The Best $1.99 I Spent in January

We were out grocery shopping a few weeks ago when one child presented with a sudden – and overwhelming – need for water.

I am not in the habit of bringing drinks along for errands anymore; the kids are old enough to manage these things independently and can typically hold out until we get home.

But this time I knew we were at least an hour from wrapping up errands and I also learned said child had not had any water since the previous day (this child usually drinks a LOT of water and I do not monitor their consumption because it is so regular, but they had been at a birthday party the previous afternoon and had skipped supper because they were full…and then had a big breakfast and somehow managed to not get a drink then, either?).

I thought there might be a fountain in a nearby shopping complex, but the logistics of coordinating this pit stop were complicated. But, this was the only logical solution, right?

Water is free! Water is not something we buy! We have a water cooler full of refreshing aqua at home!

As we were standing in line to check out – with a thirsty child and a pile of groceries – I attempted to coordinate with John how to split up and go on a hunt for a water fountain.

And then, shocking even myself, I added: Or I suppose I could just buy a jug of water.

I grabbed a $1.99 4L bottle out of the nearby fridge – it was the exact same price as a 950 mL bottle, so I didn’t throw frugality to the wind entirely – and within seconds our very thirsty child was chugging water. (This is the best water I have EVER tasted was their official response).

Because of my hardwired desire to pinch pennies – and because water is something that I equate with being free – it was not my default reaction to shell out $1.99 to buy a bottle of the stuff. But I did…and it ended up being the most satisfying $2 I spent in January.

Your turn. What’s the best small purchase you’ve made lately – let’s say something under $5. Do you have a hard time spending money on “convenience” items?

Header photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

22 thoughts on “The Best $1.99 I Spent in January”

  1. I don’t have a problem with spending on something like the water if it was needed. Before the pandemic I used to buy coffee everyday on my way in to work and now I take coffee from home. I’ve worked hard to go in the other direction and not buy convenience items as often.

    1. It’s a delicate balance; convenience spending can spiral…but sometimes reluctance to spend a little money can really contribute to an unnecessary inconvenience! Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t, but the $1.99 water was DEFINITELY the right call.

  2. Oh, having extreme thirst is horrible! I once asked people at a parking lot if they could spare some water because I had underestimated the length of the run I was doing. I was so embarrassed, but that bottle of water a lady gave to me was a lifesaver! I have also been pulled in by the gum at the check out counter. Sometimes you just need to have a pack of gum on hand, although I would normally buy it from Target or Costco in a larger quantity to save money in the long run rather than buying one pack at a time from the stand. I am usually about frugality over spontaneity, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

    1. There is nothing like a long drink of water when you’re thirsty. I hate the sensation of being that thirsty, but the relief is memorable!

  3. Cooper wrote a NaNoWriMo book at school, and we could buy copies for $3.75 on Amazon– best buy of the month for sure!
    (Also, I also have children who will eat full meals without a beverage, and I just don’t get it)

    1. That’s amazing: both that Cooper did NaNoWriMo and that you were able to purchase copied for $3.75.
      I cannot eat without some beverage, but I tend to drink A LOT of water, so think I’ve conditioned myself that way. I think I read somewhere that it’s best for digestion to not eat until the end of a meal, but I can’t fathom doing that! If I don’t have water every 30 minutes or so, I feel parched!

  4. Yes, the $1.99 was well worth it to avoid hunting everywhere for a water fountain. I also hate buying bottled water, but sometimes you just have to. On our recent trip to Tampa I had to buy some bottled water, and my daughter asked “Are we trying to waste as much money as possible?” Ha ha… trips are expensive, or, as a very wise blogger once said, “it costs what it costs.”

    1. Ha! I did laugh at your daughter’s snarky comment, but yes – sometimes it does “cost what it costs.”
      Gretchen Rubin also discusses a “tourist tax” – by that, it means when you’re traveling there are certain things that can’t be maximized financially. I always struggle with this (This would be free at home!), but it’s part of the experience and it’s easier to lean into it.

  5. Sometimes the $1.99 (thrifty to get the 4 gal instead of the small bottle!) are worth it. The time that you would have spent looking for a water fountain is more valuable overall. The best small purchase I made recently? A huge pack of small hair ties (I keep losing mine and it’s nice be able to keep a few on hand at all times).

