Recently, I’ve seen a shift toward a new sense of frugality that’s not just about pinching pennies, but about focusing on purchasing quality items if you’re going to spend the money. Even when money is tight in this challenging economy, it still sometimes pays to spend more today so you can save far more in the long run. Keeping in mind the cost per use of a product and weighing long-term benefits are important factors that can help navigate purchasing decisions.
While most people don’t think purchasing a high-quality mattress should be at the top of their priority list when money is tight, they don’t realize that the average person spends a third of his or her life in bed. Getting the right amount of sleep is as important to your health as diet and exercise and can have really serious long-term effects on your health—and health care costs!
I’ve actually partnered with Sleep Number, who creates highly individualized mattresses that conform to your body’s needs to ensure a great night’s sleep and more productive day. In the long run, a high quality mattress can reduce aches and pains, promote weight loss, increase at-work productivity and improve stress levels. All of that is priceless!
Here are some additional everyday products that are worth the splurge. Buy better, buy smarter and save more!
With high-end shades you’re paying up for the label and look, but most importantly for quality protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. High-end sunglasses tend to offer better protection from the sun. And let’s not forget: sometimes the more you pay for something, the better you’ll take care of it, right? The $10-or-less variety usually ends up getting lost or cracked, and forget getting any real protection from the sun. Before you buy, make sure they’re worth the price by asking the store clerk if you can hop out for a few minutes to test-drive them in the sun. And to keep them in tip-top shape, clean your lenses with a micro-fiber cloth, not just any tissue or paper towel (or the edge of your tee-shirt) to prevent scratching. Don’t leave them on your car’s dashboard or in the sun to prevent melting and use both hands to remove your glasses to avoid twisting the frame.
Dentists are big fans of electric toothbrushes and, based on research, they’re worth every penny. According to Consumer Reports, the two priciest electric brushes – Oral B and Phillips Sonicare – removed on average 75 percent or more of plaque in tests, which can help prevent higher dental costs down the road. Also, according to research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, electric toothbrushes generally outperform manual brushes. In fact, over 80% of the patients who made the switch to an electric toothbrush improved their oral hygiene over time.
Green kitchen appliances
The average household spends $1,400 a year on their energy bill. By upgrading to Energy Star qualified products, you can save 30%— or more than $400 a year! – on energy costs. If you can’t afford to buy a new energy-efficient big-ticket dishwasher or refrigerator, consider at least upgrading your power strips to “smart strips,” which detect when devices are on or off and use that information to power down and save electricity. The EPA estimates that a “smart” strip, which runs approximately $30, can pay for itself in just a few months.
Fitness experts say that a “performance running” sneaker typically retails for $80 or more. When it comes to picking your exercise shoes, you really don’t want to spend less. Performance shoes generally last between 400-500 miles. The less-expensive variety technically last just as many miles, but you may develop some pain and may spend much more money repairing your body in time. The good news is that many sporting goods and sneaker stores are having their annual end-of-summer clearance sales right now, where you can find high performance sneakers selling for a fraction of their normal retail price.
Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist, author and TV personality. The New York Times calls her advice “perfectly practical.” She is the author of the new book, Psych Yourself Rich: Get The Mindset & Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. She is also a personal finance contributor for Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance and Moneywatch.com.