Below, 100+ world-class performers all answer the question “What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?” There are some real gems, and I now use a handful of them daily.
The responses are all pulled from my brand-new book, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World.
Aoki, Steve: The iMask Sleep Eye Mask is an absolute blessing to have on tour; I carry it with me wherever I go. Because we travel and our schedules are so stressful, I need to be able to sleep any time there is quiet. That time isn’t necessarily the traditional time that people sleep. For me, it’s when I have finished DJing, or I’m in a car. It is then that I put on my iMask and get those 15 minutes of sleep. When you’re tackling a strenuous work weekend — something like five countries in two days, which is something that we do in the summer — we have to sleep in any situation. This could be in the car, on the plane, going from hotel to the venue, or the venue to the airplane. I carry the iMask with me, and just stick it on to sleep or practice my Transcendental Meditation, which sometimes allows me to fall asleep. I like the iMask because it shuts everything out, so it’s absolutely one of the necessities on the road that helps me get my z’s.
Aronofsky, Darren: I bought a really good spatula. It’s amazing what the right tool can do to your breakfast. [Note from Tim: I got a photo of Darren’s spatula, and it looks like the very well-reviewed and <$10 Winco TN719 Blade Hamburger Turner.]
Babauta, Leo: I got a Manduka Pro black yoga mat for about $100 (on sale). It is such a heavy, luxurious mat that it encourages me to practice at home, which is frankly a miracle.
Bell, Mark: A pair of Groucho Marx glasses I bought in Japan for 200 yen. It moved everyone’s focus from my fellow wrestlers to me. It’s all in the way you market yourself.
Belmont, Veronica: I switched to drugstore shampoo and conditioner. I discovered that a $4 bottle of Pantene works much better than a $25 bottle of the stuff from Sephora. Just because something is more expensive doesn’t make it better!
Benioff, Marc: I really like this shirt that I bought from Under Armour, which displays one of basketball star Stephen Curry’s mottos: “I can do all things.” When you first see it, you think that it’s actually a kind of ego statement. What you don’t realize is that Stephen Curry, the MVP of the Golden State Warriors, is a religious person. He took this quote from Philippians 4:13 in the Bible, which says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Curry says this verse before he takes a shot on the court. It’s become one of his major mottos—it’s on his shoes and on this shirt. It’s a motivational and powerful motto that orients you, not only to something within yourself, but also to something greater. I think most people might look at his “I can do all things” motto and think it’s all about him, but it’s really about his faith. I bought several of them, and I really like them.
Boeree, Liv: Blinkist — an app that condenses nonfiction books into 15-minute reads.
Boone, Amelia: During a tough period in my life, I purchased a handmade wrap bracelet on Etsy inscribed with the quote “The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” [Quote attributed to Neale Donald Walsch] I wear it on my wrist every day as a constant reminder to myself to live in a place of gratitude.
Buterin, Vitalik: A proper comfortable traveling backpack. I use it to carry all of my stuff (~10kg) everywhere with me wherever I fly, and it has helped greatly in making the experience more convenient.
Call, Jon: An electric single burner. I use the Aroma Housewares AHP‑303/CHP‑303 Single Hot Plate. It’s under $20 and is great to keep a cup of coffee (or three) hot!
Chadha, Richa: In my case, it would be buying a pro subscription to my IMDB account, enabling people from all over the world to find me easily.
Chainani, Soman: Mother Dirt: Cured my acne and skin problems permanently. It’s a $49 spray with oxidizing bacteria that you use in place of soap and it restores your skin to its natural balance. If I could buy this for every teenager in America, I would.
Coan, Edward: It’s a picture of my parents that I had framed. I’ve never heard my mom and dad badmouth anybody. The picture makes me think about how I should treat everyone I love. The picture was only taken a few years ago, and it’s my mom and dad together, next to each other—an upper torso shot. I’d never really seen them showing that much affection. My whole life, you never really saw it because of the five kids, and now the grandkids. They haven’t really had a chance to show it. They’re both around 87 years old now, and they’ve have had their health problems, but they’re still kicking. They love life, they love their kids and grandkids, and it keeps them going. I think what they instilled in me without me even knowing it was the ability to observe. Still today, I think that’s one of the things I’m really good at: just sitting back and observing. I’ve never been one to try to be the life of the party or to be too loud. I usually just sit back and observe with a smirk on my face. I don’t think you realize [how much your parents have given you] until you get older and can reflect on it.
