Stuff I love

Damon GonzalezBudgeting, Newsletter

Last year I wrote two blog posts about how buying stuff doesn’t make you happy.  A successful life is about relationships, experiences, and personal growth; but there are some great products to consider spending your money on.  Here are some of the products that I love.  I am not a marketing affiliate with any product.

Lodge Skillets

I have been replacing nonstick skillets every two years or so my entire adult life.  I hated that I was wasting time and money replacing them and once I read The Teflon Toxin expose, I decided to switch to cast-iron.


I now own one 12 inch Lodge skillet that can be purchased for under $35 and it will likely last longer than I do.  I had apprehensions that food would stick to it and it would be difficult to cook with.  There was a small learning curve, but I found if I used a generous amount of oil or butter, I had no problems.  My Lodge has a huge surface area that makes it easy to cook almost everything that I regularly make.  I can often cook meat and vegetables at the same time and only dirty one skillet.  I often cook a healthy homemade meal in less than 20 minutes and cleaning up is easy.  Some might complain that it weighs 8 pounds, but I consider that a benefit to work out my woosy left arm.  When it comes to cast-iron, Grandma knows best.

Google Stuff

It is hard to believe, but I have only owned three smart phones in my life.  I purchased an iPhone 3G around 2009 and an iPhone 5 on the launch date in September of 2012.  In May of 2016, I ditched my cell phone carrier and moved my phone number to Google Project Fi for the low rates and international perks.

The only phones that currently work on the network are the LG Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.  I was genuinely scared that I would not be able to operate the Android operating system after being an Apple fanboy for so long.  I bought the Nexus 5X from the Google Project Fi site for only $200 and it only took a few days for me to learn to love Android.  All my favorite apps are available and I love how my voicemails are typed into text for me.  I am sure the new Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone 7 are better phones, but they better be—they cost $650 and up!  My Nexus phone was only $200 and it has taught me that the devices don’t matter that much anymore—they are merely a gateway to the great content and apps you love.

I am also really happy with the Project Fi plan.  I am charged $20 per month for all the calls and texts I can make per month and then $10 per month per gigabyte of data that I use—anywhere in the world!  I have already taken my phone to Nicaragua and it worked great.  I didn’t have to waste time or money buying an international plan for the month.  I called US numbers from my cell phone for free over WIFI and it was 20 cents per minute if I was in the jungle searching for howler monkeys.  Each country has its own rate.  For instance; I can call France for 6 cents per minute and call the US from France for 20 cents per minute or free if using WIFI.

In the US, your phone makes calls over Sprint, T Mobile, or US Cellular towers, or WIFI and seamlessly transitions to the best signal.  I have had a couple of calls dropped and two issues where I couldn’t tether properly.  When not traveling, I find that I use my home’s WIFI a lot and I haven’t had a monthly cell phone bill over $35 yet.

That savings has come in handy because my phone came with 3 free months of Google Play Music (Apple music or Spotify competitor).  I found that it was a nice luxury to listen to almost any song or album I wanted to for free without commercials.  The other huge benefit is that you get YouTube Red included with the service, which means I can watch YouTube videos without commercials.  I watch enough YouTube and listen to enough music where I now happily pay $10 per month to avoid the commercials.

The last Google product that I recommend is a Chromebook.  I recently came across an Amazon Deal of the Day to buy an ASUS C200MA 11.6 inch Chromebook for only $165.  I will be the first to tell you that I am not an expert on comparing Chromebook computers, but I am really happy with the one I bought.  Chromebooks allow you to do almost everything you need to do on a computer for very cheap.

I use my Chromebook for checking email, Twitter, streaming videos, and surfing the web.  This is what most people do 90% of the time with a computer anyway.  You can use Google Sheets (like Excel) and Google Docs (like MS Word) on the Chromebook and save the documents into Google Drive (the cloud like Dropbox).  I think a lot of people who spend $300 to $700 on a tablet would be just as happy with a Chromebook.  I don’t recommend them for your work computer, but it is really nice to have such a great computer with an 8 to 10 hour battery life for less than $200.

Oxo Good Grips Products

About 12 years ago I had a roommate move out of my house and he accidentally left an Oxo Good Grips paring knife.  I started using it and after a while the $7 knife was the only knife I would use.  I prepared food with it and used it as a steak knife to eat meals.

My knife and I were intimate friends for years and one day I decided to buy some more.  I looked on the handle and read the strange word Oxo.  To my delight, Oxo makes all sorts of kitchen products and I think they are the best value you can find in almost every category.  Today, my wife and I are loyal Oxo shoppers.  If we need something for the kitchen, we check to see if their genius design team has created it and buy their wares before other brands.

We own their knifes, brushes, can opener, turkey baster, peeler, and more.  Sorry I didn’t return your knife, Josh.

Discount Tire

discount-tire-logoI have tried several tire stores and am convinced that Discount Tire is the best.  Their selection is the biggest that I know of their prices are very reasonable for both wheels and tires.  Every time I go in for a rotation or a flat, I am surprised at how impeccable the service has been.  They have water and coffee while you wait and it is quite the site to see gruff, burly men give you Four Season’s like service at a tire store.

They have about 900 locations in 31 states so there is the possibility that there will be one near you if you have a tire problem while on a road trip.  The best time to go is first thing in the morning on Tuesday through Thursday to avoid waits.

About two years ago I bought a new car and Discount Tire rotates the tires that came with my car for free because I bought my wife’s tires there.  Who else would do that?  You know where I will be buying my next set from.

Shark Vacuum Cleanersshark-navigator

My wife came into our marriage with a really expensive vacuum cleaner that I was not impressed with and it didn’t even last very long.  A friend of hers raved about her Shark and we decided to buy the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional.

I don’t have a degree in home economics, but this is the best vacuum cleaner that I have ever used.  It is light weight and easy to maneuver.  It removes an unbelievable amount of dirt and pet hair from our carpets and is very easy to clean.  We have had ours for about 3 years and it still works like new.

I am sure there are better vacuums out there, but not for $200.  This vacuum has over 7,000 ratings on and a score of 4.5 stars.  I don’t think you can go wrong with this well designed, high quality appliance.


This post was getting too long, so Netflix, Amazon Prime, Toyotas, and Brooks Brothers Outlet stores (get on their email list for sales) didn’t get their own section.  We are all blessed to be born in the United States and to live in 2016 where you can buy so many high quality products for such low prices.  Have a great rest of your summer.