Which Purchases Are Worth the Splurge?

Sometimes spending a little more on quality ultimately saves you money by saving you time, improving your health or just making you happier. The trick is being able to discern which purchases make sense for you personally.

Price tags dangling from a woman's finger
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Boats, name-brand clothing, iPhones — the list of luxury products available to consumers is endless. But which ones are worth their salt? Where will consumers' money be most content before it’s tired and begging for something new?

Defining “worth” is a deeply personal exercise. Some items deliver great performance and are unarguably worth their price tag. Others are more about feelings, connection and experience. While it’s not always necessary to splurge, there are many products and services that are not only higher in quality but will also save you in the long run.

Better Service, Lower Cost

There is nothing better than finding a product or service that costs less and performs better than the old options. For example, cable has become synonymous with continually rising rates, not to mention the taxes. Those who own a “smart” TV or a streaming device can replace cable with monthly subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Amazon Prime and Disney+. Streaming services offer a personalized experience, provide significantly more content for less money and are always there when users want them.

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When it comes to finding better goods for less, Amazon Prime is a top contender. For a small monthly fee, consumers can skip the shipping costs or set up monthly auto ship, get free music, e-books and video content, enjoy discounts at Whole Foods and more.

Warehouse memberships are another great value. Costco and Sam’s Club typically offer better products, but for less money, by selling them in larger quantities, plus the added perks of travel agents, car discounts, free shipping and more.

Better Quality, Better Life

Admittedly, saving $3 on a box of 4,000 crackers doesn’t always seem like a home run. But sometimes, avoiding the lowest-cost option will hit it out of the park. Paying up for products that improve quality of life can really pay off in the long run.

One example is a great mattress and pillow. Scientists continue to attribute orthopedic issues, stress, high cholesterol and many other ailments to quality of sleep. More than ever, it's apparent that a higher-priced and better-built mattress can lead to improved sleep and health, superior performance at work, lower stress levels and better quality of life.

Other worthwhile purchases include electric toothbrushes and quality running shoes. As an upgrade from the humble manual toothbrush, an inexpensive electric toothbrush can prevent many unpleasant and expensive trips to the dentist. A good pair of running shoes will last longer than a cheap pair, saving money on replacements. It will also prevent injuries, saving money on health care and avoiding pain and suffering.

Finding the “best” option for the money can pay dividends over a lifetime of use. For consumers who cook every night, top-quality cookware and knives are a sound purchase and should never need to be replaced. A kitchen stocked with a few high-end tools will yield better results, less cleanup, less clutter and a happier dining experience. They can even make healthy cooking easier and save money on eating out. For instance, one study showed that consumers who cook at home eat more vegetables.

Beyond material goods, experiences can be worth spending more on. Taking time for self-care can relieve stress and boost quality of life. Massages, manicures and facials can alleviate pressure points and built-up tension. Once considered “luxury” services for the elite, they have become mainstream self-care measures. Money spent on a vacation is well spent; new experiences in a relaxing setting can help consumers rest and recharge so they can perform better at work and build their personal relationships. Simple but effective self-care plays a vital role in better all-around wellness, leading to higher earnings and lower health care costs later.

A High-Quality Investment Today Can Last a Lifetime

What about those really expensive items? What is “expensive”? Typically, it's simply viewed as “costing a lot of money.” However, economists define it as a price that makes consumers feel they are paying too much for what they are getting in return. When consumers think they are getting what they paid for, then it's a fair trade. They get a bargain when they feel they are getting more than what they paid for. Further, it can be more affordable in the long run to buy a quality product once than to buy a cheap product repeatedly.

A knowledgeable financial planner can help consumers chart a path to financial success, including what they can pay for a valuable item. Investing in better products and experiences is a good decision for those who have the means. A financial planner or adviser is yet another worthwhile investment, not only saving clients the amount of their fee, but turning that investment into a long-term dividend and maximizing buying power.

Everyone is looking for ways to save money, but buying superior products and services at a greater up-front cost can reduce repeat expenditures and improve quality of life, saving time, money and health in the long term. Although some products are worth the expense for nearly everyone, consumers must identify their priorities and make wise decisions. Working with a financial planner can help them understand what they value and take the first step toward investing in products and services that are worth their price.


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP
President, Partner and Financial Adviser, Diversified, LLC

In March 2010, Andrew Rosen joined Diversified, bringing with him nine years of financial industry experience.  As a financial planner, Andrew forges lifelong relationships with clients, coaching them through all stages of life. He has obtained his Series 6, 7 and 63, along with property/casualty and health/life insurance licenses.