Things Worth Spending Max Money On For A Better Life

If you are frugal, you'll likely never get into financial trouble. I was very frugal saving between 50% – 70% of my after tax income until about age 35. Then I decided there was no point saving so much money if I wasn't going to live a little. This post will discuss things worth spending max money on for a better life.

The pandemic has really caused our lifestyles to suffer. If there was ever a time to spend money on improving our quality of life, now is the time! Spending more money for a better life is appropriate, especially if you are an investor who has seen your real estate holdings and investment portfolios grow.

Personally, I plan to revenge spend on travel, cars, and homes to my heart's content. Given all our investments are up strongly since the pandemic began in 2020, we might as well live large in 2022 and beyond!

Being Too Cheap Is No Good

Instead of trying to walk the entire city of Budapest, I ponied up 30 Euros like a baller to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Instead of just having lemon water with my rib-eye steak, I started ordering a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. As I pushed the spending envelope a little more each year, I gradually realized I didn't miss the money. My lifestyle actually got better.

The root of my frugality stems from watching how my parents spent their money. My father always drove a beater and my mother utilized things until the very end. When you're gunning for early retirement, every single dollar counts. And once you've left the work force, there is a lingering fear of running out of money that's hard to elude until after about the third year.

If you suffer from frugality disease, here are some things worth spending a premium on for a better life.

Things Worth Spending Max Money On For A Better Life

* Mattress. You spend a third of your life sleeping. It makes sense to get the absolutely most comfortable, most supportive mattress you can afford. Go top of the line so each day you are fully rested and rejuvenated for the grind ahead. Just be aware that mattresses have massive markups, which is why there's been a plethora of mattress startups over the years.

* Vision. Vision may be our most important sense. Therefore, it's absolutely worth buying the most comfortable contacts or glasses. If you wear glasses, go for the thinnest lenses with anti-reflection and a scratch proof coating. Buy daily wear contacts that contain the latest breathable technology. Stop reusing your disposable contacts beyond their recommended usage. Get sunglasses with UV protection.

* Dental care. Throw away your $5 manual tooth brush and buy the best sonic tooth brush with UV sanitizer that brushes hundreds of times faster per minute. You can't grow back your teeth or your gums. Floss and brush at least twice a day. Your older self will thank you. You can also try the Snow toothbrush, which has an LED blue light to help whiten your teeth. I just bought one in 2022 and it makes me brush more too.

* Work clothes & shoes. Instead of buying a lot of mediocre quality clothes and shoes, buy only a few items– as if you were building a boutique of high quality items. Purchase only the most finely woven fabrics for your suits and the finest grain leather for your shoes. Sure, you may have to pay 2-3X the average price, but the items will last longer, and you'll have less clutter.

* Baby care products. Babies are helpless. Buy the most comfortable, waste absorbing diapers possible. Get the right creams for diaper rash. Feed them only the healthiest food. Why risk anything when they are developing their foundation.

More Things Worth Spending Maximum Money On

* Sports equipment. If you're serious about performance, then you might as well give yourself the best chance to perform by buying the best equipment. You've already got enough to worry about trying to improve your physical fitness and skill. I recently bought a sweet softball bat, batting gloves, and nw tennis shoes.

* Prime property. You want to buy property in the most prime location possible. Prices hold up better in a downturn and rise faster in an upturn because there is only a limited supply. Think about prime property as being located at the apex of a triangle under which there's a huge base that's always looking to move up.

Related: Housing Expense Guideline For Financial Independence

* Home appliances. Given it costs the same to install a $500 shower head and a $100 shower head, you might as well get the best shower head possible. The same goes for tiles, toilets, bath tubs, hot tubs, cabinets, faucets, floors, molding, and paint. The worst is when a home seller remodels on the cheap. This causes the savvy home buyers to offer low purchase prices because they know they will be ripping everything out again.

* Home theater system. Buy the highest definition TV and most enriching surround sound system and you'll never want to spend money going to the movies ever again. Given you're never going to the movies again, you'll make back your home theater system cost in no time.

* Mobile phone. The average person checks their phone 80 times a day. Some of us who have internet businesses check a whole lot more. Given the data plan costs the same regardless of the quality of phone, you might as well get the best phone possible.

Even More Things To Spend Money On

* Wellness. Massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, therapy, medicine, and coaching are all things worth spending top dollar on. Thanks to technology and globalization, life has become grossly complicated and stressful for many people. Physical and mental health are priceless.

* Vacations. The average private sector U.S. worker receives only 16 paid vacation days and holidays a year. One in four Americans does not have a single paid day off. Therefore, if you plan to go on a rare vacation, you might as well make it the best adventure or enjoy the best amenities possible. If you want 30 or more paid vacation days and holidays a year, work in New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, or Austria. With the economy opening up, it's vacation travel time!

* Food. Your body is your temple. If you eat junk, you're going to start feeling and looking like junk.  Your energy, mood, and outlook are all affected by the food you eat. It's worth paying a premium for fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish.

* Car Safety. According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 37,461 people were killed in 34,436 crashes, an average of 102 per day. There are supposedly over five million crashes in the US per year. If you have a dependent or a small child, it's worth buying the safest car you can comfortably afford – even if it means breaking the 1/10th rule for car buying.

* K-12 Education. If your public grade school system has low marks, then either move to an area that has high marks or pay up for a private grade school with high marks. Education is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child. It was only after I graduated from business school that I realized how valuable a good education was for my career and beyond. Knowledge, confidence, and connections are integral parts to achieving a happy and financially independent life. As for university, highly ranked public universities offer better value if you are paying rack rate.

The Best Purchase To Spend Max Money On

A great book. If there's no book I recommend everybody buy, it's Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book helps you buy optimal personal finance decisions when deciding on your biggest dilemmas.

After spending two years to write BTNT with Penguin Random House, I've come to seriously value reading good books. And author uses all his or her wisdom to help you solve a topic and improve yourself. Then the book is edited a dozen times by multiple editors to make the book shine.

Buy and read more books folks! You'll learn so much for not a lot of money. All the wealthiest people in the world I know are voracious readers.

BTNT will be the best personal finance book you will ever read. You can buy a copy on Amazon today. The richest people in the world are always reading and always learning new things. Learn from those who are already where you want to go.

