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Ask HN: What do you spend money on that greatly increases your quality of life
59 points by johnzimmerman 183 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments
What do you spend your money on that greatly increases your quality of life? Is it books, good coffee, Uber/Lyft, massages, gym memberships, vacations, etc?



I had a discussion with a friend about that subject.

I told him that what money brings in is highly non-linear.

When you start in life, every euro counts. It is the "to cinema or not cinema" (or whatever you like). It also mean substantial changes in housing.

Then comes a moment you are on a plateau (my case today). I own a house (payed off), a car, have a family, and earn enough to be secure. I know that I will be able to afford two extra rents when my children leave for university. That I can travel the world if I want to without any big hit on my budget, etc. In short : a comfortable life.

It would take a significant amount of money (raise) to move up in my chart (first class travel everywhere, or a jet, or a yacht or several apartments worldwide).

So money cannot buy me much more than I have today - the recent great, great improvement was to have someone come and clean the house twice a week.

Since I am rather frugal, my own definition of "comfortably rich" is to be able to go to any normal store and not check the prices of what I am buying , especially to compare two products and decide on the cheaper one.

EDIT: I was once offered the possibility to, as I put it, move up in my chart. A golden opportunity with a fantastic salary in what looks like a nice company. I did not take it because it would have meant more business travel, wearing a suit all the time, etc. My family and comfort is more important. But this is only because I am today at this plateau which is enough for me. I would have taken it if that meant moving from "struggling" to "stable".


Working four days a week. Effectively I pay 20% of my salary to buy an extra non-working day every week. This is a massive QoL improvement (a) because it keeps my RSI from being unbearable and (b) because of all the fun stuff you can do with that extra day...


How did you negotiate that with your employer, and also are you doing contract/constancy work where an arrangement like that is slightly more realistic?


No, I'm doing what I would classify as "normal" developer work. Negotiation: I have had (on a sample size of 1) no luck getting this at initial employment, but I have managed (sample size of 2) to arrange it after working somewhere for a couple of years and building up trust and a reputation as an employee worth hanging on to. At that point I was able to get 4-day working set up following an RSI episode bad enough that I had to be signed off work for a few months and then got a medical recommendation for reduced hours, which my employer accepted.

Incidentally, this kind of thing is why I'm definitely not in the "job hop every year or two" camp.


Whereas some here are asking whether to switch from full-time to part-time, I have the reverse situation right now. I was hired by my current employer on a 70% part-time basis (i.e., 28 hours per week) since I'm still finishing my degree. That is nearly done now (thesis is submitted, only the presentation is left), and I'm struggling with the question whether to pursue going back to full-time. The extra money (70% part-time also means 70% pay) would be nice to build up assets, but OTOH I feel like my time is more valuable in my own hands at this point (I'm in my late twenties).


For me these are the best places not to compromise...

First: shoes, jacket, headphones.

Then: bed, computer, stereo.

Then: floor, kitchen, bathroom.

Then: tools, truck, yard, garden, grill.

Last: a good view and plenty of time to enjoy it.

Always remember above all else good health and good friends are worth pursuing.


Upvote for the view! I think most people don't realize how important it is to have something to look at.


On the other side - you forget about it in one month and don't even notice the good view.


I've noticed that I'm the happiest when I have a sense of being intensely alive. Therefore investing in experiences has a compounding effect where you gain triple-pack utility from the experience itself, the memories it grants you, and the satisfaction of having the personal impression of a life being well lived.

Regarding material possessions, simply follow the rule of use. The more you use an item, the higher its quality should be. Computers and its peripherals, bed and bedding, shoes, glasses, audio equipment, e-reader...


- Savings: a few months' living expenses in a readily available cash account. What happens when you suddenly finding yourself having to pay a few hundred or thousand bucks for an emergency? Not having savings means "Panic mode / scrimp and save / have to get credit". Having savings means "a number in my back statement changes, but does not really affect me"

- Access to experts: anything from doctors to lawyers or accountants to a bike mechanic or plumber. When you're faced with a hard problem, it's really comforting to know that you can get expert help rather than having to meddle through yourself.

