8 Small Splurges That Can Make a Big Difference in Your Life

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Pregnant woman sitting on a bench in a park at the playground watching children and reading an e-reader or tablet
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It’s often said money can’t buy happiness — and that might be true in the broadest sense.

But there are plenty of purchases that can make your life better, and many don’t cost much in the grand scheme of things.

If you’re the type of person to feel guilty about purchasing things for yourself, maybe you need to be talked into it.

Following are several worthwhile splurges whose value you may not have considered before. Check them out, then treat yourself.

1. Smart vacuum

Robotic vacuum cleaning a floor
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Traditional vacuums are cumbersome and noisy, and take time out of your day. And when life gets hectic, vacuuming can be easy to neglect.

A smart vacuum could be the answer to all of that — they take care of business on their own, in relative quiet (depending on the model) and without taking up much space.

Ready to leave this chore in the dust? Check out the robot vacuums in “The 3 Best Vacuum Brands, According to Consumers.”

2. Weighted blanket

Man sleeping with a weighted blanket
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You can’t put a price tag on a good night’s sleep. And like fellow Money Talks News writer Kentin Waits, I was skeptical of weighted blankets — now I swear by mine.

These heavy blankets (usually weighing 10-20 pounds, with the ideal heft depending on your own body weight) feel like an all-night hug. Enthusiasts say it helps calm them and improves sleep. It definitely works for me and helps keep me from tossing and turning so much, too.

3. Password manager

Man working on computer cybersecurity and password manager
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As more essential products and services move online, we all have far more accounts than we used to — and more passwords than we’d probably like.

It can be tempting to reuse passwords just to avoid the hassle of having to remember so many. But the frequency of major website hacks makes that a risky strategy.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. In “The Best Way to Remember and Protect Your Passwords,” Money Talks News writer Dori Zinn calls a password manager one of her favorite gifts ever.

This piece of software, accessible from your computer or your phone, lets you come up with one password to rule them all — and then saves all your other logins with unique passwords so you don’t have to keep track of them all.

That means you can forever empty your brain of all the overly complex requirements of the modern internet to include a certain number of characters on this site’s password and a symbol and a number and three capital letters on that one.

4. Secondary monitors

Man producing music on his computer
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Here’s another thing about having more of our lives and work on the internet these days: We often end up having a lot of browser windows and apps open at once.

It can be hard to juggle all the things you need to look at on your monitor — a process I like to call “playing screen Tetris,” after the old video game that required arranging lots of weirdly shaped blocks.

That’s why I have three monitors, side by side, for my computer setup. As someone who works from home, it’s a real lifesaver to be able to spread out my windows.

Three might be overkill for some, but I would definitely consider getting another if you only have one. It’s like upgrading from a grade-school desk to an executive one.

5. E-reader

Woman reading an e-book on her bed
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Some paper books can be tough to find, and heavy and awkward to hold at length. Then they take up a lot of space when you’re done.

Don’t get me wrong — I still have a big collection of paperback and hardcover novels, and enjoy reading that way.

But it’s hard to deny the value of an e-reader these days, especially when they give you instant access to tons of free books, as we detail in “9 Sites That Offer Free E-Books.”

6. Hammock

A black man relaxes in a hammock next to a pool
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So far, every item on the list has a very practical reason behind it. But that’s enough of that. Our next advice: Get a hammock.

Sometimes you just have to get something because it’s nice and comfortable.

One of the nicest ways to be outdoors is fully reclined and hovering off the ground, and it’s really that simple.

7. Meditation pillow

Relaxed woman doing meditation and yoga in a well lit room full of sunlight and plants to remove stress
atiger / Shutterstock.com

Some people might say this is a stupid idea, since you can meditate anywhere comfortable. Forget those people.

“Having a dedicated spot for meditation helped me make it a habit. And it turned out to be a life-changing habit — improving my stress tolerance, my focus and my quality of sleep,” says Money Talks News managing editor Karla Bowsher. “So I figure the money I blew on a couple of fancy floor cushions is nothing compared to the increase in quality of life.”

Give yourself permission to find inner peace, regardless of how cheesy or frivolous it might sound. You know yourself best, including your experience with all the things you’ve tried before that didn’t work. So when you find something that works for you, grab it and run with it — it doesn’t matter whether it works for anyone else.

8. Bike

Man with bike
pikselstock / Shutterstock.com

While we’re talking about the outdoors, consider the humble bicycle.

It can provide transportation, exercise, time to listen to podcasts and see great views — all at very little ongoing cost. Plus, it’s fun.

If you live somewhere suitable, a kayak might be good, too.

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