate years of misery fighting with the climate in your bathroom. Buy a small space heater that is safe for bathroom use. I bought one for $10 and it was the best $10 investment I’ve ever made for comfort. I flip it on to heat up the bathroom as needed and haven’t seen a bump in my electric bill yet. For cold floors, add bath rugs. Their best placements are in front of your shower, the toilet and the sink. You can get them for $5 at discount stores if you need to be cheap. If you really want to pamper yourself, get toilet seat covers.
Bathrooms are high traffic rooms. As little as $15 dollars can save you daily grief for a lifetime. Don’t skimp and forego these to pinch a few pennies.
#2 – Toilet Paper
While we’re in the bathroom, let’s consider a daily necessity a lot of people skimp on. If you’re buying the lowest cost, one-ply on the shelf then please stop. Bathroom tissue is always on sale. Splurge for the $5.99-$7.99 sale on 12-24 rolls of decent 2-ply that doesn’t feel like sandpaper and fall apart and everything else cheap 1-ply does.
Used to I’d buy the cheapest stuff – and hated it. A few of my middle-class roommates all had the good stuff that I secretly coveted. Then I discovered sales and bulk buying, and while it’s still a little more expensive, the quality of life enhancement these pennies make is priceless. Save yourself the daily frustration. Buy the better stuff. Trust me, decent toilet paper is worth it.
#3 – Feminine Hygiene Products
Staying in the bathroom, here’s a life tip for the ladies. Child bearing years come with a monthly hassle. Stop buying the cheap, uncomfortable products that barely work or cause frustration and constant worry – you know what I’m talking about. Upgrade to the good stuff and products you like even if it’s dollars more. The peace of mind and lack of frustration or discomfort is worth every cent. I’ve met so many middle class women who skimp on this and I’m like why? Why do this to yourself? Isn’t cramping punishment enough?
Skip a Starbucks latte that month and buy the quality tampons, pads, liners, etc. This little thing will save you years of frustration and stress.
# 4 – Decent Knives
A decent cutting and paring knife will make all the difference in your enjoyment of cooking. You really only need these two knives for cooking and prepping most meals. Carnivores will want good steak knives. You don’t have to run out and buy any of these for the crazy price of $100. I’ve probably spent tops $15 at Macy’s for a quality knife by Cuisinart – and I’ve had that one for over 10 years and love it so much that I nearly fell into a deep depression when I thought I lost it. Recently I replaced a 20-year-old paring knife with a $7.99 lifetime-guaranteed Chicago Cutlery knife from Target.
Decent knives save you from constant aggravation and fights with your food. I’ve watched colleagues nearly chop off their fingers with poor paring knives while trying to cut apples or other fruit. They fight and fight with the dull blades. One of my colleagues prized her ceramic paring knife but I hated it – you can’t sharpen them easily and they dull quickly (if they were ever sharp in the first place). It was an absolute pain to use when I forgot mine and I barely escaped each usage without needing first aid.
If you have poor knives, prepping food takes extra time and effort. With good knives, it’s quick and easy. The blades slide through like cutting butter. Having been in numerous kitchens, this one poorly equipped item will cause headaches until fixed. Spend a few dollars extra and buy decent knives. You don’t need to break the bank either or buy name brands. You’ll enjoy cooking so much more – or at least hate it that much less.
# 5 – A Good Winter Coat
Are you miserable every winter while running errands and commuting to work? Do you shiver in your coat and curse life? I used to. Growing up poor, I always had crappy clothes. As an adult, I saw spending hundreds on clothes as pointless (and for most clothing, this is still true for me). Until I was embarrassingly into my thirties, I froze in winter. I froze on the train platforms, at the bus stops, and walking around town. My misery was so intense I coined new swear words to vent my frustration and I’d hunker down in my apartment rather than go out with my friends and freeze.
Then around age 31, I reached a breaking point and bought what was for me a total splurge. That winter dress coat cost $200 and almost 10 years later, it still keeps me warm and happy every time I wear it. Now I go out and about, take walks and enjoy winter so much more while everyone around me is cold and miserable and hating life. The coat has Thinsulate lining and comes rated down to 0 degrees Farenheit. At that temperature, it gets a little chilly in the coat (I’ve tried it) but mostly because I’m not wearing good footwear and my face gets cold.
Buy a decent coat – one that comes with a temperature rating and has Thinsulate lining or the equivalent. You’ll be toasty and cozy while everyone around you is cold and miserable. With proper care, your coat will last ages while delivering so much added enjoyment to your life.
Frugal Living With Wisdom
In today’s disposable culture, overspending is chronic. Wise people understand the value of money and what it costs to make it. They don’t spend it frivolously. However, penny-pinching on everything is a recipe for a life spent with hassles. Daily living is where this misery compounds quickest. Save yourself stress, frustration and discomfort by spending the extra dollars on these five items. $2 here and there to ward off unhappiness is a cheap price to pay and the dividends are endless.