Cutting your spending is always a good idea, right? Common advice (and sometimes common sense) tells you to do things like buy generic, make your own or go without certain luxuries. Many times, this approach makes sense. Unfortunately, sometimes it is better to spend a little bit more. The added value that some more-expensive products and services bring makes it worth parting with a few extra bucks. Here are eight purchases where it is a bad idea to skimp and try to get by cheaply.
Vegetables and fruit
Budget eating can be unhealthy eating. Organic fruits and vegetables have health benefits that cheaper processed foods and produce grown with pesticides can’t provide. You could say that these foods are worth their extra cost because they directly affect your long term health. That doesn’t mean you have to go all-organic. Generally, it’s fine to but non-organic fruits and veggies that can be peeled. Another thing to consider is hormone-free meats (other keywords can include “grass-fed” for beef and “free-range” for chicken). Certain types of organic food are cheaper than others, and some stores that specialize is natural products sell them for prices that are almost equal to the cost of non-organic produce at large supermarkets.
Tires are another item where quality can directly affect your well-being. You need tread and traction to drive safely. High quality tires will pay for themselves if they can help you avoid even one small accident. This is because the price difference between good tires and generic tires is probably less than the cost of your auto insurance deductible.
I’m not talking about designer brands here, I’m referring to day-to-day footwear. Lots of people want a luxury shoe for dressing up when they go out, but they cut costs by going with the “Payless special” for work and exercise shoes. But the truth is that quality shoes last longer. You could go through three cheap pairs in the same amount of time it would take you to wear out a single pair of well-made kicks. Actually, the cost probably comes out about even when you do the math: the price of three cheap shoes equals the cost of one quality shoe. So you might as well go for the better made version, which will most likely prove much more comfortable.
The value of a good computer will be evident pretty quickly. The lack of speed and low memory capacity of cheaper machines can be a nuisance from the first time you log on. Also, low cost devices and desktops will become obsolete much quicker than newer, pricier models. This can be a tricky item though. The difference in price is going to be much more than a few dollars – It will be a few hundred dollars. But the value of the extra convenience and the longevity more than make up for the higher cost.
This one is pretty easy to explain. You spend more time in bed than you do anywhere else in your house. Also, how well you sleep can directly affect your physical and mental health in both the short term and long term. You don’t have to splurge on a state-of-the-art bed, but having a high quality mattress can make a lot of difference in your outlook on life and your level of day-to-day happiness.
Yes, you can probably get away with a cheap toaster and coffee maker, but when it comes to refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners, quality can make all the difference. Any repairs or replacements are going to be costly. Very costly. The better the product, the less likely you will have to put up with these month-ruining expenses.
If you’ve ever woken up with a hangover from box wine or plastic jug vodka, then you know that buying something decent to drink is worth it. People also tend to sip and savor top shelf spirits rather than draining the glass right away to get the drinking over with and get on to the buzz.
It seems like common sense that you’d want to avoid credit cards that have annual fees. However, if you can find a card that works well in the niche that you want to collect rewards for, paying the $100 extra per year can be well worth it. If you use the card regularly (and pay off the balance monthly), you can earn well over $100 in rewards. You can actually figure the overall value of the rewards in advance (based on the card’s points scheme and your spending habits).
There are plenty of other areas where you can cut back on spending: cable tv, restaurant lunches, morning lattes, bottled water, etc… But if something offers better value, it might be worth wheeling out a few extra dollars.