- Time: Could be hiring a cleaning lady, so you don't have to spend time on your weekend cleaning your house. Or daycare for the kids, so you can get a break from watching the kids and do grown-up things for a while. Or just taking an extended unpaid vacation to unwind for a bit.


Gym - what gym has the best equipment for me to get to my fitness goals

Bicycle - which bike is going to make my daily commute the most enjoyable? Weight, reliability etc.

Clothes - when I'm on my bike and it starts raining what rain jacket gives me the no movement resistance while keeping me dry?

Skills - what books, websites, subscriptions can I get to learn new skills the most efficient way

There's a bunch more. Each of these categories are a problem I have, an experience I want to maximise or a direction I want to take myself.

You'll notice that the people that have the best quality of life are the people who understand their needs. Money to them is just a tool to meet their needs.


I was recently wondering about the bike. I commute 15 km each way and have a cheapo bike. I could afford way better (say , a 5000€ one compared to the 300€ I currently own) but has always wondered about the actual improvement.

I tried a new bike a few times on my commute and yes, it may have been better but not that significantly. The 15 km are mostly flat, save for a step part of a few hundred meters, and 1/3 of the path is in a forest (the other is on well separated bike paths).

I was wondering if a super bike is actually and objectively worth the investment (I know that some peine just live nice bikes and that's great, I am more thinking about the case of someone who sees them as a pure commodity)


Hiring people to do all the chores that are easy to delegate so I have as much free time as possible.


I measure my quality of life in experiences, so there are 2 issues here: good health and knowing what makes you happy. I'm going to focus on the first one because it is more generic.

It depends on what you're doing. I spend most of my day sitting in front of a computer: around 9 hours with some small breaks. Another good portion of my time goes to sleeping, so a great bed, pillow, chair and desk are a must. If you make compromises with any of them - you'll have neck/back pain.

Food is another thing to spend some money on: especially fresh fruits and vegetables. If you're a caffeine junkie like me - a good coffee will make a huge difference.

Another thing to consider is a suitable sport. It doesn't have to be a gym (I find gym borring), it can be any sport you find satisfying. I put it in the list because some sports can get really expensive but might or might not be worth it, it depends on you.

I'll just sketch some non-health related life improvers: trips, bike riding, hiking, music lessons, volunteering - anything that takes you out of your routine and makes you happy.


How do you find a good chair? I personally want to try a chair it before buying it. But I find all the local stores have cheap chairs that last a year or so.


For office work: http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/performance-wor...

For relaxation: http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/lounge-seating/...

disclaimer: I have the first, I want the second ;-)


I've been using Herman Miller for the past 5-6 years or so and they're just great. I also have the first one and now having seen the second - I want it, too.


The Herman Miller Embody is really great too.


This is what I have. I had a Mirra, Aeron, and Steelcase Leap.

The Mirra was fine, nothing special.

The Aaron was horrible. Yes, I had it fit for the right size.

The Steelcase Leap and Embody are both top tier. You can almost argue the Leap is superior since you can get it in leather, making it easy to keep clean and free of stains and you can get it with a headrest.

They also make a Leap Lounge and it's sublime. I wouldn't mind the Herman Miller lounger though.

Either way, you can't go wrong. You have to find out what fits you best. Many rave and swear by the Aeron, but for me it was terrible and uncomfortable. The Embody and Steelcase Leap are sublime to me though.


The chair is some sort of easy to try: you just go and try it. Choosing a bed and pillow is not that easy - I've thrown away a couple of pillows that seemed fine in at the beggining but were actually unbearable to sleep on. As for the cheap chairs - you get exactly what you've paid for


A good home, everything I need to be comfortable at home like a good bed. I also try to buy quality items when it's something I use often.


1. Food; I love cooking from fresh and find it immensely relaxing 2. Travelling; my partner is a school teacher and has 12 weeks holiday a year, we try to maximise that time by travelling around the world


Improvement of life quality to spent money ratio, order by desc, two categories:

cheap things:

- a comfortable bed and a high quality bedding,

- a computer screen, mouse and keyboard,

- regular cleaning service in my home,

- books

expensive, but greatly improving my life quality:

- skiing,

- my family,

- a comfortable and well designed house.


