When was the last time you changed the needle on your sewing machine? I'm guessing that mostly people only change the needle if it breaks. I'm guessing that my sister, who uses my Mom's 1960's nightmare Singer, has *never* changed the needle. I'm guessing that my Mom never changed the needle either.
If you have a newer machine, chances are they provided a small envelope of needles, each with a different color tip. Some brands might use a letter, like Q for Quilting, and some might have a number. Find your machine's manual and look up what it has to say about needles - your machine's needle system will never change, so get to know what makes your machine happy! (If you can't find your manual, this chart may be helpful for you to look at.)*
And you will be much happier with your machine and your sewing if you choose the right needle for the task. Use the wrong one and you could wind up pretty frustrated with your project. For general sewing, the best place to start is, again, your machine's manual. It will tell you which needle works best for the weight of the fabric you are working with.
I made this little needle keeper out of a fabric scrap and some quilt batting and I keep it close to my machine. Once you've changed the needle a few times, it's really not a big deal - so long as you can find your needles close by!
Even if you stick to sewing fabrics of similar weight, it's important to change the needle from time-to-time to keep it straight and sharp. I like to think of the needle as the "underwear of the sewing machine." You really want to put a fresh one on about every eight hours of sewing.
* I have two machines, and their parts are not simpatico. I learned this the hard way, and had to make an expensive repair.