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15 Products that save Time, Money, and Space

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The holidays are quickly approaching and that means shopping season is in high gear. Good luck going to a mall. It's too crowded for my taste. I'll be getting almost all of my gifts on Amazon and Ebay. For the rest, I'll pick up gift cards from the local drugstore. I know some people hate gift cards, but I got the feeling that my mom is going to love her Netflix subscription - especially as this writer's strike continues.

While I appreciate DVD box sets as much as anyone else, I thought I'd consider something productive for the ones I love this year. There are lot of ways to classify productivity or efficiency, and many would include items that save time or money on that list. I'm adding items that save space as well. It's often overlooked, but the more space your possessions take up, the bigger home you'll need. This leads to a direct expense of having to buy a more expensive home, paying more property tax, and having to heat/cool all that extra space. Since a home is typically everyone most expensive purchase and savings here can translate to thousands of dollars compounded over time.

Here are my picks:

5 Products that Save Money

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb - Every personal finance writer recommends these. They can save you tens to hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs. The only catch is that you have dispose of them specially since they contain a tiny bit of mercury.

Filtered Water Pitcher - Billions of dollars are spent every year on bottled water. It's been widely acknowledged that it's no healthier than filtered tap water. With these filters, the price per gallon is just a little more than 14 cents. I recommend to you save your old bottles and just refill them - you'll help the environment as well.

The Entertainment Book - This has been around for years. I remember my parents getting the Entertainment book more 20 years ago. Each time we went out to dinner, I was amazed by the savings. Often we would save $12-15 per meal covering the cost of the $25 book many times over. At the time, it didn't occur to me that there's a downside to the Entertainment Book. It's easy to be tempted to go out to eat more often which can get expensive quickly - even with the savings.

Rechargable batteries - Doesn't everything seem to require batteries nowadays? Rechargeable batteries can be used over and over again, sometimes hundreds of times. They cost a little more in the beginning, but they'll pay for themselves after just a few charges. As with the filtered water pitcher, you'll be doing the environment a good service as well.

FoodSaver - I've written about the FoodSaver before, but I've determined it can indeed save you money by preventing your food from spoiling. However, it will take some time for this benefit to truly pay off due to the upfront costs. I recommend the one that folds vertically to save counter space. I tend to make a big salad and eat it over a couple of weeks. It saves a lot of time when compared to making many small salads. While on the topic of saving time...

5 Products that Save Time

Automatic Shower Cleaner - There is a 98% chance that this product will save my marriage. Let's just say that cleaning the shower isn't a chore that a Lazy Man like myself enjoys. We've been using this for about three months now and have only needed to clean the shower once. Bonus tip: Don't by the expensive refills, but refill it yourself.

Harmony Remote Control - For years I've had to deal with many different remotes to control a home entertainment system. You can try the 7-in-1 programmable remotes, but they always seem to lack a critical function. Even if you are lucky to find on that has all the functions you require, you still have to press power on the TV, Receiver, and Cable Box to watch TV. If you are going to watch a DVD, you have to change the TV input as well. Have you ever tried to teach a guest how to use your TV? It's a nightmare. I know it sounds like the ultimate in Lazy and perhaps it is. Enter the Harmony Remote. You select your devices with the included software and download the codes from the Internet to do everything. I just press, "watch TV" and the TV, receiver, and cable box go on. If I change the volume the receiver responds, not the TV or the Cable box - just as I want. If I change the channel, the cable box responds, not the TV - again perfect. Few pieces of technology actually make our lives less complicated - this is one of them.

George Foreman Grill - You may be surprised to see the quintessential As Seen On TV product here. You shouldn't be. It simply works well. By cooking from the top and the bottom at the same time, I can prepare a meal very quickly - less than half the time it would take my stove or barbecue for example. It used to be very difficult to clean the Foreman Grill, but with the new removable non-stick plates, it's extremely easy.

GPS Navigation - I've spent too much of my time lost. A map is helpful, but only if you can read the names of the streets. With a GPS system, I get where I want to go without hassle. Last year this product was hundreds of dollars, but the one I've linked to here is currently under $150 - including shipping.

Roomba Vacuum - (Full-featured - Basic) - Not long ago people would push a vacuum over their rugs to clean them. Now a robot does the work. In fact, my Roomba is vacuuming the floor while I write this. Since it doesn't need a handle it saves space, which brings me to...

5 Products that Save Space

Travel Space Bags - You may have seen Space Bags on late night TV. The product had always intrigued me, but I would dismiss it because you needed a vacuum. I'm much too Lazy to dig out a vacuum each time I want to use these. However, with these bags, a vacuum is no longer a requirement. You simply push the air out of a one-way valve.

Printer, Scanner, Copier, Fax - This is one of my favorite items as it combines 4 similar products into one. To buy each item separately would cost a lot more. You always sacrifice some advanced features when you get 4-in-1 items like this, but it does the basics quite well.