Buy This Not That Book Best Seller On Amazon

Identify The Things Most Important To You

It's important we identify things that are most important to us and spend accordingly. Don't cheap out on everything on your path to financial freedom! For the most part, I always recommend buying less and focusing on quality over quantity. Having a house full of clutter doesn't do anybody any good. Further, I've never regretted spending up on an experience. Great experiences tend to appreciate with time.

It's strange, but despite a rising net worth thanks to a raging bull market, I don't have a desire to buy anything new. I'm content with our cozy home, our one family car, and the scrumptious food we eat every day. Being able to see the best healthcare providers at UCSF for my family is one of the things I'm most happy about. Where I do plan to spend more money on are services to help save time at home. But that will be a topic for another post.

What are some things you value that are not on my list? What are some things on my list you don't agree with? Any holiday blockbuster deals you've seen that are worth taking advantage of? I think I may just buy more Amazon stock instead. 

Related: When Is It OK To Forsake Stealth Wealth And Spend Up?

About The Author

86 thoughts on “Things Worth Spending Max Money On For A Better Life”

  1. Just wanted to comment on how i liked that the article is recorded as well!!
    Thank you for your efforts.

  2. This is an awesome list. I remember skimping on a mattress and being plagued with back pain. Since I got a new one, I don’t have much of a problem with my back. you have also given me a reminder about eye care. I really need to get mine tested and get a really good eyeglass, instead of these cheap reading glasses. Great list!

  3. While I generally believe in buying quality over quantity, shooting for the moon in certain areas of spending isn’t always necessary especially in sports. For example, I have been fencing now for a few years. I plan on continuing to fence for many more years. I could easily justify spending hundreds of dollars on new epees, new top of the line uniform (knickers, specialty shoes, jackets) etc. But I have to be realistic. I’m a recreational fencer. I’ve used the “cheap” blades for the last few years, have had good use and results with them, and have just moved to a slightly more expensive blade which I’m trying out now. I need some new uniform sections just because some of the elastic is finally wearing out, but don’t feel the need to shoot to the top of the line when I’ve found the slightly above basic uniform items I bought have lasted me years, are very comfortable and really don’t have squat to do with actual performance (except maybe the shoes, I’m on the fence with that). After all, I’m not going to be joining any collegiate teams or trying out for the Olympics. I’ll also compare myself to a person I know who did go top of the line from the beginning, six months in and they have quit. They easily spent $2000 or more on equipment, and I’m tempted to call them and see if I can get some of their stuff at a severe discount :-). So while I am of the opinion that you are better off not buying crap that breaks or wears out completely in short order, I believe there is a fine line between buying something that lets you start in a sport or hobby and enjoy it and going too far before you know it’s something you want to continue long term.

  4. Outburst? I wouldn’t call it that. I just have a myriad of personal issues, you might say.

    Let’s see… Once upon a time, FS, you used to type about stealth wealth.
    That is a philosophy I embrace and live by. To many others (notably the neighbors I’ve mentioned), it’s an alien concept. Yet it is a concept that encompasses the all-important element of personal Security.

    Then again I’m an oddball. Cheap/frugal, efficient. Not a product of America’s new century. My own way of life is certainly not for everyone. But it works for me. A product of my life’s experiences, perhaps.

  5. FS, it’s “money in the bank” which is where it makes more money. It falls under Financial Security and being able to sleep comfortably at night (not on an expensive mattress!) without fear of debt.

    I shouldn’t be typing this.
    Since when did this website invert and become the opposite? The way this thread is unraveling it’s become almost in the same class as your April Fool’s posting. It should be about saving money not spending money. It should be titled what Not To Spend Money On.
    Maybe the wife is changing FS’s psyche…

    As I said, those are my private notes but you guys asked for an explanation and I furnished it. The only time I posted it online. My lifestyle has forced me to self-analyze myself and I dare say that that probably sounds narcissistic but nobody knows me better than me. If anything, it’s helped me evolve into a financially mature individual (feel free to burn the word Cheep in there; I am what I am). If you can better understand me, you can better understand where I’m coming from and the Why of my decisions and actions. For instance, sporting equipment. I personally have 0 interest in sports therefore I don’t buy sports equipment or related paraphernalia, or fancy sneakers. Perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist but my body’s learned to adapt and what I buy I use until it’s falling apart and unserviceable. My feet can wear anything, including old sneakers with holes in them. No pain, no problem. It’s all filed under Body Coverings for me. I don’t care what I look like. Being a boring stick-in-the-mud, again, means I don’t get girls so all these elements self-reinforce one another.
    Today’s Americans–the vast majority are spoiled and narcissistic–have high materialistic standards in choosing partners which I obviously cannot meet so rather than change I no longer try. Being true to myself has always been a part of my credo. My net worth is 7 figures and I didn’t get there by being a spendthrifty sort. In fact I’ve had a range of shitty, low-paying jobs all my life and never had any prestigious degrees to lean on either. The system I used isn’t great but it works, based upon employing extreme self discipline in Not being one of the consumer-programmed masses who embrace and believe everything online and on TV, right down to product placements and celebrity worship.

    And I never said that This particular blog was an echo chamber. Again, I was typing in general, and I embrace Sturgeon’s Law. This is one of the few blogs left which I still read on occasion, for I try not to obsess over the online web because I prefer to live in the real world than the cyber one. I don’t even own a smart phone. I carry no mobile tech. I send 1 email each day compared to you guys. From a desktop computer.
    The other blog I read is Living Stingy. That guy would probably devote individual posts to each and every item FS listed here and go into excruciating detail on each one, so I could choose which messages to read and which to skip over.
    Like mattresses and sporting equipment.

    1. M4Rg0T_1-9-7-8#

      Totally agree with you here, I mean trying to get people interested in expensive things is a waste of their and our time!

  6. Matt Carter

    I am in agreement with most of what you put down except sports equipment. For the most part I am a huge believer that the biggest performance games are all technique and player driven. The Equipment is a very small percentage. I can see why you listed it because you are at very high levels of performance in tennis and at the higher levels, you need each percentage point you can get. For most though, I think you skimp, buy used and put in the time until you have maxed your gains from skill development.