Cummings, Whitney: A weighted blanket. I am not an expert on the science of why it works, but the “deep touch pressure” helps the body release more serotonin. When I’m anxious, stressed, or can’t sleep, I use it and I instantly feel calmer. [One model that Whitney likes is the large weighted blanket from Weighted Blankets Plus LLC.]
Dalio, Ray: A pocket notepad to jot down good ideas when they come to me.
Duncan, Graham: I recently bought the FINIS swim paddles (under $20; hat tip Ben Greenfield blog). They magically lengthen out my freestyle stroke, and combined with Cressi fins ($29) it feels like I’m flying through water.
Fraser, Mathew: Without a doubt, I would say my dawn simulator [Philips Wake-Up Light] is the biggest positive influence in my life. It is an alarm clock that wakes you up with light instead of sound. Because of this change, you feel as if you are waking up on your own, and are not groggy.
Gable, Dan: Right away I think about books. Most of the books that I’ve purchased recently probably have been books on saunas and maybe a little bit on how to invest your money. As a kid and even now, when I move into a new house or I have a bedroom, I need something on the doorway . . . It’s a simple chinning bar. It’s less than $100, but you need a good bracket on it so you don’t fall. I use it now more as a stretch bar, just to make sure all the kinks are out. I spend a few minutes on that every day as a warmup or when I get up. If I feel really good, I might hit a few chins.
Gaiman, Neil: I keep pondering a purchase that has positively impacted my life in the last few years, and I come up a bit blank. I have pens I love and notebooks. Probably the purchases I’ve made that have made me the happiest would be the Paco books, from France [by Magali Le Huche]: Paco and the Orchestra, Paco and Jazz, Paco and Rock, Paco and Vivaldi, Paco and Mozart . . . books where when you press down on an indicated spot, a sound effect or music plays. My small son Ash loves them, and when nothing else will soothe him, he will happily listen to/ read a Paco book, and the strains of a short piece of music will make everything good . . . . It makes my life good because it makes his good.
Gervais, Michael: A book for my son: Inch and Miles, written by coach John Wooden. We read it together on a regular basis. The joy that I get from hearing him understand Coach Wooden’s insights is fantastically rewarding.
Gregorek, Aniela: A sweet and curious yellow‑green parakeet, which our daughter named Margarita. The new bird came to replace our 12‑year‑old “soul of the house” (as I call our birds) who had passed away.
Gregorek, Jerzy: When I was 19 years old I had just become a fireman and was racing for the first time to a fire that had broken out in an apartment. As our fire engine raced through the city with the lights spinning and the siren blaring I felt an overwhelming feeling of goodness. For the first time I felt somebody needed me, and I really liked it. Since that time I’ve kept educating myself and have tried to keep becoming an even better man so I could again help someone in need and feel that goodness again. Five years ago, I decided to eliminate my reactive behavior to irritations, but at first none of my tricks worked. I placed philosophical and inspirational quotes on my iPhone wallpaper or wrote in my journal, but the proverbs always lost their effectiveness over time. Then one day I told one of my clients who blamed her husband for everything to take 100 percent responsibility for her actions in what happened between them. “This way,” I said, “you will be free of trying to control him and you will be able to find constructive solutions to your relationship.” When she left I realized that the same advice could help me as well. Taking 100 percent personal responsibility would help me stop blaming or complaining and achieve a sense of flow. It would also give me the clarity in any conversation to locate the right words to help a person to accept a hard choice. On March 8 2017 I bought a bracelet on Amazon for $19.95 with the first letters of each word of a sentence: IARFCDP. Only I know what the letters mean, but I’ll share them with you now. They are the key to my personal proverb, a line that brings awareness and helps me see through my own emotional storms. It means: I Am Responsible For Calming Down People. Sometimes it helps me to teach what I need to learn myself. I never take it off; it reminds me many times a day what the letters stand for and lets me feel its goodness. Sometimes while reacting to an irritation I notice the bracelet and I stop myself before I go to the point where I’ll be sorry. Then, for the first time I experience glimpses of flow.
Harris, Sam: I found a great sleeve for my computer made by WaterField Designs (MacBook SleeveCase, $69). It is so well made that I carry my computer with me much more than I used to — and this has led to some very satisfying sessions of work in public places.
Holz, Fedor: A Deuserband Original has been an amazing discovery for me. Especially when I spend long sessions in a chair, it feels great to stretch my arms and back and it improves your posture.