Collapsible Kitchen Items - I'm in love with these items. I wish everything in my kitchen collapsed - well maybe not everything. With three types of colanders (over the sink, free-standing, hand-held) how I decide on just one? We own multiple sets of this collapsible food storage set. There's also this measuring cup set and matching 2 cupper. I almost forgot this whisk.

Blender/Food Processor - Like the printer/fax/copier/scanner, this is a combination product. It does the job of blending and food processing in half the counter-space that separate devices would require. Counter-space is at a premium for us, so it's worth every penny.

Flat Screen Television - This might not be the most productive item on the list, but it can save significant space in your home vs. older CRT televisions. I hesitate to mention flat screen televisions, because too many people go into debt getting them. This is by the far the most expensive of the list - take great care in purchasing it. If you have any high interest consumer debt, I wouldn't even think of clicking through. If you have all your finances in order and you can properly budget for this purchase, then think about whether you really need one. I'd wait a month or two and see if I was still interested in one and then, only then, would I go through with the purchase.

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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32 Responses to “15 Products that save Time, Money, and Space”

  1. I 100% agree with your recommendation of the GPS system as a time saver. Think of all the time wasted while lost. Additionally, becoming lost can cause stress or missed appointments. If you work in outside sales, a GPS system will pay for itself by allowing you to make a few extra appointments regularly. I also use your first four money savers and will look into the the food saver. Thanks for the tips.

    The problem that I have found with a new flat screen TV is that it can waste time by encouraging more television watching. Plus, it ended up costing more money than anticipated because I bought a Blu-Ray player and signed up for digital cable. Each move is now $5-$10 more and cable is an extra $40 per month. But “WOW!” the TV is really pretty!

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Well, there’s trade offs with each item. For instance, the full-featured Roomba is expensive in my opinion. I can’t say that it’s saves money other than it indirectly saving you time.

    With the television, if you get it wall mounted, you may find that you can get by with a smaller living room in your next home, which will save you money. You also can just get an HDTV antenna (as long as you have a tuner) and there’s no need to sign up for digital cable.

  3. Jonathan says:

    You forgot TiVo or other DVRs – saves me lots of time surfing for sometime to watch (as opposed to watching some pre-recorded stuff) and during commercials! =) Great for speeding up sports games as well.

  4. Lazy Man says:

    You know I thought about DVRs while I was writing this, but I didn’t get the thought on paper before it wandered off.

  5. Think Ryuko says:

    Granted, I have a very good sense of direction, so the GPS would just be a toy w/ me, but those space bags are awesome. When I was transferred to my current duty station (in cali), we had to move from Florida – and visit relatives on the way. Couldn’t have done it w/o space bags. BTW, Wal-Mart has a generic brand w/ valves so you can push them, and an optional area for vacuum sucking if that’s your thing. They’re way cheaper than the as-seen-on-TV brand, and almost as good.
    As far as flat-screens go, they are getting so much cheaper. It’s now to the point where you can buy a mid-low-end computer (like, say,

  6. Think Ryuko says:

    (like, say,

  7. Hyrum says:

    Unfortunately most of those except the George Forman Grill is just too boring.

  8. Flat screen on a wall makes a big difference when it comes down to decorate your living room. My favorite place is on a brick wall… Hum… I think I am dreaming too much now… :-D

  9. Him says:

    The Harmony Remote is probably the reason Her and I are still together. I’m going to look into getting that shower cleaner…

  10. Cheapster Bob says:

    Nice article. I use a knock-off of the Foreman grill and can no longer live without it. I throw on some meat and veggies and have a full meal inside ten minutes.

    Foodsaver sounds like a winner but I’m too cheap to accept the upfront cost. Maybe I can get it off of Ebay or Craigs?

  11. Neil says:

    I can’t agree with out on the flat screen tv. It will end up costing more in the long run…ie New tuner and DVD player…provided you want the high quality…if you don’t care then why get a fancy tv? Plus the electricity usage is higher.

  12. The Entertainment Book generally just makes people spend money they otherwise wouldn’t. Because they have it, they then feel obligated to use it to make the purchase worth it. I suppose it can be a money saver, but I have to wonder.

