They say money can’t buy happiness, but I’m not convinced. Some purchases can make your life easier or more enjoyable, which contributes to your overall happiness. Don’t believe me? I asked the Lifehacker staff what purchases they found most valuable this year (beyond the everyday essentials, of course). From one-time splurges to ongoing investments, these purchases show that if you spend your money wisely, it can indeed make your life a bit happier.
Here’s what we bought and loved:
“For my entire life, I’ve been suffering my way through rainy days with soaking wet toes,” said Social Media Editor Tim Mulkerin. “I have a pair of rain boots, but they don’t breathe well and it’s always felt silly to me to wear such specialised footwear for the few minutes it takes me to walk from the subway to the office.” Then, he discovered Allbirds’ waterproof sneaker, the Mizzle (from $200). They keep his feet dry and warm. “They just look like a wintry boot—not too clunky and not too shiny,” he said. “And now, rainy days don’t seem quite so soul-crushing.”
A better vacuum
This year, Parenting Editor Meghan Moravcik Walbert finally replaced the cumbersome vacuum cleaner she’s been hauling around since she got married more than a decade ago. In its stead, she picked up a Dyson V7 Motorhead cordless vacuum (about $599). “It is cordless. It can be mounted (mine is mounted in a closet). It is lightweight. It has enough battery life to allow me to vacuum the entire house at once,” she said. And most of all: “It’s fuschia; and that alone brings me enough joy that I think all vacuum cleaners should be designed in bright, cheery colours.”
Cast iron cookware
When Lifehacker contributor Nicole Dieker moved two years ago, she bought an inexpensive cookware set because the price was right to get her started in her new place. “It took about a year before I had to toss one of the pans into the trash because the nonstick coating had started to peel away in giant strips,” she recalled. “The other plans looked mostly OK, then less OK, and then I cooked up a bunch of scrambled eggs that had black bits in them.” The threw out the pan (and the eggs) and bought a set of Lodge cast-iron cookware, which she said “Is what I should have done from the very beginning.”
A lifting gym membership
A gym membership can quickly turn into a money pit if you’re not careful. But Managing Editor Virginia K. Smith is making the most of hers. “I’d always wanted to get into power lifting, but I was scared of hurting myself and didn’t want to shell out for personal training,” she said of the group coaching sessions at the lifting gym she joined (the initial package was $530 for two months). “This was the perfect compromise, and after only a few months I feel a lot stronger and more energetic.” Now she opts for a regular membership, which doesn’t cost her much more than she was paying for ClassPass (around $235/month).
A cat feeder
Writer Josh Ocampo adopted a cat this year (her name is Milkfoot), and admits that he’s spoiling his first pet. “She is living Annie’s lifestyle after Daddy Warbucks adopted her,” he said. He recently decided to splurge on a Wi-Fi enabled PETKIT automatic pet feeder ($190), “Because I hate to think she’s hungry and waiting for me when I’m running late,” Ocampo said. He uses a smartphone app to dispense dry food at any time of day, and it’s measured each time. “If you think I’m spoiling my cat by buying her a Wi-Fi feeder, you’re probably right, but she is now a much happier, well-fed kitty,” he said.
A smartwatch for trail running
Lifehacker contributor Emily Long found that her Apple Watch didn’t play nice with her workout apps, and her older Suunto watch crashed her computer every time she plugged it in to sync. What’s a trail runner to do? Upgrade to a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus smartwatch. With a starting price of $1,249, it’s certainly an investment, but Long loves hers. “Wireless sync was the impetus for upgrading to the Garmin, but it also has a really long battery life (needed for very long adventures/not having to remember to charge every night), all of the features of a good smart watch (notification sync, contactless payments, etc.) and of a good fitness and adventure watch,” she said.
A bigger apartment
After three years in a one-bedroom apartment next to a commercial construction site—where my small kitchen table became my desk once I started working remotely—I felt cramped and exhausted at home. When I started looking for a new place, I jumped at the first apartment that fit my budget, aesthetic and desired neighbourhood, which meant that I paid for two apartments for two months while waiting for my old lease to run out.
Now that the initial outlay is done, I’m paying $290 per month more than before (plus a bit extra on utilities and insurance, of course) for almost twice the square footage. Instead of walking seven steps from my bed to my desk each morning, I take a solid 16 or so. It’s a nice little commute, really. Since I spend most of the day at home, that additional expense for rent is well worth it. Plus, there’s no construction next door—at least, not yet.