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Frugality is about saving money. I love saving money! But “cheap” isn’t always synonymous with “best.”
Case in point: I once tried to buy “discount” leg wax in a fit of frugality. And you know what? I got a beautiful chemical burn for my trouble.
Sometimes you have to fork up a little more cash to get a better product. And, if you play your cards right, this approach actually saves you more money in the long term.
Think about it this way: I used to spend $15 once or twice a year on work shoes from Walmart. I was a broke college student and it was what I could afford. These shoes would break down after 6 months of daily wear, so I had to keep buying new shoes.
The thing is, a few years later I was able to afford $50 shoes from DSW. I didn’t have to replace these suckers every few months because they were built better. After doing the math, I realized it cost me more money to replace cheap products than to invest in something great from the start.
I know it’s hard to invest in a high-cost product if you’re trying to get by. There’s nothing wrong with buying the cheapest thing if it’s what you can afford. But if you’re able to pony up a little more money, these 8 purchases are worth the splurge.
Average cost: $100 – $250
My broke-self bought some $20 luggage before. I’ve never seen anything come out so shredded and battle-torn from the airport conveyor belt.
Whether you travel occasionally or all the time, you have to get a decent set of luggage. Or at least one really good suitcase.
Don’t get a bag that’s too small in the name of saving money. Try to buy a bag that’s big enough for your stuff and that you can tote around.
I know this one stings, but you’ll only need to buy luggage a few times over your life. Make it a smart purchase.
Average cost: $250
When I turned 18, I was woefully naive about how much things cost. When I needed a warm jacket for a December trip to San Francisco, I had major sticker shock.
A high-quality jacket costs hundreds of dollars. I could have opted for my ratty Jansport hoodie, but I knew California’s coastal winds would make me change my tune.
I splurged on an Arcteryx jacket and I still have it to this day. It keeps me warm and dry, and I shouldn’t need to buy a new coat for years.
Average cost: $20+
Let me tell you a story about my Hanes socks.
White socks are a staple in my daily wardrobe. Heck, there are some days where I won’t even wear shoes.
I love skidding around the house in my socks, which means I often wear holes in my cheap Hanes socks. Not only do I have to tolerate holey socks, but I have to keep reordering them throughout the year.
My husband, meanwhile, invested $30 for some SmartWool socks. They’ve lasted over 5 years.
This applies to nearly any item of clothing. When you invest in high-quality clothes made from sturdy materials, they last a long time. Whether it’s a shirt, shoes, pants, socks, or underwear, nicer options usually last longer.
P.S. You don’t have to buy a ton of pricey clothes at once. Buy a few pieces here and there to slowly replace your wardrobe over time.
Average cost: $50 – $200
I used to think my husband was crazy. He insisted on buying an expensive Shinko paring knife.
At the time, I was using my parents’ 25-year-old set of unsharpened CutRite knives. But once I sliced an onion with the awesome Shinko knife, I could never go back.
If you cook a lot at home and enjoy doing fancy things for dinnertime, a nice chef’s knife goes a long way.
These are definitely a luxury, but as long as you sharpen the knives and care for them, they can last decades.
Average cost: $1,000+
I’ve limped by with a $100 memory foam mattress cover on a free-to-me bed I got from my parents. But it wasn’t until I shopped for a nice mattress at Tempurpedic that I realized fancy mattresses are where it’s at.
Tempurpedic is crazy-expensive and a lot of people can’t afford it. But there are plenty of high-end mattresses out there that cost less.
If you can fork up the cash, a high-quality mattress pays dividends in less back pain and a better quality of sleep.
6. Organic food
Average cost: $100 / week
The costs really depend on what you’re buying and where you live, but organic food has been one of my best splurges.
First of all, I’m a huge foodie. Can my family tell the difference between a Walmart chicken breast and an organic Whole Foods chicken breast? Actually, yes. I think organic food tastes better, but that’s my opinion.
I’m not a doctor, but research indicates there can be health benefits to eating organic foods. I’ve started eating a lot of organic food after consulting my doctor, and I’m happy I made the switch.
Average cost: $200 – $500
I’m talking about my Roomba here, but this can apply to any household appliance that saves you time, like a Keurig or an Instant Pot.
Depending on your situation, a splurge like this can save time or hassle. I almost cried tears of joy once I realized our Roomba meant I didn’t need to sweep every day.
And guess what?
I used the time I would have spent sweeping on the important stuff, like my side hustle. If you have the cash and need more time, it’s okay to splurge on tech that makes life a little easier.
8. Safety equipment
Average cost: $50+
You can’t put a price on your well-being. If you’re buying any item you depend on for food, shelter, health, or overall survival, please buy the nicer option.
This applies to everything from:
- Solar batteries
- Fire blankets
- Emergency flares
- Medical kits
You don’t want to cheap out here, get into a sticky situation, and find yourself with bad gear. Take the extra step and stay safe with high-quality safety gear.
The bottom line
Frugality isn’t about not spending money. It’s about spending money on what’s important to you.
I’ve spent $600 on a Litter-Robot, $20 on a pair of socks, and $200 on a Roomba. A lot of people would say that isn’t frugal, and that’s okay. It’s frugal to me, because these expenses came with a long-term tradeoff.
If you have the extra cash, you stand to save more money in the long haul with these 8 purchases. Invest in a few nice items to spend your money where it matters.
Contributor’s opinions are their own. Always do your own due diligence before investing.
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