  13. I just received a great space saver and organizer for a Christmas gift that I am very happy with — power station. For my blackberry and two cell phones I now have only one cord into the wall outlet and all the individual cords are neatly tucked away. I call it a space saver even though it takes up some room because it seems to actually create space by organizing unmanageable cords. Figuring that most Lazy Man and Money readers may have lots of gadgets too, I thought you might be interested in one of these too…

  14. MoneyNing says:

    Your nickname sure fits you well with all the automatic XXX cleaners/vaccums that you know of and end up buying :)

    I never even knew automatic shower cleaners existed but thanks for letting me know. I will have to look into it now :D

  15. Candace says:

    I’ve been wondering about the Roomba. I’ve seen mixed reviews on it. Do you feel like it does a good job? What does your wife think of it? ;-)

  16. Lazy Man says:

    My wife loves it and she’s a clean freak. I’m a little surprised that she accepts the quality, because I think it’s a little worse than an ordinary vacuum cleaner. However, I think she appreciates the 80-20 aspect of it. It’s actually closer to 95-5. You get 95% of the results as a normal vacuum with 5% of the work.

  17. Gene says:

    You really shouldn’t reuse plastic bottles. There’s a good chance carcinogens in the plastic can leach out into the water when it is reused (even more likely if you chill or freeze the bottle, which many do). To be honest, I wouldn’t buy them in the first place if I could get away with it, but it’s hard.

  18. Legov says:

    What should I do with a CFL when it burns out?


    Refilling old Bottled Warter Bottles?
    some are great and others are a hassle to use and disposeof the waste in my opinion

  19. Lazy Man says:

    You can recycle CFLs.

    Yes washing the bottles is the quick, easy, cheap solution. It’s better for the environment than using bottle after bottle and trashing them.

  20. legoV says:

    You can recycle CFLs

    That’s if your City has recycling of the CFLs. In my major City they don’t thus the hassle. Also they dont provide the same amount of intense light as the regular bulb at 1/3 the cost.

  21. Lazy Man says:

    What’s your major city? I bet I could find some place that would take them.

    I just get the 100 watt version. I have found that they are as good or better than the other light bulbs. It’s still only something like 23 watts of power vs. 75.

  22. legoV says:

    Philadelphia PA and the city will not take them in the Recycle bin i have already been fined for that.

  23. Dana says:

    Check the labels on CFLs before you buy them to make sure you are getting the correct wattage equivalent, thus the CFL will be just as bright as the incandescent. And the incandescent being cheaper up front is a false economy. Regular light bulbs emit heat, which in the summertime drives up cooling bills. They also use more electricity, which means both higher electric bills and greater carbon emissions. Furthermore they only last a fraction as long as CFLs do; a CFL can last up to ten years if not in constant use.

    If you can’t recycle them you can at least drop them off at hazardous waste collection sites. I doubt very many people try to recycle regular light bulbs either.

  24. steve says:

    Nice post but, a flatscreen CRT television set (especially one with superfine pitch tubes) completely destroys the image quality and life expectancy of any other TV. They are big and bulky, mine weights 200lbs, but, much better technology than what we have now. Only exception is the SED which won’t be reliable or affordable for a long time. By the way, thanks for recommending the Rhomba, I’ve been contemplating buying one for years now.

  25. The GF grill is a miracle worker, especially for a young single guy like me!

  26. One thing you missed that can be important in areas with low water pressure – a self pressurizing shower head. It limits the amount of water used in the shower and gives you a more consistent water pressure. Even in my area with very low water pressure I get a good shower.

  27. Guy Gagnon says:

    Saving money is great… Saving time is better as it’s my only resource I can’t buy back.

    Your entertainment book suggestion reminded me of my ‘frugal doesn’t begin to describe’ father. He was complaining that he hasn’t received any 2 for 1 coupons in the paper or mail since the Windsor economy was hit so hard.

    Considering a 14%+ unemployment rate, I’m sure Windsorians could make use of these money saving products. That is if they can afford them. ouch!

    Blessings all,

  28. Anonymous says:

    You should do a 2010 revised version. Although, it seems like several of them still apply just as well.

  29. Anonymous says:

    With the feline driver accessory, the Roomba becomes an entertainment center:

  30. Unique Flashy says:

    I do not agree with the CFL bulbs as being a saver.
    1. They are cost prohibitive.
    2. You can’t dispose of them- you need to take them to a recycle center to avoid a fine.
    3. They contain mercury- if you break one- you are supposed to contact poison control.
    4. They don’t work with a dimmer switch AT ALL.
    5. They don’t work well in cold climates – trust me, I live in Minnesota and to use them in a garage or outdoor light- they have to “warm” up.
    6. Plus the federal government is shoving these down our throats and will be outlawing the traditional filiment bulb- this mandate begins in either 2012 or 2014. I can’t remember what the bill is called- but you can sure look it up.

    Until they find an alternate solution, I will take my old filiment based light bulbs until they rip them from my hands.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I find that they are extremely cheap. I never pay more than a $1 for a bulb.

      The disposing and containing mercury are the same thing.

      They do make dimmable CFLs now.

      I’ve successfully used them in Boston without an issue. Most people generally use them in their home, where temperature is typically quite controled.

      I think it’s good that the federal government is pushing an alternative that saves energy. This is the kind of thing that we can use.

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