Top 10 Splurges (That Make Daily Life Worth Living)

My good friend Christy just wrote a terrific story titled "Five Dollar Croutons" about the 10 simple things in her daily life on which she refuses to skimp. Interestingly, at least 4 of her 10 were on my list, too. She asked for everyone to do the same, because she finds it so fascinating to see people's answers.

Me too. So share the love, everybody. It's an interesting personal exercise, too.


1.  Good Coffee. You can buy the cheap stuff, but it's just not the same. Once you've made the mistake of acquiring a taste for strong, black, French Roast / espresso-style java that fries the tastebuds and sends your nerves a-jangle, watered-down diner joe just doesn't cut it anymore. I don't even look at what it costs me, because frankly, I don't give a damn.

2.  Good Bedding. You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping. I prefer not to spend it wrapped in a scratchy 100-thread count cocoon, atop a collapsing college student mattress. I've been in relationships *coff-coff - still am* with those who are less choosy, making arguments such as "after you sleep on them and wash them enough, the cheap sheets get soft anyway" and "mattresses are just too expensive for what you get." Then again, I've noticed that as soon as certain individuals have experienced the good stuff, tunes change drastically.

Wusthof Classic Knives

3.  Quality Kitchen Knives. You use them every day, and a sharp, well-balanced knife makes the chore of chopping a pleasure. Of course, you run into problems when you've got a roommate who, say, takes your treasured 7" $150 Henkel masterpiece of a knife and uses it, unbeknownst to you, for stuff like pruning their rose garden because they misplaced their shears... But even that level abuse is an endurable offense. Once.  It can be a pricey splurge, but wiith proper care, a good knife set lasts a lifetime.

4.  A Trusted Housekeeper. I'd forgo everything else on my list to keep my housekeeper. As Christy mentioned, I'm a fanatic about this subject. She's cheaper than a marriage counselor, and the peace of mind that comes from a deeply clean, uncluttered space - our sanctuary from the bustling outside world - is incalculable. Worth. Every. Penny.


5.  Timeless Furniture. Not a priority for everyone. There are people who make a hobby of interior design and rotate their household furnishings regularly. I'm a keep-and-hold sort of gal, who appreciates vintage and modern Danish design and comfort. The day the last piece of IKEA leaves my house, I'm celebrating. Until then, I will save until I can afford the classic piece I want and then spend good money on it - if that's what it takes. A smooth-lined table, hand-hewn with wood and stone, or a glowing Italian lamp, or a multi-functional piece that ignites the inner fires of home, hearth and good design? For me, worth it. A recent purchase of comfortable outdoor furniture has literally changed the way we live.


6.  Our Future. This is not a "splurge" really, but it's something we're committed to. No matter how crappy the year, even when it was the worst year ever for our then start-up business and we literally had no money and were breaking open change jars for groceries, we put away the maximum possible for our IRAs. This, for us, is daily peace of mind. It may (probably) still not be enough for us to live large in retirement, but it keeps us out of the Xanax bottle in the meantime.

7.  A Perfect Handbag & Wallet. At first glance, this may look like it flies in the face of Christy's "Waste of Money" list, where she nominated "Designer Purses" as a wasted investment, but it doesn't. A perfect handbag  / wallet is not necessarily a designer item (and in fact, usually isn't). It needs to be well-organized with multiple deep-sectioned pockets, outside storage for quick-grab items (cell phone, wipes, pen), and it needs to work hard for the purpose you intend. It might be for work, overnight, or daily use. My last must is that it be beautiful, with no cheap man-made fabrics, so that it wears well for the long haul and is something I love to hold, touch and carry with me every day. All this said, I've never spent more than $250 on a bag.

Vintage Camera

8.  A Top-Notch Camera. Not only is the weighty feel of it, sound of it (a shutter clicking immediately upon the press of a button is one of the most satisfying sounds there is), flexibility of it a joyful experience - the long-term benefit of beautiful pictures of a life well-lived will pay itself back throughout the history of our family. It also gives me a fascinating passtime, and something to do when I'm not feeling particularly social at gatherings.


9. Personal Upkeep. Ooh, this one inspires debate amongst the girls. So chalk this up to personal preference. But in my case, having professionals manage my personal grooming stuff: Skin and hair especially, and in that order, are necessary pleasures that I look forward to for weeks. Appointments are soothing, quiet, provide me with extended alone time and uninterrupted space to think and daydream, incorporate the potency of human touch, and ensure that things are done right and kept healthy. The fact that I strut out of my hairdresser with the right cut and feeling fab is an absolute bonus. But being prone to skin cancer and all, my esthetician appointments are a part of my general health. She checks for suspicious items in addition to providing her usual services. I'll scale back on frequency if times are tight, but until the apocalypse, you'll never catch me cutting or coloring my own hair or eliminating my skincare rituals entirely.

10. Mac Laptop & TiVo. These two purchases have been the most revolutionary, time-saving buys of the last 10 years. Everyday bliss is well-worth these two hefty pricetags. So much so, I couldn't choose just one.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >