8 Little Luxuries That Go a Long Way
It’s not always easy being thrifty. For me, it means not indulging my purse obsession as much as I’d like, forgoing the pricey bottles of wine, and decorating my house with thrift-store finds. I usually don’t mind, but sometimes, a little encouragement is in order. Here are a few of my favorite luxuries that are worth a modest splurge — they help me to persevere, encouraging me to take a long view of the frugal life. (See also: On Choosing and Defending Your Luxuries)
1. A Good Showerhead
Sure, you could shower every day with your apartment’s original showerhead that sprays as much air as water and takes twenty minutes to wash shampoo out of your hair, but why suffer? A new showerhead will set you back $20 and is completely worth the investment for better water pressure, even spray, and perhaps even different spray settings. When I lived in China, I had to make do with some less-than-optimal apartments, but the one non-negotiable was that there had to be a clean, spacious shower with a good showerhead. It went a long way towards keeping me sane.
Along the same lines, many old apartments don’t have an aerator on the kitchen faucet, which means that the water splashes up whenever you turn it on. Invest the $2 in an aerator attachment from Walmart. The difference is amazing.
2. Quality Bed Sheets
Life is too short to spend it lying on pill-y, bad-quality bed sheets. You spend up to a third of your life in bed, so why not make your bed sheets good ones? They’ll last longer anyway, so in the long run, they might save you money. Look for combed Egyptian or Pima cotton sheets with a thread-count of at least 300 (higher thread-count isn’t always better — I always get a little skeptical when it comes to 1,000 thread-count or higher). Look for a well-known brand with good reviews. I’ve heard good things about Costco’s Kirkland Signature Pima Cotton sheets, which are top-quality but not too pricey.
3. Soft Toilet Paper
I used to buy whatever toilet paper was on sale at Walmart, and I ended up with coarse, crumbly toilet paper that chafed. Not fun. Now I’ve found a brand I love, and I buy it in bulk when it’s on sale or when there’s a coupon, even though it’s marginally more expensive than the cheaper brands.
4. Certain Food Products
For my family, buying milk from cows that haven’t been treated with growth hormones, Omega-3 eggs, decent extra-virgin olive oil, and a few other food items is a priority, even though these food products may cost a little more. I believe that the investment in our health is definitely worth it in the long run. I make up for the extra cost by buying seasonal fresh produce on sale at our local market, eating meat less often, and cooking from scratch instead of using more expensive jarred and packaged goods.
5. A Sharp Knife
I have one sharp santoku knife that I use for most cutting and chopping purposes. I have a few other slicing and paring knives, but the one I splurged on was the large santoku, which I use as a chef’s knife. A sharp knife with a good weight is safer and makes cooking a breeze. It doesn’t have to be super-expensive. Victorinox makes good-quality chef knives that won’t break the bank. Trust me, buying ONE good sharp chef’s knife is better than buying a whole block of cheap knives. Keep a sharpener on hand to hone the edge.
6. A Good Can Opener
For a year, I struggled with a dull can opener that gave my hands a workout every time I tried to use it. I refused to get a new one because my can opener WAS new. It just sucked. Finally, I caved and bought one at Marshalls for $5. It makes me happy every time I use it now. The smoothness of the mechanism and the sharpness of the cutter just make my heart soar.
7. Scented Hand Soap
Hand soap from Bath and Body Works is another item that I brought overseas with me when I lived in China. When on sale, these bottles of soap cost $3-4 each and went a long way towards making my apartment feel like home. Especially when you have guests over, a nice bottle of hand soap makes your bathroom feel more luxurious and spa-like.
8. Date Night
Sure, you can’t afford to eat caviar and truffles every week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an evening to enjoy yourself, away from everyday responsibilities. Schedule a babysitter and plan a date night for you and your significant other, even if it’s just a few hours at Starbucks or a leisurely meal at Burger King. It’s the time away and the extra focus you have for each other that count. Try to make it a regular ritual that has special significance. It’s a treat that you can look forward to every week or two.
Little purchases can add up over time, so it’s important to keep track of what you’re spending for these small luxuries. You might find it helpful to give yourself an “allowance” to keep your spending in check. This means that you can spend your allowance money guilt-free, but you’re not allowed to go over budget!
What little luxuries do you think are worth the splurge? How do you keep them to a limit?