Having Good Tools Matters

It’s official, I’ve about doubled my income in the last three months. Which sounds awesome because it is in fact exactly as awesome as you think it would be. There’s a sort of a surge of money this month as Amazon pays out the Kindle sales two months after the fact, so the first The Mindful Attraction Plan money arrived at the end of August and in September coaching has really caught fire and we’re looking at the second big Kindle check coming at the end of the month before it settles down to something closer to normal.

Suddenly I have more money than I’ve had my whole life.

We’ve done a lot of shopping, catching a bunch of stuff up too. New dryer, new dishwasher, the short vacation to do all the back to school shopping, a second back to school shopping thing that happened that I don’t exactly understand but whatever, a new vacuum cleaner, a giant wholesale run for mass quantities of munchies, a month supply of protein shakes of special magnificence for both of us and plants for the front yard.

The shopping for plants was kind of fun in that we did it at Lowes and I said I wanted to price out some other stuff for the end of the month. Namely a garage door opener to replace the one that’s been broken for mumble mumble mumble years and it’s pretty apparent that the washing machine is dying too. It’s one of those front loader ones and it’s started to drool a bit, so that needs to be replaced too. So picked them out for next week, then routed by the freezers because don’t ask me why, but a freezer filled with extra food just seems to be a symbol to me that you’ve finally arrived at domestic comfort. I have no clue why.

So Jenniferlocks started looking at the freezers. There was a little chest one that was just too small, barely enough room for half a dead body. Then there was a great big chest freezer one and it would have looked more in place on a fishing trawler. Then we saw one that was just right… medium sized and on sale. It was perfect. Jennifer relaxed, this was the one. Then we rounded the corner and came upon an upright freezer, twice as big as the medium sized chest freezer, with internal racks and crazy deep shelving built into the door…

Jennifer:  “That would make it easier to find things and arrange them.”

Athol:  “You wouldn’t be in danger of falling in either.”

(In my defense she is quite short and leaning in to grab frozen salmon from the bottom of a chest freezer could indeed result in slapstick comedy.)

Then she looked at the price. Normally she would have flinched and that would have been it.

Athol:  “I know we’re on an important mission to buy some crappy plants I don’t care about plants for the front of the house, but I’m coming back for this freezer.”

Jennifer: “This is so weird to have money.”

Athol:  “It’s not like we’re buying junk, the freezer is a tool. We’ll use it, you’ll end up getting all the money back and more because you can do better sale shopping.”

Then we got her a new laptop. At some point she’s just going to need one for the business and we went looking for one. She’s used to a 15″ screen size on her work one, but I said she should go bigger to the 17″. Rationale… it’s going to be her primary tool for working her side of the business. Having a 17″ screen is going to be far more user friendly than having a 15″ one. It’s a tool. Hell I would have said go to 19″, but again she’s tiny and at that point the keyboard starts spreading a little making it harder to type. It’s a good laptop. She’s thrilled by it.

The one thing I really splurged on for myself last year was a really good laptop. It’s not so much a beast of computing power, as sort of a plush and sinfully comfortable one to use. I paid far too much for it and it’s worth every penny. I’m a writer, it’s the only tool I use for my job. I love my laptop. It always makes me feel good to use it.

Then it becomes apparent that nearly everything big we’re buying are tools… the dryer, dishwasher, vacuum, laptop, garage door opener, freezer, washing machine. The rest is good food and replacement clothes. But the tools just keep jumping out at me.

Every broken tool you own is draining energy from your life. Having good tools saves you time and energy, plus if they are functional and beautiful, you can gain even more energy by feeling good about using the good tool.

So what are your tools? Are they broken? Can you fix them? What’s your dream tool?



