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How to feel like a King for a few bucks.
The Secret Society of Newsletter Authors and the International League of Bloggers don’t often see eye-to-eye, but they are very clear on some rules. One of them states that when you have a birthday, you have to publish a list.
Many people go with lessons and advice. I hoped my birthday last week would unlock new depths of knowledge and insight to share, but unfortunately - that failed to happen. Next year 🤞.
So, I am going to publish a list of affordable luxuries instead. Here are the things that cost less than you expect and make you feel like it’s your birthday every day:
High-quality salted butter - either Kerrygold or Lurpak. I really have no idea why people keep eating margarine. The secret ingredient is always butter, and the quality of it makes an enormous difference.
Good tomatoes. Tomatoes probably have the biggest range of taste. Good ones taste like the pure joy of a summer afternoon, while the bad ones remind you of a childhood in Soviet Poland. Unfortunately, the good ones are not always available, which is more reason to take the opportunity when it presents itself.
Aeropress and decent coffee. Aeropress makes a superb cup of coffee. Add decent beans, and you can easily surpass any coffee shop. I like Columbian varieties.
Personal stylist consult. I really hate shopping for clothes, particularly pants. Last year, I paid $500 for a full day of a personal stylist consult. We went shopping, and I came away with bags of clothes that I look good in, genuinely love, and are super comfy.
Most importantly - my wife loves me in them. If I tried to buy all those clothes on my own, I would probably end up with something I don't wear and thus probably saved money.
Decent T-shirts. It surprised me how much better good t-shirts feel compared to regular ones. I got some from Massimo Dutti and have the most expensive Nike workout shirt I could find.
Cleaning help. We have a lovely Ukrainian lady helping us clean the house once per week (4 hours).
Your phone. An average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone daily. There is hardly another area where you can spend $1000 to improve almost 1/6th of your days.
That, of course, hinges on you spending that time on the things that matter. Smartphones are magical devices that unlock access to the entire knowledge of humanity and let you take photos, create, and connect to your family.
On the other hand - they are addictive entertainment devices, and if you find yourself in that camp, it's better to have a worse phone, particularly with a smaller and uglier screen.
Above all, do more things that make you forget to check your phone.
Convenient headphones. I am on an eternal quest for the most convenient headset. I can carry something with me to listen to podcasts or jump on a quick call. My motivation came from a realization that I am more likely to find time to call Grandpa if I can do it while walking the dog.
Kindle+Audible versions of the same book. When you buy both versions on Amazon, you can seamlessly switch between listening and reading to the same book. It's particularly handy for taking highlights from an Audiobook.
Almost any book is worth the price. For $10-$20 you are getting lifelong learnings from somebody. That being said, the time to read the book is not always worth it, so feel free to give up on a book.
Pay for that repair. If your bike is slightly broken, your knives dull and your shirt has a stain you cannot seem to get out, the entire activity becomes less enjoyable. Pay for that repair if you can't get around to mending it. Instead of feeling guilty for not doing it yourself, congratulate yourself for not throwing everything away.
Unreasonable quantities of charger cables. And I don't mean 3 or 4. I mean 10. One in every room and some extras.
And a separate travel cable bag with a dedicated travel charger that you don't use at home.
Packing cubes are a super way to organize your packing and not have everything spread all over the hotel room while you are traveling. Especially useful in the RV.
You can get random stuff delivered to other people. Medicine to your grandpa, extension cord to your mom, a new pan to your in-laws. Instead of spending 3 hours driving from your place to the store, to theirs and back, you can spend that time with them. You can use a legacy taxi system, glovo, or another app.
Dyson Vacuum cleaner. It's great and makes it super convenient to grab and clean a small patch of sand you toddler just carried inside.
GeForce Now. I am a very casual gamer. Instead of having a mostly useless gaming PC, I pay for a cloud gaming service a few months a year. When I no longer find time to play, I cancel. I always play on state-of-the-art hardware for $30-$40 per year.
Before the days of convenient cloud gaming, I would spin up an AWS instance for Fallout 3.
Exactly one bespoke suit. I got mine for my wedding and use it for every suit-requiring occasion, which is mostly weddings.
Nice plates - my wife got us a set of nice plates with traditional folk designs, and I must admit they are really nice.
Proper trash bags, good dog poo bags - bad trash bags are marginally cheaper, but orders of magnitude worse experience than the good ones. Life is too short.
Multiple swimsuits - I love swimming and will take any opportunity to participate in some water sports. Having spare swimsuits makes me prepared for unexpected water opportunities.
Good bike phone mount - You should never have to hold your phone when navigating the city on a bike.
Fitbod App - You select your available equipment and time, and it puts together a workout for you. It keeps track of recovery, weights, and everything else. You just need to get your ass to the gym.
Other folks affordable luxuries
Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose
Quality Coffe beans. Kevin has a subscription from Proud Mary roaster. He goes for Geisha Coffee.
High End chocolate
Aesop brand body soap
Cold Pod foldable cold plunge for cold exposure.
OmegaxSwatch MoonSwatch - a more affordable space-branded version of Omega Speedmaster - the watch of choice for astronauts, including Neil Armstrong who used it to time moon landing.
100 Ways to Slightly Improve Your Life Without Really Trying by the Guardian
This Guardian article lists 100 ways to improve your life. Here is what stood out to me:
1 Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night)
Consider going down to four days a week. It’s likely a disproportionate amount of your fifth day’s work is taxed anyway, so you’ll lose way less than a fifth of your take-home pay
11 Get the lighting right: turn off the overhead one, turn on lots of lamps (but turn off when you leave the room)
21 Add the milk at least one minute after the tea has brewed.
35 Eat salted butter (life’s too short for unsalted).
66 Don’t save things for “best”. Wear them – enjoy them.
91 If in doubt, add cheese.
A thing I wrote
In “Prompt hacking is oxygen“, I explore the links between Remote Work adage of “Communication is Oxygen“ and prompt hacking focus on clear instructions and being understood by the other party.
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