For me I would say travel increases my quality of life above all else. Being able to go somewhere even for a weekend and being able to clear my mind and relax is one of my greatest investments. Other than that saving up for quality products (computer, monitor, bed, etc.) greatly benefits my quality of life since I don't have to replace things as often, still using a keyboard I bought 10+ years ago.


Here are some things I've stopped spending money on lately, without decreasing my quality of life:

* Stopped spending money on public transport. Now I just ride my bike everywhere. positive financial ROI within a few months (even including the occasional expensive bike repair) + benefits to mental and physical health.

* Stopped spending money buying books, now I just borrow and read books from public libraries. It's free.

* I only eat out about 10% as often as a few years ago. Just need to spend a bit of time on weekends for meal prep and being a bit more organised.

With a longer-term time horizon, if you have surplus money, you can choose to spend some of it on investments that will give you a source of income decoupled from the time you need to spend at work. That doesn't do anything for your quality of life in the short term (if anything it will make it worse if you are working to save now for the future) but that's traded off against expected improvements in quality of life in the future (e.g. you can retire or switch to doing contract work for half the year and whatever you like for the rest).


> Stopped spending money on public transport

How expensive is public transit in your area? And do you bike when the weather is bad (i.e. precipitation or glaze)?


Anything that lasts beyond the moment.

Food, sex, alcohol, etc... all that stuff can be the greatest high for a very short amount of time, and then I tend to experience some sort of depression after. Overall, with those things the net balance is pretty even and it's not worth the headache. Though fighting those impulses is not easy.

The things that last beyond the moment take both money and effort, usually. Creative projects, improving relationships, education.

Sometimes there's a bit of crossover. I'm planning to do a creative film+vr project so I am investing in some gear and new toys... within that I'm playing some stuff and having a bit of fun though I know it will pale in comparison to the happiness that comes from creating something.

I agree with some of the other answers here vis-a-vis tools and utilities (headphones, grill, etc.)... not for exactly the same reason, e.g. a grill might just be for cooking food (let's ignore the community-party aspect of it), but those things keep bringing back returns so it's like an investment in many short-lived moments which is worthwhile too.


Honestly, in hindsight, I am really bad at seeing the implications of my quality of life at the time of purchase. Part of it is due to changes in personal habits that I don't always foresee. For example, I play significantly fewer video games than when I was in college. But it's also due to my perception of what it should cost versus how much I use it. An example of that would be some of the nice clothing I own that I paid extra for. I wear it enough to justify the cost. Then there are the non-tangible things like vacations which have given me some amazing stories that I would not have imagined.

Though that speaks more to the concern over the quality of what I get, or whether I should own or rent something. In practice, as a young, single, physically active engineer who lives in the Bay area, (aside from clothes, food, shelter, and transportation,) I get my 80% value out of the following:

Running shoes, a bike, a good backpack, a gym membership, Spotify premium, a good computer or two, a good smartphone, and the more than occasional airline reservation.


Experiences. Whether it's travel, an event, spending time with friends, etc.

I also think spending money to live in a comfortable apartment or home close to work is extremely important. I used to commute from SF to SV one hour each way. Now I live 10 min from work and my quality of life has significantly improved.


The occasional piece of music gear...

Once upon a time, I tried to be a rock star, and that didn't work out, so I pursued a career in a secondary passion... IT. That pretty much worked out, and I'm now comfortable.

Music remains my primary passion, though. I'm not particularly good at it, but I find the acts of creating arrangements, writing lyrics, and engineering mixes therapeutic and quite satisfying.

So although I remain pretty frugal with it (it is just a hobby at this point, after all), the occasional piece of "gear": a new audio interface, midi controller, VST, instrument, sample bank, etc... is rewarding and helps to keep me sane and happy.


I have a few things that I have luxury versions of, so they are not just things, but also become a bit of a hobby, which makes them more fun to use, and the thing is that I use them daily:

- A good manual coffee machine.

- A kokomo barbecue.

- A decent German car for commuting.


Sending the kids out of the house for a day. Best investment ever.


Rent in the Bay Area (we live about 5 years in the future) ;)


Tobacco. Yesterday i spent $32 on tobacco. 50 grams of fine cut rolling tobacco. About 80 cigarettes I can make from that. I used to be an occasional smoker but years back my brain switched into craving mode. The system is then so wisely arranged that when I improve my quality of life with a few dollars worth of dried leaves, I at the same time contribute about thirty dollars worth of quality to society.


