Eight Everyday Items Worth The Extra Dollar

by Chris on February 13, 2013

The classic conundrum: when shopping, do you seek to spend or search for savings? Is it always true that “you get what you pay for”? While you can sometimes find a great product for a lower price, often a lower price means less durability, reliability and value. There are three basic rules of thumb for products worth spending the extra dollar. If it is used daily, you will almost definitely notice a difference in quality and wear over time. If it is a big-ticket item, something you buy only once every few years and costs a lot of money, you might lose money buying two or three cheaper products over the lifetime of one higher quality option. Lastly, if a breakdown or malfunction would be inconvenient, choosing the cheapest option incurs risk that you don’t need. Think of the dishwasher that breaks and floods the kitchen or the car that breaks down in the middle of the family road trip. Here are 8 everyday items worth the extra dollar.

Cookware

If you enjoy cooking at home, you need good quality pots, pans, kitchen knives and other utensils. If you don’t cook often, quality cookware will make cooking simpler and the results better tasting. Pots and pans with a copper bottom heat more evenly than cheaper counterparts so that food cooks more evenly and burns less easily. A good block set of knives will include every type of knife you will need in the kitchen, last longer than cheap cutlery and require less maintenance.

Weather appropriate clothing

If you live in a climate where temperatures are below freezing from November to March, a quality winter jacket is worth the investment. In order to really stay warm, a down jacket, wool coat or waterproof shell with fleece lining is a must. Retail for such a coat ranges from one hundred to several hundred dollars. Same goes for warmer climates; you’ll be glad you splurged on lightweight, breathable clothing for the added comfort. Clothing designed to keep you cool with synthetic fibers will be much more comfortable than a standard cotton t-shirt.

Living Room Furniture

Furniture is a big-ticket item that you will probably own for 5-10 years. Since it will probably be used often, it makes sense to pay more for comfortable furniture that will last. You will feel the difference, and so will your family and friends. You only want the best for them too, right?

Bed and Bedding

Your daily health and energy level largely depends on the quality of your sleep. A more expensive mattress is often the better value simply because it will outlive a cheaper mattress and last about ten years, not to mention the better sleep quality. Can you put a price on a good night’s sleep?

Bag

Do you carry stuff every day? Is the way you carry it comfortable? If not, you could be causing yourself unnecessary muscle aches and back pain. Students with backpacks often carry heavy loads and depend on one backpack for several years. Since backpacks are often tossed, dropped, overloaded, and carried everywhere, backpacks made of cheap materials won’t do the job. Comfort is also key, so durable materials and thick, well-padded straps are requirements. Consider also the inconvenience if your bag rips on the way to class. You have to find a new way to carry books, supplies and possibly a laptop for the day, then shop for a new backpack as soon as possible. For those in the white-collar world, a leather briefcase or attaché case is more reliable, durable and professional than a cheaply made cloth bag.

Your Car

An unreliable car is both costly and inconvenient. If you have a long daily commute, both comfort and reliability become especially important. The right vehicle depends on each individual’s needs and wants, so a more expensive car may or may not be “better” for everyone. Bottom line: don’t choose a car based on its prices. There is an extraordinary variety and potential for customization in automobiles, so know your own wants and needs, find a car that suits you and forget the rest.

Home Appliances

The idea is simple; a more efficient washer will save money in energy and water usage over time. But how long will it take to recoup the higher cost? An Energy-Star certified washer uses 14 gallons of water per load versus the 27 gallons that a traditional model uses. At EnergyStar.gov calculators for appliances, lighting and electronics can give you a detailed overview of savings from increased efficiency. Since washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and the like are large, costly and (hopefully) durable goods, high quality pays for itself in savings and convenience of not having to replace it frequently.

Entertainment

If your TV is a silent fixture of your living room and speaks only in the voices of news anchors and weather forecasters, the most basic of television sets will work for you just fine. However, if you avidly follow sports televised sports, love movie nights or host parties to watch a popular TV series, you’ll enjoy the bigger, better electronics every time you turn on the tube. Same goes for the home stereo system; for those who really enjoy quality sound, the difference between the high end and the bargain is the difference between the New York Philharmonic and your preteen’s school band concert.

Toss-up: A Cell Phone

This comes with a disclaimer. A broken cell phone is a hassle; personal and professional contacts wonder why you suddenly stopped responding while you do your best to find other means of communication. A durable phone means you may not have to rush to replace a broken one but instead upgrade when you choose. It is important to have a cell phone that really suits your needs, so if your phone is your right-hand man – figuratively as well as literally – the phone that works may be worth the extra cost. However, if you prefer to carry the newest model at all times, it doesn’t make sense to splurge on a phone that you won’t be using in a year.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle March 3, 2013 at 1:45 am

I agree that cookware is worth the extra money. I bought cheap pots and had to replace them because they sucked so bad. Quality definitely counts when it comes to cookware.

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katemcbride June 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

What you have written here makes a lot of sense especially your opinions re. clothing and furniture. Paying less in the short-term can actually cost more in the long-term with these items.

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Grep June 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Oh how I wish I’d known about paying a little extra for a quality mattress years ago. I could have avoided so much unnecessary shoulder, neck and back pain. Cheap mattresses simply aren’t worth the pain and aggravation.

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ali-jd5 June 24, 2013 at 9:15 pm

I agree with most of this, but I think furniture is a toss-up depending on your situation. Ideally, yes, it would be best to “invest” in quality pieces that will last. But I think since there are HUGE savings to be found, it might make more sense for some people to cheap out and go the Craigslist/Ikea route.

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Cheapskate June 24, 2013 at 10:24 pm

I have a catering business and yes… I truly agree that your cookware should be the best that you can afford. Just slowly build your equipment list. Save money and wait for those times that there are sales. Even those that are just home cooks… you can save and go to restaurant supply depots and get a good deal.

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brooke0309 June 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Agreed!
I found myself nodding in agreement pretty much the whole time I was reading this article!
The cookware is a biggie!
When my husband and I got married, we were given a less expensive set of cookware than we had registered for, but we decided just to keep it and use our money for other things.
I don’t really remember what the other things were, and we ended up buying new cookware just a year in!
I’m not that great of a cook anyway, so I need a little assistance from my pots and pans!

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rzashida July 4, 2013 at 12:24 am

I hate constantly replacing kitchenware. Cheap silverware rust, bends and become unsanitary. Even cheap plate can warp in the dishwasher.

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