  1. Money is nice…..it’s a lot easier to be happy when you don’t have to worry about
    bouncing checks. Money is also dangerous. It’s easy to become obsessed by it
    and have it ruin your life. The number of lottery winners who end up bankrupt
    and in worse shape than before they won is testament to the dangers of money.
    And the number one thing about money that is bad is it tends to allow adults to
    spoil their children and growing up having to make tough decisions due to lack of
    money builds good character in children, growing up having everything and never
    working for it builds bad character. Hide the money from the kids. Let them think
    things ain’t bad but don’t let them know things are flush.

  2. Tools, yeah, worth spending money on, especially if it leads to saving/earning more money.

    Just don’t let it go to your head. Once you’ve got your needs taken care of, sock some away for that rainy day.

    Glad to hear things are going well. I hope things only get better for a long time for you and yours.

  3. LOL bc I’ve been dreaming of a chest freezer so I can order a side of grass fed beef from one of the local farms. Seriously though, right now Publix has Ben and Jerry’s on sale for $2 right now and so would fill a freezer just with that alone:) That saves money and it’s hormone free, right… Probably going to Costco tomorrow to price out savings vs. cost of membership with hubby so hopefully that goes well- then freezer may be a bday gift bc he already got me a set of pots and pans yrs ago and I’m one of those cool wives like that;) I know I could get one off Craig’s List but yeah the possibility of it being previously used for human remains freaks me out. I mean the body probably wasn’t even organic JK!
    @Dan whoa! You might need to examine your beliefs about wealth a little more. Sounds like a poverty mindset if I ever heard one. The root of all evil is NOT money, it’s the love of money. If you understand it’s merely a means of exchange (or to loosely quote MAP “a store of energy”) then usually it’s fine. They’re fixing up their house with some new appliances not buying a McMansion! And even if they were, that’s their business.

  4. mphousehold says:

    Good quality tools make a world of difference. Within reason, go for the best you can afford. Especially when it comes to white goods with mechanically moving parts like washing machines and dishwashers. Miele is the brand to go for.

    We experienced this when we decided to buy a ‘fantastic deal’ for a router and mitre saw in Lidl. Both were being sold for 35 odd pounds each and we decided to get them and start using them to do some work on the house and other DIY tasks. Both were poor and we could not do anything decent, things broke off. in the end i freecycled it. We did some research and bought the wonderful Evolution Rage mitre saw after that. it was close to 200 pounds at that time and looked fantastic and was smooth to operate and a joy to use. it has pretty justified its price tag. we have used it for so many tasks including installing wooden flooring, which was pretty much a one day job and hassle free one at that. Same with a Dewalt drill and random orbital sander.
    just buy less and buy better.

  5. Trimegistus says:

    Hope you’re socking away as much as possible in CDs or investment funds. Writing income should be treated as capital, not cash. Sales of a book peak and then decline, and you’re likely at or past the peak.

  6. Sweet! You deserve it, I’ve loved the books and the site. May we all be blessed with such rewarded diligence, and I certainly hope your growth continues.

    Mmmm, tools! :)

  7. Might I suggest taking a shot at repairing your front loading washer? If it’s “drooling” it may just need a new gasket / seal to keep it running longer. Nothing wrong with buying new, but much more alpha to teardown and rebuild an appliance! You’ll save money. Plus, this isn’t rocket science. The basic mechanics haven’t changed in 40 years. Appliancepartspros.com, repairclinic.com, partselect.com all offer schematics and parts for most appliances. And sites like fixitnow.com, applianceblog.com, and appliantology.org provide videos and how-to tips.

    In the last two years I’ve saved thousands by not paying repair men and not replacing appliances. I work in software, so it always impresses the wife to see her husband able to tackle these jobs. I’ve literally repaired every major appliance in the house. And only ended up replacing the washing machine (the replacement motor cost more than the washer cost when new).

    Finally, when you do decide it’s time to replace, better to spend more money on the best qualify new appliance then to save a few bucks only to find your repairing and or replacing sooner.. There’s some old saying, which I will now butcher, that says, “You’ll feel the pain of poor craftsmanship long after you remember the joy of a dollar saved.”

