Wealth Management

Guilt-free shopping: These eight things are worth the extra money

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If you’ve been eyeing a designer handbag or expensive mattress, you may be able to buy it guilt-free.

Experts agree there are times when it pays to spend more money on certain items, instead of going for the cheapest option.

Sam Dogen, founder of the personal finance website FinancialSamurai.com, began saving his money as soon as he started work in order to retire early. He lived a frugal lifestyle, rarely treating himself to new things. However, he soon realized it made sense to pay more at times for some products.

“I’ve never regretted paying up for quality,” said Dogen. “It’s much better to have a few quality items than a ton of mediocre quality items that clutter your house.”

It’s important to remember expensive items are called ‘investment pieces’ for a reason.

Keri Danielski

head of communications for Intuit, Mint and Turbo

The same tactics can apply even if you aren’t aiming for an early retirement. However, it’s essential to strike a balance.

If you have several large purchases on your wish list, try to space them out so you don’t overextend yourself or dip into your savings to cover the cost, advises personal finance expert Keri Danielski, head of communications for Intuit, Mint and Turbo.

“It’s important to remember expensive items are called ‘investment pieces’ for a reason,” she said. “You’re investing in them and hoping to get a positive return on your investment.”

Therefore, make sure you do your research before making the purchase to ensure you are “getting the most bang for your buck,” Danielski said. That includes keeping an eye out for annual sales and seasonal mark-downs, as well as rewards programs your credit card offers.

Another strategy is to have separate savings accounts: one for an emergency fund and the other for purchases such as vacations or big-ticket items.

It’s something money coach Christine Luken, author of “Money Is Emotional: Prevent Your Heart from Hijacking Your Wallet,” tells her clients. This way, they know the money in the spending account is OK to use in a non-emergency situation.

“The problem is, when you intermingle all your savings into one bucket, you don’t know how much is OK to save and how much is OK to spend,” she said.

With that in mind, here are eight items our experts believe are worth the extra money.

1. Get a quality mattress

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When it comes to your sleep, don’t mess around. You should get the most comfortable, supportive mattress you can afford, Dogen said.

“Go top-of-the-line so each day you are fully rested and rejuvenated for the grind ahead,” he said.

However, it still pays to be a savvy shopper, particularly since mattresses have massive markups. There is also a wide range when it comes to the price, which ranges from a low as around $200 for a queen bed to $5,000 and up. Somewhere around $1,000 is the average for popular consumer mattresses; above that you start entering the luxury market.

However, the most expensive mattress may not be the best one for you. Instead, think about the type you want, like a foam or innerspring, and do your research. Then, shop around for the best deal.

You can also take advantage of companies’ free trial periods. That will allow you to try out the mattress for a month or so, “to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and truly love your purchase,” Danielski said.

2. Dental care

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A standard toothbrush may only cost you a few dollars, but Dogen believes it pays to upgrade to a sonic toothbrush with ultraviolet sanitizer.

These electric models can cost anywhere from around $25 to over $200. They emit high frequency sound waves and operate at a high speed, brushing hundreds of times faster per minute than a regular toothbrush.

“You can’t grow back your teeth or your gums,” Dogen said. “Floss and brush at least twice a day.

“Your older self will thank you.”

According to the American Dental Association, both manual and powered toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque. However, some may prefer an electric model to make up for a lack of skill with a manual brush, especially if they have dexterity issues.

3. Food and food prep items

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It’s worth paying more for fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, according to Dogen.

“Your body is your temple,” he said. “If you eat junk, you’re going to start feeling and looking like junk.”

“Your energy, mood, and outlook are all affected by the food you eat.”

To help you get motivated to cook healthy food at home, invest in a quality set of pots and pans, Danielski said.

“Quality cookware can last you a few years, and even a few apartment moves so you don’t have to buy a new set each time you get settled in,” she said.

It can also save you money on eating out.

Consumer Reports’ top-rated sets range from around $100 to over $700.

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However, if you are someone who wants to eat healthy but doesn’t have time to cook, Luken has an unconventional solution: Hire someone to prepare your meals for you.

While at first glance that may seem a bit extravagant, she pointed out that it worked for one of her clients who bought healthy groceries, only to see them go to waste when she was too busy to cook. Instead, the client wound up spending, again, on eating out.

“We actually figured out she was going to waste less money and less food if she hired a personal chef to deliver her meals once a week,” Luken said.

“It was an investment in her health and her peace of mind because she didn’t have to run around and go grocery shopping and she could do it guilt-free.”

These types of prepared meals cost between $12 to $15 per meal, she noted. You can also freeze part of the meals for leftovers.

4. Athletic shoes

Man tying running sneakers on a tropical exotic cliff.

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If you are on your feet for the bulk of the day or you like to work out frequently, a comfortable pair of shoes is “essential,” said Danielski.

Plus, “they can help prevent injuries in the long run.”

Some brands are more pricey than others, so be sure to check out any online sales. According to the athletic shoe review website, RunRepeat.com, you can save an average of 38% by buying running shows online. It also found that the average manufacturer’s retail price of the 450 running shoes it examined was $121.10.

Another way to save money is looking for any factory outlet stores in the area, which often have current styles at a discount, Danielski said. Buying last year’s version can also save you money.

5. Education

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Investing in your education can be more than just going back to college or graduate school.

It can also be a course that will allow you to take a different position at your company or that will teach you a skill that you can use to expand your offerings within your business if you are a small-business owner, said Luken.

The cost for a continuing education course can vary. For example, the average tuition for a full-time computer programming bootcamp in the U.S. is $11,906, according to CourseReport.com. You can also access a variety of online courses to learn anything from web design to digital marketing, with prices anywhere from $20 a course to over $1,000.

6. A timeless work wardrobe

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The workplace may not be as formal as it once was, but it is still important to come across as a professional, said Danielski.

“There’s nothing like a good quality blazer or overcoat to make you look polished and professional,” she said. “Both pieces you can dress up or down, and wear over and over again.

“When you think of these pieces as ‘cost per wear,’ it can soften the blow of a higher price tag.”

Glamour magazine recently highlighted its favorites for women, which ranged in price from $59 to $1,790. Meanwhile, GQ recommends a $495 Ralph Lauren sport coat, and a $460 Nanamica club jacket, among others, for men.

7. A good bag or briefcase

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Along that same line is a designer handbag or well-made briefcase, which can also enhance your professional reputation, said Luken.

“I spent some money buying a really nice briefcase,” she said. “My other one wasn’t bad, but it was cheap.

“You don’t want to be seen that way in a professional setting.”

Designer handbags can be pricey, such as the Hermes Birkin bag that retails for more than $7,000. You can also spend more than $1,600 on the Louis Vuitton Vintage Alma Bag, or get some Coach and Kate Spade bags for a few hundred dollars.

8. A safe car

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More than 37,000 people died in car crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Therefore, it’s imperative to make sure you get the right car, said Dogen.

While he typically suggests spending no more than one-tenth of your gross annual income on a vehicle, there are times you can break the rule.

“If you have a dependent or a small child, it’s worth buying the safest car you can comfortably afford,” he said.

Americans seem to be getting the message. The average loan to buy a new vehicle hit a record $32,187 in the first quarter of 2019, according to credit-ratings firm Experian.

To figure out the safest car for your budget, check out the NHTSA’s website, safecar.gov, which allows consumers to search for cars that have its 5-star safety ratings.

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