    Just my perspective, fun read.

    1. It may be a small percentage, but if it can be controlled, then you might as well spend 20 more dollars to buy the nicer pair of shoes that’s lighter weight, and 50 more dollars to buy the nicer glove to make it easier to catch the ball. I’m definitely not buying used tennis equipment that I’ve lost its pop during competition. Just to save 50 bucks! The glory of winning is priceless.

      The higher the level you compete, the more important it is to optimize. Which sport do you play?

      1. I play ice hockey and race go karts. My perspective is influenced by the fact that I don’t compete at the highest level in hockey. I have plateaued and just play for fun and exercise as I am not willing to put in the time it would take to compete with the ex pros and guys with college ice time under their belts. In go kart racing though, I have a greater desire to be competitive and have been competitive with budget equipment. I have won many races with a beat up teenage kart but it was because I had the time in to constantly tune the kart, hone my driving skills and basically obsess over how to go faster. Now this is club level racing and while I don’t quite compete with the 2 or 3 national caliber drivers that are local, there is a veteran who consistently challenges them with a kart from the 90’s.

        I see your point but personally don’t want to invest the money until I have wrung all the performance possible out of myself. Of course this will likely change when I am further along my financial freedom journey.

        1. Love go karts! Can you buy your own go kart? And if so, don’t newer versions have better performance?

          I just picked up softball again after 20 years. So far, I’m just running around in my golf cleats and ankle braces. It’s totally recreational. But the more serious I go, the more I’m going to get some good stuff!

          1. Yes, I bought and race my own against other driver owned karts. This is spec racing so everyone is on the same tire and has the same engine so it is down to driver and the setup of the kart. In my experience, no, new karts do not necessarily equal faster in this case (as long as your used equipment is in good working order).

            My 2 data points:

            During frustrating times I have resorted to attempting to buy speed by purchasing ‘go-fast’ parts and gained nothing. All of my gains have come from putting in the time and trying different setups until I found speed.

            Watching a known high caliber driver finish on the podium consistently with a 20+ year old kart against national level talent.

            I’m probably biased a bit because I love beating people with shiny new equipment in my grungy kart.

  7. You misread me. MY NEIGHBORS ARE NOT COMING OVER! I’m speaking generally About my neighbors and Their lifestyle. They may certainly Look over (perhaps with field glasses) but they’re not coming over.

    And for the record, I”m an oddball. A non-conformist (re-read all that rot I typed!). I follow my own interests and not the herd. You don’t follow the herd in modern American and you’re labelled. Everyone Assumes. Because of the narcissism epidemic and the power of celebrities and religion, Intelligence and free-thinking are Hated in America these days.

    What can I say? I am what I am. Discuss this thread of “things worth spending max money on” – not me.

    I can only state that I’ve studied my spending habits over the years and I have a good grasp of their outcomes, good and bad. I think fourth-dimensionally, as in caring and worrying about my future self and I take measures to ensure he doesn’t end up broke or in debt. I’m a wee bit older than you, FS, but not quite in range of senility.

    I do know that a brief mental high from purchasing something expensive generally doesn’t last and often results in me kicking myself, calling myself an asshole for being so foolish with my money. Being frugal as a way of life, on the other hand, has long-term benefits. But you’ve another thread about that here somewhere I think, else I’m confusing your site with another’s, where Frugality is differentiated from Cheapness despite both being basically one and the same (the analogy of the half full and half empty glass BS). This is why I take issue with this thread of Things Worth Spending Max Money On. You see, I don’t think there are any left. Or maybe I’m too old to appreciate them. One shot of an expensive wine that lasts a minute of your life, is that Worth the cost? I think not. Unless, maybe you’re on your deathbed at the time.

    Ultimately it’s about being financially responsible for your own spending habits. Think about cause and effect. If you really, really want something then by all means go out and purchase it. But also remember that’s a chunk out of your savings which can come back and haunt you later. The death of a thousand cuts in consumerism is all about the cumulative effects of spending a Little here and there and it all adding up in the end as a deficit of your net worth. Be responsible. Better yet, all I ask of you guys is to take personal responsibility for your own finances and don’t play the blame game of targeting the One Percenters or some other villainous group when you yourselves freely gave your bread away. Instant gratification will get you nowhere, despite it being the acceptable meme of capitalism these days.

    Oh, and, rutleyh: the truth (whether you believe it or not, consciously or unconsciously) is that you fear losing a debate with me. That is why you fear associating with me. Like so many others you want to be surrounded by “yes” people who think your way and will support your own self-esteem. And that’s why I prefer solitude. There are too many “echo chamber” folks in modern America quick to condemn those with different mind-sets, particularly those who are logical with foresight.

    Tim Chan: I would disagree for the simple reason that I have wasted enormous amounts of time, energy, and Money on relationships which all went nowhere.
    Now I’ve learned my lesson and that’s why I am where I am now. Had I followed my Heart rather than Common Sense, today I’d probably have little to no networth because of an irrational live-for-today woman.

    1. JD, some thoughts/responses to your comments:

      “Blogs also tend to form cults. Cults of personality, and echo chambers.”

      By definition, this blog is not an echo chamber. Sam is confident enough to allow dissenting opinions even when they’re annoying to him. I’ve visited blogs that basically do filter everything out except the ones completely raving about how amazing the blogger is. I avoid those at all costs. There’s a reason you keep coming back to this blog. I definitely don’t agree with everything he writes (see my own comments above), but I do enjoy reading and value his opinion. Sure, this blog is a reflection of his personality, but he’s not constantly talking about himself or why he’s better or above anyone. He doesn’t know everything, just like the rest of us, but he does have a unique perspective that not a lot of people have or are willing to share. That’s what makes a blog interesting to read.

      “13 Reasons Why I’m On Peoples Shit Lists:”

      You claimed you weren’t a narcissist earlier. This, ironically enough, does sound like the title to one of the most narcissistic blog posts ever.

      You sound pretty miserable overall. It sounds like you’ve wanted a relationship but were never willing to make compromises in order to make it worth. And I think now you’re trying to justify who you are now rather than go through the agony of lamenting over past decisions. Just remember that money isn’t everything and that you won’t miss your net worth when you’re dead and gone.