Huffington, Arianna: The $100 product that has most positively impacted my life in the last six months is the Thrive Global phone bed. I know, I know, it’s a product from my own company so I may be breaking some unwritten Tim Ferriss Q&A rule, but as so many people reading this book know, when you can’t find something in the market, you have to create it. The phone bed lives on the bureau outside my bedroom and makes disconnecting a regular part of my nightly ritual. It has up to 12 ports so it can charge phones and tablets for the whole family. Our phones are useful for many things, but as the repositories of our to-do lists, our anxieties and our worries, they’re definitely not sleep aids. So to make it easy to put our phones away — by giving them their own bed where they can charge outside our bedroom — we can say goodnight to our day and get the sleep we need to wake up fully recharged.
Jarre, Jérôme: I spent four dollars to park near this beautiful lake in Oregon. I took a swim, had a trillion-dollar moment with the water.
Kelly, Kevin: I recently upgraded to a Team/Family plan for 1Password, the password management tool. Now all the security, ease, and relief of a good password system can be shared with all my family and people I work closely with. We can safely share appropriate passwords.
Koppelman, Brian: My Butterfly Petr Korbel table tennis racket. Because when I bought it, I knew I was really committing to my training as a Ping-Pong player. I have always loved the game, always told myself I’d try to get good someday. Buying it said that day is now.
Lewis, Sarah Elizabeth: Studies tell us that spending that yields the greatest happiness is the kind that buys you time or experiences, not things. I think that’s true. But I will say that I’m a sucker for a good plain, no-lined notebook from Moleskine.
Loehr, Jim: For less than $100, a case of Collins Stretch Tape (24/case) from Collins Sports Medicine is the best buy ever for active athletes. I go through several cases a year just for myself. Our athletes immediately fall in love with this product. It’s self-adhesive and elastic, making it a perfect performance combination for the support and protection of feet, hands, arms, and legs. It’s the best!
Lynch, David: 1/8″, 1/4″, and 5/16″ by 36″ unfinished hardwood dowels. These were ordered from Amazon Prime and delivered to my door. I used them as part of a side table I’m building, and they worked out very well for parts of wooden hinges.
Maté, Gabor: A version of Béla Bartók’s string quartets recorded in 1954 by the Végh Quartet. Perhaps I say so because I’m listening to this CD as I write these words, but I am moved and inspired by the modesty, the dedication to art, and the sheer purity of the performance.
McHale, Joel: Okay, it’s more than the last six months (what are you gonna do to me, Tim Ferriss? Sue me? Please. I will bury you) but I’m going to go with Audible.com. (They are not paying me to write this, that said please buy the Swiffer Wet-Jet today! It’s magic!) I’m dyslexic (yuo to2? This Time Frerris booak is me føreveer Takeing!) so when Audible came along — it changed my life. I’ve ultimately spent way more than the $100 Tim is holding us to for some godforsaken reason. Each book can be from anywhere from $3 to $30. The world of the classics has been opened to me, and I thank God and the nerds that designed this app for it. I was assigned Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in high school. The chances of me reading that whole thing back then were as good as me growing a tail. I blew through the unabridged Audible version in a couple weeks (36 hours for the whole book). It was so good I got shivers (might have been the flu). When I drive, work out, do the dishes, etc., I listen to that app and I get lost in the world’s stories (either that or the Molly is really kicking in).
McMahon, Stephanie: My Bucky neck pillow. I travel all the time, and I don’t get much rest on the road or off, so it’s important for me to be able to sleep when I can. The Bucky neck pillow is rectangular in shape and fits perfectly behind my head when sitting on an airplane. I can’t stand the U-shaped pillows because I have a pea-size head (Irish people either have giant heads or tiny heads; I’m of the tiny variety) and they slide up too much. The Bucky pillow stays perfectly in place, giving me all I need for a comfortable flight.
Millman, Debbie: The purchase that has influenced me over the last six months is the Apple Pencil. I do soooo much of my artwork by hand and now there is a device that draws and feels like a “real” pencil that I can use electronically. It has changed the way I work.
Moskovitz, Dustin: The Back Buddy by the Body Back Company is my favorite purchase from the past five years, bar none. Most basically, it allows you to administer self-massage anywhere on your back with the full leverage of two hands, but I’ve also really gotten to know and appreciate all the little knobs and others features over the years. I’ve even learned how to manipulate parts of my skeletal structure (i.e. self-chiropracty) and incorporate it into my yoga practice. It only costs $30, so I have purchased several: one for the living room, one for my desk at the office, and a collapsible version for traveling (though I do bring the full-size one if I’m checking a roller bag). With 4,500 reviews and a 4.5-star average review on Amazon, I’m far from alone in my appreciation of this product.
