The best money I ever spent

Cat lying on couch

When you Google recipes for hummus, the first two results go something like this: You read through a 10-page monologue about what the author’s husband thinks about hummus and where they had it for the first time. Then after you’ve skipped over that, you finally get the recipe at the end. This story is going to be something like that, hopefully, to help you grasp why this changed my life.

A few months back, this was my morning routine: At about 05:15 my cat, Leo (pictured below), while jumping on the bed, made a soft purring sound. This was just as the first light started shining through the bedroom window and he wanted his wet food. This escalated to lightly touching my cheek with his paw, followed by sniffing my nose. Luckily, he never discovered the true waking power of licking a nose.

Cat getting morning cuddles

He will then proceed to press his head against my shoulder and then jump on my chest and start meowing. I don’t know how he figured this out, but as a last resort, he would jump on my wife, knowing that is my Achilles heel.

At this stage, let me just defend my staying asleep by explaining the process that ensued. I had to get up, switch off the alarm (which woke my wife that barely closed an eye as is) and go down to feed him. By the time I got back to bed, I had half an hour left to sleep. Just enough time to fall asleep, only to regret having to wake up all over again.

What we tried

The first thing we did was to purchase a water spray bottle. It startled him without hurting him. So eventually he was meowing just out of reach of the spray bottle. So, I scrapped that idea.

The next thing I did was to grab him as he jumped on the bed. Then I would close him and Ashley (picture in the cover photo), who was peacefully sleeping at my feet, in the spare bedroom. I didn’t want him being alone. This worked for a while. Then he started meowing non-stop and eventually I could not do this to him anymore.

At this stage, I started reading up on the subject. Apparently, the only way to get a cat to stop meowing was to ignore him. He must think that you do not hear him and that it was not an effective way to get your attention. What a load of crap. This just had me walking around the room getting ready with a cat meowing around me all the time. I even moved my morning routine to the guest bathroom, so he doesn’t wake my wife.

Then I started reading about automatic cat feeders. The reviews on Amazon were good and I was considering it seriously. It was about a grand, which seemed like a lot for a turning cat bowl. Then one morning as I was going through this morning hassle, I lost it and bought the feeder while still in bed.

The turnaround

It arrived about two weeks later and had 5 feeding compartments. This allowed me to load wet food for the morning and afternoon and stagger the dry food throughout the day. It took a week of carrying him down to the feeder just before it turned, for him to associate the sound with food.

Once he knew that the zzzz sound of the servos turning meant food, our sleep quality improved drastically. He didn’t associate me with food anymore. If he is hungry he will wait next to the machine until it turns. He even knows which turns are wet food and which are dry food.

I knew I had won one morning. We were still sleeping when I heard the feeder turn in the kitchen. He was sleeping in-between me and my wife. With one jump he was off the bed like an arrow. I saw him literally slide around the corner Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift style and take the stairs three at a time. Peace was restored in our house.

What I took from this

I know I often preach frugality, but sometimes in life, quality of life is more important than costs. Our time is worth something. At the end of the day, we are constantly trading time for money. The older I get, the more important it is becoming for me to trade money for time.

The first time this was brought to my attention was when I took a trip with my boss the one afternoon when I was about 22. We were about 10 km away from the office when I gave him the option of driving a toll road with a speed limit of 120 km/h or a toll-free road with a limit of 100 km/h. The latter was about 2 km longer. He replied that when you get to be my age you realise that time is much more valuable than money.

Getting an extra 45 minutes of sleep every morning for the rest of my life is worth multiples more than the R1 000 I spent. As I write this final sentence, Leo is sleeping right next to me with Ashley by his side and I could not be happier.

Be safe out there,


Quote of the week

"The Best Way to teach your kids about taxes is by eating 30% of their ice cream" – Bill Murray Click To Tweet


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  1. Pingback: Financial independence - March 2019 - Tigers on a Golden Leash

  2. pieter engelbrecht

    Hi Hendrik
    Thank you for the positive feedback on SA retail bonds
    Currently i have 2 annuities, tax free saving(Alan Gray 500 per month with current 20k already saved.
    My question is , to optimize my full 33K a year can i add the difference in a total lump sum and combine my wifes portion with it?.
    In other words can i combine both our totals(r66k a year and would it be wise to open a different TFSA at another instituion?
    Many Thanx

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