I always get the good shit
I’ve been eating nasty cafeteria food here at work. Everyone knows it’s nasty and overpriced; a new company got the contract and the prices doubled (okay, raised by a half), and the quality went even lower than before. They don’t quite serve food, just some sort of food imitation.
I always get the good shit, you know that? I bake my own bread from a sourdough starter or (occasionally) get it from Panera; a coworker of mine likes to buy it from bakeries, and not WonderBread either. I make my own beer or drink Trapist ale (Chimay!) or Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head; several of my coworkers are of the mind that beer is a drink, not a venue for the delivery of drunkenness. My clothes don’t come from WalMart, mostly from Land’s End or some such; I’ve been replacing my wardrobe slowly, and it makes a huge difference.
I find that this actually improves both my life and my finances. Bread and beer take time to make, or more money to buy bakery or microbrewery beer; making your own reduces the cost immensely, but making or buying a quality product gets you something enjoyable instead of something you’re used to. My clothes don’t wear out as fast, even though they cost twice as much; they also feel awesome on my body. I’m replacing crap economy cars with a used fully loaded Volkswagon Jetta TDI, and the difference in driving experience is amazing, never mind that the car needs fewer (but more expensive) repairs. I skip 3/$5 condensed soups and grab the 2/$5 cans of soup, because hell, it’s a lot better; I could make my own.
On top of it, I have a $50 set of kitchen knives that actually hold their edge and can cut through things, rather than dulling in a month and ripping things like $10 aluminum sets. I use a double-edge razor, paying about 50 cents for a week’s worth of blade use (good Feather blades) and a better shave than $2.50 Gillette Fusion blades give me, never mind a horrible electric razor or a decent $150 one that’ll wear its battery out in a year. My cookware’s mostly cast iron, lasts forever if you take care of it right and cooks much better if used properly.
All of this takes a little extra money and a little time investment. Cooking takes more time than buying fast food, but saves you money and gives you better food. A proper shave involves a hot towel and pre-shave treatment to the face for about 5 minutes, then lather application with a brush and several passes with the blade for about 20 minutes, with careful attention to the grain of your face. Besides just canning your own jam, you can get fresh fruit, vegetables, and even glass-bottled fresh milk from farmer’s markets instead of going to the corner store.
I believe firmly that getting modestly decent stuff actually improves your quality of life greatly. I don’t mean ultra-expensive luxury items, but more durable and pleasant quality essentials. Decent bread, decent knives, even a decent $25 fountain pen if you write a lot. A time investment makes up a huge part of it too; spend half an hour in the bathroom giving yourself a decent shave, or take the time to cook your own food, even grind your own coffee (ground beans go bad fast). In the end, you won’t be spending too much more money or time on everything; but you may feel like a very rich man just because of the quality of life you experience.