When it is worth spending the extra money
Time vs. money. The older most of us get, the more the former wins out. Granted, you have to have money for there to be a contest, but outsourcing is becoming a huge thing in our world. Home cleaning services. Child care. Instacart. Dog walking. Meal delivery services.
It's funny how much it varies from person to person what is and isn't worth paying for. I never have understood the appeal of Blue Apron, yet I am sure that many would think it's absurd how much I spend on pre-cut grocery store fruit bowls. It totally depends on your pain points and grievances. For fun, here is my list of what is totally worth it.
1. Nice grocery stores.
By nice, I mean: good lighting, friendly customer service, bagging assistance. Wegmans, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods (and Publix, when we lived deeper south) have won my heart because they make grocery shopping pleasant. Grocery shopping is a necessary evil that I must complete at least once a week, and if I am routinely setting foot in a store, I want to enjoy it. The few times I end up in a different store, I notice immediately how cold and harsh the lighting is and how a stores associate is nowhere to be found, and I don't care how cheap the grapes are. I am in a grumpy mood for the rest of the trip. I'll go on the record with that: will pay for cheerfulness!
2. Amazon Prime.
Free two-day shipping is incredible. Often the package arrives before we would have had time to travel out to a physical store to get what we needed, and the inventory online is always better. We use a few of the other perks like the free book of the month and free videos, but the shipping alone makes the annual membership fee worth it in our household.
3. Really good vacuum(s).
We have a medium long-haired black dog, and she has the run of our house. No matter how much we vacuum, there is fur lurking around. However, it is much better than it might be because of our Roomba and Dyson Animal vacuums. We run the Roomba almost daily, and touch up corners, stairs, and other spills as they happen with the cordless vacuum cleaner. They both have held up well. Be prepared for maintenance, though: you will need to take apart the vacuums and clean the brushes by hand every few months, depending on how much hair your family sheds.
4. Fresh produce.
Our fridge is stuffed after our weekly shopping trip, in large part because of how inefficient produce is to store. We play refrigerator tetras on those days, but it is worth the hassle and hefty grocery bill. I figure we pay more for groceries now and (hopefully) less for medicine and chronic health condition treatments later.
5. Monthly date nights.
We missed a couple of months when we began fostering an infant, but we are back in our routine. We put a night on the calendar, even if we don't have any exciting plans. We have been known to drive around looking at Christmas lights until after the kids' bedtime. Also, bonus hack: plan your date night early. The sitter then takes care of dinner and bedtime, you don't have waits for your dinner out, and you come back home and have a quiet house to yourselves for part two of the date night.
6. Car detailing.
This is a recent one, and I am not sure our entire household is on board yet, but a clean car makes all the difference. Given how much time we spend in such small quarters traveling to and from places, it is worth paying attention to the car's interior. Regular vacuuming and de-griming go a long way to improving my mood while running errands and sitting in traffic.
Now, for fun, here's where I am cheap:
1. We reuse Ziploc bags as long as we can get away with it.
2. We rarely use paper napkins or paper towels. We use cloth napkins and dishrags several times before throwing them in the wash (Gross, lazy, or green? It's a little bit of all three).
3. I use the public library religiously, although I have been known to collect a few fines.
4. We listen to (free) podcasts.
5. Ninety percent of the time, when we are together with friends, we opt for dinner at our house or a game night. This is double savings: friends without kids are kind enough to come to us so we can forgo a babysitter, and the entertainment is free.
6. I cannot stand to throw away food, so I will freeze or repurpose nearly anything. Chickpea brine becomes meringues, slightly turned greens go into green smoothies, and almost any leftover can go on top of a salad with hummus, dressing, or sauce.
What I've learned is that when I knowingly am paying more, I am not paying simply for the good or service itself. I am paying for my attitude, peace of mind, or pleasure--and that sometimes can trump a bargain.