Little Splurges Can Help You Live Large

Sometimes, simple (and inexpensive) things can really make a big impact on your life.  It might be a new pillow, a fantastic travel mug, or a new lipstick – small and affordable can still be fabulous.

I was mulling over this subject last night as we drove from Florida to Maryland.  Before starting, I stopped at the local auto parts store to replace the passenger’s side windshield wiper blade.  It was torn and was doing a lousy job of cleaning the window.  I did two things that were splurgy – first, I bought a slightly more expensive replacement blade.  Second, I went ahead and replaced the “still working OK but not amazing” driver’s side blade.

As it turned out, it rained a lot during our trip, and every time I turned on the windshield wipers, I was thrilled with the really good job that they did.  Plus, they were super-quiet.  The difference was so significant that one of the kids in the third row noticed and said, “Hey, did you replace the windshield wipers?”

As it turned out, I obviously did need to replace both blades, but I’m still going to count that as a extravagance of about $20.  And the premium brand was about $10 more than the bargain brand, for both blades.  (They were on sale.)  Wiper blades are supposed to last six to twelve months, so let’s (very) conservatively say that I just spent an extra $5 per month to get really nice wiper blades.  Consider than I spend at least 15 hours per week driving, and I’ve added  less than 10 cents per driving hour to my transportation costs.  That’s pretty darn cheap for something that makes me smile and adds to our safety.

Look around your life and try to identify a few small changes that would dramatically improve the quality of your life without big costs.  Then, see if you can find a way to make those changes happen.  Making life a little happier is always a nice thing, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

I’m trying to brainstorm a list of small changes that might have a big impact.  What ideas could improve your life?

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • 4M

    $32: Y membership, yep there is a free base gym, but they don’t have childcare.

    $.75: Starbucks Refresher packs, just enough kick to get through a longer afternoon.

    $8: a constant stockpile of two frozen pizzas for those really long afternoons (the second incase you’re on a multi day hot streak). Way cheaper than delivery ($10, plus delivery charge, plus tax, plus tip), faster and healthier too (not that pizza is a health food by any strech).

    $29: polarized sunglasses just for the car, cuts down driving fatigue

    I think that’s all I have for the low end, I’m dollar savy but like buying things that last and as a result are cheap to own, so much of my things are above average cost (my stupidly expensive Rowenta iron was 3x the cost of a decent iron at the exchange 12 years ago, but I saved a fortune by ironing my uniforms myself rather than dry cleaning them over that time, and not only did the Rowenta give perfect results in an easy fashion over that time, but it’s still going strong where I had blown through two irons in the year before I got the Rowenta).

    • Kate

      Great examples. I, too, often purchase more expensive things for the quality, and they are almost always worth the money. The dishwasher I bought nine years ago still makes me happy even though we aren’t living in that house right now :)

  • Sidney

    Dishwashing liquid from Bed Bath Beyond. It is in a blue bottle & smells like mint. Great smell when I’m cleaning at the sink.

    • Kate

      I’m going to have to look for that :)