Nosrat, Samin: Paul Stamets’s Host Defense MyCommunity mushroom complex is the most incredible immunity supplement I have ever taken (and I have taken a lot of them!). No matter how much I travel, how many hands I shake, or how exhausted I am, I don’t get sick as long as I take the supplement diligently.
Oswalt, Patton: ChicoBags, these re-usable shopping bags for groceries. You throw a bunch in the back of your car. They’re super-sturdy, they’re cheap, and they’re great for carrying everything. Nice heft and balance, too. If you fill one with cans of chili you have a nice, medieval-style mace.
Peters, Tom: I love to row. And I’ve been doing it since about age five. I don’t mean competitive rowing — I mean jumping into a rowboat and spending an hour or two on a river. I grew up on the Severn River, near Annapolis. After 60 years of row-row-row your boat, I discovered paradise: My sleek, light (Kevlar) 14-foot Vermont Dory. The maker is Adirondack Guide Boat of North Ferrisburgh, Vermont. (FYI: It was a lot more than $100 . . . but it sure as heck was my favorite purchase in a long, long time.)
Pinker, Steven: The X1 search program: instant, precision searching by independent criteria (not just Google-style search string goulash) to pinpoint my files and emails going back the 1980s. As info explodes, and memory doesn’t get better, it’s a godsend.
Pitt, Turia: It cost me a bit more than $100 but it’s completely changed my life. I got a pair of Beats Solo3 headphones while I was in the airport a couple of months ago. They’re the goods! I love listening to the app Brain.fm using the headphones — helps me to get in the zone and focus on the task at hand. I guess if I’m sticking to the “$100 or less” rule, the Brain.fm app has been life-changing too. Really helps me to focus on my work. I use it every day.
Pressfield, Steven: This cost a lot more than a hundred bucks, but I bought an electric car, a Kia Soul, and got some solar panels for my roof. Driving on sun power is a major giggle, trust me.
Ridley, Matt: SleepPhones. It’s a headband that goes over your eyes and ears and that has inside two ultraflat ear phones so you can listen to books as you fall asleep.
Ripert, Eric: An orb of Shungite stone. Its incredible protective and healing qualities — mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical — can be felt by even the most skeptical people. One benefit relevant for many of us today: it diffuses negative waves from electronics.
Robinson, Adam: This purchase is not less than $100 but at $159 it is too close to pass up: The HeartMath Inner Balance biofeedback monitor. It detects your heart’s minutest rhythms and sends a graph to your smartphone, facilitating HRV training.
Rubin, Rick: The Nasaline nasal irrigator. It’s a big plastic syringe, like a turkey baster. It gets filled with saline solution. I usually use it in the tub or shower. You squirt water up one nostril and it comes out the other nostril, and then repeat back and forth. Typically, you use one cup of water and one spoon of this solution, but I do two cups. It not only clears out all the mucous, but if you do it every day, or a couple of times a day, it shrinks the inner lining of your sinuses so that you have more space and a better capacity to breathe. I used to have trouble flying and equalizing [to counter the] pressure changes, and hyperbaric chambers would hurt my ears. But since using this sinus cleaner, I’ve never had those problems. Warning: If by mistake you forget to put in the salt, it’s horribly painful. Another item, probably a little more than $100, is the HumanCharger. The HumanCharger shoots light in your ears to help alleviate jet lag (as opposed to other devices that shine bright lights into your eyes, which can be uncomfortable and damaging to the eyes). The HumanCharger can also be used for other things like meditation, or if you have to be alert for a meeting, appointment or training session, you can wear it on the way.
Sacks, Rabbi Lord Jonathan: Without a shadow of doubt, buying [Bose] noise-canceling earphones. These are the most religious objects I have ever come across, because I define faith as the ability to hear the music beneath the noise.
Sorkin, Andrew Ross: Ear plugs for sleeping. I’ve tried them all. Hearos Xtreme Protection NRR 33 work best and are the most comfortable. If you really want to go to extremes to also control light, Lonfrote Deep Molded Sleep Mask is best for airplanes or anywhere else.
Silbermann, Ben: It’s not very original, but I like [Apple] AirPods [headphones] a lot. They’re wireless and they stay charged. I really like them a lot more than I expected.
Stiller, Ben: I found the right backpack [Incase City Collection]. It makes a big difference, since it is sort of my portable office/pocketbook. For a guy, unless you carry a “purse” (man purse), I think a backpack is essential. It always seems to end up getting overstuffed, and when it does I remind myself I don’t need to carry everything with me all the time. Getting one with a good top compartment for wallet, keys, etc., really makes life easier.
