Top 5 Best Inventions that Make Life Easier

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The best inventions meet a need most effectively.  The very best inventions make our lives easier and give us more time to enjoy other things or work at other stuff.  Doing things better so that we have more left over for the stuff we really value is a key frugal living principle.

I make a distinction between an invention and a discovery.  Inventions are newly created ways of meeting a need or needs.  A discovery can also meet a need or needs, but it is not newly created.  A discovery was there all along just waiting for someone to notice it.

Top 5 Best Inventions That Make Life Easier

Top 5 Best Inventions That Make Life Easier

Discoveries like penicillin, agriculture, and animal domestication have impacted our lives in huge ways and they are to be given due credit for making our lives easier, but they are not our focus here. Here we look a stuff that did not exist before that was built by human hands – inventions.

I find it impossible to decide which of the best inventions is the best or the second bestetc. They are presented in no particular order.

The Top 5 Best Inventions

Indoor Plumbing

There are billions of people around the world today that do not have indoor plumbing.  They have to walk to get their water (sometimes for vast distances while carrying heavy loads). Oftentimes, the water that they do fetch (at great physical effort) is contaminated and unsafe for human consumption.  Going to the toilet is also done outdoors and this can lead to a whole host of other potential health issues.

Indoor plumbing brings water to you and moves human waste from you with relative ease.  There is little doubt in my mind that indoor plumbing is one of the best inventions that has made the lives of many people much easier.


Hunting and gathering was the only way to get food for most of human history.  This could be very dangerous and backbreaking work. I think that when we lived this way (and the relatively small number who still do live this way today) we must have existed is a perpetual state of fear.  What if we go hunting and don’t catch anything?  What if there aren’t a lot of nuts and berries this season?  Will my family starve to death?

You would have to work and work and hunting and gathering until you had enough food to feed your family. Sometimes this might be done quickly, other times it could become a desperate race against hunger.  Modern refrigeration allows us to ‘bank’ our surpluses when times are good.  It is one of the best inventions ever.

The Telephone

If I want to talk to my buddy, I no longer need to bridle up my horse, hitch up my wagon, pack several days worth of provisions and go on a perilous journey through bear country.  I just pick up the phone.  A best invention?  YES!

Cans and the Can Opener

Cans and the can opener (we can’t forget that) allow us to store and use surplus food for an even longer time than the refrigerator.  One of the best inventions of all time.

The Lightbulb

I can play with my cat, read a book, or use power tools at any hour of the day thanks to the lightbulb (and electricity, of course). Human activity (pleasurable or not) is no longer limited to daylight hours.  Yes, we did have whale oil and candles before, but they were rather limited in their utility.  Today we can light up entire cities and baseball fields if we choose to.  Certainly one of the best inventions of all time.

About Electricity

Yes, I know many inventions (best inventions or otherwise) need electricity to work.  Electricity works, however, because of the inherent nature of electrons.  It was discovered not invented.  This is why I have not included it here.


I have included an amusing YouTube link here entitled, Top Ten Bad Inventions. My favourite is the anti-theft suitcase.  Check it out for yourself.


Selecting the Top 5 of anything is pretty difficult. Choosing the Top 5 best inventions of all time that make life easier was very difficult for me.  I tried to focus on inventions that allow us more flexibility with how we spend our time.

From a frugal perspective, this means those inventions that allow us more time to enjoy doing the things that we love the most.  That is the main focus here at – saving money and getting more with less so that you have more left over for the stuff that really matters to you.  Thanks for stopping by.

What do you think about my Top 5 best inventions?  Would you add or remove anything to your Top 5 best inventions list?


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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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  1. A good list to be sure; however, I think two must haves on any ‘top’ list are the wheel and the Internet. The wheel, for obvious reasons, makes life infinitely easier. The Internet completely revolutionized communication and lead us from the Industrial to Information Age.

    • Jason on August 25, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks for your comments, James.

    The Wheel, definitely yes. I excluded it because I focused on those inventions that help us meet our basic need for food and water. The internet, well, I’m not so sure.

    The internet is said to have made our lives easier, and it has in some key areas, but it has also made our lives far more complex at the same time. Yes, you can enter a search term into your browser and get 18 million hits, but now you have to comb through a lot of garbage that wasn’t there before.

    The internet and email have also changed mainstream perceptions about the ease of accessibility that are expected from people. “Why didn’t you respond to my email I sent to you 18 seconds ago?” and “Why didn’t you come into the office on Sunday afternoon like I asked you to? I emailed you and everything?”. It has made our lives easier but more difficult if you get what I’m saying.

    Your clever comments have just inspired me with an idea for a future post, James. Thanks. I hope to hear from you again sometime soon.

  2. Hey Jason, yet another great post! I’d have to say my favorite invention is indoor plumbing. I do a lot of camping and, I do it in places with no plumbing. You never want to see a bathroom with a shower more than after a week long camping trip!!!

    • Jason on August 27, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Hello Joshua,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s great to hear from you. Yes, I feel indoor plumbing is an important one. It may not get a huge amount of attention, and many of us seem to take it for granted, but it sure has made a profound and positive impact on the lives of those people who are lucky enough to have it. As you have stated, camping can be a good reminder about many the things that are often taken for granted. Hope to hear back from you again sometime soon.

    Cheers, Jason (froogalist)

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