  8. Great list! I appreciate good sleep this year more than any other and totally agree a nice mattress makes a big difference. Same with dental care too! I have an appointment coming up and am so glad I got a new sonicare toothbrush several years ago. They really do make a difference and my dental visits have been much easier since I switched.

  9. Buy the highest quality for the least amount is my mantra. I look for sales, negotiate (for my cars – end of the month – yes, it is real) and use credit cards and loyalty clubs to lower my costs. There are some things where it really doesn’t pay to buy something expense. Over the years, I have bought many golf shirts in the $15 to $25 range. Many brands sell in the $40 to $60 range. Mine have lasted just as long and look just as nice. I wear an $80 watch. Had it for 5 years. No worries. I even bought a pair of brand new looking Lev I jeans at a good Will for $4. They are great. I cook in most nights for the family. Simple but good. I do buy organic for some items.

    On the flip side, I value a nice car. I pay for that. My wife values expensive vacations. We pay (and pay and pay) for that. Still, we have saved a boat load of money. I do have the insecurity complex of running out. I admit to that. Every single day, I worry. However, I would rather be a big spender than go through life bitter.

    I guess I am a proponent of a balance in life. I like to eat out at a very nice restrauant a couple of times per year. I used to read another financial blog until the blogger crushed a commenter over her enjoying an expensive restaurant every few months. It was amazingly judgmental. There was a whole other way the blogger could have approached that but took the way that passed character judgement on that person.

  10. Ms. Conviviality

    A general rule I follow is to buy the best quality for things I use every single day such as the mattress and cellphone that are on your list. Not on your list is a well made purse which I do use every day and don’t switch out to match my outfits like some women do. I bought a nice Italian leather purse a few years ago and it still looks great after I recondition the leather every so often.

  11. I agree with quality over quantity but, shit – you’ve wrote down literally every category. Cars, foods, houses, and health are everyone’s largest expenditures. Vacations can also be right up there with your car if you let it.

    It depends on where you are in life. If you’re just starting out, it’s probably not a good idea to max your budget on any of these categories except taking care of your health and being close to work. Vacations, cars, and nice phones are completely optional.

    – Phone: you can buy an iPhone SE on an MVNO for ~$100 that does literally everything that the iPhone X does, sans “animojis” and face ID scanner. If you can make an argument than you need animojis and the face ID scanner to get ahead in life then I’ll bite.

    – Mattress: yes and no. Some people can sleep perfectly fine on the floor and prefer it. I’ve slept like a baby on $300 mattresses. Gotta do what’s right for you. Definitely no one size fits all on this.

    – Movies: yes and no. A home theater system could cost you more in the time you spend watching it than the cost of the system itself. Just go out with your friends to the theater once a month.

    – Property: once you can afford it, I agree. Buying in the best location that’s suited for your life is what you want to do, not simply buy a house because it’s in a great location – it should be the house suited for you.

    – Home appliances: completely agree. I’d rather not deal with a broken appliance. Although, since technology has improved everything, even the cheapest stuff now is better than it was twenty years ago.

    – Food: good food (eating healthy) isn’t really that expensive. Shopping a Whole Foods isn’t necessarily going to make you any healthier than shopping at Aldi or “insert discount grocer here”. There’s zero evidence that organic is any healthier. Fruits and veggies are fruits and veggies and it doesn’t really matter where you get them as long as you eat them.

    – Vision: for glasses, the cheapest lens is actually the most optically superior, and still adequately tough. As long as your prescription isn’t super strong, the thickness isn’t actually an issue. Polycarbonates suffer from chromatic aberration. And yes, they’re less likely to break, but plastic doesn’t shatter like glass does in the first place.

  12. Sam,

    I want to add one more item that we shouldn’t be cheap on — any money that you spend related to friendship or relationship building. Don’t be a bean counter on those. I pretty much agree with your list except the cell phone.

    1. This is a good one, Tim. I totally agree. People should cultivate and value friendship and relationship building more.

  13. Food is definitely my biggest monthly expense and it is worth it. Once I started making over 6 figures I realized that cooking food is just wasting my time because of all the more productive things I could be doing with my time. While I do consider myself a sort of body builder I’m always hungry and if I’m working and worried about where my next meal is coming from and is it healthy sometimes I’m wasting up to an hour figuring out where to eat. Awesome post!

    Btw, wanted to let you know this is by far my favorite website. I absolutely love your content. Is there a way you could make it a little bit easier to see all your blogs in like an infinite scroll? I’m find it difficult to find older posts of yours if there not linked to current posts.

    1. How far do you have to travel and wait to eat out though? It’s usually not an insignificant amount of time compared to cooking. And if you’re having it delivered then it’s definitely not an insignificant amount more than cooking. You can have all your groceries delivered and make healthier meals for probably about the same amount of time. The side benefit is that you will save money. There’s also mental benefits to cooking.

      I used to think I was going to be more productive eating out than cooking but the reverse turned out to actually be true. If you cook in batches once a week, eat mostly the same things, and don’t eat a shit ton in general, you will likely find that you’ll be in the zone more. The way to REALLY be more productive is to have a girlfriend that doesn’t mind doing all the cooking and cleaning :)

  14. Because your neighbors DO come over. That’s why everyone’s wetting themselves over touchscreen refrigerators and granite counter tops. At least that’s the impression I get when I look out my window at Them. You don’t live in a McMansion if you Only showoff the exterior. You invite everyone over and give ’em the grand tour. Especially during holidays like Xmas and Thanksgiving.

    I’m not a narcissist and running one’s own blogs just smells of narcissism to me and I also like my privacy, freedom, and security–I’d tradeoff some of these if I went from invisible to visible. Even using an alias. Don’t ask me to explain it, it’s just my way and my family line’s way. Maybe it’s genetic? I do more behind the scenes than people who are in the spotlight. Blogs also tend to form cults. Cults of personality, and echo chambers. I very rarely read them unless I’m after specific info, which I rarely find outside of books.

