While it’s true that 2020 was a dumpster-fire year, it also taught me a lot about where my money is best invested for happiness and fulfillment. As I’ve said before, it’s great to spend lavishly on the things/places/experiences that bring you the most joy, but it’s hard to do that skillfully until you know what you value.
So today I’m sharing a recap of seven purchases that brought me absolute joy in 2020 in hopes that it might inspire you to take inventory of your own 2020 purchases.
Home + Garden
Given that my home and garden is where i’ve spent about 99.78% of my time in 2020, this seems like a good place to start.
In 2020, I invested in making my home as welcoming and comfortable as it could possibly be. I also wanted it to support my creativity and well-being. To that end, here’s what actually turned out being the best investments ….
Two 8 x 4 ft raised veggie beds.
In May, when it looked like we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon and toilet paper was still a hot item, I thought it would be cool to start a victory garden. Note that I had ZERO idea of what I was doing, and I had never grown anything more than a basil plant I picked up from the grocery store.
But it turns out that this was not only the most time consuming investment I made this year, but also the most fun. I’ve REALLY enjoyed learning about gardening. And even though I barely got 3 eggplants, 27 peppers and a handful of edible tomatoes, I appreciated every minute of harvesting and cooking them.
It turns out, learning to grow your own food is not only gratifying, but useful (and expensive). I hope to be smarter with my garden plans next year, now that I have a season under my belt.
All in, I think these 8 x 4 beds cost me a cool $800 (ish). This includes the beds, the soil to fill them, all the seedlings I ended up killing and the various soil enhancements/fertilizers I added to throughout the season.
- Cost – $800
- Happiness ROI – 9/10
A Cluster of Potted Plants
Right behind these beautiful planters is a big, ugly patch of dirt that covers a plumbing tank (I don’t know what kind). Anyway, the vista is not cute, so I had to create a visual barrier between the pool and this area, as the view totally ruined the floating vibe. First world problem, but I waited a LONG time to have a pool and I want every angle to be as aesthetically pleasing as humanly possible 🙂
Hence the cluster of potted flowers that did a great job of masking the ugly area. I appreciated every moment of gazing at these pretty buds all summer long.
- Investment: $250
- ROI: 10/10 because plants make me SO happy
2 Gallons of Paint
Specifically, Benjamin Moore Hale Navy + Iron Mountain. I painted an accent wall in my office, which automatically transformed it into a place I wanted to hang out longer. I also painted an accent wall in the dining room which transformed it from boring to chic (by my standards).
- Investment: $150 for two cans (with plenty of leftovers)
- ROI: 10/10 – I get so much joy from my accent walls and the office wall is the perfect backdrop for my Zoom calls 🙂
A Power Washer
Have you ever watched a video of someone power washing a dirty surface? It’s the most satisfying thing ever. ALMOST as satisfying at doing it yourself. I love this thing and now my concrete surfaces sparkle.
- Investment: $150
- ROI: 6/10 (it’s still work after all)
Health + Wellness
Since my health is my top priority, I rarely think twice about spending in this category. That doesn’t mean I spend wildly, but I live by the theory that anything that will enhance my well being is always a good investment.
Core Power 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training
Back in 2008, I ditched my corporate job and moved to India to learn how to teach yoga (true story).
But the biggest takeaway from that adventure was that I didn’t actually like teaching enough to want to do it full time. Not only is it nearly impossible to make a living teaching yoga, but it can also be repetitive and boring. So I let that skill go and went on with my corporate career.
Fast forward to 2020 when everything is repetitive and boring, and I was inspired to pick up on my training again with Core Power Yoga. The training was virtual (which I loved) and I got $1000 off the retail price of $3000 which I loved even more.
As I write this, I still have a month of training left to go, but having somewhere to be 3 nights a week (training is live on zoom) not only gave me something to look forward to, but a sense of structure to my nights. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have finished Netflix by now.
Coming back to yoga has been really good for me, It’s the one practice that has never let me down. I feel more centered, aligned and stronger than I have in a long time and now that I’m semi-retired, I can see myself wanting to teach classes part time (just for fun and community).
- Cost: $2000
- ROI: 8/10 (it’s both an investment in my happiness + a new skill)
My Beachbody Subscription
Beachbody has been my fitness habit long before 2020 hit the fan, but this year, I’ve used it solidly the entire year. I’ve really appreciated getting into the habit of rolling out of bed and doing my workout first thing.
Favorite programs to date are 80 Day Obsession, 21 Day Fix Extreme and Barre Blend. If you’re super fit, you might appreciate 6 Weeks of the Work, or if you’re newer to exercise, Barre Blend or PiYo might be more your speed.
Either way, for $99 a year, this is a no-brainer investment in both my health and happiness
- Cost: $99 Annually
- ROI: 10/10
Travel + Entertainment
2020 sucked the joy out of this category for the most part, but we still made the best of it.
A 2-Week Trip to Anna Maria Island
This was our most recent splurge, inspired by our inability to jump on a plane and travel this year. We’ve spent the last 7 months at home, so we wanted different walls to stare at for a few weeks over the Thanksgiving holidays.
In the spirit of staying safe, we drove from Texas to Florida, being careful to keep our distance when we stopped for gas and food. We rented a house via Airbnb that was close to the beach and also had its own pool, so we could keep our distance, but still have fun.
All in, that trip cost about $4200 including rental stays on the way to and from Florida (it was a 2-day trip) and it was worth every stinking penny to sink our toes in the sand and soak up the Florida sun. Our dogs had the best time and given how old they are getting, we’re not sure when we’d have a chance to vacation with them again.
- Investment: $4,200
- ROI: 8.5/10 (I’d give it a 10, but I still had to cook and the drive was exhausting).
My Netflix Subscription
In full disclosure, I’ve had this long before 2020, but this was not the year to drop it. I watched SO many good shows, but my all-time favorite is Schitts Creek. Nothing brought me more joy than that show and I’m officially obsessed with the Levy’s.
- Investment: $156 annual subscription
- ROI: 10/10 (binge watching shows is absolutely my greatest pleasure in life).
And the best purchase of 2020 that sparked the most joy….
Meet Jack. He’s a 15-year old PomChi that we started fostering in September. He was an owner surrender with a ton of dental issues.
With the support of the Austin Pug Rescue, we had all his rotted teeth removed and today his a spry little whipper snapper who loves to eat, sleep and demand belly rubs. I’m obsessed with this little guy and he has brought immeasurable joy to our family this year. I melt every time I look at him.
- Investment: $1500 adoption donation + vet bills
- ROI: Priceless
Experiences always spark more joy than things
It’s not lost on me that all of these purchases are experiences and not things (except the power washer, which provides an unforgettable experience every time I use it). Overall, I’d say this is all money well spent.
What were your big spends for 2020? Did they spark joy? If you had do over – what would you change?