Even a cheapskate has to spend money sometimes. I’ve asked various frugal folks—bloggers, writers, money-saving and consumer experts—to compile personal, totally subjective lists of the products, services, experiences, and other “things” they’re willing to shell out good money on. Because if a cheapskate is willing to drop cash on something, you know it’s worthwhile.
I’ve also asked people to name some of the things they refuse to spend money on, or that they buy based strictly on the cheapest price, because it’s also important to know when it’s OK—smart, even—to skimp out. Yesterday, I submitted my own list. Up today, Greg Karp, personal finance columnist and author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan and other books.
WORTH SPENDING GOOD MONEY ON
1. Mattress. You spend one-third of your life in bed, and the quality of your sleep affects every aspect of your life. That doesn’t mean I search out expensive mattresses. I just wouldn’t hesitate to pay extra for one that was especially comfortable to me.
2. Kitchen knives. Using sharp, quality kitchen knives is not only a joy, but is safer than using dull knives that require you to use more force. That force can lead to slipping and cut fingers.
3. Computer. Much of my life is spent in front of a computer, and I work mostly from home. So, I don’t have the time or desire to be my own IT department. I spent extra to buy a Mac laptop for its superior operating system and fewer hassles than Windows-based machines.
4. Cigars. A confession: I’m occasional cigar smoker, and my humidor has only hand-rolled sticks, not machine-made. The difference between a good cigar and a bad one is enormous, in my opinion. Although, I search out the best prices on the Internet, of course.
5. Professional advice. Cutting corners when you have legal or accounting problems, for example, is foolish. If you need a will, living will and power of attorney. Just pay a lawyer and get it done right.
6. Reading material. The Internet is great, but it doesn’t replace professional journalism and writing. I rarely hesitate to buy newspapers, magazines, and books. And because I received an Amazon Kindle as a gift, I will pay for content on it (which is actually cheaper than paper versions anyway).
7. Golf. Another passion. I buy mostly used equipment—even golf balls in mint condition. But I do not hesitate to pay greens fees. I will walk, however, instead of taking an electronic cart to cut price and get more exercise.
8. Experiences. Academic research shows we derive more happiness from positive life experiences than from buying more stuff. So, vacations, sporting events, concerts, etc. are high on the priority list.
WHAT I REFUSE TO SPEND MONEY ON
1. Extended warranties. Never, ever. They’re way too expensive for the risk they protect you against.
2. Bottled water. There’s a reason Evian spelled backwards is naive. Tap water is great. Bottled water is a crime against your wallet, the environment and common sense. Note: this is a beverage that falls from the sky for free.
3. Credit monitoring. Almost always a waste of money. You can monitor your credit for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
4. Credit card interest. Hopefully, the reason is obvious. I pay balances in full every month.
5. Beverages out. A beer or glass of wine in a social setting is one thing. But for a routine meal out, it’s usually water for me. And with a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you the lingo for ordering at Starbucks.