    1. It would have been a hassle to go looking for a water fountain AND I couldn’t remember if they even had one (plus, I find most water fountains seem to be out of order, anyway).

      Every year or two I buy a jumbo set of plain, thin black hair ties and it is such a great investment (though, in terms of an investment – I buy mine at the DollarStore, so they’re probably $1.99 max!).

  6. Sometimes that desperation purchase in line somewhere makes all the difference, right? My best small purchase recently was new lip balm for the pocket of my coat. I avoided it – and it was short money! – because it felt so wasteful, but having one there makes all the difference on long walks when I don’t have my pocketbook.

    1. Lip balm. That is a product I can never have enough of and, ironically, a major pain point lately has been not having lip balm in my purse and coats. I have a lot of trouble with dry skin in the cold winter weather, and end up with dry lips (which I then chew – a horrible habit). Lip balm really helps!
      Here is the worst bit about it: I HAVE new lip balm in my toiletries stash, I just hadn’t moved any over to my purse(s) and coat(s). I am leaving this comment and then immediately going to remedy this issue. Thanks for the nudge I needed to take action against a very annoying – but fully “solvable” – issue in my life.

  7. A few years back we took the kids to Legoland, and it being Legoland there was no outside food allowed yet the dining options were slim. I mean they were plentiful but … what one would expect, I guess. Anyhow, we were in the restaurant, and I’m a little annoyed at having to pay inflated prices for everything and trying to not buy anything extra, and the oldest kid who must have been seven or so at the time asked if she could buy a cup of watermelon. It was like a $7 cup of cut up fruit and that seemed exorbitant to me so I said no. And afterwards the Husband says, “You should have let her get the watermelon. It’s expensive, but everything is expensive here, and she is trying to make a good choice and in the long run, $7 isn’t a lot of money.” Something about that has really stuck with me. Yes, a lot of small things can add up, but sometimes what you buy is more than just the thing, right? Like your water.

    1. What a great point. Our purchasing decisions say a lot about what we value and how we view money.
      For the record, I would have also likely said no to the $7 watermelon (because I would have thought: I can buy an ENTIRE watermelon for that price back home). But, it would have been a better option, in many ways, than a $2 bag of chips. I feel like there is a whole post percolating in this comment, Diane!

  8. That was $1.99 well spent. It is an awful feeling to be very thirsty! I am still in the stage of parenting where we bring water bottles with us everywhere!! It is kind of hassle because I’m already lugging so much around, but I also bring a bottle for myself in the diaper bag. But if I forgot, would buy the water if need be.

    My recent purchase that was under $5 and totally worth it was a travel deodorant to keep as work. I will very rarely forget to put on deodorant in the morning and then realize it when I get to work. I had a travel deodorant at work but when I took it out to use it, it completely crumbled since it was very very old. Luckily there is a Target a block away so I could go buy another one!

    1. If we’re out for a hike or an extended period I still bring water (and even for errands sometimes I bring my YETI along)…but gone are the days that my purse is filled with sippy cups and snacks (and diapers!).

      Having multiples of an item (like spare deodorant at work or scissors in every room) can have a shocking impact.

  9. I think it was some fresh pressed juice at the train station when I went to my business trip.
    Somewhere in 2019 I started not buying drinks in to-go cups and always traveling with. my own. But due to the pandemic many stores don’t. fill yours up. So I opted out of getting. drinks.
    But every once in a while I consciously decide I will get a juice and it is a bliss.

    1. Those tiny “luxuries” can be so delicious. And reserving an activity for rare occasions elevates the overall experience.

  10. I love this because I find myself pinching pennies unnecessarily when really my time is worth more in that moment. I just paid to have my car vacuumed a task that desperately needed to happen but that I had been putting off for months because I have little time or motivation. I am a Ph.d student and have two jobs but yet paying $20 for my car to be washed was something I had to talk myself into.

    1. I struggle with properly valuing my time. I grew up in an environment where (out of necessity) we were taught to find every way to cut costs. But it can be counterproductive – even financially!

      I think one of the hardest lessons to learn as an adult is how to best allocate money to maximize life satisfaction.

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