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An essential upgrade?

By September 19, 2023October 29th, 2023No Comments

Flowers. And espresso. ♥️

An essential upgrade?

I’m on one of my trips to Australia, and for the first time, I’ve had to rent an apartment in Canberra. The family house is up for sale, and after a 56-year Stanier residency, things are changing.

When mum and dad bought the house in 1966, it was a new build on what was then the southern outskirts of Canberra. It was a small bungalow on a dirt patch. Now, we’re located at what’s considered the “inner south”, and mum’s garden is lush with Australian natives.

Not returning to my childhood bedroom has some upsides; most obviously, I don’t have to battle the regression to my petulant 17-year-old self.

But there are downsides, too. The temporary apartment has all the cheery vibe of any corporate rental. It’s white, it’s bland, it’s barebones functional.

What’s helped is asking myself, “what’s the one upgrade that would make the difference?”.

I heard this approach first from Tim Ferriss, who wrote about permission to “waste money” to improve your quality of life. If you’ve carried forward a frugal mindset, sometimes you need to do a reset on what you have permission to “waste”.

I did some journaling and figured out two things that make a big difference to my happiness.

Weekly flowers.

A decent espresso machine.

I’ll admit it, it felt OUTRAGEOUS to spend $650 on a fancy-pants espresso machine. Sure, I could make some justification about saving money on espresso when out on the town. But buying a machine for just two months?


And brilliant.

It’s already a source of joy.

I’m giving you permission

You can spend money and you can spend time. (*HT second verse, Eagles.)

Find a budget.

Take a moment to come up with three, seven, 29 things that might give you an outsized upside for that spend.

Pick one, and test it out.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.