  8. Now that you’ve got the basic tools consider carefully what to do with the “extra”. Since you’ve been living OK up to now it might be a wise to not increase your spending by more than 10%.
    The thing about writing and “therapy” is that you have to wait for the customer to come to you. You’re popular now, but will that level of popularity remain high? It’s a said fact that your fifteen minutes of fame may disappear faster than you expect.
    One simple suggestion is to apply the “dollar savings plan”. Never spend one dollar bills. Use your change and five dollar bills, or larger, in your everyday life. Sock away all of your one dollar bills. I’ve used this plan for several years and while I’ve been forced to dip into it several times I have saved several thousand dollars with it.

  9. Flaming Man of Iron says:

    I couldn’t agree more Athol, good tools reduces the stress in your life. Buy quality and you’re set. Just make sure to make a good rainy day fund. ;)

  10. 2manypasswords says:

    This post sure brought the unsolicited advice-givers and the Debbie-Downers out of the woodwork. Maybe y’all should focus more on how to increase your own damn income and let Athol worry about his lot in life. Just sayin’…

  11. Yeah some ghost stories in the comments. No worries. The plan is just more and more MMSL related stuff creating more and more income streams. All I really want the money for is to have Jennifer and myself together more and getting MMSL to more people.

  12. Some tips on the freezer.

    A no frost freezer is a good thing.

    Costco has many items already in “industria” size, frozen fish, prepared foods. You can buy fresh fish (salmon comes to mind) and portion it out then freeze individual portions.
    Around here is a chain of stores called “Cash and Carry, United Grocers”. It’s a warehouse kind of thing. It caters to the food service industry. It is not the place you order from. It seems to be for restaurants, institutions that ran out of something betwen deliveries by their regular provisioner. They have many things in commercial sizes. For example, Guldens Brown Mustard, 1gal was about $8.00. At my local Kroger, its about 12fl oz for $3.00. A #10 can of pizza sauce for $4.00. It does not take many of these deals to realize huge savings on a food bill. We are a houshold of 2. A whole corned brisket @$2.39/pound. Go figure. Buy 3.

    Managing inventory can be a challenge sometimes. Keep score, log it in, log it out when you consume it.

    On money. OK, splurge once. Do not depend on sustaining the income rate based on a single 2 month interval. For example: do NOT trade up to a bigger more expensive house; don’t trade cars either. After the splurge build up cash, pay down debt. … I’ll not bore you with more.

  13. I find it humorous that people think that Athol doesn’t know how to handle his money, as though he’s spending it like crazy and not even thinking about the future.

    C’mon guys… Its Athol. Do you think that he got to where he is without learning and realizing these things?

  14. Passing Stranger says:

    Speaking from experience: when you get an unusual windfall, it is remarkable easy to burn through it.

    I suspect people have a “this is how much money I *should* have” and spend down to that. Also speaking from experience, life is a lot easier when your “default bank account level” is 3-6 months of expenses, rather than $20.

  15. enlightened1 says:

    Athol and Jennifer~

    I know you two are on an upward trajectory and only additional creative success and financial independence are heading your way. After all, we’re not running out of people who need marriage counseling anytime soon.

    Trimugistus- I suggest you change your name to Eeyore and buy and umbrella; it’s a good tool.

  16. I’m always shocked (I don’t know why I still am) that when the topic of money comes up, the conversations turn to warnings and ‘education’ immediately. The entire message of Athol’s post was clearly lost in the haze of fear and scarcity.

    Athol is buying vacuums and washing machines, people. Let him choose how he wants to spend his hard earned money–which, by the way was earned because of the information he provides you. Either way, you should pay attention–new washing machines and tools to make Their lives easier are sure to get him laid as well.

  17. There’s no question that getting an earned windfall of money (bonuses in my case) is fun; when it comes in a lump sum it does allow for the purchase of large ticket items that are harder to fund through regular cash flow. This is how we’ve typically purchased larger ticket items (furniture, new roof or windows, etc.) too. There’s no increase in monthly expenses this way, and that’s certainly a common way for people’s cost of living to increase.

