In some circles, being a cheapskate is taboo. (If you find yourself among The Joneses, you may want to consider getting new friends, but that’s another blog.) Here at Planswell, where we’re passionate about financial wellness, being frugal is a source of pride. Being smart with money is part of our culture.
Ideas flow freely at the virtual water cooler about how to save a few bucks here and there. It’s only in a circle of trust, however, when teammates admit they’re willing to spend top dollar on select indulgences. Recently, some of our resident cheapskates made some bold confessions, and we were there to capture them for you. We’ll lay out 19 splurge-worthy things according to our thrifty crew. Names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
To splurge or not to splurge
The short answer: sure. There are good reasons to break the budget from time to time. There is the psychological benefit of rewarding ourselves—enjoying the fruits of our labor makes life worth living after all. Also consider that some things are a better value when you spend more for quality. You may find yourself paying more over time by replacing a cheaper version frequently.
Another reason to splurge: some things increase in value. If you can swing it, it’s not a bad idea to invest in something that will pay dividends down the road. Think beyond stocks or real estate here; an “investment” can be anything that pays off later such as education, tools for a side hustle, or even wellness-related purchases. Investing in YOU is money well spent.
Without further ado, here are 19 things even the cheapest of cheapskates will spend good money on.
You’re worth it
- A good mattress. By far the most popular answer amongst our informal consumer focus group, multiple cheapskates fessed up to having a top-of-the-line mattress—and for good reason. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a study about how crucial it is to get a good night’s sleep. It’s critical to your physical and emotional health, factors that determine your overall potential in life. Another factor that makes mattresses splurge-worthy: consumer-friendly terms. Many manufacturers offer near-lifetime guarantees and sellers will get these into your home for low monthly payments. If you haven’t shopped for a high-quality mattress before, you will wonder what took you so long.
- Bedding. Again, quality sleep is important. Even those who adhere to the strictest of budgets recognize the need to prioritize restful sleep for their overall wellbeing. Good sheets, blankets, and pillows can make all the difference. When you need to relax, you may want to consider relaxing the budget too.
- Winter coat. For those in wintery climates, this is a game-changer. A quality winter coat will keep you on the go even as the urge to hibernate takes hold. One good coat for the worst of conditions may be all you need over the course of your lifetime.
- Footwear. Also in the interest of keeping you on the go, you may want to spend more on good footwear—especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet. Talk to anyone who has invested in good orthotics and you will hear that orthotics changed their lives.
- Contact lenses. The choices on the market are not all created equal. If you struggle with tired or sore eyes, it may be time to level up. We hear the daily lenses are the best.
- Chocolate. Special foods are a relatively safe indulgence from a budgeting perspective. You likely won’t go broke by treating yourself to a fancy chocolate bar from time to time. If a sweet reward hits the spot after a long, hard week, enjoy it knowing your budget will survive.
- Butter. Get more pleasure out of budget-friendly foods with one key ingredient: butter. You can skimp on most other items on your grocery list, then elevate them with high-quality butter. The key: look for the highest fat content.
- Sushi. Considering the alternative to good sushi is bad sushi, it’s understandable why it’s worthwhile to pay for the good stuff. If you’re a sushi fan, you already know the packaged quick mart variety just doesn’t cut it.
- Garbage bags. On that note, some things made our splurge list simply because the cheap alternatives are horrible. This is the case for garbage bags. Dollar store garbage bags are literally garbage. Good luck getting a full one from your kitchen to your curb without it breaking open.
- Tools. When cheaping out causes more aggravation than it’s worth, pay more. Tools fall into this category. Whether you need them for a hobby, your occupation, or if you’re DIYing a project to save money, quality tools will keep you from banging your head against a wall. Perhaps more importantly, the quality will actually show in your finished work.
- Premium gas. If you’re in the 10% among us who drive cars with high-performance engines, you’re going to need to splurge on high-octane fuel. Rule of thumb: use the fuel recommended in your owners’ manual. If regular is what the manufacturer intended for your vehicle, you’re off the hook; premium fuel will give you no benefit.
- Chef’s knife. Any chef will tell you there is one good tool you need: a chef’s knife. Used daily, it’s the single most critical tool in your kitchen. A quality chef’s knife will have you working faster, safer, and with less damage to your food.
- Cookware. While we’re in the kitchen, you might think of splurging on high-quality cookware. If you do a fair amount of cooking, the benefits are hard to ignore. For starters, it will be more durable—especially during high-temperature cooking—with faster and easier cleanup. If saving time is one of your goals at meal time, know that better cookware cooks faster with even heat. If food quality is your priority, you will need good cookware to get the best taste and health benefits from your food.
- RAM. Next time you buy a computer, go for more RAM than you think you need, says the tech guru on the team. “You will have a happier life. Life will become more beautiful. You’ll have more children. It’s great,” he said. Who are we to argue?
- WiFi. When the world was sent home to work during the Coronavirus pandemic, some learned the hard way that their wifi wasn’t up to snuff. Good wifi plans nowadays exceed 1,000 Mbps, and if you have a household of video streamers, it’s well worth it.
- Phone charger. The inexpensive charger cords on the counter at the gas station sometimes work in a pinch, but sometimes they don’t work at all. Most often, they’ll last for a short time then leave you hanging when you need them most. If the thought of a battery at 1% makes you break into a cold sweat, do yourself a favor and buy a cord from the brand that manufactured your phone.
- Memories. Perhaps the best investment we can make is in good memories. Even the skimpiest of budgets can have a line item for experiences. For some, that will be an annual family vacation. For others, it might be concert tickets. Tip: review where your money went in the last 60 days or so. Did you spend enough on making memories?
- Personal and/or Professional Development. As previously mentioned, investing in yourself may give you the biggest return for your money. This could be a major purchase such as a college education or a minor purchase like a book. Fitness classes, mental health therapy, club dues…the list goes on and on. It’s typically worth it to fund your goals.
- Professional services. When the need arises for an attorney, a mechanic, or a plumber, get a good one. Think of it this way: you can spend X on good service, or you can spend half that amount on a horror story. Unfortunately, there is often no in between when it comes to professional services. Hair stylists, accountants, financial planners…when you’re in need of expertise, take time to find quality and pay for it. You won’t regret it.
The splurge-worthy test
Still not sure if something you’ve been daydreaming about is splurge-worthy? Consider these tricks:
- The 30-day waitlist. Impulse purchases are budget burners. If you’re considering a major purchase or a luxury item with a price tag exceeding your typical comfort zone, put the purchase off for 30 days. If you’re still interested after a month, give yourself permission to buy it.
- Try before you buy. Before buying the top-of-the-line version, get an idea of how much you’d use something new by trying it out first. This works especially well if you’re starting a new hobby, adding new tools to the shed, or recommitting to exercise again. (If you’re currently drying sweaters on a $2500 treadmill, you get it). Can you borrow it from a friend to try? Can you find a cheap substitute at a thrift store? Can you rent it? Once you’re convinced you’ll get use out of the purchase, go for it.
Finally, we have one final tip to get you what you’re coveting: the gift wish list. How many times have you shrugged when your parents asked, “Want anything special for your birthday?” Take advantage of this opportunity! Next time you’re tempted to buy something a little on the pricey side, add it to your gift wish list. Your loved ones will be delighted to get you something you really want.