Some areas where it pays to spend a little more

By Stew


Okay, a little shorter post today with the holiday weekend and all. I do not want to make anyone think too hard but I was reminded recently that “frugal” does not always mean “cheaper”. My wife and I sometimes review some of the purchases that we have made over our lives where we spent little money, but wish we had spent a little more.


My wife and I will have been married for eight years in July and we are on our fourth vacuum. One of the vacuums was given to us, but we spent an average of $60 on the other three – and most likely we will be buying another in a year or two. I often wish we had gone out and gotten the best vacuum that we could afford when we were first married. We certainly could have purchased a $150 or $200 model. I am confident that had we done so, we would still be using that vacuum today and it probably would last another ten years. Now we are in a life situation where we cannot spend that much. Until our financial situation improves, we will have to buy cheap.

This is many times the case with appliances, my Grandmother is still using the blender that was given to her at her wedding – over 60 years ago. My dad used a shop vac on his cars for over twenty-five years. Sometimes quality is worth a couple extra bucks.

Laundry machines

Growing up, my mother used a ringer-washer, both the hand-crank and the electric kind. I remember watching her feed cloth diaper after cloth diaper through that think until her hands were cracked and bleeding from the water. We all remember the day that my dad brought home a Maytag automatic washing machine. He saved up his money and purchased one of the best available. That washer was used virtually ever day for almost thirty years. Five kids will push any appliance to the limit. My father could have paid twice as much for that washer and gotten his money’s worth.

Kitchen knives

Once again, my father is one of the most frugal people I know. He supported our family on a miniscule salary for most of our lives, but when he bought, he bought quality. When I was home a couple of weeks ago, I realized that my mother is still using the cutlery set that my dad purchased for her when I was six years old.


I have found that it does not pay to get cheap shoes. Many times in my life, I have thought I could get away with buying the off-brand, but soon realized that it was a mistake. I once had a pair of off-brand shoes in which the insole completely disintigrated in a matter of days. Most cheap shoes do not fit right – I have had some that have even caused health problems like shin splints, hip soreness and back problems. Shop the sales, try to get money off, but I recommend good shoes – even if they costs a few more bucks.

Mattresses and pillows

Just before my wife and I were married, I knew we needed a mattress and box spring set so I searched through the classifieds and perused the ads until I found the most inexpensive queen mattress and box spring set that I could find. What a dumb thing to do! About three years into our marriage, I knew I had made a mistake. The next time we get a new mattress (hopefully soon), we are going to get a good one.

Our pillows were also an area where we thought we could get away cheap. We just went down to the nearest big box store and got the cheapest pillow possible. I think our first pair cost $7. We are slow learners so now we are on our fourth set of pillows, but we have purposed to get a good set next time.

Wedding photos

A few weeks back, my wife posted a dozen frugal wedding ideas and in one of them, she mentioned that there are ways to reduce wedding photo costs, but you should never sacrifice wedding photo quality. They are the one thing from your wedding that you will look at for years to come. If you have to pay a little extra to get good quality in this category – do it.


This is the one life event where I think couples should splurge. This is a great time in your life to try new things together and live in luxury – don’t finance your honeymoon, don’t spend money just because, but for goodness’ sake, have some fun! There will be many chances in the future for you to practice financial self-discipline. Yes, there are common sense ways to reduce costs on your honeymoon, but spend what you need to spend in order to do once-in-a-lifetime things.

So often we think only in the moment, and we do not make purchases with an eye toward the future. This is not necessarily frugal – sometimes it is just plain cheap. My wife and I are still trying to develop the habit of purchasing quality, not just looking for instant gratification. We often wish that when we had more disposable income earlier in our marriage, we had take more time to purchase quality. Ironically, we usually end ups spending the same money if not more over time – for junk.

Are there any other items where you think it pays to spend a little more?

Photo by: brent

16 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Some areas where it pays to spend a little more”

  1. Sharon Says:

    You make an excellent point. NEVER skimp on bedding, mattresses, pillows….a bad back will end that quickly! :)

    We now have a very expensive vacuum. It works wonderfully, but it needs to be maintained. We’ve had it three years. Maintenance is truly the key to quality items, because even quality items will not work properly if not maintained.