    I’m glad you’re doing well and enjoying the fruits of your labours.

    I got my dream tool this summer; we did a backyard reno. Some would see that just as an outlay, but I see it as having created a place for my family to relax together that doesn’t require electricity or wifi and gets us out of the house. We work very hard and need to schedule more time for just being together. Instead of watching tv after dinner, sometimes we come out and sit around the fire pit. It’s my cottage without heavy traffic and two houses to take care of with built in Vitamin D. All good.

  18. Threemoreyears says:

    No dollar of income is worth more to a man than the one that allows him to not stress about money on a day to day basis. Once attaining that level, the threat of falling below will grind him to dust.

  19. Congrats Athol. It’s a good feeling to harvest the fruits of your labor. As Hannibal from the A-Team would say, to see a plan come together.

    In terms of tools I follow the buy once, cry once philosophy. I learned this in my teen years from playing guitar. I’d have my teen jobs and save up some cash, then I’d go looking for a guitar or new amp. I could buy one that was “okay” and it was, or save a few more months to get the one I really wanted. If I bought the okay one, I knew that in a few weeks I would have buyers remorse and just be saving again for the one I really wanted, but having lost cash on the middle of the road item.

    I carry that through today whether it concerns tools for work, hobbies or for home repair. Money spent on quality tools is not wasted. I find they save gobs of the one thing you can’t earn more of: time.

    Heck, even a matching set of quality screwdrivers and a set of various types of hammers and a proper set of wrenches is a Godsend compared to the motley collection of items “borrowed” over the years from Dad and Grandpa’s garages. Few things more aggravating than needing to fix something “right now” but not having the correct tools and an ensuing trip to Lowes. That can apply to a lot of areas of endeavor.

    The lolz.

  20. Cheers for the deep freeze. We have one. We use it. From Costco to buying half a cow at a time – they’re money savers. And it’s a great feeling, knowing you can go shopping in your pantry, not the store. :)

    Glad to hear you’re being taken care of, Athol. Cheers. :)




    LMAO. I love you.

  22. Trimegistus says:

    Call me an Eeyore if you wish. All I’m sayin’ is don’t treat book income as cash to spend, treat it as capital to invest — which will then GENERATE cash to spend. The SF writer Robert Silverberg followed that principle and gives seminars on financial planning to other writers.

  23. Congrats on the payoff! It sounds to me like you are correctly subscribing to the “cry once” philosophy. Buy good quality tools and you only cry once (due to the expense). Buy cheap stuff and you’ll cry every time you use it or have to replace it. The quality stuff also typically lasts long enough to be a better value in the long run.

    If you want a good challenge, learn to fly. You’ll love the opportunities that creates, and also being able to call yourself the “pilot in command”.

  24. Four years ago I had a little extra money. We bought an old camper van and some art.
    The van’s been a great tool for family holidays. The art still looks good on the walls – lots of good energy coming off those babies. We dry our clothes on the washing line – saves us money, better for the clothes, better for the planet’s non-renewables.
    If white goods float your boat then enjoy the windfall!

  25. What Eric says +1000.
    I only gave up on the washer after 20 years and after it dumped its guts out on the floor. Appliance repair is a good skill to acquire, not hard to acquire, and doesn’t take as much time as you think and comes in handy in the cash flow lean times because it can become an income stream. This is especially true if you are handy enough to know what end of a screwdriver to hold onto.

    Good on you.

  26. I recently switched from using my battered laptop to an android tablet. I can now just speak into the tablet, and get something written. Using my voice has completely changed the quality and style of my writing.

  27. Karl Hungus says:

    Congrats to you both, Athol and Jen. I’m so happy to hear things are going well. You both deserve it.

    Regarding money, my take is that it doesn’t guarantee happiness but it sure opens up a wider array of options. (Which is pretty awesome, IMHO.) Some of those options include ways to save time. To me, when you can save yourself time, that’s when you’ve really made it.

