Sometimes, saving means spending money. Most of the time, this is because buying a quality product will greatly reduce or even eliminate the need for replacement. Other times, we spend money but save on other valuable assets, such as our health or sanity. Here are nine items or categories that you should splurge on, not because you're reckless with money, but because you're wise, purchases that underscore that beloved aphorism: you get what you pay for.
Things That Affect Your Health
1) Running shoes: If you've ever gotten shin splints from trying to get by in cheap ones, you've learned the lesson the hard way—and you won't make the same mistake again.
2) Earphones: Protect your hearing, first of all, by knowing that listening for too long at too-loud volumes will definitely damage your hearing (although the effect might not show up until later). Look at this chart from Generation Deaf for a safe listening guide. But here's the good news: the higher quality your headphones are, the better your listening experience will be and the less likely you are to crank the volume all the way up and compromise your sense of hearing. For instance, noise-canceling headphones, while definitely pricier, enable you to shut out the outside world at volumes safely below the max.
Household Items You Use Daily
3) Washer and dryer: Spending money on the best you can afford will not only make doing laundry more pleasant, it's a decision that will serve you well for a long time. I'm not talking about getting all the bells and whistles, but spending the necessary amount for a a reliable name brand with a load capacity that meets your family's needs.
4) Large kitchen appliances: You use these every day, so while I'm not saying go top-of-the-line, again, don't go for the cheapest option. Buy something that will last and last, something that works well and reliably. Nothing kills dinner like a dead oven or refrigerator, right?
5) Small kitchen appliances and cookware: (This only applies if you actually cook; no judgment if you don't, but also no need to go all-out on expensive kitchen appliances that are mostly showpieces, yes?) We all know the brand names: KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Le Creuset, VitaMix, Lodge. These brands have been around for decades because their products are exceptional. Start out with these or save up for them, and your kitchen pieces will not only last a lifetime but may even become heirlooms. Not to mention they're a joy to use. Another compelling reason to purchase such brands is their outstanding customer service. These companies stand behind their products, and if you have issues with your purchases, they will take care of you.
6) Linens: Buy good-quality linens or you'll be shopping for round two in a few years. I'm gearing up for my round two of sheets and towels for family and guests, and I'm not going the cheap route this time.
7) Clothing staples: Spend a few hundred on classic boots you adore and of which the patina of age enhances the appeal. You'll save closet space and all the time, energy, and money you would have expended on trendy cheapos. Same goes for winter coats, classic sweaters, and handbags. Most likely, you'll eventually end up spending less total money than getting and then getting rid of all those purses you sorta liked at the time. Spending on quality clothing and accessories is, I think, a huge key to an edited closet full of things that make you look and therefore feel your best (with the caveat that you exercise strict self-control over what constitutes a necessity and how much you buy.)
Getting Into the Cycle of Stocking Up and Catching Sales
8) Buying in bulk when household staples are cheap: When I see a sale on Mrs. Meyers cleaning supplies, I stock up. And last week, we plunked down a hefty chunk of change on grass-fed beef and wild salmon that was on special. My cleaning pantry and my freezer are stocked, and I can wait until these items are on sale again to refill the stores. We spent a larger amount, but we are saving in the long run.
Things That Save Your Sanity
9) Small things that make our lives easier: Any other parents out there who would do just about anything to lessen the stress of the morning scramble? (Not the eggs.) For our household—in addition to making the kids put their shoes on before they eat breakfast—PlanetBox lunch boxes are a lifesaver. They're durable, they're eco-friendly, and though they cost a pretty penny, we are just as in love with them as the day we got them well over a year ago. I think I actually breathe a sigh of relief every time I reach for them instead of twenty bajillion baggies.
I'm also happy to pay for apps and programs that help me do things efficiently, even when there are free versions that sort of do the same thing. Namely, Todoist for my lists, Plan to Eat for meal planning, Smugmug for online photo backup, and YNAB for budgeting (yes, even the new one; I love it). When something does exactly what I want it to, frees up headspace, and saves me time and money, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll pay for it!