    But to answer your question (and to entertain the people here) I Will for this moment speak of myself and my lifestyle. Why I am where I am. From my own personal typings, and they all tend to reinforce one another to a greater or lesser extent, here is a popular list from my own self-analysis, pretty much in no special order though #1 is pivotal:

    13 Reasons Why I’m On Peoples Shit Lists:
    (Or why I’m alienated and don’t belong in 21st Century American society)

    #1 – I’m an Atheist (because all religion is harmful, divisive, superstitious, ignorant bullshit opposed to Science).
    #2 – I’m a Loner (because I’m misjudged, misunderstood, slandered, condemned, and bullied).
    #3 – I’m a Non-Conformist (because I don’t follow the sheeple–fads, fashions, trends–and don’t need them).
    #4 – I’m Frugal (because I like to get my money’s worth, abhor waste, and conspicuous consumption).
    #5 – I’m a Neo-Luddite (because high-tech is a scam and are products of planned obsolescence).
    #6 – I’m a Pessimist (because that’s what becomes of a Realist who faces injustice and the real world).
    #7 – I’m Clean Cut (because I’m rational and want to Live as long as possible, not die sooner).
    #8 – I’m an Environmentalist (because destroying nature and the environment will destroy us).
    #9 – I’m a Worrier (because when nobody cares about you, you have to watch your own back 24/7/365)
    #10 – I’m a Science and Science Fiction Nut (because I’m an intellectual cursed with a high I.Q.).
    #11 – I’m Retro (because all the best books, movies, shows, music, games, stores, prices…were in the past).
    #12 – I have Trust Issues (because the majority are unreliable, careless, and don’t give a shit about me).
    #13 – I’m an Introvert (because I hate attention-seeking, showy extraverts who are obviously Narcissists).

    Now how the modern American interprets the above and brands me:
    #1 – “Evil!”
    #2 – “Creep!”
    #3 – “Weirdo!”
    #4 – “Cheap!”
    #5 – “Bum!”
    #6 – “Paranoid!”
    #7 – “Nerd!”
    #8 – “Dork!”
    #9 – “Wimp!”
    #10 – “Geek!”
    #11 – “Backwards!”
    #12 – “Asshole!”
    #13 – “Loser!”

    (Exclamation points are, of course, optional)

    I’ve been tempted to put a 14th in there: “Boring” but 13 is a good round number for my own purposes.

    SO you see it’s basically Me, not you. Have a nice day!

    1. Good stuff! So perhaps you’re not as introverted and lonesome as you make it out to be because your neighbors are often coming over? It’s kind of sad that in this day and age, having our doorbells rang can bring us more fear than joy that someone is here to visit.

      With your points, you are clearly self-aware. Final questions: How old are you? What does being financially independent mean to you? And do you purposefully want to be alone? Because with all these self-professed traits, it might make things difficult to find someone to get a long with. Your first two comments inspired me to write a new post btw.

      1. I find JD to be a person I would never associated with because he is clearly just looking to fight.

    2. Ms. Conviviality

      JD: I can relate to half the items on your list and think it’s great that you stick to your values. I do sense that you’re not a happy person, though. I’ll share some food for thought from the Dalai Lama, “As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery…we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.”

  15. Larry Holmes

    The number one and number two thing for me is to have a house in a good neighborhood because I’ve had to deal with bad neighbors. Also, having a reliable car is important. It doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive, but I must have confidence that I will be safe. Thank you for this thought-provoking article. I also agree with you on the mattress. I’ve noticed that a better mattress can change how you go about your day because the quality of sleep is better.

  16. Health and Education.

    2 Words I repeat with my kids.

    I bought a hoverboard for my son, because its skill development (education), as well as exercise (heath).

    If you can prove to me that it contributes towards either health and/or education/skill development – I am all for it.

    These 2 words are the guiding principles in my home.


    Thanks for the article.

    PS: Life does not even START, until one has kids. Millennials have NO idea about life, even if they have made millions starting youtube sites.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Makes sense! I’d like my son to present a cogent argument for anything he wants as well. Ah, so many teachable moments and learning experiences awaits!

      Are you saying that I should listen to a 22 year old who doesn’t have kids about parenthood? I think you are! BTW, don’t believe the hype about everybody making millions off Youtube!

  17. chitown-2020

    I love this list! … and yes, I’m probably in the camp of wanting to scrimp and scrape on everything — so much so that its become a bad habit and sometimes I think I’ve forgotten to live a little. I drive a 20 year old car, shop at deep discount stores for basics and walk a mile as a tourist rather than renting a cab.

    … however … I TOTALLY believe that financial savvy done right buys FREEDOM! At first having financial independence will mean freedom from working drudgery for an ungrateful employer. But as time goes on, you realize that your freedom can also afford SELECT luxuries — often ones that pay you back in some way, which is why I love this post so much. I do think the priority changes as your economics improve (assuming you’ve still got a side hustle and keep increasing the NW#), which probably reflects the range of reactions to this post.

    The ones I relate to the most are:

    – buying the best property locations you can afford, which retain and grow in value the most
    – keeping your tech tools modern, which helps you navigate the world most efficiently
    – and of course, the best mattress ever is a necessity — needs zero explanation.

    Most everything else on the list, I do put effort into getting the best deal possible. So many consumer products can be bought for a fraction of the price with even minimal effort. Focusing on overall value is the key — and knowing something about price is a huge advantage when shopping.

    Anyway, just had to wade in and say thanks – and I really relate to this.

  18. Hi Sam,

    It has been very enjoyable reading about your transformation over the years. From saving 70 percent of your income to eating rib eyes and drinking wine in less than 10 years, your stories show us how normal people who are willing to sacrifice can achieve what I consider the American Dream.

    A little side humor, I bought a little cabin in the woods a few years back. My wife and I picked out a very nice rustic bed and mattress for a total of $1800. It was a splurge at the time but we figured screw it. When the bed was delivered only the mattress showed up. I called the store and they informed me that we actually only bought the mattress. The frame was separate and not included in the $1800. I didn’t want to look like a dumb ass so I just payed the extra and had them send the frame over separately. That mattress is the most comfortable thing I’ve ever slept on and brings me joy every time we stay there!

    Thanks, Bill

    1. Hah! Nice. Must be a great mattress! I’ve seen prices go up to $10,000 for some. Kinda nuts. Best for folks to do a blind comfort test and lay on each one w/out knowing the price.

