December 18, 2018

Worth its weight in gold

Posted

“Where have you been all my life?”

I asked that question quite recently, as I sat in lovestruck wonder, watching ... paint peel off — through goggles, per instructions.

I had looked up YouTube videos and tried a couple other products, with little progress in getting those stubborn paint flecks off surfaces in my house. Then came Goof-Off, and it was like I was suddenly transported into one of those infomercials — with black-and-white flashbacks of an extremely frustrated (and slightly stupid) person with zero patience or anger management hopelessly using an inferior product to no avail, then turning into a color picture of an overly happy person effortlessly wiping paint flecks away.

I love stumbling across life-changing things like this. I long ago wondered why Goo-Gone hadn’t been given as much credit as duct tape or the Swiss Army knife (I keep these all on hand). So maybe Goo-Gone is better for pet peeves like stickers on books, and not so much life-or-death situations. But as a single person thrust into awkward DIY moments, little things like a sturdy utility knife suddenly become invaluable.

When you’re on a budget, you have to figure out things you can and can’t live without. For instance, thus far I’ve managed to live without any kind of subscription TV, relying on free internet streaming, DVDs and, yes, old VHS tapes. But in other instances, you just know you can do better. After a while of dealing with a broken, lidless plastic garbage bin, the stainless steel one with a foot lever that I found on clearance was a total game-changer. No more cats in the garbage, mess on the wall, bags being torn on the broken part, leveraging myself against the bin to get the bag out ... I’m still ridiculously pleased, after months. Sometimes it’s the small things in life.

If something can save you a certain amount of time and work, it tends to be worth that little extra cost, even on a budget. And the idea is to turn that spared time into good use — possibly earning or saving even more money. Extra points if you can buy those time-savers using a rewards program or money earned from surveys.

Now, there is a line when it comes to trying to make life easier. I’m not going to go out and buy those “toast tongs” to grab my toast with rather than waiting two seconds for it to cool off, or a gadget for taking apart every fruit known to man. These may seem convenient until you try to figure out where to store them, or until you realize you don’t eat as much of that fruit as you thought.

But things that avoid future, more costly catastrophes like scratched-up furniture are worthwhile investments. (Sorry, the cats are non-negotiable.) And sometimes it’s that one little touch — doesn’t have to cost a fortune — that gives the room a feeling of home. Extra points again if that little touch also stops a draft.

There should always be that weighing of pros and cons, and hesitation over investing in a product that may or may not work out as planned. Or there’s an order — in which one product bought might go to waste if done before or without another (e.g., plants without a deer fence, in this area). There’s definitely that list of priorities, and whether or not these little things will distract from bigger, necessary future projects. But the sense of accomplishment when your limited wisdom pays off is sweet.

And once in a while, you are thrown a no-brainer, and a few little pleasant surprises.

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