Here at Savvy Shopper, cutting costs and saving money often means buying quality and just buying less.
In some instances, the cheap version is absolutely fine, but we’ve learnt (sometimes the hard way) that there are certain things in life where cost-cutting is a false economy – either because it won’t last due to poor quality, you have to use more to get the same result or it’ll just make your life less enjoyable.
With some things, you’re better off paying a bit more to get the best. Don’t confuse high prices with good quality, as they’re not always synonymous; our goal is always to get the better products on sale or through a cashback site, as a price-quality win-win.
Here’s our list of the 11 things that you should buy the best you can afford.
You spend a third of your life in bed (probably more over the last two years), so buy an amazing mattress that gives you a great night’s sleep. “Amazing mattress” means different things to different people: I have friends that spent about $5,000 on a split mattress that they love, but when I first moved in with my partner, I spent just $1000 on an Ecosa memory-foam mattress in a box that offered zero partner disturbance. (The same applies to pillows.)
Essentially all the functionality for braking, accelerating and steering relies on your tyres, so getting quality tyres (and checking and replacing them regularly) is a huge factor in how safe your car is. Definitely don’t go for the cheapest option here.
You’ll have to use more of the cheaper stuff to do the job, so it’s literally the definition of false economy. Plus, nicer TP is a fairly inexpensive way to make every trip to the toilet feel fancy. Look for the bigger packs of the good toilet paper on sale and it ends up being the same price or less per square than the cheap stuff.
Cheap knives are blunter, but counterintuitively, also much more likely to cause an injury, and they make cooking so much harder. If you’re on a budget, look for good brands marked down at stores like Victoria’s Basement, and get a half-decent sharpener while you’re at it, to extend the life of your knives.
You only have one body, look after it. Don’t put off going to the dentist, getting medical tests done or undergoing surgery, and pay for the best you can afford – discount liposuction is just asking for trouble. If you don’t have health insurance, which is totally valid, I recommend having an emergency fund that will let you stay on top of your health.
When you’re heading overseas, make sure you get the appropriate level of cover for your trip. It would be a real shame to have a nasty skiing accident and realise too late that you weren’t covered for snow sports. If you’ve bought flights on your credit card, you may get complimentary travel insurance – but read the fine print really, really carefully. I once called my credit card’s insurance underwriter to check whether specific activities I planned on doing would be covered. The friendly meerkats over at Compare the Market will compare your options.
If you’re living the work from home life, a decent computer chair will save you from serious future back and neck problems. I thought I was being frugal by using a kitchen chair at the dining table for months and months – but I ended up in a lot of pain and spending the price of a good chair on remedial massage. You could get something like this $950 Ergotune option but you could spend way less and get a decent gaming chair like this $194 one that will still be a million times better than your kitchen chair.
Helmets, shin guards, seat belts, fire extinguishers, air bags… For fairly obvious reasons, safety equipment is something you don’t want to be picking up at the dollar store. Forget “Buy cheap, buy twice” – with safety gear it’s more like “Buy cheap, buy once”. Anything that protects you should be good quality (see: healthcare).
This is less of an issue if you spend all day sitting, but if you work on your feet or walk a lot, prepare to pay to get shoes with decent support. Cheap shoes can lead to problems that will cost you more in the long run: ingrown toenails cost about $300 to treat; custom orthotics cost in the range of $800 to $900; and out of pocket costs for intervertebral disc compression treatment can hit $10,000. Just get better shoes – your feet will thank you (now and in the future).
Plumbing (and plumbers)
I firmly believe in a bit of DIY to save money around the house, but don’t cheap out on plumbing. If something goes wrong, it’ll cause a lot of damage. Case in point: whoever plumbed our current rental cut some serious corners and now there’s a hole in our bathroom ceiling that’s caused some fairly expensive damage. Pay for a plumber that comes well recommended rather than watching YouTube, you won’t regret it.
Whether it’s your home or your investment property, having decent insurance on your home is key. Contents insurance I can take or leave (I don’t own anything of value), but you need to be able to repair major damage to your home without worrying about what it will cost. You can compare insurance policies here.
We’d love to hear what’s on your list of things you refuse to skimp on. Sound off in the comments!