      I have to admit, I’ve been eating well since I graduated from college b/c I’ve had a corporate card to entertain clients since then. One of my funny stories was after about 6 years of working at my company, compliance had an all hands on deck meeting to remind everybody there was a $200/head LIMIT on corporate card use. All this time, I thought the limit was $100! Shucks.

  19. I love your list and never thought about how we sleep a third of our lives away. Next time I need a mattress, I’m not going to skimp.

    I’m frugal by nature but pay maximum dollar in two areas. First, I belong to a luxury gym and pay $180/mo there. Why do I spend so much? Because I go there 3x a week and it’s five minutes from my house. I justify the cost because it improves my health and I actually use it. Good health is priceless.

    The second thing I spend major bucks on is vet and grooming bills. My dogs are my kids. I pay for expensive teeth cleanings, grooming, etc. to keep them healthy. If they need major surgery, I would not hesitate to put it in on the credit card.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking article. You really help readers get smarter about money.

  20. Good article. Posts like these always bring to mind the frugal vs. cheap debate. I agree and your last paragraph hit it on the head. There are just some things in life that are worth spending the extra money on. Make sure you align those with your values. Recently my wife and I purchased a home. We could have found the lowest mortgage payment and bought a house that we would grow out of and wasn’t one we loved. But we held out, found the place we are going to call home for the majority of our lives. Extra money, sure. But we love it and couldn’t be happier. One other note. Car safety can definitely be achieved with a low model, but nice car. I don’t have kids yet, but I’m sure this will be of increased focus once we do.

    Thanks for the read this morning.


  21. I’m Frugal, and the real deal. I’m financially independent with a high net worth. I’m also not a hypocrite. The simple things in life are free and once you get used to them, luxury living is rather petty and obviously to impress the masses.
    Furthermore, everything I’ve typed up there is true and I can back each and every statement up.

    I’m not negative, I’m real and honest. I’ve also debated people to death and I don’t intend to waste my time doing so online again. Everyone lives in their own realities with their own priorities, petty as they may be. It’s why my personal relationships have never worked out. My own preferences have been exotic and queer to most people at times. I’ve turned down steaks for Big Macs, for instance. Because they taste better to me.

    If you want me to reiterate a few. Planned Obsolescence pretty much wipes out the need to buy “the biggest, best, most popular, and coolest” of appliances (in conjunction with the “bathtub” curve regarding breakdowns). A $300 refrig will last as long, if not longer than a $3,000 one with a ridiculous touch-screen and wi-fi system, and certainly require less maintenance and make life Easier for you. Oh, sorry, no bragging rights with an Ordinary refrig. That’s what it’s all about: Status; Impressing the guy next door. Maybe you need such recognition, but I do Not. The bottom line is that I saved $2,700 which is more money in the bank making interest. Plus, I’m not pulling my hair out over a touch screen that’s malfunctioning and a unit that needs software updates etc. I could extend this analogy to include all manner of modern “smart” tech which makes live miserable in the long-run, including fancy thermostats which need their batteries replaced constantly and maybe even recalibration. All for Look At Me I’m Better Than You gratification, and a cumulative drop in wallet dough. If you’re secure in Yourself you care not about appearances to project upon others. You are indeed Comfortable and truly at peace. I’ve splurged in the past and I almost invariably feel guilty afterwards. Because the outcome simply was never worth it. Maybe I just need a shrink.

    Frankly, I’ve found this website a disappointment. Your early articles were generally good, but you’ve changed over the years. Perhaps this wife of yours has had an influence on your psyche. It’s why I’m not married. If you want real financial know-how, checkout Bell’s Living Stingy blog. Not 100% in agreement of course but I do tend to agree mostly with his lifestyle (minus the BMWs and his sometimes quirky politics).

    1. How does one impress the guy next-door with their refrigerator, bath tub or wi-fi system? They can’t see it if they don’t come over. Have you ever thought of writing a blog yourself? Could be good!

      Being able to go through life alone is very commendable. It’s not something I could do as I have always been with someone since I was a teenager. Do you purposefully practice being alone because you prefer it? If not, why do you think your personal relationships have not worked out?

      1. My priorities have changed over time. Last year I dropped $50k on a new car, about 2.5x more than I’ve ever spent on wheels before. We really enjoy this car and road trips are very comfortable.

        Other things that used to be important simply aren’t important anymore. If there’s something I’m thinking about getting, I often wait a week or two, if I still want it I might get it but often the urge has passed. Much less clutter this way.

      2. Maybe JD throws bath tub parties and gaming parties. Not sure. I just care about the functionality of the things I buy, not for showing off to neighbors who don’t see what I buy.

  22. Good article. I try to focus more on value rather than price. I’m happy to pay 50% more for something twice as good.

  23. I’d add to this list “your #1 favorite thing in the world.” I played soccer at the college level, and there is no way I would let price get in the way of Champions league tickets when I am in Torino for business. Most people should just watch it on TV for free, though.

    Same with my buddy who designs engines as a mechanical engineer. His car is a ridiculous choice generally, but it is actually money well spent in his case.

    I’ll also be sneaky and add “investments” to your list. Buy those til it hurts!

  24. Cool list! I always try to look for deals when I buy something, so I’m not sure if there’s anything really expensive I’m willing to spend money on without trying to find discounts.

    I’d say the two most expensive things I’ve had in my life are my education and our house. I managed to get two of them at a steep discount, so that makes me super happy about life :D

  25. We splurge on trips, sometimes Western food etc servants and a driver…This summer We went on a five-star trip to Japan for a few weeks I live in Asia here … so actually locally the norm is cheap, cheap, cheap!  … Japanese restaurants though can be a bit pricey here but still cheaper than in North America…. In Asia …American staples like Cheerios even in Walmart and Costco cost double, triple and quadruple as in the States —- so chocolate pudding cups are a luxury here … not to mention a steak restaurant like Friday’s or the Outback etc …. the price for a so-so steak is out this world here … to save money as international expat here we eat local fare and seeing my wife and in-laws are from here … we are living all together sharing the costs and it helps with child care too .. and I like big families too!  … which helps … we actually have 2 maids … and a driver … the savings helped me become a multi-millionaire ….. seeing I re-invested the savings in stocks, rental real estate, business etc which I have written a bit about… see above link if ya like …. we also save on nursing home care seeing the maids help with the father-in-law who is wheelchair bound … anyway a great posting – Michael CPO

    1. Could you share your travel finance tips for a trip to Japan? I tried pricing a trip from California, and it came in more expensive than the other options we considered: Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. In other words

  26. Why not just put anything down? Couldn’t disagree more.
    With this advice you’d go from frugal to broke in no time at all. You could justify buying anything and everything.