> I at the same time contribute about thirty dollars worth of quality to society.

Did you factor in the increased healthcare costs from your smoking? These frequently outweigh any money recovered from tobacco taxes.


What is your point? Healthcare greatly increases quality of life.


Best single investment ever on personal well being? I trained with a personal trainer for a few months. I'd been more or less a couch potato for three decades. Now I actually know what to do to keep at least somewhat in shape. I specified that I wanted a body weight exercises based regimen and nothing based on fixed gym equipment and we did that.


I found workout regimes with this very useful (as you mentioned body weight training), along with a reasonable diet plan: https://darebee.com/ Can't say anything about results yet, but I think I'm on my way to getting there.


Travel. Every experience feels like a hard reset on my perceptions of how things should be, even in cultures similar to my own.

Sometimes I'll miss the way things are back home. Other times I'll wish that we'd adopt some of their values, but either way, it opens up the conversation about these ideas and how things can be approached differently.


I spend money on (that has a good ROI in terms of quality of life for me):

- Good wireless speakers (Sonos) and a Spotify subscription

- Audio books (Audible)

- Golf. Not only is it good exercise, gets me outside away from a computer, and fun but also has some tangible business benefits (at least in the US, not sure about elsewhere)


Off the top of my head: Good food, Uber/Lyft, Gym.

Sometimes my life is just a cycle of those 3 things :)


Mechanical Turk and Fiverr


What do you use Mechanical Turk for? I'm curious as to how a service like can be used in your personal life


Trips to the coffee shop with the wife for 'work dates.' Winter accouterments (good parka, gloves, hat, snow tires). My accountant, and any way I can trade money for time.


Travel. Usually plane tickets open the most doors.

I'm happy to save on accommodation and food costs if it means more money to spend on experiences and time with people where I'm traveling.


My wife, splash out here and there and my life is way more relaxed


Lets just say... a weekend trip to Colorado definitely helps me with quality of life, and I certainly don't mind spending some money when I go there.


Too euphemistic for me, is this a pot (cannabis) reference?


Haha, hiking in mountains helps me relax a lot. But whatever else people find up in Colorado... must be enjoyable too.


Surprisingly - Soylent. It saves a lot of eating time. No, a LOT of eating time. Plus it is probably a little healthier than what I'd eat otherwise.


Soylent is the single saddest thing i've ever heard of. eating is fun. cooking is fun. treating my body like a truck and pumping myself full of gas is just sad.


I'm torn on this.

I love cooking, am good at it, and I think I have quite a refined taste, but what tastes good isn't often the most healthy option.

I fully agree that life should be enjoyable, but I'm not sure that every aspect has to.

I like your truck analogy. Isn't the purpose of the truck, or rather what it does best, driving at its full capacity? That's why you only pump it full of gas, and not tequila or cream.

I'm currently in worse shape than I was a few years ago, while eating more "fun". But in all honesty I got much more enjoyment out of being more fit, less tired, stronger, clearer head, and frankly looking in the mirror too.

I'll take any of that enjoyment over fleeting meals. If I could have both, great, but if not, self restraint and delayed gratification is a reward in itself.

Disclaimer: This isn't specifically about Soylent, which I have yet to try, but about the concept of eating less exciting but healthy foods.


While occasional Soylent sounds reasonable to me, "Saving eating time" just sounds wrong somehow. What are you even saving time for?


Work-life balance and choosing employment based on colleagues, sensible pace of work, sense of doing good and interesting tech instead of paycheck.


Vacations - Somehow I feel people overlook the need for taking time out for themselves and spending quality time outside office.


Instant Pot. More veggie meals for less.


* Bluetooth headset * A good coffee machine and a grinder * A trailer hook and a bike rack for the car


first: savings second: food - go plant based third: all those tai chi classes which grew into a lifelong daily practice for health


A nice chocolate bar about once a month.


A private office, not far from home.


Rock climbing and (mostly audio) books.


My race car


A NAS and an Apple tv


Good pair of suit


- Fruits

- Meditation training

- Books

- Head phones


Nothing.




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