10 Things You Should Spend More For

  • Loosen Those Purse Strings

    A lot of people regularly overpay for products and services, shelling out extra cash for everything from brand-name medications to HDMI cables. But people who try to live the frugal life may run into the opposite problem: chronically underpaying. “People equate frugality with being cheap, but in my mind being frugal means you’re smart about money,” says Leah Ingram of the blog Suddenly Frugal. “I don’t believe in spending hard-earned money on products that won’t hold up.” Indeed, cheaping out and buying everything from the dollar store might save you money in the short term, but if that $2 underwear falls apart in the wash after a month, you haven’t really saved money in the long run. So while we usually love to tell people how they can spend less on everyday items, here are a few things that you might consider splurging on. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Premium Gas (Sometimes)
  • Premium Gas (Sometimes)

    Most people don’t bother paying an extra quarter for higher octane gas, but certain cars are actually designed with premium gas in mind. “People are always saying, ‘Just buy regular gas,’ but you might consider looking at the user’s manual” before making a decision, says Ingram. “If you have certain kinds of performance vehicles, you aren’t saving money by getting regular gas, you’re hurting your car.” For most vehicles, regular gasoline will be just fine. But the experts do say to check the manual to see what the manufacturer recommends, especially if you drive a luxury car. Filling up with regular when the manual recommends premium could lead to pricey engine maintenance down the road. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Products With a Guarantee
  • Products With a Guarantee

    While some companies use “guarantee” as a buzzword to make you buy and then fail to live up to their promise, other businesses stand by their word. While you might spend more upfront, getting a product that you can depend on for life is worth the extra cost. “I’ll buy products from Land’s End, L.L. Bean and Jansport, because they all have lifetime guarantees on their products,” says Ingram. “If something goes wrong, they’ll replace it, and I don’t have to go out and buy another.” An L.L. Bean backpack may cost a little more than the cheap one you see at the drugstore, but the drugstore won’t replace it for free if the zipper breaks after a few months. L.L. Bean will. Photo Credit: boredcollegekid
  • Food

    We’re not saying you should indiscriminately spend more on food across the board – there are a lot of generics that stand up to the brand names, and we’re not about to suggest that you start splurging on all the most expensive produce out there, but many frugal people nevertheless go for fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, even though the price is higher. “There’s a lot of really cheap processed food on the market, but I’d rather spend a little more on good healthy food now than spend more down the line on medical bills,” says Erin Huffstetler, who writes the Frugal Living Guide for About.com. This is a difficult decision for avid grocery store couponers, as most manufacturer’s coupons are for packaged foods rather than vegetables and fresh meat. “I was a heavy couponer and bought a lot of boxed meals, but now I get fresh fruits and vegetables instead of making it out of the box,” says Melissa Garcia, who writes the blog Consumer Queen. “My family’s health is really important.” That doesn’t mean that coupon addicts can’t save on fresh produce, though. “There is a trend that people don’t realize of coupons out there for fruits, vegetables and meat,” says Garcia. Photo Credit: bulliver
    Premium Beer
  • Premium Beer

    Gone are the days when you had to choose between a cheap six-pack of domestic beer or paying extra for pricier imported beer that wasn’t always appreciably better. The American craft beer scene is thriving, and that means that people willing to spend just a few dollars extra per six-pack can enjoy much better beer than the mass-produced stuff. “I pay more for good beer, because I’m not a fan of light beer,” says Julia Scott, who blogs as the Bargain Babe. “I’m happy to pony up for a six-pack of Anchor Steam or Magic Hat.” Photo Credit: Bernt Rostad
  • Shoes

    “One thing I’m always willing to pay a lot for is shoes, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a woman,” says Scott. “My rule is that I have to be able to walk a mile in any pair I buy.” She recounts one incident from her reporting days, when she went to cover a story wearing brand new (and very cheap) shoes, and wound up having to walk barefoot because the blisters were so bad. If you spend any significant time on your feet, consider paying extra for something you know will be comfortable. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    A New Car
  • A New Car

    We aren’t about to tell you that you shouldn’t buy used – it’s certainly possible to find a good used car if you shop smartly. But as a general rule you should be willing to pay extra for a quality car to avoid getting buried in maintenance costs down the road. “You have to think about how long it’s going to last you,” says Garcia. “I had a really bad experience buying a used minivan that was really cheap, but I later found out was a lemon. After that, we started buying new.” Whether you buy new or used, don’t just buy the cheapest model – you need to consider total cost of ownership, including how quickly it will depreciate in value. In short, you may pay more but you can still end up with a good deal if you do your homework. Photo Credit: Karoly Lorentey
  • Clothes

    “It’s really easy to go into a discount store and get something that looks great initially, but maybe it won’t fit as well or the material won’t hold up as well,” says Huffstetler. She recommends that frugal shoppers instead look for trusted brands at thrift stores, noting that seeing the clothes after they’ve been worn and washed dozens of times will give you a better sense of their quality. If you’re not a naturally stylish person and you want to dress professionally for work, you might also consider splurging on some professional help. Ingram, who has done TV appearances as part of her book promotion, says that she hired a personal shopping assistant to help her pick the right clothes. “If you are in an industry where you’re looking to move up, invest in yourself by hiring a personal stylist and figuring out how to make good purchases for your wardrobe,” she says. While it costs a few hundred dollars for a day’s consultation and shopping, she says that the lessons she learned from the assistant made it a good long-term investment. Photo Credit: mahalie
    Retailers With Good Customer Service
  • Retailers With Good Customer Service

    Just as she prefers merchants and manufacturers with product guarantees, Ingram says she also likes to buy from places with good customer service policies. “I’m willing to spend more at a store that I feel treats me well as a customer,” she says. “Nordstrom is an excellent example – they have terrific customer service – and I buy all my shoes from Zappos, which ships for free and has free returns.” That’s also part of the reason why she prefers Apple products. “If you live near an Apple store, you can get tremendous technical help,” she says. “Even if it’s not under warranty, as long as they can fix it right there are the Genius Bar, it’s completely free.” Photo Credit: Greg Andrews
    Home Improvement
  • Home Improvement

    Choosing the right contractor to build a new home or renovate an existing one can be a tricky process, and there are plenty of ways to save money and bring down the final bill. But when it comes to buying the materials to get the job done, err on the side of pricey. After all, this is your house we’re talking about. “I’m in the middle of renovating my house, and we’re going to have the same labor cost whether I choose to have good or cheap materials,” says Huffstetler. “If I get hardwood [floors], I’m never going to have to do that again, but if I get linoleum, I might have to do it again in a few years.” Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Computing and Internet Access
  • Computing and Internet Access

    While computers have become a standard fixture in American homes, having a quality computer with a fast Internet connection ensures that you’ll get the most out of it – and that means getting money back in the long-run. “If you can save up for a good computer and Internet access, I guarantee you’ll see how much money you can save, between printing coupons, learning how to get free gift certificates and doing online shopping,” says Garcia. “My iPhone also helps me save money with all the money saving apps.” Whether you spend extra on a smartphone instead of a feature phone depends a lot on your lifestyle and how you intend to use your device. If you’re going to buy a bunch of unnecessary apps and accessories and burn through your bandwidth allotment watching movies, be prepared to flush a lot of money down the drain. But if you download shopping apps and apps to help you do your grocery shopping, you may find it to be a valuable investment. Photo Credit: Apple.com
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