    Mattress at the top? My mother was conned into buying a pricey new one by her brother. When you’re old and in pain the bed you’re lying upon in immaterial. I’ve tried ti from time to time. It’s okay but not worth $1,000+ but when I’m tired I can sleep anywhere on anything. The people pushing beds are making killings on TV because people are foolish to believe their hype.

    Home Appliances & Home Theater systems are Scams. They’re built cheaply designed to break down–All of em! The more money you pump into them doesn’t guarantee quality or quality or longevity anymore. A crap movie is still a crap movie regardless of how big the screen or high the resolution. Maybe you’d like to push Kueric coffee machines too. Fear and Status sell. Means nothing.

    Dental Care is overrated and relies upon Fear to sell. A magical sonic toothbrush? Really? They pay you a few bucks to hype this? Just basic brushing, a minimum of once a day is all that’s needed. Even flossing has been proven to be excessive if not dangerous.

    Work clothes & shoes – Hint: if you’re Retired (i.e. Not Working!) it matters not!
    Especially if you’re not a socialite and enjoy doing things by yourself.

    Food – Some of us Enjoy the Simple pleasures of Simple food. I’m surprised you’re not hyping caviar here as well! Junk food is only bad for you if you thrive on it excessively and make meals of it. For some of us it’s what makes life worth living.

    Car Safety is another one of those things relying on Fear to scare people into shelling out money. Once upon a time frugal sites said the same thing. All cars made today are basically safe but it is the Drivers behind the wheels one must watch out for. You’re safer driving a stripped-down basic car than one loaded with electronics so you drive while watching a DVD and yelling on a phone while studying a schematic of your car!

    1. I have to admit, I love reading negative comments from negative people who see the world half empty. It makes me feel good, and makes me realize how easy it is to get ahead with the right attitude.

      Thanks JD! I hear old twigs make for a good toilet paper.

  27. Passive Investor

    Family and wellness resonated most with me. I’d add a top one of mine, which you alluded to at the very end, is time. While I can’t buy time directly, I do pay for services that save me time like house cleaner, yard maintenance, Amazon grocery delivery, handyman for honey-do’s, etc. All these eat seem to eat away one out of my two weekend days, so paying to have them done for me feels like buying 50+ days a year!

  28. “It’s important we identify things that are most important to us and spend accordingly.”

    This is the key. What’s important to one person will be different from another. Someone might find they are happier if they order wine instead of water at dinner, but another person who doesn’t drink or has a negative reaction to alcohol, will not. But that same person who got the water instead of the wine might spend more money on clothing and appearance because they think it’s worth it, while another person would rather spend it on experiences like travel, movies, concerts, etc. So what we value differs from person to person. That’s why I agree with you not to cheapen out on the things that are important to us. I refused to allocate less than $5000/year on vacations while we were working, but our clothing budget was a measly $360 for the whole year. I just didn’t give as shit about clothing (and still don’t).

    Pick what’s important to you and spend on that (efficiently of course. No one needs a L.L.Bean jacket in every colour)

    1. How about J.Crew? Yeah, I’m like you. I don’t care about clothing. I just want something that fits well and is comfortable. I was actually just made fun of my shorts this morning on the tennis court. Our use them to paint and coat some wood with oil and the shorts look terrible. But what can I say, I don’t really care.

  29. Regarding clothing. When you end up with more goodyear welted shoes than you can possibly wear out in a lifetime, you’ve gone too far! But everyone needs multiple pairs of Alden boots right?

  30. Nice post! A great follow-on post might be what items you think one ought to be frugal on where most people are not. Trying to guess what Sam would say: cars, restaurants (?), …?

    1. That’s another good basic post I could write. Hmm, name brand anything really. Once you realize gross profit and operating profit margin of these companies, you’ll never want to pay for a brand-name item again. And if you do, then you’ve definitely got to pay a used price for it.

  31. Samurai –

    Love this post and believe your timing is perfect. With Black Friday & Christmas here, people aren’t exactly buying quality. I had a huge discussion about this at breakfast with a few people and it’s okay to buy really nice things i.e. dress shirt, shoes, suit, computer, tooth brush; etc.. as they will last longer, you will feel that much better and there is less clutter; vs. buying 10 dress shirts because they are $3.95 and 10 rough bath towels because they are $0.50 or something. Buy less higher quality and you will be happy, with less clutter to maintain. Sorry for my rant, THANKS FOR POSTING.


  32. Poulsbo dawg

    My Dad taught me this quote and I still love by it:

    “The sweetness of low cost is forgotten long after the bitterness of low quality.”

    It’s true. I find that in the long run it is always more expensive and time consuming to buy cheap on things that are essential.

  33. “Instead of trying to walk the entire city of Budapest, I ponied up 30 Euros like a baller to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Instead of just having lemon water with my rib-eye steak, I started ordering a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.”

    Baby steps, Sam. Baby steps. The lemon water also stuck out to me because you’ve mentioned it a few times in prior posts when discussing your parents. Keeps making me smile because my dad used to do the same thing.

    Overall, an interesting list of items. And, as other respective comments highlighted above, these items will hold different values to other individuals.

    – Vision: I was fortunate enough to have my parents offer to cover lasik surgery in 2006 before my senior year of college. I remember waking up the next morning and being able to read my alarm clock clearly without squinting and holding the clock 3 inches from my face. I cried as I’d never been able to see clearly without glasses or contacts.

    – Wellness: I’m a strong believer in what you outlined: physical and mental health really are priceless.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. I might have to try LASIK one day. The technology must have improved a lot over the past 10 years. It’s one of those things where the worse your eyesight, the better the value.

      How much did you pay?

      1. Hi Sam – reposting as I believe my first response got lost due to poor cell service where I’m currently at (O.H.I.O!):

        Agreed, the technology has likely improved in 10 years.