    Wishing you tons more success.


  28. Karl Hungus says:

    PS: I’m sure everyone just wants you all to be happy. My 2 cents is to keep an eye on the future, but enjoy today too. You both seem naturally apt at keeping balance in general, so it’s all good.

  29. Oh man, big freezer was one of the best things we ever got, right after getting married, as was a decently-sized fridge (effectively half off after clearance/floor model/haggling) more recently. A nice Dyson vacuum was the other wonderful tool purchase.

    Someone mentioned saving money in a CD? No. CD = a certificate that says you have a deposit. It won’t even make you back inflation. Terrible investment and on top of that, it’s not even remotely liquid. Go with money market for liquidity (emergency fund) or any number of mutual fund options for long-term investment/wealth building.

  30. Neanderthal2000 says:

    I’ve been on both ends of the money spectrum. Even if you live a simple life and are happy, when more money starts rolling in you realize how stressful the other way was. You don’t always notice it at the time.


  31. Plugging your laptop into an external monitor and keyboard of your choice gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to big screen size and comfortable keyboard size. This is my personal setup and I like it a lot.

  32. Congratulations, Athol!
    About three years ago, my financial life took a turn for the better and I understand exactly where you’re coming from. Enjoy it. You can’t take it with you.

  33. 27″ iMac with Apple Care and Crashplan

    I can SEE what I’m designing and if the darn thing stops working, gets stolen or a hurricane takes it out, I’m not SOL. I breath a little deeper each day.

  34. One of the things my Ex excelled at was running down the infrastructure of our lives mainly due to insufficient and poor maintenance and not upgrading certain household tools and technology. It takes many more times the effort to maintain a well maintained home than a poorly maintained one.

    Everyday I was reminded of his lack of skill and effort. Then as I aged (and the house got worse) I was increasingly unable to keep up with the household tasks, cleaning and gardening (plus working full time), then I left him and he wondered why!

    So, yes, tools and infrastructure are critically important to lasting happiness. A man who can provide them is a total gift from heaven – one that can pull his weight and save money through doing maintenance himself is an absolute treasure! :-) C

  35. Let’s see….maybe a decent milling machine. :-)

    Though I manage with a pretty basic tool set…and enough funds to buy anything I really need without stressing over it.

  36. Good post, as always. I’d say my favorite tools is…..my cell phone b/c you can multi task any where.

  37. NaughtyZoot says:

    My dream tool: a chainsaw. I begged for one for Valentines Day (a “holiday” I effing despise by the way), but the husband never took me seriously. But oh the utility!

    Hi ugly, dead, useless trees loitering in my backyard. Meet Mr. Shiny New Buzzy Chainsaw. Brrrrrmmmmm brrrrmmmmm.

  38. Congrats! So nice to double your income and not have to worry about bills!
    Here’s hoping the higher income stays.. Screw that, if we’re wishing for things.., continues to increase!
    Best of luck to you.
    And thank you for taking us along for the ride.

  39. felisnondomesticus says:

    You are so right about buying quality tools and appliances! You didn’t even mention the wasted time of taking off work “between noon and 5″ and the repair person never even shows up!

    The best “tool” I ever bought was my 2001 Toyota Echo, made in Japan. It’s got 339,888 miles on it and has had virtually ZERO repairs or down time. 2 water pumps, a radiator, alternator, 3 tune-ups and routine oil changes. Most of its life it got 36mpg (hypermiling got 40) but here lately it’s “only” getting 32mpg. Imagine…13 years of an average 35 mpg!!! I paid $11,900 for it new, put a trailer hitch on it to tow a 4×8 trailer for plywood, landscape stuff, and other not-too-heavy purchase. If it ever permanently breaks down, I may also!

    As for the advice givers where none was asked; how about re-reading the post, answering the question that was asked, and keeping your thinly-disgused envy to yourself?

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