Join me and 99,000+ others on my Substack to upgrade your life.

Ten of the Cheapest Most Useful Items People Own (There’s Some Weird Ones)

by | Jun 13, 2022 | Money, Personal Finance

I once bought a bright pink tie to impress my boss.

What you own says a lot about you.

Sharing what’s most useful in our lives unlocks all sorts of hidden paradigm shifts. That’s why I love twitter: lists. This one crowdsources the cheapest most useful items.

N95 mask

No surprise to see this one on the list.

The box of N95 masks I got shipped from China back in March 2020 have been a godsend. Thankfully, I haven’t had covid (touch wood) because I wear one wherever I go.

My fellow Australians think I’m silly. I’m one of the only people that wear one. With a pregnant wife you can never be too careful. Coroni is a nightmare.

N95 masks in 2020 were an intelligence test.

Pen and paper

Holy crap this one surprised the heck out of me.

By far the most useful item people shared was owning a pen and paper.

I lost my ability to write with a pen years ago. I haven’t done it for so long that my hands can’t even hold a pen. My precious little hands would fall apart into cake crumbs if I tried to write even one article with them. Pathetic, I know!

According to many writer friends, a pen and paper make the words come out differently. You feel each word in a bizarre way.

Thoughts can pour out of you without typos or modern-day phone distractions you get when taking notes on the go with a Steve Jobs weapon of mass attention destruction.

Those who write their thoughts down have higher mental clarity.

They’re not treating their brains like a hard drive that’s likely to become full. One reader that replied even said his pen is a form of self-defense (not sure whether he meant physically or metaphorically).

Metal hair clutcher

I used to have shoulder-length white-blond hair (dyed) when I was 20-something. Not anymore.

Yet many people deal with the dramas of long hair. One person on twitter said their wife claimed a metal hair clutcher was their most useful item. Every time she used a plastic one it would break after a month. But this new one has lasted much longer.

Items that have to get replaced regularly because they’re cheaply made aren’t worth it, and they’re bad for the environment. Look at the lifetime cost of your possessions more than their price tag today.

Quality saves time repurchasing.


Most of us in western culture easily forget how lucky we are to get internet.

The options are endless online.

You can literally research anything, therefore, you can become the best in the world at a skill simply by outlearning everyone else in your field.

So many people on twitter reported this as their most useful purchase. For me, the internet has shaped my entire career. Without the internet I’d be stuck behind a desk back in a bank cubicle, hating life and dying to get home.

The internet is a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted. When we see its value we can use it in a smarter way and unlock a new life for ourselves.

A brain

This one generated some debate.

Your brain is useful and comes bundled with your human life. Congrats you’re already a winner! The person who started this twitter list says actually your brain is the most expensive thing you own.

He argues our brains cost us everything to manage them. I’m not sure about this one. Some days my brain is the most useful thing I own. Other days my brain is the biggest pain in the butt I own.

The brain’s usefulness and cost is a debate that will last for eternity.

A smartphone

This one’s also controversial.

I’d argue my phone isn’t useful at all. I hate it so much I want to flush it down the toilet, daily. Whenever a good thought comes to mind my phone notifies me of some small thing that doesn’t matter.

On the plus side, phones keep us in touch with people we love. Especially if you live overseas and are away from your family.

Investing books

This one is crazy when you think about it.

Books that teach you about money can make you millions. That money can allow you to buy back your time, autonomy, and ownership of your calendar.

Once your needs are met you can use the money you make from those books to then help solve huge global problems.

Hard to argue with the usefulness of finance books.

3M noise-blocking earbuds

This one made me emotional when I saw it on the list.

As someone who has tinnitus and hearing damage, ear plugs are crucial. If I want to continue to hear and witness the screams of my unborn baby, I must wear them around loud noises. And at night time ear plugs help me sleep.

Many twitter users said ear plugs protected them from noise pollution.

Agree. It’s everywhere. Noise destroys your focus. Ear plugs are a cheap way to block out the world and do the best work of your life.

USB light

This one is a harsh reminder. It slapped the privilege out of me.

A few twitter users said a USB light was their most useful purchase. See, they can’t afford a fancy Macbook Pro with a backlight on the keyboard. So this cheap alternative lets them still work.

Many people work in darkness late at night to feed their family. Or work on a side hustle at midnight to build their dream. Or study for college exams.

Some items on this list may seem stupid. That can be a sign of the wealth you may not realize you already possess.


Many people have built their careers on laptops. Some would argue their skills got them all the rewards, not the laptop. Whatever.

One 15 year old kid got a 3 year old laptop handed down from his parents. Instead of watching p*rn and playing video games, he used it to learn how to invest money and write code.

Then he started a newsletter, stock research platform, and Youtube channel with the same laptop.

The same purchase can hold people back in life or make them achieve extraordinary results at 15 years old. Choice is yours.

Honorable mentions

  • Underwear. One twitter user says it protects his “Peter” and stops it getting stuck in his pants zipper. Oh, and it keeps his pants clean. Nice.
  • Mouse Jiggle software. Another respondent said she uses it to move her mouse around the screen so the boss at her job thinks she’s working from home. Badass.
  • A stapler. Many reported theirs lasted 10+ years.


A pen is by far the cheapest and most useful item in the world. The pen is mightier than the sword — and all the internet trolls.

The simple things in life seem to have the most value. That’s why chasing grandiose luxury is stupid.

Are You Operating With Maximum Energy?

For those who are tired of dragging through the day, who want to get back the fire they once had, who are ready to reclaim your natural energy… this is your book.

Unleash the fire within