        In 2006, I believe we paid around $4000. From a cost perspective, I recall paying a few hundred a year in contacts and glasses, so I broke even by now. Regardless, the quality of life improvement has greatly outweighed any cost.

        Sorry if this creates a duplicate response.

      2. I’m with Mike, LASIK was a game changer. Life long contact user with no issues other than that little dude that kept needing my attention at 11pm, 2am, 4am, 5am etc. Sure glasses worked and they did for the 1st 7 months of his life but once I got LASIK the massive disorientation of getting woken from exhaustion AGAIN was just more manageable. 4k was the going rate at the time for me as well in 2012. I set up our FSA amount in January to save up and pulled the trigger in late November to get the additional tax savings, best splurge ever.

    2. My wife and I always get lemon water/ water because thats what we really want with our meals. It’s sort of sad that it’s considered cheap. I’ll take water with a steak over anything else, but that’s just me.

      1. Dood, el Farbe

        Never thought of getting water as “cheap”. That’s just what some of us prefer. Or that’s how I view it.

        My entire family gets water when eating out. Two of them drink milk with dinner at home, the other 4 of us drink water with meals at home, too.

  34. Definitely agree with the mattress. I was poor but bought one of the most expensive ones and now my body thanks me for it!

  35. Agree with everything (esp. property + wellness + food + work care/shoes). But the mattress depends less on price because some retailer grossly overcharge. Don’t cheap out on a mattress but be careful what the furniture guys want to sell you.

    Our memory foam mattress and all Airbnb mattresses came from Amazon for around than $200-300. Jared and I had a $2,000 Tempurpedic mattress but the Amazon ones were pretty indistinguishable from the hefty $2k Tempurpedic.

  36. Great list! I skimp on many things, but not the “important” ones. I only disagree with Home Theater — I don’t go to the movies more than once or twice a year, but I’m also content to watch Netflix on the same 42-inch TV we’ve had for about five years now. Thanks for the info and your perspectives!

  37. While I agree with quality over quantity, if you spent on all of these things I think most people could not be frugal, and these arguements can keep people from being frugal. But I will admit I am frugal to a fault, and with 5 my kids, that’s not a bad thing! But once they all go off to college I will probably still feel guilty cutting loose for at least 3 years! I do agree with your mattress idea, though.

  38. Dentist bills can be very expensive, so taking care of your teeth is not only good for health and wellbeing, but it saves you money as well. A win-win!

  39. Excellent list Sam. I feel like a lot of advice from bloggers lately is to not spend any money, but that is neither helpful or realistic. In reality we all need to spend money so we might as well buy quality over quantity.

    The first thing that came to my head that was missing off your list is a grill. Growing up, we used to always get a cheap grill from one of the big box stores. The problem was that they only lasted for 2-3 years before they started experiencing catastrophic rust and inconsistent flames.

    After I started working I decided to buy a Weber grill even though they were more expensive than the alternatives. Weber grills always get high marks from Consumer Reports and can last 20 years or more. By spending more upfront I will be happier with the purchase and will spend less money over time than buying a cheap grill. This example could be applied to many things like computers, cars, furniture, etc.

    1. Dood, el Farbe

      I hope you’ll be happy with your Weber. I bought two cheapo hardware store specials serially just a few years apart (had to replace for the reasons you mention), then finally bought a nicer Weber about 15 years ago.

      I probably average 2X per week use and I haven’t had to replace anything on it yet, although the far right side burner, which sees the most use, is finally starting to burn higher in the front/lower in the back and could probably be replaced fairly soon. All the igniters still work fine, the rotisserie motor is fine, cooking surface is still perfect, etc. I’ve been really happy with it.

    2. I agree! I used to buy the cheapest grill and end up having to replace it every few years. Got a Weber 8 years ago and still going strong with very consistent heat and cooking! I have even used it to cook pies.

      1. Jeff @ Maximum Cents

        The consistent cooking is a great point. You will enjoy your home grilled food much more when you can control the heat output. Most cheap grills do not offer any real control or stability.

    3. As someone who has gone through 3 grilles in 8 years, I now definitely agree it is wise to spend up. I see things on the web like “family of 4 lives on $12,000 a year” and think to myself even if that is possible, how good can their quality of life really be?

      As for myself, I am fairly frugal although I admit that I love driving a new car. That is my one area of real weakness. I do spend on footware because I have flat feet so every 6 months I shell out $140. At least I consider that to be real money. I recall getting the Tom McCann sneaks as a kid for $6.99.

      My wife, who is an accountant is not into expensive clothes or jewelry. She does LOVE expensive vacations though and seems to want to take one every 3 months. This is one of the few areas where we have disagreements. I just think it is excessive. She thinks it is not. So we both try to bend a bit.

  40. Everything related to wellness is by far the most important. I agree the future you will thank you. And I have to admit I have to up my game in some of these….starting with a legit toothbrush! :-)

  41. Damn Millennial

    Hey Sam,

    I think you put the mattress at the top because it is by far the best thing you can spend your money on! We finally upgraded last year and it has been amazing also got some great pillows and it makes all the difference.

    Don’t skimp on a mattress, shoes, or tires!

    1. What mattress did you get? We seriously need a new mattress. I’ve been putting it off until we move. Maybe sometime next year. But, we might not be able to wait much longer.

      Sam, what mattress do you recommend?

      1. Yes, I would also like to hear some recommendations. I don’t mind spending top dollar but I want to know I’m really getting what I’m paying for.

        My wife has had it on her Christmas list for like three years so I think this is the year.

      2. We are huge fans of memory foam mattresses. Some people complain they are hot, but that hasn’t been an issue for us.

        The best part is, they all seem to be pretty much the same, so there’s no reason to spend way more for some name brand. The generic ones on Amazon are great. Like this one:

    2. My father, who is very frugal, always told me not to skimp on a mattress, tires, and footwear: you spend the majority of your life on these things, best not to sacrifice comfort and safety

  42. FullTimeFinance

    Some I agree with others I don’t. We go out of the way on vacations and I still maintain a nice sports car (I’m a car nut). At the same time I could care less about phones, home theater or property so in these categories we own nice middle of the road options. Good enough to not break but otherwise not stand out.

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