  2. Damsel Says:

    I agree with every one of your points. I would add that it’s good to spend a little more on a car, not a NEW car, but on a new-to-you car. My husband’s family has been through more cars than I can remember (maybe 10 or 12?) in the 11 years we’ve been together (BTW, we will have been married 8 years this month, too!). It’s because they buy $2000 or $3000 clunkers that just die within a year or two. When we got ready to buy a used car for my husband, he wanted to do the same, but I talked him into waiting awhile longer so that we could save up. We spent $7000 (still not an extraordinary amount, by any means) on a car that he’s had for five years now, and it’s still going great.

    Clothes, especially for work, are another place where I spend a little more, even when they’re used, but I’m careful to purchase things that are fairly classic and timeless.

    I also agree with Sharon about maintenance…. and, to me, it means having cash in the bank to pay for that maintenance, whether it’s repairing a car or having a good suit tailored.

    Great post, especially in these economic times when it’s so tempting just to buy the cheapest possible option.

  3. jolyn Says:

    When we moved back from the states from overseas the movers broke our 110 vacuum. We bought a Dyson and it was worth every penny. I think you hit the main items on the head.

  4. Bobby Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I have been paying the price for cheap pillows for years.

    I am also a firm believer in quality cars. We have an 2000 Accord that has given us no problems and we plan to keep it until it won’t run anymore. We bought it new (I know better now) but have not had any problems with it whatsoever. I figure I can get at least another 5-10 years out of it.

  5. Dan Says:

    If you like to cook, it does pay to spend a little more on a high quality set of pots and pans. The cheap ones are cheap because they are very thin and therefore it is very hard to control the amount of heat. When you add any food the temp will drop a lot and you end up either burning or undercooking dishes unless you are very careful. With a heavier set, it’s easier and more enjoyable to cook everyday, which saves money as opposed to eating out.

  6. Tyler@FrugallyGreen Says:

    You will almost always come out ahead when you do your research to find the best option for the product you’re looking for. It’s also inherently better for our environment to pay a little more for something that will last than something we will dispose of and replace over and over again. The majority of waste created by consumer products takes place before they ever get to the store.

    It’s also important to remember that paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting more. If your research is limited to advertising claims, you’ll likely end up spending more to get whatever product has more marketing costs built into the price. Read reviews, test things out, ask your friends.

  7. Craig @ Money Help for Christians Says:

    Great Post. I know this might be going in a little different direction than the original post, but I pay a little more for memories and experiences. Our family tries to do special family things once a week and a vacation once a year. Though these things don’t always require money we are willing to pay more for certain activities that do. Many of the things we buy are broken or forgotten, but we always carry our memories with us.

  8. Sarah Says:

    Craig is right…..spending money on doing things as a family is very valuable. Like you said about the honeymoon, don’t do it if you don’t have the funds readily available; but using your money to invest in family time is so important!
    Great list, Stew. ;-)

  9. Kika Says:

    As our kids get a little older (13,9,4) we realize that spending money (saving it, though) on special family memories is important and worthwhile. It can be small like pizza and movie nights or bigger like driving across the country for a few weeks. Otherwise, a good mattress and shoes are also worth spending a little more $ on (although, honestly, in our twenties, our bodies didn’t need better quality in these areas) and healthy food, too, is an area that we now choose to invest more money.

  10. DDFD at Says:

    Great post! Sometimes you get what you pay for . . . certain things can last a lifetime.

  11. 婚纱摄影 Says:

    great,you are a genus!! keep on your basic to futter

  12. Bobby Amoureuse Says:

    I agree with your post. Hoping further that many would be smart enough to seriously consider your advises.

  13. MyJourney Says:

    Completely agree on the honeymoon. The wife and I spent A LOT going to Greece and it was an amazing trip will hopefully talk about for decades to come.

  14. Nidoszintern Says:

    Man…what a great post! You really living in a frugality existence, avoiding all luxuries. Good advise for all of us reading it. Why should throw something if still can be used isn’t ?