Now matter how you earn or indulge, luxury always seems like something that other people can afford. There’s a reason for this. Instagram, the USA network, Conde Nast magazines, and Drake music videos bombard us with images of fabulously wealthy peoples’ home theaters, infinity pools, sensory deprivation tanks, and eight-course meals. The truth is that if you don’t live like that, you likely never will. But there’s another truth: Affordable, modern luxuries can make life a lot more pleasurable at a discount.
In the service of upgrading your life, here are 23 indulgences you can probably afford ranked by benefit per dollar spent. Sure, splashing out on the whole list will put you in the red, but choosing a handful will not — and it will make a difference.
23) Quality Pens
Everyone knows just how good it feels to write with a quality pen. Preference may vary, but there’s little debate when it comes to a real piece of craftsmanship. Technology may indeed be rendering writing utensils obsolete, but a quality pen renders technology obsolete. No matter what you write — be it trivial, be it grandiose — you’ll feel like a king. And when an associate needs to borrow a pen, you’ll win big points when you extend a quality pen. Plus, you’re going to need one to record these future shopping list items.
22) A Second Monitor
This is a relatively costly investment (though it’s getting to be less so each year), but the enhanced experience makes it worthwhile. Especially so if you’re at all addicted to or reliant upon technology, the internet, and/or video games. In terms of surfing the web, it’s like going from a boogie board to a surfboard. Ease of navigation and style points go way, way up.
21) A Projector
Projectors, if they’re quality, are expensive. So definitely don’t buy a second monitor and a projector. But, if you’re looking to splurge, your humble reviewer would like to suggest that the cost-benefit analysis here says get a damn projector. They’re getting cheaper by the month, too. Your living room plus a projector: instant home theater. And if you want more bang for your buck, use it as a badass nightlight.
20) Rearrange Living Spaces
If you’re going to get a projector, you might need to do this anyway. But even if you’re not going to get a projector, rearranging is a good idea. And it costs zero dollars. Take ten minutes and imagine various layouts. If you succeed, your space will be more luxurious. Keep it well-organized and, if motivated, clean, and your mind will be forever at ease. Simple as that.
19) Indoor Plants
Now that you’ve got all that extra room, spruce everything up. Plants literally bring a space to life, and many are easy to maintain. Greenery — especially in an urban environment — yields happiness.
18) Illegal Plants
Weed. Ganja. Marijuana. If you’re not subject to paranoia and angst, pot makes just about everything feel luxurious. Whether it is in fact luxurious is immaterial.
17) Quality Booze
Okay, okay: the paranoia is setting in. That’s fine, that’s fine, everything’s fine. Everything’s fine. One thing that can take you down a notch is a nice glass of, say, scotch. The cheapskate would say stick to cheap booze, but that’s imprudent. Quality booze makes for a quality buzz, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Engage in true luxury and just cherish one good drink. The bottle or sixer will last longer and the effects will be more pronounced.
16) Streaming Services
Now that you’re cruisin’, time to kick back and enjoy some tunes or mindless entertainment. These days, these services are cheap and will save you endless frustration. Virtually all music and many, many movies at your fingertips: that’s luxury, dawg.
15) A Bicycle
Or, if it’s daytime, go for a spin on a bike. Biking is so fun it might as well be a mind-altering drug itself. And there are few experiences that feel more luxurious than weaving through traffic on a bike or blasting down a big hill.
With all that exercise and/or the munchies, you’re going to need some sustenance. Enter fruit. Fruit is natural candy. Inexpensive, and relatively good for you. Top-shelf fruits, like mangoes and pomegranates, used to be reserved for royalty, but are now available at your local grocery store. Get some. Eat some. Smile.
Now you have all this extra, gradually rotting fruit. What to do? Simple: smoothies. No one in their right mind would turn down a smoothie, especially when it doesn’t cost seven bucks. You will need a blender, of course, but your mornings will be luxury epitomized. If you’re feeling adventurous, prepare your breakfast smoothie at night. Wake up, hit blend, and enjoy a tasty, healthy meal.
13) Electric Kettle
Electric kettles are arguably one of the most underappreciated technological innovations of the modern era. Boiling water — and therefore making tea and coffee — has never in history been more painless. The time you save and the repeated hassles you eradicate will make the $60 price tag irrelevant. If you’re going for true quality, look for one with a gooseneck spout.
12) Coffee Paraphernalia
Now that boiling water is a blissful dream, time to get your coffee game on point. Either a French press or an Aeropress will do you wonders. But don’t waste time with pre-ground coffee: buy yourself whole beans and a grinder and sip an honest cup of joe.
Your humble reviewer cannot claim to have experienced this luxury himself, but people seem really into bidets. They’re the things that go on toilets and nix the need for toilet paper. If the thought makes you uncomfortable, just upgrade your TP — add a ply. But if not, bidets are now affordable. Shit in luxury.
10) Waterproof or Bluetooth Speakers
Listening to music is comforting. Listening to music in the shower or anywhere at all is luxurious. Inexpensive item, big reward.
9) Better Soap
It’s super easy to think about toiletries as provisions rather than as potential luxury products, but don’t let the sellers of mega-sized body wash cartons confuse you with their powerful odors. Good soap feels better and good smells linger.
8) A Better Shower Head
About that shower. A good shower experience is luxury. You may not have eight shower heads that shoot water at every square inch of your body, but a good single shower head will still make a huge difference. Experts recommend detachable shower heads with adjustable spouts, but there are enough options on the market that the committed seeker will find his or her personal treasure.
7) Good Towels
What constitutes a “good” towel may be subjective. I myself don’t like exceptionally soft towels, as they tend to push water around rather than pick it up. But whatever towel you prefer, seek it out. Showering is great, and drying off should be, too.
6) Fresh Undergarments
Now that you’re dry, continue to enjoy bliss. Treat yourself to new socks and new underwear. Everyone knows how good it feels to put on a brand new pair of socks. The experience is pleasant enough to make a day great. Every once in a while, treat yourself to a new pack, slip a pair on, then exhale, content.
5) Nice Kicks
New socks are only half the battle. The benefits of nice shoe ownership are both mental and physical. Regarding the former, quality shoes make their wearer confident. On top of that, a surprising number of people judge others based on what shoes they wear. If you own enviable shoes, you’ll shine. And a well-crafted pair will last you long enough to make them a worthwhile investment. Regarding the latter, science says that good shoes make for a happy body.
4) Wooden Clothes Hangers
A tidy closet makes for a tidy mind. Well-constructed clothes hangers guarantee that your clothes stay in place, and even improve the appearance of your closet. While you’re at it, organize those clothes, either by color or by clothing type. Unless you’re mad, you’re getting dressed every morning. Make the experience more pleasant.
Wow, you’ve done a lot. You’re tired and sore from moving furniture, riding your bike, and living in luxury. Time to get a friend or significant other to give you a massage, for free. You may need to return the favor, but it’ll be worth it. Just make sure this friend or significant other knows what they’re doing. A bad free massage is not at all luxurious.
2) A Fucking Hammock
Now you’d very much like to continue to lazily lounge. You can get a pretty decent hammock for under a hundred bucks, and it’ll reward you day in and day out. Sit back and rock side to side with a good book. What a treat.
1) A Memory Foam Mattress Topper
This one is almost a given. It’s another relatively big purchase, but well-restedness is one of luxury’s cornerstones. These toppers will turn your hand-me-down bed into a dream in and of itself.