Strauss, Neil: Tile Mate key finder on Amazon. It’s given me hours of my life back that were previously spent dashing around the house, looking for my keys. Works great with pets too!
Szabo, Nick: Nothing terribly profound (or alternatively nothing that I don’t take for granted) for $100. Those little single-cup foamer/mixer things [Tim: like the PowerLix Milk Frother] are pretty cool for concocting my own custom cocoa/coffee/etc. Not taking things for granted, it may be something as mundane now (but unavailable before not much longer than a century ago) as a tankful of gas to drive up to San Francisco and do your podcast!
Torres, Dara: Crepe Erase body products for my sun-damaged skin.
Tyler, Aisha: I love the extended battery pack for my iPhone. [Apple’s branded iPhone 6/6s Smart Battery Case.] I know there is this disdain for people who are attached to their devices, but I generally feel my phone makes me more effective, more connected to others, and more creatively powerful on the whole. It also allows me a sweeping amount of personal freedom, untethering me from my desk and allowing me to develop a more robust social life, which I am in dire need of. I fucking love this phone case. It’s the little things, y’know?
Ulmer, Kristen: [As background], my mom was the youngest of nine kids. Her dad was a raging alcoholic and the family had a simple existence being tenant farmers. As a result, she grew up with severe money issues. They are so solidified that at age 83 she still washes and reuses Ziploc bags and eats around moldy food. And . . . I am my mother’s daughter. I am frugal as hell, which is okay — it helped me become a self-made millionaire — but I think at this point, it holds me back from going to the next level financially. Whenever I feel bad, I make a point to do something nice for other people. Either I stand outside the movie theater looking for someone who seems like they could use a break and I pay for their movie tickets, or I leave a $50 tip on a takeout burrito. Not only does it make them feel good, it makes me feel good, and it also impacts my life in one other way that’s not so obvious. Spending money like this is my subtle attempt to break free from my lineage and resolve my inherited money issues
Urban, Tim: The NYTimes crossword puzzle app. I’ve always liked crossword puzzles but I kind of sucked at them. Since getting the app I’ve gotten much better (started off mostly doing Monday through Wednesday puzzles and now I do every day of the week) and doing the puzzle is a delightful part of my day every day. I love waking up and working on the day’s puzzle in the morning — in bed, while eating breakfast, on the subway, while standing in line at a coffee place, etc. But I have to be careful — the later it gets in the week, the longer the puzzle takes me, and I often don’t have the discipline to put down a hard puzzle until I finish it, which can bleed badly into my planned work day and make me hate myself. Or sometimes I’ll open the app when I’m taking a five-minute work break, and then that turns it into an 82-minute work break and I again hate myself. So I now try to keep my puzzling to nighttime.
Vaynerchuk, Gary: My random assortment of 1980s wrestling T‑shirts.
Von Teese, Dita: Mylola.com has changed my life . . . conscientious 100 percent–organic cotton feminine products that you can curate according to your needs, delivered to your door every month in elegant packaging. They also donate products to low-income and homeless women (and girls) across the U.S. This company and their approach is life-changing for me and for every woman I know who has started using their products.
Waitzkin, Josh: Stay Covered Big Wave SUP leash ($36). It doesn’t break, which I have been immensely grateful for in some hairy paddle surfing moments way offshore.
Walker, Laura R.: I’m a bit of a pen geek. I recently found an erasable pen — the FriXion by Pilot in blue. It writes so smoothly, and being able to erase it gives me a sense of power and delight. I often use the pen with a “smart” notebook (like the Rocketbook Everlast smart notebook) that can be reused.
Zamfir, Vlad: An audio lectures series on institutional economics called “International Economic Institutions: Globalism vs. Nationalism.” It was interesting/important to me because it was the first information about institutional design that I’ve ever really internalized. I feel like I have a much better idea about “how society works” now that I understand something about the nature of institutions. Not that I can claim to understand much! I tried to “crystallize” some of my understandings, but I didn’t do a great job. In practical terms, though, I am now able to think much more clearly about blockchain governance. I can see that we have already a handful of nascent blockchain governance institutions! I can understand what it means for an institution to be more or less formal, and more or less tacit/ad hoc. I am now completely open to the possibility that institutionalization can be a reasonable process, rather than one that is inevitably powered by hubris.
The above responses are all pulled from my brand-new book, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World.
Posted on: November 18, 2017.